Contents

Manage Wireless Mesh Networks

In a wireless mesh network, one or more APs connected to the wired network can provide wireless network connectivity to other APs that are not connected to the wired network. Wireless mesh networks remove the need to provide a wired network connection to every AP.

You can use mesh networks in environments where the installation of a wired network is not a cost-effective option. For example, a wireless mesh can be used to connect two wired networks in different premises or to extend a wired network to open spaces within a premise. Note that you cannot create a wireless mesh network that is a combination of WatchGuard APs and APs from other vendors. The mesh network must consist of WatchGuard APs only.

For dual-radio APs configured in a mesh network, we recommend you use one radio dedicated to mesh network functions for the best throughput performance. One radio can be configured as a mesh radio while the other radio can be configured to offer wireless access to clients.

We recommend you use the 5 GHz radio for the mesh link. You can use the 2.4 GHz radio for a longer range between mesh endpoints, but the resulting mesh connection will be slower. The 5 GHz radio provides better throughput for devices connected through the mesh radio.

Meshing network diagram

A wireless mesh network consists of root and non-root APs.

  • A root device is an AP that is directly connected to the wired network.
  • A non-root device is an AP that is not directly connected to the wired network. It connects to the wired network through the root AP. A non-root AP can communicate with the root AP directly, or through another non-root AP. There could be one or more root APs and multiple non-root APs in the wireless mesh network.

Mesh APs require a recommended signal strength of at least -50 dBm between each AP.

How Wireless Mesh Networks Work

The mesh network is formed only after the root AP is powered on and available over the network. The root AP propagates the signal on the mesh radio. A non-root AP tries to establish a connection with the root AP and waits for 60 seconds to make sure that the connection is stable before propagating signals on its mesh radio. When the APs in the mesh network are online, it will take at least 60 seconds multiplied by the maximum number of hops for the entire mesh network to be established.

When the mesh network is established, the mesh radios of the APs check for path validity and the RSSI values to calculate the least-cost path every 10 seconds. A path is considered invalid if the non-root AP is unable to reach the root AP. If a non-root AP finds the existing path to be invalid on three consecutive retries, it switches to the next best path. Similarly, if a non-root AP finds the existing path not to be the least-cost path on five consecutive retries, it switches to the best path.

If an AP in the mesh network fails, reboots, is powered down, or is not functional, then all the APs connected to it wait for 60 seconds before identifying another valid least-cost path. Also, if an AP is unable to obtain a stable connection with another AP for three consecutive retries, then the former AP places the latter device on a discard list for one hour.

These measures ensure effective use of APs, improved performance from the mesh network, and failover capability when APs fail.

Create an Wireless Mesh Network

The tasks you must complete to create a wireless mesh network are:

  1. Connect All Mesh APs to the Wired Network
  2. Create a Mesh Profile
  3. Configure a Device Template
  4. Apply the Device Template to APs
  5. Configure the Device Properties for Root APs
  6. Disconnect Non-Root Mesh APs from Wired Network
  7. Monitor APs in the Wireless Mesh Network

Connect All Mesh APs to the Wired Network

You must initially connect all the APs to the wired network so that they can be configured for your wireless mesh network. Configure the APs with the necessary network settings and connect them to your wired network (LAN). Power on all APs and check whether they are visible in Manage.

When your network mesh configuration is complete at the end of these procedures, you will disconnect the non-root mesh APs from the wired network and deploy them as wireless-only. (If you use PoE power, make sure the data-in port is disconnected for your PoE power source.) Make sure that the root APs are still connected to the wired network in your environment.

Create a Mesh Profile

You must create a mesh profile that contains the parameters for the mesh network. The mesh profile defined for the wireless mesh network must be applied to one of the radios of the mesh APs. This radio acts as the dedicated radio to communicate with the other APs on the mesh network.

We recommend you use the 5 GHz radio for mesh networks. While you can add SSIDs to the mesh radio, we recommend that for the best performance, you dedicate this radio to mesh communications and do not add an SSID Profile to broadcast on the same radio.

To set up a wireless mesh network for a location:

  1. Select a location from the location tree.
  2. Select Configuration > Device Configuration.
  3. Select SSID Profiles, then click the Mesh Profiles tab,
  4. Click Add New Mesh Profile.
  5. Specify the mesh profile parameters:

Screen shot of the mesh profile page

  • Profile Name — Name of the mesh profile.
  • SSID — SSID of the mesh profile. This is the network name of the mesh network.
  • Max Hop Count — Maximum number of hops in which the wired network can be reached. For example, the number of hops for a root AP would be 0 as it is directly connected to the wired network. Similarly, the hops for a non-root AP directly communicating with the root AP is 1.
  • Max Downlinks — Maximum number of mesh APs that can directly connect to a non-root or root AP in the mesh network. This indicates the maximum number of child nodes that a parent node can have in the mesh tree topology. You can type a value between 0 and 5.
  • Min. RSSI — Minimum RSSI for an AP to connect to another AP in the mesh. An AP requesting to connect to another AP should have the specified RSSI to be able to connect to the other AP. You can type a value between -100 and 0 dbm.
  1. Click Save.

Configure a Device Template

To define a device template for the APs in the mesh network:

  1. Select Configuration > Device Configuration > Device Templates.
  2. Click Add Device Template or modify an existing template.
  3. Type a Template Name and Description.
  4. Select the Allow Device Specific Customization check box.
  5. Configure any required options in the Device Settings section, such as the device password.
  6. Expand the Radio Settings section.
  7. For both Radio 1 and Radio 2, select Access Point as the Operation Mode.

