An access point acts as a central transmitter and receiver of wireless radio signals. Mainstream wireless APs support Wi-Fi and are used in homes, public internet hotspots, and business networks to accommodate wireless mobile devices. The access point can be incorporated into a wired router or a stand-alone router.
Lifewire / Tim Liedtke
Stand-alone access points are small physical devices that closely resemble home broadband routers. Wireless routers used for home networking have access points built into the hardware and work with stand-alone AP units. When you use a tablet or laptop to go online, the device goes through an access point, either hardware or built-in, to access the internet without connecting via a cable.