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TP link is a popular brand known for its wireless solutions. The TL-WA801ND is a great wireless access point that is a perfect fit for home networking as well as for small businesses. It has a perfect blend of features to make it attractive as a home networking product and to deploy it in more secure enterprise networks.

Wireless Specifications: The TL-WA801ND is a single band wireless N router that operates in 2.4GHz range. It can support 300Mbps throughputs in ideal conditions. The device is also backward compatible with the wireless b/g standards allowing a much wider range of devices to connect to the wireless network – be it at home or in the enterprise.

The device has two antennas and operates on MIMO (Multiple Input – Multiple Output) technology that helps boost the coverage range and enhance the overall wireless network performance through spatial diversity. These antennas are detachable and need to be used only when the signal strength in wireless dark spots are not strong enough. In normal working conditions, the antennas need not be attached giving the user more flexibility in placing the access point.

Wireless Security: The TL-WA801ND access point supports a host of wireless security features apt for a small office home office (SOHO) wireless solution. It supports Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) standard that provides a very basic level of security to the network. The weak WEP security can be enhanced marginally by the use of 152-bit encryption key, though it also supports 64-bit and 128-bit key protection too. Typically, this option would be used only when devices connecting to the network cannot support newer and better standards.

The device also supports various flavors of Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) standards including WPA, WPA2, WPA-PSK and WPA2-PSK. All these secure encryption standards ensure that the wireless network remains protected from outside snooping while transmitting critical information over the air.

Besides these wireless security features, the access point also supports MAC Address filtering that allows TL-WA801ND to control the level of access being granted to various devices connecting to it.

Wireless Operation Modes: This is one of the most important features that make this model a perfect cross over between home networking and enterprise wireless local area network solution. The device can be configured to operate in multiple modes depending on whether it is the sole wireless access point, or a means of extending the wireless network coverage. The various operating modes supports by this device are described in bullets below.

  • Access Point: In this mode, the TL-WA801ND acts as a wireless access center for your local area network. This becomes the medium to access the rest of the enterprise network as well as the internet. When deployed in home network solutions, typically this would be the most preferred operating mode.
  • Point to Point Bridge with AP: This mode is an enhancement to the AP mode. In this mode besides acting like an access point, the device can also connect to another bridged access point in the network. In point to point mode, the access point can only connect to one other peer access point or network bridge.
  • Point to Multipoint Bridge with AP: This is very similar to the point-to-point mode, except that in multipoint mode, the access point would act as a master and other slave access points would communicate through this master.
  • Client AP Mode: In this mode, the access point connects to the Ethernet devices in the network wirelessly.
  • Repeater Mode: This mode is primarily used to extend the range of an existing access point. In the repeater mode TL-WA801ND does not serve any wireless devices, it is solely dedicated to expand the range of the root AP.

Accessing the Access Point Configuration Menu

Steps below describe the way to access the configuration menu to setup and deploy TL-WA801ND in the network.

  1. Power up the access point (TL-WA801ND).
  2. Manually assign a static IP address to the computer in 192.168.1.x range with subnet mask of 255.255.255.0
  3. Connect the computer to the LAN port of the access point
  4. In the browser URL type http://192.168.1.254
  5. User name and password both are admin
  6. This will launch the wireless access point status screen.

By accessing other menu items like wireless settings, the operating mode of the access point can be set and the corresponding features can be configured. Alternately, the TP Link Quick Secure Setup (QSS) feature can be used to bring up the access point and configure it very quickly. However, QSS works with TP Link products alone.