Wireless Access

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Access network design for branch, remote, outdoor and campus locations with Aruba access points, and mobility controllers.
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Unique Wireless Deployment - AirGroup Experience & Issues

  • 1.  Unique Wireless Deployment - AirGroup Experience & Issues

    Posted Jan 03, 2013 11:48 AM

    I recently completed a wireless deployment in a unique environment and I thought I'd share some of my experiences and current problems that I'm working on. This was a large yacht that required wireless coverage throughout the interior and exterior, 30-50 clients, Apple Airplay capabilities and wireless video streaming. The Audio Visual system relies heavily on Apple-based products, therefore Bonjour is used throughout the network. I'm using a 650 Controller running and 10x AP-125's. No dedicated air monitors.




    - Initially we had a horrible Airplay experience. There are a total of 10 AppleTV's onboard, and many more iPad Mini's controlling the AV system in each room. When you would look at your i-Device for available Airplay devices, the results were sporadic and didn't always show all AppleTV's. I had read numerous threads on Airheads about configuring AirGroup & unfortunately there seems to be very little conclusive documentation and what is available is sometimes conflicting. Here are the settings that worked for me.


    - BC/MC Optimization enabled on all SSID's profiles participating in AirGroup

    - Disable "Drop Broadcast & Multicast" on all VAP's participating in AirGroup

    - Ensure that Airgroup Allowall service is enabled

    - Enable "Broadcast/Multicast Optimization" on all SSID profiles participating in AirGroup

    - NAT disabled on all IP interfaces (NAT & Routing behind handled by a separate Layer-3 device)

    - Ensure that "BCMC Optimization" is disabled on all interface VLANs


    - Very limited cabling. Running additional cabling to the AP's was next to impossible. In many cases, we were limited to installing AP's inside of cabinets or behind walls to make use of existing cabling. Whenever possible AP's were mounted in the ceilings which were made of wood. In some cases the secondary port on the AP was enabled and used for additional equipment in the ceiling.


    - Due to the large number of walls, steel and glass, we were forced to use a larger than normal amount of AP's thus creating a dense environment with some overlap between AP's. ARM is enabled and Min EIRP is set to 6 and Max is the default 127. I'm concerned that we may have too much overlap in some areas. However, I do have some outlying areas that need more signal. I may need to start adjusting EIRP on a per-AP basis to fine tune this.


    - Due to the number of walls and obstructions, 5GHz didn't seem to work very well and thus band steering was disabled on some of the SSID's. Initially it was enabled with Force 5Ghz. I'm still up in the air on this one. I may end up re-enabling, but set to prefer. Thoughts?


    - Client roaming from one AP to another is an ongoing issue. We have adjusted the "Local Probe Request Threshold" to 30 on most of the SSID's. I also enabled RF Optimization in the AP Group. I've read in some Airhead threads that RF Optimization may not be the way to go, but a TAC engineer recommended this setting and it seems to have helped.


    I'm open to suggestions on any of my ongoing issues. Unfortunately, a good thorough RF Plan wasn't available so we were kinda flying blind on some of this. I would like to suggest that Aruba come up with firm documentation on best practices for AirGroup. As I mentioned earlier, there is a great deal of miss-information about what should or should not be enabled/disabled. After working with Senior TAC engineers for days we finally got those issues ironed out.


  • 2.  RE: Unique Wireless Deployment - AirGroup Experience & Issues

    Posted Jan 14, 2013 12:50 PM

    Any feedback from Aruba on the Airgroup config?

  • 3.  RE: Unique Wireless Deployment - AirGroup Experience & Issues

    Posted Jan 15, 2013 07:56 AM

    Thanks for sharing Clayman. We've also done numerous installations on ship/offshore and it's definately a challenging environment to create good wifi in.


    In regards to roaming. Are you experience slow roaming - as in clients appear sticky and slow to swap AP, or just unable to re-connect when they go from one cell to another? Is the experience independant of type of device?


    One thing we've done to force faster roaming is to adjust the minimum transmit speed in the SSID profiles. This cause the AP to just drop the client once the connected speed is lower than the threshold


    In regards of AirGroup my experience is similar to yours. 

    - Disable "Drop Broadcast & Multicast" on all VAP's participating in AirGroup


    Airgroup should've worked regardless if this was disabled, but I had to disable it to see all the Apple AirPlay devices. 

  • 4.  RE: Unique Wireless Deployment - AirGroup Experience & Issues

    Posted Jan 15, 2013 01:21 PM

    Thanks, John. The majority of the devices in question are iPhones, iPads & iPad Minis. The AV system is controlled exclusively using iPad & iPad Minis. To be honest, I'm not entirely sure whether the roaming issue is due to sticky devices or slow reconnects or a combination of the two. I've tried playing with the Local Probe Request Threshold settings as well as RF Optimization. So far, I haven't done anything with the SSID minimum transmit speed. I'll look into that.

  • 5.  RE: Unique Wireless Deployment - AirGroup Experience & Issues

    Posted Jan 31, 2014 09:50 PM

    Very late in reporting this, but after upgrading to a 3600XM &, the Airgroup & Airplay functionality is much more stable.