How do I configure 802.11ac Wi-Fi on a CradlePoint Router?

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SUMMARY:

This document provides a configuration example for enabling 802.11ac Wi-Fi connectivity on a Cradlepoint router.  802.11ac adds higher bandwidth and reliability and builds upon it’s predecessor 802.11n.  802.11ac is commonly referred to as Gigabit Wi-Fi.  In the 802.11n standard both the 2.4 and 5 GHz frequencies were used simultaneously to enhance throughput, where as 802.11ac utilizes only the 5Ghz frequency, but with multiple channels within the 5Ghz frequency to enhance throughput.

Cradlepoint 802.11ac capable routers support 3×3 MIMO with up to 3 spatial streams over 20, 40 and 80 MHz channels.  With a 3 spatial stream capable client adapter there is a theoretical throughput of up to 1.3Gb/s under optimal conditions.

Administrations setting up 802.11ac should have a basic knowledge of Cradlepoint configuration and a firm understanding of layer 2/3 network concepts and Wi-Fi technologies. 802.11ac provides backwards compatibility with older older 802.11 (n,g,b,a) standards.


SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS:

A Cradlepoint router supporting 802.11ac, at least one 802.11ac capable client device.  802.11ac is supported on following Cradlepoint Products:

  • AER 2100


FIRMWARE VERSION:

This content was created using firmware version 5.1.1


ASSUMPTIONS:

The Cradlepoint administrator has already setup a working LAN network.  Wireless Clients have adapters that support 802.11ac connectivity.


TECHNICAL TERMS:

  • LAN: local area network
  • WLAN: wireless local area network
  • 802.11ac:  a wireless networking standard in the 802.11 family a providing high-throughput wireless local area network (WLAN) on the 5 GHz band.
  • MIMO: Multi-input, multi-output: The use of multiple antennas at both the transmitter and receiver to increase bandwidth availability via multi spatial streams over 20, 40 and 80 MHz channels.
  • Band Steering: A method to direct 2.4 GHz capable devices to connect to the 5GHz frequency for increased performance and capacity
  • WPA/WPA2:  Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) and Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2) are two security protocols developed by the Wi-Fi Alliance to secure wireless computer networks.
  • AES: The Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) is a specification for the encryption of electronic data and is the replacement encryption protocol for TKIP
  • TKIP:  Temporal Key Integrity Protocol or TKIP was a stopgap security protocol used in the IEEE 802.11 wireless networking standard. TKIP was designed as an interim solution to replace WEP.


ENABLING & CONFIGURING 802.11ac CLIENTS:

  1. Log into the CradlePoint Web Administration Interface  http://192.168.0.1 (default)
  2. Under the Network Settings heading, select WiFi / Local Networks.User-added image
  3. Configure the 5GHz Radio Settings:
    • Click the WiFi Radio #2 Settings (5 GHz) tab
    • Click the Enable button
    • Check the box next to the top WiFi name (SSID) (or the one desired) and click the Edit button. User-added image
  4. Configure the WiFi Name (SSID)
    • Set the WiFi Name (can be set to your preference)
    • Set Security mode to WPA2 Personal (WPA2 Enterprise is also supported)
    • Set WPA Cipher to AES (Can be set to AES\TKIP for backwards compatibility, but not   recommended)
    • Set your desired password
    • Click Submit.                                                                                             User-added image
  5. Configure the Advanced WiFi Settings.
    • Click the drop down arrow next to Advanced WiFi Settings
    • Set the TX power at your required level for your desired coverage area
    • Set the wireless mode to 802.11 ac (this mode will only support 802.11ac clients)
    • Set Channel Width to 20/40/80 MHz Auto (This will support up to 3 spatial streams)
    • Other settings can be configured as needed, but the remaining defaults settings are used for this   example.
    • Click Submit.                                                                             User-added image
  6. Associate the Primary LAN (or desired LAN) with the 5GHz WiFi SSID interface (if not already   associated)
    • Check the box next to the Primary LAN, click edit
    • Click on the Interfaces tab
    • Click on the 5GHz WiFi interface that was created previously and click the + button
    • Click Submit.                                                                         User-added image
  7. Connect your 802.11ac client to the SSID created.
Note:  Only 802.11ac clients will be able to connect to this SSID, enabling backwards   compatibility is required to allow non-802.11ac client to connect.

Below is an example of a Windows 7 802.11ac client connected to a Cradlepoint AER2100 router.  The client adapter is a 2×2 MIMO 20/40/80MHz USB adapter.   Maximum theoretical bandwidth with this adapter type is 867Mb/s

User-added image



ENABLING BACKWARDS COMPATIBILITY FOR NON-802.11ac (n,g,b,a) CLIENTS:

  1. Configure Advanced Settings for 5Ghz WiFi  to support additional client types.
    • Click the WiFi Radio #2 Settings (5 GHz) tab
    • Click the drop down arrow next to Advanced WiFi Settings
    • Click the drop down arrow next to Wireless Mode
    • Select the client combination to be supported (recommendation is to select the minimum types necessary for the clients you need to support)
    • Click Submit.                                                                                          User-added image
  2. Configure 2.4 GHz support (this is optional, but is required to fully support n, g and b clients)Note: Enabling a 2.4GHz SSID with the same settings as the 5GHz SSID will automatically   enable beam steering)
    • Click the WiFi Radio #1 Settings (2.4 GHz) tab
    • Click the Enable button for the 2.4GHz wireless radio (unless already enabled)
    • Check the box next to the top WiFi Name (or the one desired) and click the Edit button
    • Set the WiFi Name (SSID) to the same name as the 5GHz WiFi Name (SSID)
    • Set the Security mode, WPA Cipher and WPA password to the same as the 5GHz WiFi Name (SSID)
    • Click Submit.                                                                           User-added image
  3. Configure Advanced Settings for 2.4GHz.
    • Click the WiFi Radio #1 Settings (2.4 GHz) tab
    • Click the drop down arrow next to Advanced WiFi Settings
    • Set the TX power at your required level for your desired coverage area
    • Click the drop down arrow next to Wireless Mode
    • Select the client combination to be supported (recommendation is to select the minimum types necessary for the clients you need to support)
    • Set Channel Width to 20/40 MHz Auto
    • Other settings can be configured as needed, but the remaining defaults settings are used for this   example.
    • Click Submit.                                                                                  User-added image
  4. Associate the Primary LAN (or desired LAN) with the 2.4 GHz WiFi SSID interface (if not already   associated)
    • Check the box next to the Primary LAN, click Edit
    • Click on the Interfaces tab
    • Click on the 2.4GHz WiFi interface that was created previously and click the + button
    • Click Submit.
  5. Connect your non-802.11ac client(s) to the SSID created.

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