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I am thinking on the implementation of a Wifi mesh, with the restriction that all AP-AP communication, including routing/bridging, should happen on ethernet.

The reasons, why the lack of radio-based AP-AP contact is unwelcomed, are multiple:

  • There are multiple APs being far away from the others, I can not guarantee a fully connected network on the 802.11 level. But the cabling is okay.
  • The radio network is often overloaded or unstable, I can not risk the most hilarious problems if the APs can not talk correctly.
  • I do not want to further multiply the load by forwarding data over radio.
  • I also find it hilarious that APs use radio to talk to each other, while there is a fully stable and working wired backend available.

I do not want AP-AP communication or radio, all of it should happen on cable (bridged to 802.3).

Thus, the goal is that the APs talk to each other only on 802.3, while end devices "see" a mesh network.

However, practically all the info I could google for that, is about the 802.11s standard. This standard describes mesh (wireless distribution system) on a purely radio-based, 802.11 level. As I understood from the (quite fragmented, rare) docs, it has simply nothing to do to any wired communication.

Does such a system exist? How is it being done?

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In enterprise what is commonly used is a centralized WiFi system based on a Wireless Controller and satellite access points.

The controller is the sole configuration point, and it push the configuration on the access points.

There's a standard protocol for this: LWAPP (Lightweight Access Point Protocol) defined in rfc5412 but not many products exists that conform to it and I would never try (as of 2020) to mix different brands in such a setup.

One of the most preeminent ones is the Wireless Lan Controller (WLC) from Cisco. It exists as a standalone hardware product, as a virtual appliance, or embedded in some routers software, or as an expansion card in other routers.

Additionally Cisco has the Meraki product line.

Netgear also has WiFi controller, less expensive (and less feature rich). I do not know if they comply to the standard or not.

Ubiquity, Aruba, HP, and Xirrus all have a centralized WiFi management also.

There are certanly others...

In all those systems the controller ensure the uniform configuration and also handle the roaming from an AP to another one, which is very important for laptop users or Wifi-based VoIP.

| improve this answer | |
  • @RonTunk thanks, much better. – JFL Apr 16 at 12:02
  • Thanks, it is a very good direction! I am investigating the options now. Be back soon. – peterh - Reinstate Monica Apr 16 at 15:03

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