Question What do you call a connection to the modem/router that is wireless? i.e. instead of an ethernet cable connection, you connect to it wirelessly


Oct 15, 2002
Hi guys, I would like to ask for your expert opinion about what exactly is an access point, a wireless repeater and a WISP.

The reason why I asked is because I am confused with the terminology.

The primary thing I wanted to clarify is about a "wireless" WAN. Isn't it correct that for a router to be able to have an internet connection, you will need to connect an ethernet cable from your ISP's modem/router to the WAN port of your router? So it means there is a physical connection between the modem and the router to be able to distribute internet. (nowadays, ISPs provide modem/wireless router combo which is a 2 in 1 device).

I have found a way how to have my router get an internet connection wirelessly instead of using the ethernet cable, so there is a setting in the router's dashboard where it says "universal repeater", "access point" or "WISP". I tried using "universal repeater" and then entered the credential of the modem/router of my ISP and that's how I discovered that you can have internet connection for your router even without connecting the ethernet cable from the modem to the WAN port.

My question is, what is the correct term for that kind of setup where you eliminate the ethernet cable and the WAN port from the equation?


Elite Member
Super Moderator
Oct 25, 1999
Access Point - The unit Router is Off. Internet comes through the Wireless and further goes to the Switch pat of the unit. I.e. past the Wireless input computer etc has to be connected with Wire.

Repeater - The unit Router is Off. Internet comes through the Wireless and further goes as Wireless to other Wireless Devices.
Because the Repeater uses the same Witless system for in and out its is usually reduced by Half.

Let say the the Wireless input is 100 Mb/sec. Access Point mode would produce a cable output close to 100Mb/sec. Repeater would produce output of about 50Mb/sec.
Wireless Internet Service Provider (WISP) is an Internet service provider (ISP) that allows subscribers to connect to a server at designated hot spots (access points) using a wireless connection such as Wi-Fi.



No Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
The so-called "WISP Mode", as implemented in most consumer routers, is kind of like a wireless Bridge, but implements a separate sub-net for the LAN- and wifi-connected clients, and implements NAT. (Wireless Bridge mode doesn't implement NAT, and is on the same sub-net as the host wireless.)


Golden Member
Apr 13, 2010
I don't use wireless, so don't know official terms either, but ...

I believe that Wi-Fi connection is between a client and "server", where the server is a wireless access point (WAP, AP). The wireless clients can access the (wired) network via "access point".

Now, we have device X that is a Wi-Fi client and does connect to AP wirelessly. The AP is owned by ISP. X can access "Internet" through that wireless "WAN" connection.
The X can act as AP. The Wi-Fi network that it provides, "LAN", is different from the Wi-Fi network of the ISP AP. Furthemore the X acts as a router between LAN and WAN.

Your Wi-Fi client device Y, e.g. laptop, connects to AP of X. X routes traffic from Y to WAN, to ISP AP, which routes further, until packet from Y reaches this Forum. Apparently the X is in "WISP mode".

Your Y is too far from X; signal is weak. You add Wi-Fi repeater Z. The Z does act as both AP and client, but both talk in same Wi-Fi network and channel with same radio. Therefore, it can't talk to both Y and X at the same time. Signal is strong, but bandwidth is halved. The Z is an inefficient bridge on the LAN.

You replace Z with mesh AP "W" (if X supports mesh). Now X talks to some LAN clients directly and to W on different Wi-Fi channel. The W has two radios: one for LAN clients, and AP, and another for talking to X and other mesh devices on the "backhaul" channel. The W, unlike Z, can talk to Y and X simultaneously and hence both connections can get full bandwidth. The W is a bridge between two Wi-Fi channels of the LAN.

Note that if X is both in mesh and in WISP mode, then it might need three radios: one for WAN, one for mesh channel, and third for direct LAN clients.

Disclaimer: Just guessing here; really don't want to know about wireless any more than I have to.