I am really excited to write about WiFi6 (802.11ax), which is the next generation WiFi after 802.11n (WiFi4) in 2009 and 802.11ac (WiFi5) improvements in 2013/2016.
Note that WiFi6 is WiFi Alliance certification (to be published Q3-2019) based on upcoming IEEE 802.11ax amendment (to be ratified Q3-2020). Here is a brief comparison between WiFi5 vs WiFi6.
Cisco recently released 3 different models in 9100 series that supports 802.11ax. (They also released MR45 & MR55 models in Meraki as well). Here are the links to datasheet for 9100 series models.
Cisco started naming these APs as Catalyst APs Oppose to Aironet APs (C9117AXI-B vs AIR-AP4802I-B) based on their flagship product “Catalyst”. Here is a great video talk about differences between these models.
Primary objective of WiFi6 to improve performance of WLAN in high density environments. This is a really great article from National Instruments that explaining enhancement introduced in 802.11ax in details.
Introduction to 802.11ax High-Efficiency Wireless
- Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA)
- Target Wake Time (TWT)
- MU-MIMO (both uplink & downlink)
- BSS Coloring (Spatial Reuse)
- 1024 QAM Support
- Up to 8 Spatial Stream (SS)
There were really great CLUS presentations that talks about different aspects of WiFi6. You should go through them to understand what’s coming with Cisco 802.11ax APs. Here are the links for those presentations (if you do not have account, you can create one free of charge).
- BRKEWN-3010 : Understanding Cisco RF Features by Jim Florwick
- BRKEWN-2017 : Understanding RF & Radio Design of WiFi6 by Fred Niehaus
- BRKEWN-2010 : Introduction to Next Generation Wireless stack by Sujit Ghosh
- BRKRST-2515 : QoS Design and Deployment for Wireless LANs by Rob Barton
- BRKEWN-2006 : Advancements in Wireless Security by Sthephen Orr
During my recent visit to Cisco HQ, they gave me C9115AX & C9117AX model for testing. (Note that Cisco invited me JustTheTech-802.11ax introduction event that I could not attend in person, so I got those APs later on).
In my testing I have registered AX9117 AP in local mode to 8540 running on AireOS 18.104.22.168. Cisco AX9115 in sniffer mode capturing WiFi6 traffic on a WLAN configured with WPAv2-PSK with FT. Used LiveAction Omnipeek to receiver of those captured packets.
Here is a beacon frame that you can see HE (High Efficiency) capabilities in it. Note that these Cisco AP based on IEEE802.11ax (Draft 3.0). Here is the pcap file if you need to go through it.
Having few number of clients on the 9117AP, I got reasonably higher speeds on Samsung S10 clients (530 Mbps upload vs 685 Mbps download). Since 802.11ax talks about higher efficiency, more testing to be done to see how performance impact when we add more clients to the cell.
Here is the raw packet capture taken during these clients connecting to the SSID & of beacon frames/Probe Request/Probe Response for your references.
Here is the “debug client a8:db:03:8a:of:9e” (one of 802.11ax client) output on WLC while one of those ax client trying to connect.
As I play with these AP, will do more posts in future.
Jordan Elder said:
Have you gotten your hands on the 4800 and been able to compare it to the new catalyst series? My org put a lot of money out to transition to 4800s but I really really wish we could have waited for the new ax models.
Hi Jordan, Haven’t deployed 4802 in my campus. I believe it is this best WiFi5 AP you can get ( in fact same RF chip available in 9120 for finger printing).
I agree, WiFi6 bring lot of improvements and long run it would be more beneficial
What channel widths did you test? What was the performance of the MBP? Can you run some iperf3 tests to get some more data?
Also your speedtest server shouldn’t be Foxtel, you might get better results with AARNet :).
Hi Gareth, It was set to 80MHz, I will do more testing with iPerf3 & share the results.
Regarding AARNET server with speedtest, yes we did it. Strangely we got half the download speed all the time, hence we changed it to Foxtel 🙂
most of the wifi stuff learned from your blog only, thank you so much.
I am eagerly waiting for your post on 802.11ax,
AP used for testing: Cisco 9115
I am not able to capture the data packet when we put AP in sniffer mode,
sniffer mode AP: C9117AXI-B
only Management packets are able to capture
please suggest me how to capture data packets,
this is really helpful for me.
I haven’t try putting 9117 in sniffer mode & see what it can capture. Good to know what you seen only data+control packet.
I will do more testing & keep you updated
Rajasekhar Reddy said:
Hi Nayarasi sir,
I have seen your blogs, It’s very good page for learning WLAN and you have written it amazing. Thank you very much for your blogs and sharing us your amazing knowledge.
Thank you Rajaskhar for kind remarks.
Rajasekhar Reddy said:
Nayarasi sir please help me on this.
