I am in the process of specifying a set of upgrades to allow 802.11ax roaming in a campus consisting of several large warehouses. Right now, the network consists of 802.11g access points with very patchy coverage because of areas where it is problematic to run wired ethernet. I thought this would be a good place to use a mesh.

I am exploring using 802.11s for the mesh. There are a couple of things I don't understand though.

  1. When a station, say a laptop, connects to the mesh, does it also act to repeat the signal, as if it were another access point?
  2. Can I make use of the wired links that are already in place for the legacy network to improve the robustness of the mesh?
  3. If I have stations roaming between multiple buildings, and access points in different buildings are attached to different L3 wired segments, do they need to be completely separate meshes? All stations will be configured with DHCP.

Of course there is a redundant RADIUS server infrastructure for authentication.


  • 2
    Most businesses do not use a mesh as they want predictability, stability, etc.. Generally, what a business will do in this case is to run a wireless site survey to determine the correct number, placement, power levels, channels, etc. of the WAPs, and then use a WLC to control the WAPs.
    – Ron Maupin
    Sep 27 '20 at 4:31
  1. No, laptops and other supplicants do not act as repeaters/extenders.

  2. Yes, commercial-grade wireless access points with mesh capabilities will generally also support wired links. Most consumer-grade mesh systems support wired backhaul, too.

  3. You cannot have supplicant devices roam from one subnet to another. That wouldn't be roaming; it'd be configuring the same SSID on entirely different networks. Results would be somewhat poor -- users will be disrupted as they roam, and the worst part, if a user device is cycling back-and-forth between two APs, instead of this being mostly seamless, they will experience repeated disruptions in their application traffic, such as dropped VOIP connections, etc.

  • 2. How about 802.11s on OpenWRT? Oct 2 '20 at 0:09
  • 3. Well, we are talking about moving from one building to another, so it might be ok. Oct 2 '20 at 0:10
  • Some devices will be confused by going from building to building if you have the same SSID but different subnets. It won't happen every time, but often enough to create help desk nightmares for you. Try it out with a prototype deployment and see for yourself. If you are going to have separate subnets, you are better off using different SSIDs for each building. That way, the devices always know they changed networks, and they will always initiate a new DHCPDISCOVER process. Oct 2 '20 at 16:57
  • Does this confusion also happen if the buildings have different RADIUS configurations, etc? Oct 3 '20 at 22:57

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