Wireless Access

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Creative use of mesh APs real world experiment

We recently had the need to improve wireless service in a couple buildings with the caveat of not being able to run new cabling (don't ask).  The previous wireless deployment consisted of the dreaded hallway deployment in a residence building dating back a few centuries, so each room is essentially its own faraday cage.  The existing in-room cabling is CAT3, but fortunately the hallway cabling was either CAT5e or CAT6. 

 

We've replaced the existing APs that were deployed in the hallway with 189 x AP-334s and have them configured as mesh portals.  In-room we deployed 181 x AP-303Hs configured as mesh points.  The 303Hs are pulling PoE over the CAT3, but all data is being transmitted to the portals on the 5GHz band.  I am easily able to achieve speeds over 100Mb/s from both the wired ports on the 303H and connecting to the 303H wirelessly.  This far surpases the speeds we would be able to achieve if we had the 303Hs using the 10Mb Half duplex CAT3 connection for its uplink.

 

People are still moving in and getting set up, so there are only about 100 devices online at the moment.  So far, we've only run into one issue related to MTU.  The Aruba APs negotiate the MTU automatically and we are using jumbo frames (MTU 9000) on the AP management VLAN.  However, we found that a wireless client connected to a mesh point would have their traffic heavily fragmented, resulting in asymetric network speeds of about 1Mb/s down, and 50 Mb/s up.  I created a custom AP system profile with a smaller MTU (1578) and changed the mesh point AP group to use that AP system profile, which appears to have resolved the issue.  Note however that the wired traffic was never affected by this. 

 

As you can imagine, there are a ton of knobs we can tweak for this setup.  We are currently using the 5GHz band for the mesh links, and allowing clients to connect to both 2.4 and 5GHz bands.  We'll see how it goes, but thought this might be an interesting use case for indoor Aruba mesh deployments.

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Re: Creative use of mesh APs real world experiment

Your performance is typically limited by the availability of the backhaul channel on those access points. Typically allowing clients to connect to an SSID on the same AP as one that is backhauling mesh creates issues at scale.

If you can get this working at full scale, it is innovative, indeed. Please report back to us when you are at full census so we know how things are going.

*Answers and views expressed by me on this forum are my own and not necessarily the position of Aruba Networks or Hewlett Packard Enterprise.*
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