Do multiple wireless APs need to be on the same segment?

  • I've got a house layout where a single AP won't give good WiFi to the entire house, so I'm going to have 3x APs through the house.

    I have a 24 Port Gigabit switch for the LAN, and I'm wondering what the practical difference is between connecting the APs to my pfSense router on OPT1, OPT2, and OPT3, or just connecting them to the switch, or putting them on a separate 3-5 port switch off OPT1.

    Ideally I want to walk through the house and seamlessly roam across the APs without interruption / reconnection - is this only possible if they are all on the same segment?

  • LAYER 8 Global Moderator

    Connecting them to opt1, 2, 3 on pfsense would not allow them to be on the same network unless you bridged those interfaces.  Which bad idea!!

    You could for sure put them off another switch on opt1 if you wanted too.

  • I see… what makes bridging OPT interfaces a bad idea?

    If my clients are just going to disconnect from one AP when it gets bad enough signal and reconnect, what would be the difference between having the same SSID/Security and being on OPT1, 2, and 3, or having the same SSID/Security and being switched and connected to OPT1? Is there documentation somewhere about recommended ways to set up multiple wireless APs?

  • LAYER 8 Netgate

    Use a switch, not a bridge of interfaces.

    When you have a bunch of radios on the same SSID with the same credentials, the SSIDs need to be on the same layer 2 network or you need a Wi-Fi solution, such as a controller-based solution, that can deal with the problem via tunneling, dynamic VLANs, etc.

    There is no requirement that a wi-fi client obtain a new DHCP lease when it changes access points so the L2 network needs to remain constant from the client device's perspective.

  • In that case, what's the downside of plugging the access points into the LAN switch then? I don't particularly care about restricting anything between the segments, though metrics per-AP would be sort of nice.

    Otherwise I'd just be 'bridging' the motherboard's onboard WiFi (if I can get it working) with the three APs on a switch into the LAN anyway, I think…

  • LAYER 8 Netgate

    If you are only concerned with one SSID (one VLAN) then connecting them to any switch you like should be fine.

    Personally I would pretend the built-in motherboard wi-fi does not exist.

  • LAYER 8 Global Moderator

    " though metrics per-AP would be sort of nice."

    Then run unifi AP with the controller.. All kinds of pretty stats to look at ;) see attached..

  • Neat! I'll check them out.

  • LAYER 8 Global Moderator

    802.11r (FT - ie fast roaming) is currently in the 5.6.x (beta) version of the controller and current firmware and they are working on 802.11k - I would think v is coming as well.

    But without even using 802.11r my devices roam between AP without real issue..

    You also get ATF, DFS channels, band steering, etc.. And the one I am waiting for is MAC Bypass for the 802.11x (MAB) which I have read should be active in 5.6.17 of the controller..  This allows for dynamic assignment of vlans for devices that do not support wpa-enterprise like  iot device, etc..  That will be sweet for sure..

    If you want to play with wifi and get atleast some of the bells and whistles you before could only get in 1k$ AP etc..  Then yeah I highly suggest you check out the unifi AP line.. Very reasonable prices.. The wave2 are a bit pricey at the $350 mark… But do you have any wave2 clients? ;)

  • LAYER 8 Netgate

    I don't see wave2 as bringing much to the table except in the highest-density environments out there, like arenas and stadiums.

  • LAYER 8 Global Moderator

    True - other than being latest kool thing to play with..  But don't have any clients anyway :(  Or I would prob get one to play with ;)

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