Configure WiFi as WAN on Cradlepoint Routers

Jesse Rothschild

How do I configure WiFi as WAN on my Cradlepoint router?

This article provides instructions for configuring a Series 3 Cradlepoint router to use an existing WiFi network as the internet source.

Series 3 Cradlepoint products with Wireless (WiFI) capability can utilize the WiFi as WAN feature to connect to an available wireless network to use as an Internet (WAN) connection.

NOTES

  • The AER 1600, 2100, 3100 and the IBR1100 will allow a WiFi as WAN connection on both the 2.4 and 5.0 frequencies; however, only one is used as an active connection, while the other will remain available until the primary WiFi as WAN connection drops.
  • Wifi radio for spectrum you intend to connect on WWAN with MUST be enabled.
  • The”Inhibit Wifi AP” feature will disable the routers wireless access points on this radio while the router is connected to a remote access point.
  • As of NCOS v6.2.0 Wireless Client can now be used on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz radios on the IBR900.
  • IBR1700 with NCOS 7.0.40 and above can connect to DFS channels in WiFi Client or WiFi as Client mode.

Jump to Configuration Section >>


WiFi as WAN uses an outside WiFi network as its Internet source. When WiFi as WAN is enabled, the router will find other WiFi networks that you can select and connect to. Unless a selected WiFi source is on an unprotected network, you will need to know its password or key.

To enable WiFi as WAN, first select the desired WiFi radio:

  • WiFi Radio #1 (2.4 GHz)
  • WiFi Radio #2 (5 GHz)

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All CradlePoint routers and some other routers use the same default IP address for the primary network: 192.168.0.1. If you attempt to set up WiFi as WAN and there is an “IP conflict,” you need to change the IP address. The router is attempting to use the same IP address for both WAN and LAN, which is impossible. Go to Network Settings → WiFi / Local Networks. Select the network and click Edit. You can change the IP address under IPv4 Settings. For example, you might change 192.168.0.1 to 192.168.1.1.

Saved Profiles

This is a list of WiFi networks that have already been configured as WAN sources. The router will attempt to connect to any of these access points using the password you have configured. If more than one access point is in range, then the router will connect with the highest priority network.

Network: The name (SSID, or Service Set Identifier) that is broadcast by the access point.

BSSID: The numeric ID of the network (Basic Service Set Identifier). This parameter is required when trying to connect to a hidden network using WiFi as WAN. It is optional when connecting to a visible network. If it is set in a profile, both the SSID and BSSID must match to connect to an access point. If the BSSID is not set in a profile, then the router will connect to any access point that matches the given SSID.

Auth Mode: The type of encryption that is used by the network.

  • None
  • WEP Auto
  • WEP Open
  • WEP Shared
  • WPA1 Personal
  • WPA2 Personal
  • WPA1 & WPA2 Personal

You have two options for adding network profiles:

  • Automatic – Select a WiFi network in Site Survey and click Import.
  • Manual – Click on Add under Saved Profiles and input the required information.

Site Survey

This is a list of WiFi networks that the router can currently find, along with information about the network such as its mode and channel. Click “Refresh” if a WiFi network you want to connect to is invisible. You can sort the list based on any of the fields by clicking on the field name.

If you import a network from Site Survey, most of the information about the network will already be completed. You need to input the password (if there is one) and then click submit to save the WiFi as WAN profile.

Wireless Scan Settings

Enable Cradlepoint WiFi as WAN

Scan Interval: How often WiFi as WAN scans the environment for updates. (Default: 60 seconds. Range: 5–3600 seconds.)

Scan While Connected: Continue to scan for WiFi as WAN profile updates when connected. Each time a scan occurs the wireless communication of the router will be temporarily interrupted. Normally this should be disabled.