Radios on a mesh AP cannot be configured as a WIPS sensor or as an AP with background scanning.

  1. Select the radio that you want to use for the mesh network. You can only add a mesh profile to one of the radios on the AP. We recommend you configure the mesh radio on the 5 GHz band radio.
  1. Select the Mesh Profiles tab for the radio.
  2. Click Add SSID Profile.
  3. In the Available SSID Profiles for this Location window, click the Mesh Profiles tab, then select the mesh profile you created.
  4. Click OK.

Screen shot of the radio settings for a mesh radio in a Device Template

Make sure this mesh profile has a corresponding Authorized WLAN Policy. If you do not create an Authorized WLAN Policy for the mesh profile you have assigned to the radio, WIPS will classify the AP as misconfigured. For more information, see Configure Authorized WLAN Policy.

  1. On the mesh radio, set the Operating Channel. After you add a mesh profile to the radio, the channel is set to Manual and a channel number selected. Make sure that each mesh radio uses the same channel in your deployment.
  2. On the other radio that will offer wireless network access to clients, add an SSID Profile.
  1. Click Add SSID Profile for the required radio that will broadcast an SSID.
  2. In the Available SSID Profiles for this Location window, select the SSID Profile.
  3. Click OK.

Screen shot of the radio settings for the SSID Profile radio on a mesh AP

Make sure that the scanning mode for the radio where you added the SSID profile is set to No Scanning. You cannot use VoIP-aware Scanning or Background Scanning on the mesh AP.

  1. Click Save.

Apply the Device Template to APs

After you configure the device template, you must apply the template on the APs in the mesh network. Make sure that all the mesh APs, both root and non-root devices, are connected on the network and are visible in Manage.

  1. Select Monitoring > Managed Devices.
  2. Select the APs to be deployed on the mesh network.
    Make sure that the APs are active. If the APs are inactive, the template will not be applied on the AP.
  3. Click the change device template Change device template icon icon.
  4. Select the device template you created for mesh APs.
  5. Click Save.

Configure the Device Properties for Root APs

By default, all configured mesh APs are non-root APs. To configure a mesh AP as a root AP:

  1. Disconnect the non-root APs from the wired network, and make sure the root APs are connected to the wired network. (If you use PoE power, make sure the data-in port is disconnected for your PoE power source.)
  2. Select Monitoring > Managed Devices.
  3. Select a root AP to display the device properties.
  4. To reveal additional device properties, click the additional properties icon Device additional properties icon.

The ability to change the root mode of an AP is initially hidden in the device properties. To reveal additional device properties, click the additional properties icon Device additional properties icon, and then enable the Is Mesh Root Node option.

  1. Enable the Is Mesh Root Node option to specify the root AP or APs in the wireless mesh network.
  2. Repeat these steps for each AP in the mesh network that you want to make a root AP.

Disconnect Non-Root Mesh APs from Wired Network

When your network mesh configuration is complete, disconnect the non-root mesh APs from the wired network and deploy them using wireless only.

Make sure that the root APs are still connected to the wired network in your environment.

Monitor APs in the Wireless Mesh Network

You can add a location floor and layout for your wireless mesh network in Manage from the Locations menu. You can place your mesh devices on the floor layout. Click the Show Mesh Topology link to show the mesh links in your wireless mesh profile. For more information, see View Mesh Topology.

On the Monitoring > Managed Devices page, you can select an AP, then click page 9 to see the Up Link and list of Down Links for the AP and the corresponding RSSI values. The device name and the RSSI of the parent of the selected device is displayed in Up Link. The APs that are connected to the selected AP as child nodes in the mesh network topology are displayed in Down Links.

Create Copy of Mesh Profile

You can create a copy of a mesh profile and use it as a distinct mesh profile by making minor modifications to the profile.

To create a copy of a mesh profile:

  1. Select Configuration > Device Configuration > SSID Profiles, then select the Mesh Profiles tab.
  2. Select the location of the mesh profile from the location tree. A list of mesh profiles available at the location is displayed in Mesh Profiles.
  3. Click the name of the mesh profile to save with another name.
  4. Change the name of the mesh profile, and modify any other parameters as required.
  5. Click Save.

Copy Mesh Profile to Another Location

To copy a mesh profile from one location to another:

  1. Select Configuration > Device Configuration > SSID Profiles, then select the Mesh Profiles tab.
  2. Select the location where the mesh profile to copy has been created.
  3. Select the mesh profile to be copied to another location.
  4. Click the Copy to location icon.
  5. Select the location to which you want to copy the mesh profile.
  6. Click OK.

Print List of Mesh Profiles for Location

To print a list of mesh profiles at a location:

  1. Select Configuration > Device Configuration > SSID Profiles, then select the Mesh Profiles tab.
  2. Select the columns that you want in the printed list.
  3. Click the Print icon.
    A print preview of the list appears.
  4. Click Print.

Delete Mesh Profile

To delete a mesh profile:

  1. Select Configuration > Device Configuration > SSID Profiles, then select the Mesh Profiles tab.
  2. Select the location where the mesh profile to delete has been created.
  3. Select the mesh profile to be deleted.
  4. Click the Delete icon.
    You cannot delete a mesh profile that is in use.
  5. Select Yes to confirm.

Give Us Feedback  ●   Get Support  ●   All Product Documentation  ●   Technical Search