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Meraki Go - Wireless Meshing

Overview

The Meraki Go access points help ensure reliable service with the wireless meshing feature. Wireless meshing is the act of letting access points share their internet connection when it is necessary. This can be seen as a self-healing operation to help ensure ongoing service if there are problems with individual access points, and can also be used to repeat or extend your wireless coverage area.

 

In the event a Meraki Go access point is unable to reach the internet, it will automatically try to reach the internet through a friendly neighbor access point in the Meraki Go account. This will occur, for example, if an access point is powered on with the power supply provided and not with a wired connection. 

Meshing - Network Components

Meraki Go access points are capable of wirelessly meshing with each other when in the same account. The access points can be in one of two states when we consider wireless meshing: Gateway, or Repeater.

Gateways

Gateway access points are connected directly to the wired network, granting it an uplink to the Internet. If a gateway loses its wired connection, it will look for a nearby gateway and automatically fail over to acting as a repeater, without dropping active wireless device connections.

 

Meraki determines whether a device should be a repeater or a gateway when the access point turns on. If the access point can reach the internet when it powers on, it is assumed to be a gateway. If a gateway access point can no longer reach the internet through the uplink, it can become a repeater.

Repeaters

Repeater access points are not directly connected to the wired network, instead relying on wireless mesh links to reach the Internet. As long as the repeater has power and a strong (unobstructed, line-of-sight) wireless connection to another repeater or gateway, it will form a mesh link.

Note: It is possible to have multiple gateways and repeaters in a mesh network, each repeater will automatically choose the gateway to which it has received the strongest wireless signal

Note: To confirm your access point as functioning as a repeater:

  • Navigate to the devices page from within the Meraki Go application, LAN IP will be shown as "none" for this access point and only the Public IP will be seen.. 

Installing a Mesh Access Point

1. Install the mesh repeater within wireless range of the mesh gateway. If you cannot see the wireless network on your phone, the repeater won't be able to as well.

2. Connect the Mesh Access Point to its power supply. The power supply can be a Meraki PoE injector, plug-in AC power adapter, or IEEE 802.3af compliant PoE switch. If the LED's do not light up when the power supply is connected try the following:

  • Swap power supplies with known working supply.

  • When using PoE adapters or switches try swapping cables, PoE adapters or switches.

  • Make sure the cables are less than 100 meters long

Note: If the repeater is being powered via PoE and/or has any sort of link back to a network,or if it is configured with a static IP, it will not come online as a repeater and continue attempting to function as a gateway.

3. Once the repeater is powered the LED's go through a series of sequences. 

    • The LED will begin as orange while booting, then cycle through all colors while initializing and scanning for a gateway. 

    • After locating a working gateway, the LED will turn green. If the LED continually blinks orange, it is unable to locate a gateway.

  • If the Access Point cannot find a working gateway:

    • Verify the gateway has been added to the Meraki Go Application.

    • Verify the gateway is online with Meraki Go Application.

    • Verify the gateway or another mesh repeater that has a route to the gateway and is within range of the mesh repeater. This can be done by moving them closer together with a line of sight and away from physical obstructions.

4. After the repeater has established a route to the gateway, the repeater will connect to the cloud and begin downloading its configurations. During this time the Radio light will begin flashing green or orange. Once the configurations are downloaded, the Access Point will reboot and go through the same light sequences.

5. Once the Access Point has booted up and confirmed that it has the latest firmware the radio and signal lights will turn solid green. 

Additional Considerations when Meshing

Staging a Repeater

The Meraki Go access point is unaware of any of its friendly neighbors if it has never been powered on before. While a new access point can establish mesh out of the box, it will achieve the goal faster if allowed to connect to the internet first. This allows the access point to learn which neighboring devices are friendly and able to mesh with ahead of time. It is recommended to stage a repeater with an internet connection until it comes online in the Meraki Go application prior to deploying it as a repeater to extend coverage areas.

Impact of Meshing on Throughput

Wireless networks of today are lightning fast, but it would surprise most people to know that only one device can send traffic at a time. This type of communication is called half-duplex, and is similar to how a walky-talky radio functions: only one speaker can be heard at any given time. What this means for client devices on a repeater is slower internet speeds.

 

Each repeater in a wireless network will see its throughput reduced by 50%. A mesh network allows repeater access points to chain off of one another, and it is possible to see connections with multiple repeaters in them. Each repeater in the path to the internet will take the maximum throughput and divide it by half.

 

If possible, avoid the use of repeaters and mesh access points to maintain ideal throughput. The mesh can help with poor signal areas and struggling access points, but a gateway access point will always provide a better experience.

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