Using a Cisco Meraki Access Point as a Mesh Repeater
Mesh Repeater Overview
In a Meraki network, "mesh repeaters" are AP's without a wired path to the cloud. Repeaters rely on other mesh repeaters and or "mesh gateways" to route client traffic towards the Internet. Mesh repeaters make use of mesh routing metrics to determine the best quality route to use when forwarding client traffic. Any Meraki AP can function as a mesh repeater. At least one mesh gateway must be installed on the network before you add a mesh repeater.
Note: Only Cisco Meraki APs can function as repeaters and gateways. Wireless MX security appliances, Z1/Z3 teleworker gateways, and third-party APs cannot participate in a wireless mesh.
- Add the serial number of the mesh repeater AP to the network in Dashboard.
- Add the serial number of the mesh gateway AP to the network in Dashboard.
- Install a mesh gateway AP within range of the mesh repeater.
Installing a Repeater
1. Install the mesh repeater within wireless range of the mesh gateway.
2. Connect the mesh repeater 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 using Meraki PoE injectors/adapters refer to the instructions in the AP product setup guide. 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 adpaters 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, 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. Please refer to the Product Setup Guide for the model AP to determine the exact LED locations for your model.
- Pre-2014 Models
- Radio light will turn solid green or solid orange (MR Units). If the radio light is off make sure power supply is working.
- Signal lights will move back and forth as the AP search for neighbors. The repeaters lights will turn solid green after 2 minutes of scanning if a working route to the mesh gateway can be found. If the lights continuously move back and forth and never turn solid green, the repeater cannot find a route to the mesh gateway.
- 2014 and beyond Models (single LED)
- 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 AP cannot find a working gateway:
- Verify the gateway has been added to the Dashboard network.
- Verify the gateway is online with Dashboard.
- 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 firmware and configuration. During this time the Radio light will begin flashing green or orange (MR units). Once the firmware is upgraded the AP will reboot and go through the same light sequences.
5. Once the AP has booted up and confirmed that it has the latest firmware the radio and signal lights will turn solid green.
Impact of Meshing on Throughput
Due to the half-duplex nature of wireless communication and that signals being passed through a repeater AP must be retransmitted to the next hop, throughput is greatly reduced when using a repeater. While many factors impact wireless throughput, it is safe to assume that the addition of meshing can reduce throughput by approximately 50%, with that reduction being applied for each subsequent repeater that must be traversed to reach a gateway. Therefore, it is advised to minimize the number of hops between a client and gateway.
Selection of Band or Channel used for Meshing
As part of the self-healing nature of meshing, the access points will automatically detect each other and select the best route to a gateway. All Cisco Meraki APs that support meshing will automatically try to mesh if they lose their wired connection, or be available for connections from repeaters if connected as a gateway. To that end, it is generally recommended to allow auto-channel selection in networks with repeaters.
While it is not possible to select which frequency band should be used for meshing, it is possible to manually adjust channel selections to direct the AP toward a desired behavior. To do this, refer to the article on manually changing channels in a mesh network. If it is desired for two APs to mesh on 5Ghz as opposed to 2.4Ghz, then the APs should both be set to the same 5Ghz channel, but different 2.4Ghz channels. Keep in mind though that a frequency band cannot be allocated specifically for meshing, and both bands will still be available for servicing clients, unless the SSID is configured to use the 5Ghz band only.