Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Optimizing meshing with Cisco Meraki access points

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I have had a Cisco Meraki MR-33 hooked up for a little while, which is positioned pretty centrally in an L shaped space. The issue is that the building is old with lots of brick walls. In the far room of the long leg of the L there is about 2 meters of space which gets pretty spotty connection. Not a huge deal, but enough to irritate :)

Setting up a second access point via cable is not a viable option so I decided to mesh two access points instead. The setup was easy, but the throughput was not amazing, averaging around 15mbit/s, and lower. You might think this is ok as we’re meshing, but the good thing is that it can be improved.

Note: Read the Meraki guide Manually Changing Channels in a Mesh Network for information on how you can change the channel used for meshing.

By default when you have auto channels for both the 2.4GHz and the 5Ghz radio, the 5GHz channel will be set to the same channel for both devices, and this is used for meshing. Having band steering on, where clients also use 5GHz, this will greatly reduce the speed.

What I did was this.

  • I set a dedicated channel for the 2.4GHz radio – to allow meshing to happen on the 2.4GHz radio, which also travels better though the brick walls.
  • I set the 5Ghz radio to automatic.
  • I use band steering, leading clients to the 5GHz radio.

This setup “ensures” clients use 5Ghz, while the mesh traffic have the full bandwidth itself on the 2.4GHz radio. Now my throughput is pretty consistent around 55mbit/s.

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