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Wireless support of NetBIOS name resolution

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A NetBIOS name is a unique identifier that identifies resources on a network running NetBIOS over TCP/IP. This identifier is often the same as the computer or resource host name. NetBIOS is a Layer 2 protocol and therefore cannot traverse Layer 3 boundaries such as a NAT or VPN interface. Therefore, NetBIOS name resolution is not possible when a Cisco Meraki AP is operating in NAT mode but is possible when operating in Bridge mode.

NAT mode

Wireless clients will not be able to resolve NetBIOS names. NetBIOS name resolution is unsupported in NAT mode for the following reasons:

  1. Meraki APs provide DNS name resolution for wireless clients. Meraki APs can only resolve Fully Qualified Domain Names (e.g. myhost.mydomain.com) but not NetBIOS names (e.g. myhost).
  2. Wireless clients cannot communicate with each other in NAT mode, therefore NetBIOS broadcast based discovery is not possible.
  3. Meraki APs, which provide DHCP to wireless clients do not support the distribution of DHCP option 44 WINS-Name Server.
  4. Layer-2 based discover protocols such as NetBIOS are unable to pass through the Meraki NAT.

Bridge mode

Wireless clients will be able to resolve NetBIOS names. NetBIOS name resolution is supported in bridge mode for the following reasons:
  1. Wireless clients are bridged onto the LAN at layer 2 and host to host communication is unrestricted. This allows for NetBIOS broadcast based discovery.
  2. Wireless clients receive DHCP from the LAN, therefore the DHCP server can be configured to distribute DHCP option 44 WINS-Name Server IP address to wireless clients.
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