AP Neighbors allows users to better understand how much interference they have in their RF environment by providing real-time spectrum analysis of the wireless domain without any operational downtime.
RF interference is a concern for any enterprise wireless network. Busy wireless networks with multiple APs broadcast on various channels naturally creates higher utilization of channels. If channel planning is misconfigured, these devices will emit large amounts of channel interference for neighboring APs, resulting in degraded performance of neighboring access points.
With AP Neighbors, users can select a target AP in their network and observe surrounding APs operating on the same channel. By visualizing the target APs' RF neighbors, users can determine if there is potential for client disconnects or poor performance/roaming due to poor RF/cell overlap (APs being too close to each other) / interference when planning wireless deployments.
When monitoring channel utilization and reviewing the information below, it is important to remember that a busy wireless network will naturally result in higher utilization of channels. While this is to be expected, it can still be used as an indicator that a particular AP or channel may have too many clients.
Note: The information on the RF Spectrum page is sourced from the scanning radio. The scanning radio on the Access Point has a counter for each channel it scans. Each channel is scanned for 150 ms, and the counter is updated every 20 seconds. Counters indicate how often the AP was transmitting, receiving, and saw congestion on the channel, as well as the total cycle count. For every 150 ms sample, the AP reads the counters and computes the difference between the value from 150 ms ago and the new value. This difference is used to calculate the channel utilization.
The AP Neighbors feature is available in all APs running MR27+ and requires the built-in scanning radio. The feature won't be available in networks that don't have at least one AP with built-in scanning radio or any AP that is not capable of running MR27+.
To access this information, navigate to the Wireless > Monitor > AP Neighbors page. Only APs with a dedicated WIPS radio will appear on this page. If there are none within the selected network, the page will not appear.
The RF Spectrum page gives users real-time metrics to analyze how densely populated their RF environment is. The page displays a listed view of each in-network AP with the following information.
Name - The name of the AP (or MAC address if a name hasn't been configured).
Channel & Channel Width - The channels currently in use by this AP. Listed as 2.4, 5, and 6 GHz channels. Followed by configured channel width.
Avg. channel utilization (2.4 / 5 / 6 GHz) - Average utilization over the last 80 seconds for the AP's client-serving 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz radio channel.
Packet loss (2.4 / 5 / 6 GHz) - Observed packet loss on the AP
In events where an AP reports either high channel utilization or packet loss. A user can select the specific AP for deeper troubleshooting. Once an in-network AP is selected, the AP Neighbors overview page populates with real-time data captured from the device. With live data on channel utilization, observed interference from neighboring APs, and client connectivity, users can live troubleshoot wireless issues or determine which channels to use in high-density environments.
Note: This utilization percentage will rise as clients transmit data. Thus, a high utilization percentage on a busy network is not unusual but does indicate the channel is nearing capacity.
Note: The average channel utilization for the last 10 samples is calculated on the AP and displayed on this page initially. The longer the page is open, the more information is sent by the AP each second, with the aggregated average displayed. The channel utilization data is refreshed when the page is refreshed.
The AP Neighbors page offers four categories for users to visualize RF interference.
Interfering APs on same channel: These APs share the same channel as the target AP and thus will likely cause the highest interference. A higher dBm (ex. -40 is higher than -60) indicates a stronger signal. If Channel utilization or active clients are high, it may indicate high traffic; therefore, configuration adjustments must be made.
Interfering APs with some overlap: These neighbor APs report channel overlap with the selected AP due to wider channel widths, i.e., 40 MHz to 80 MHz. With channel overlap, low to moderate interference may occur. Channel utilization is high is an indication of a surge in traffic from client activity; thus, configuration adjustments may be needed.
Non-interfering APs: These APs should not cause any interference since they are not on the same channel and have no overlap with the selected AP's channel.
Total in-network neighbors: Gives the total number of neighboring APs in the network heard by the selected AP.
Each category will display the target AP's surrounding interference status based on channel overlap. Users can hover over the width of the channel bar to see channel width, number of client connections, channel utilization, RSSI value, and Tx Power. These KPIs can be used to troubleshoot the target AP's connection health and provide information to diagnose issues with client connectivity.
Users are provided two visual interpretations of the channel overlap of neighboring APs potentially interfering with the selected AP. On the first visual, a classic channel map, the x-axis represents the RSSI strength across all in-network APs contributing to either high, moderate, or low interference on the target AP. The y-axis can be filtered to show the number of connected clients, transmit power, and channel utilization of each neighboring AP contributing to channel congestion. Once viewing the details for a given AP, several sets of information will be displayed, updating in real-time to provide a holistic view of the neighboring AP’s connection status.
The second visualization takes this information a step further, and aims to simplify troubleshooting channel congestion by directly displaying which APs are generating the most RF interference relative to the selected AP. AP Neighbors provides users insight into potentially high channel utilization or poor client connections and recommends channel adjustments.
The Live data section displays the current channel utilization of 802.11 and Non-802.11 traffic interference on a specific AP. This ratio of actual Wi-Fi interference from neighboring APs compared to outside RF interference can help users determine how congested their RF environment is with APs broadcasting compared to electrical interference from erroneous devices.
All Channel utilization gives the percentage of utilization being observed across all channels. With this, users can discover less-occupied channels in the RF environment and tune the AP to an underutilized channel.
The RF Spectrum analysis chart shows an AP's channel utilization over a set period, allowing users to visualize spectrum energy across the 2.4, 5 GHz, and 6 GHz bands and identify spectrum interference. A new line will appear on the top of the graph each second, color-coded based on noise level (utilization).
As more data is collected, trends can be seen as color bands develop over frequencies with higher average noise levels. The newest measurement will always be at the top of the graph.
Note: For more information on channel planning, refer to https://documentation.meraki.com/MR/...Best_Practices