So I know that basically switches work like this (assuming 2 PCs are connected via Ethernet port) - the switch will store the mapping of the 2 PCs' MAC address and the switch ports in which they connected to.

So my question is, if the switch had PC A on one port, and a WIFI router on the other port (and the WIFI router having many wireless devices connected to it), like will all the MAC addresses of the wireless devices be stored on the switch or will only the MAC address of the WIFI router be stored ???

I need your help...

  • Modern Wireless solutions can, for instance, use a Wireless LAN controller, which controls every Wireless access point and acts like the "brain". In a Cisco environment, this solution uses CAPWAP tunnels, where the AP connects to the controller. Traffic in the tunnel is encrypted and therefore all clients behind the access point are not shown, only the MAC of the access points physical interface is shown.
    – user36472
    Jan 16, 2019 at 13:55
  • So If I want to have all the wireless devices' MAC addresses stored on the switch, I'd have to get a "dumb and non-modern" WiFi router? Jan 16, 2019 at 14:08
  • Please describe your router and your configuration in detail - note that consumer-grade devices are explicitly off-topic here. If the wireless network is bridged to Ethernet the MAC addresses are visible to the switch. If it is routed to Ethernet they are not.
    – Zac67
    Jan 16, 2019 at 15:24
  • its definitely a consumer-grade Wi-Fi router. its a simple ZTE router with only 1 RJ-45 port and allows a maximum of 32 simultaneous Wi-Fi connnections Jan 16, 2019 at 18:29

1 Answer 1


It works the same way as if two switches were connected (switches and WAPs are bridges). The MAC address table of each bridge (switch or WAP) will contain the MAC addresses of the hosts from which the frames originated on the interfaces where the frames entered the bridge. For a bridge-to-bridge connection, the MAC address table will probably have multiple MAC address entries with that interface.

More directly to your question, if frames from a Wi-Fi connected device enter the switch from the switch interface to the WAP, then the switch will have an entry in its MAC address table for the device with the interface connected to the WAP, but, as Cown points out, if the WAP is controller-based using a CAPWAP tunnel, then the frames from the Wi-Fi connected devices would be encapsulated inside CAPWAP frames, and the switch would never see the frames from the Wi-Fi connected devices.

Basically, the answer depends on how your network is configured.

  • so like in the comments, setting my Wi-Fi router to bridged mode will always do what I am seeking??? and is all that I have to do really??? Jan 16, 2019 at 18:14
  • Unfortunately, your consumer-grade Wi-Fi router is off-topic here. Most likely, it will work the way you want, but we cannot ve sure. You can ask about consumer-grade devices on Super User.
    – Ron Maupin
    Jan 16, 2019 at 18:17
  • so enterprise-grade Wi-Fi routers will 100% allow bridged mode and hence solve my problem? Jan 16, 2019 at 18:26
  • In enterprise equipment, you use WAPs, not routers, for Wi-Fi. Your consumer-grade device is a Frankenstein box with a router, switch, firewall, WAP, etc. all in one chassis. These are really separate devices, and your bridge mode is simply disabling the router. For enterprise WAPs, you have a regular WAP or LWAP (controller based).
    – Ron Maupin
    Jan 16, 2019 at 18:33

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