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Cisco Meraki Gateway AP vs. Repeater AP

Cisco Meraki access points can operate in two functional modes for meshing purposes: gateway and repeater mode. All MR access points are capable of functioning as either a gateway or a repeater in a mesh network. This article outlines key differences and behaviors of gateway and repeater access points.

Gateway APs

A Cisco Meraki gateway is an AP that is physically connected to the LAN. It has a direct route to the internet and local resources over its wired connection. It holds a valid IP address, subnet mask, gateway IP and DNS servers.

Repeater APs

A Repeater AP does not have a wired  path to the Network. It meshes to other MR units, repeaters or Gateways in order to pass traffic out to the local LAN, Internet and Cloud Controller. A Repeater AP will never hold an IP address and requires at least one MR gateway within the wireless infrastructure to route traffic out properly.

Identifying a Repeater AP vs Gateway AP 

  1. Navigate to Wireless > Monitor > Access points
  2. Click the wrench icon on the right-hand side and make sure the Gateway option is selected:

    A gateway AP will be listed as "(self)" under the Gateway column, while a repeater AP will list some other AP in the network (denoting that it is using that AP as its gateway):
  3. An additional way to identify a gateway or repeater AP is by checking the LAN IP section on the AP's details page.
    A gateway AP will show a LAN IP address and give you the ability to assign an IP address:

    A repeater AP will leave the LAN IP section blank:

    A repeater's details page also shows information about its route to the mesh gateway. This information is displayed on the RF tab:

Some additional information on the RF page includes:

  • Avg Mbps - shows the speed of traffic moving over that specific route. 

  • Avg Metric - a calculation based on signal strength, speed of wireless channel and distance, a metric value under 2000 is optimal.

  • Usage - information about how often that specific route is used, a repeater AP can have multiple routes 

Configurations

Configuring an AP as a gateway

  1. The best way to configure a gateway AP is to connect it to a LAN section that has a DHCP server available. The AP will then perform the four-way handshake and obtain an IP address. Once the AP has a valid IP address it will sync with Dashboard to validate firmware and configuration.
  2. You will also have the ability to connect to the MR device locally and configure a static IP address on the unit if there are not DHCP servers available on the Local LAN.

Configuring a Repeater AP

Please refer to Using a Meraki Access Point as a Mesh Repeater

Self Healing Technology 

Self-healing technology in Cisco Meraki APs allows them to automatically reconfigure and use mesh links in the event of a wired Ethernet or switch failure, forwarding traffic to other APs in the network that have Internet gateway connectivity. APs establish mesh networks automatically, even when connected to the wired LAN, making the optimized mesh link immediately available in the case of a wired LAN failure event.

APs maintain a per-flow track of traffic, so clients already associated to an AP continue to have connectivity and experience no interruption in service. Cisco Meraki mesh technologies, including automatic link optimization, adaptive capacity management, and failure resilience enable networks to continue operating despite failures or configuration changes in the rest of the network, without the need for manual configuration or optimization.

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