I have WLC 2504 controller with 22.214.171.124 release and I am able to configure the IP to controller and open the controller webpage.
Now I want to join my AP to controller to make Access point advertisable and serve wireless clients.
Since I am to wireless I don’t how to join the AP to controller.
Can you please somebody address this issue and assist me clearly.
My status till now:
1. Controller : WLC 2504
2. Access point: AIR-CAP2602E-A-K9period
We are able to configure the IP address for controller by connecting (console)cable from Controller console port to PC serial port, we gave the static IP address for Controller and PC. (10.48.39.212 for controller and 10.48.39.213 for PC and 10.48.39.5 as gateway), and we are able to open Controller webpage in the PC by connecting cable from Controller port 1 to PC Ethernet. (We tried connecting controller port 2 to PC ethernet, but it didn’t work.)
In the same way we got the webpage for Access point also and got the IP address statically(10.48.39.215) in the same network as Controller.
Now I stuck after this. I am not aware how to communicate AP with WLC and make it work to serve the wireless clients.
Can we configure this AP independently without WLC?
if not how to join AP with controller and how to enable DHCP in that?
Can we connect AP to WLC without Switch in between (or) we need it compulsory?(I don’t have any switch right now).
Awaiting for your reply.
You should be able to get AP registered without having a switch (even though it is not recommended)
There should be internal DHCP server (Controller -> Internal DHCP Server). As long as WLC & AP on same subnet they should be able to register.
I would suggest you to open a thread in Cisco Community with the log of AP console to further support (I will actively responding to that forum)
thanks for share of the packet capture.
I still am a bit confused with the extreme focus on MIMO and beamforming. Yes that’s great technology, but there are other functions that are still important, like antenna selection. Perhaps antenna selection is there somewhere, but I only see antenna selection (ASEL) in 802.11n. Seems to me that in many cases, you will have simple wireless systems that need to only select between 2 or more antenna. Antenna selection can quickly improve radio signal. Remember an antenna can transmit a signal in three dimensions and also polarity varies. Simple switching of antenna (diversity) selection is often the only important feature for simple radio connections. Antenna diversity and the variety of implementations is explained pretty well, in below link. Its goes over cost and benefits of variety of antenna schemes.
If you combine diversity with feedback between radios, you have powerful system for keeping good radio links. They have some of diversity and feedback in these protocols, but I’d like to learn more how they can be used in simple radios.
Anusha Somireddy said:
I have configured cisco 3504 controller with Cisco 9120 AP through
Cisco 3504 controller
Cisco 9120 Ap
cisco POE+ switch
on WLC,I see IP address allocated for AP in DHCP allocated leases
But on Cisco 9120 console,it gives below error
gateway not reachable ip address will not be assigned
waiting for preferred uplink IP configuration
I experimented with cisco 3702E AP’s and they were happy to join the controller
Please can you let me know,if there is anything Iam missing here
Srinivas M said:
I need wireless captures for association(association request and association response).Please share the info if any difference in association procedure of 802.11 ac and 802.11ax
Do you any instructions to install WLC 9800-CL (Cloud) VM on a Vmware Fusion(11.5.3) running on a MacBookPro.
Hope below post helps you
Thanks Rasika for the Prompt Reply, have you or anyone tried to bring up the VM using this procedure in the URL.. Its not working for me at the end..
The 9800CL installs fine on the Fusion software, but it only shows VLAN 1 as the interface of the WLC, there’s no Gig Port, which’s not what this procedure describes.
Also VLan 1 status is UP but the Protocol is Down.
My Macbook is connected to a Cisco catalyst 3560 Switch, via USB 10/100/1000 adaptor. and then switch connects to the Cable Modem .
Could you please let me know How to check whether AP will support UL MU-MIMO and DL MU-MIMO in beacon frames
If you check below blog post, you will get a good understanding about it
Are yo able to capture MU UL HE TB PPDU OFDMA frames ? The one between basic trigger & Multi-Sta BA
I haven’t done further testing on it.
Here is the best resource I can recommend on WiFi6 captures
Thanks Rasika Nayanajith , i have seen that post , only DL MU OFDMA is there not UL . Thats ok . Was curious after seeing your post .
BTW , I greatly admire your work , and your doing a great job
Thank you very much, I will share when I do further testings
Our implementation and migration from WiSM2s to C9800CL and Catalyst 9120APs turned into a nightmare. Will write a post about it on my blog soon.
Pls share it with us. I would like to know what are the highlevel issues in that migration
Can we add 9100 AP series to 3504 controller?
I wanna capture 802.11ax frames by Omnipeek, but i haven’t find a NIC both supported 802.11ax and Omnipek API, can you give me some advice? Thanks a lot !
I would suggest you to use WiFi6 AP in sniffer mode with Omnipeek