Configuration

Configuration Difficulty: Intermediate

  • Step 1: Log into the router’s NCOS Page. For help with logging in please click NCOS: Accessing the Setup Pages of a Cradlepoint router.
  • Step 2: Click the NETWORKING tab from the side menu and then select WiFi as WAN, Bridge or Client (or simply WiFi as WAN depending on model).
  • Note: This article discusses Wifi as WAN and Wifi Client mode (for the IBR1100 only). Wifi as WAN provides a NAT’d Internet connection to be used by the Cradlepoint and its clients.
  • Wifi Bridge creates a bridged connection in which the Cradlepoint and its clients are part of the hosting AP’s TCP/IP network. Click the NCOS: How to configure Wi-Fi Bridge link for information on setting up a Wifi Bridge. 
  • Wifi Client mode is for the IBR1100 only (implemented in 6.1.0 firmware). This feature allows for enhanced roaming capabilities, faster throughput and greater reliability when roaming between Access Points of the same name (SSID).  Connections of this type are only available when connecting to 5Ghz access points and LAN clients will only be able to connect at 2.4Ghz because the 5Ghz radio will be dedicated to Wifi as WAN. The feature is enabled using the “Wifi as WAN / Client roaming” checkbox shown in Step 7, along with additional configuration information.
  • Step 3: Under the Radio Settings section of the screen, select the Wi-Fi Client Mode and choose Wireless as WAN.
  • NOTE: Enabling “Inhibit Wifi AP” feature will disable the routers wireless access points on this radio while the router is connected to a remote ap.
    Enable Cradlepoint WiFi as WAN
  • Step 4: Scroll down to the Site Survey section and click the Refresh button to update the list of wireless networks in range.
  • Step 5: Select the desired Wi-Fi network then click Import.

Step 6: Verify the wireless network credentials.

  • The router will fill out most fields, but sometimes it is not able to get the correct information. Make sure these settings match the target wifi access point.
  • The WPA password is the password needed to connect to that network directly, and it must always be entered manually.
  • Step 7: Wifi as WAN / Client roaming (IBR1100 ONLY): Check this box if you will be roaming between multiple Access Points (AP’s) with the same SSID. Set the Minimum Link RSSI and Minimum Survey Link values to control those thresholds to determine when the Cradlepoint will disconnect and reconnect between various AP’s while roaming.   Best Practice – WiFi as WAN Roaming configuration
  • Step 8: Click Save to submit settings.

Enabled Cradlepoint WiFi as WAN

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Once saved, this wireless network will be available as a WAN Interface under the Internet > Connection Manager menu.

NOTE: The following steps can be configured on either 2.4Ghz or 5Ghz frequencies on the AER2100, AER3100, AER1600, and the IBR1100 by selecting the appropriate “WiFi Radio” Tab at the top of the screen.

NOTE: The WiFi as WAN and WiFi Bridge features cannot both be used at the same time.


Troubleshooting

Please note that due to the extreme number of variables that affect wireless connections of this type, there is no guarantee that it will always work.

If you are having trouble adding a WiFi as WAN interface, or the interface is not successfully connecting, make sure the Authentication Mode and WPA Password (shown in Step 7 above) match the target WiFi network.

As part of the troubleshooting process, you could try completely disabling security on the access point so that the Cradlepoint router would not need to provide a password at all to connect. If the Cradlepoint then connects, try modifying the security settings of the access point.

If the Cradlepoint router is unable to connect to the target WiFi network even while the wifi security mode is set to open, try the following troubleshooting steps:

  • Best Practice – NCOS upgrade process if it is not current. Newer Cradlepoint firmware revisions include changes that allow connection to more types of WiFi access points.
  • Check the local IP address of the target WiFi access point. If the wireless access point uses the same IP address as the Cradlepoint router, it will be necessary to NCOS: How to Change the LAN IP Address of a Cradlepoint router of one of the two devices to prevent IP conflict.
  • If the target wireless network uses additional security (such as MAC address filtering) to restrict access, contact the network’s administrator to ensure there are exceptions made to allow the Cradlepoint router to connect.
  • If the target wifi network relies on authentication through a browser splash page, the Cradlepoint router will not be able to connect. Contact the network’s administrator to whitelist the Cradlepoint, or to change the authentication method.
  • If the target wifi network uses WPA-Enterprise level security, ensure your router has an Extended Enterprise License.

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