Even small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can set up a wireless network quickly.

A number of surveys are already highlighting this trend: the days of wired networks are numbered in terms of establishing connections with end-point devices. Home networks have stopped being wired for a long time now, with the all-in-one Wi-Fi router now taking over. Even more striking is that end-user devices, such the iPad and iPhone, no longer even have a UTP port, with other tablets and laptops also switching to this. However, companies are loath to give up the security, reliability and speed of a wired network so easily. Setting up a “business class” wireless network requires the necessary planning and expertise.

Controller

Developments in the wireless sector have been relentless in recent years. They have resulted in new wireless standards, enhanced wireless security and faster speeds. Installing wireless networks has also become far simpler. Whereas, in the early days, every access point had to be configured separately, the current process is somewhat easier. This is down to the use of a controller which configures and monitors several access points centrally and concurrently. Many large companies use a wireless solution with a controller to enable them to properly configure and control their access points (often running into the hundreds).

A controller is often a major investment for smaller companies, especially when they only have between five and ten access points at a location. However, the controller function is vital in a state-of-the-art wireless network. This is why some suppliers offer “controllerless solutions”. But let’s be realistic: even these solutions come with a controller. There might not be any physical controller, but there still is a controller function. The controller function is then handled by an access point in the network.

Mobility Express Solution

To meet the demand of SMEs, with the arrival of the Cisco Aironet 1830 and 1850 Series Access Points, Cisco has launched the Mobility Express Solution on the market. Mobility Express is Cisco’s integrated controllerless software for the Cisco Aironet 1830 and 1850 Series and Meraki access points. Mobility Express helps smaller schools and retailers, whose staff are not very technical, to still set up a wireless network in 10 minutes via the web management interface.

There are, incidentally, now rival products on the market with comparable features, such as Ruckus Wireless Unleashed. What is unique about Mobility Express is that numerous configuration settings are already preconfigured on the basis of the integrated best practices.

Cisco Mobility Express Best Practices 

Master access point

In Mobility Express, the first access point in the Mobility Express network operates as a management hub, also known as the “master access point”. This access point will push all the configuration settings to the other access points. In this case, this not only applies to Aironet 1830 and 1850 Serie Access Points, but also to the older Aironet 1700, 2700 and 3700 Series Access Points and Meraki Access Points.

Cisco Mobility Express Network Dashboard

802.11ac Wave 2

The difference between the new access points is to do with the support from the latest wireless standard, 802.11ac Wave 2. The Aironet 1830 has two radios which support the 80Mhz channels (5GHz band) with 3×3 MIMO (Multiple In Multiple Out). The Aironet 1850 supports 4×4 MIMO with four spatial streams, reaching a throughput of 1.73Gbps. We are talking then about real Gigabit wireless speeds.

Another benefit from these 802.11ac Wave 2 access points is that they support Multi-User MIMO. In a Single-User MIMO network only one wireless client can be active at the same time in the network. All the other clients need to wait until it is their turn. In a Multi-User MIMO network two to three clients can be active simultaneously. This is dependent on the number of spatial streams being used by a client. Multi-User MIMO also ensures then that clients can be handled simultaneously and more quickly. As a result, the other clients can lose their data more quickly, which pushes up the speed of the wireless network.

Installation in five steps

To install a Mobility Express network, you need to take the following five easy steps:

  1. Start up the access point (via a power adapter or a UTP cable connected to a PoE switch);
  2. Connect with the default SSID called ‘CiscoAirProvision’;
  3. Connect to the management portal via the default IP address (very often the default gateway address, which you have got from your temporary wireless network);
  4. Launch the Setup wizard (and answer a few simple questions, such as name and address);
  5. Save the configuration and reboot the access point.

Adding access points

It is just as easy to add several access points to this network. New access points are automatically detected by the master access point, which sends the configuration to the new access points. All access points send back information to the master access point. This allows for any deviations in the configuration to be automatically adjusted. In addition, data about, for instance, bandwidth usage and the number of clients in the wireless network is sent to the master. We can then easily produce great reports from the management dashboard.

Cisco Mobility Express Clients Report

If the master access point unexpectedly goes down, another access point will assume the role of master in the network. In a nutshell, installing a wireless network can be really simple nowadays. Also watch our video (in Dutch), during which I will show you in five minutes how quick the configuration process is. I will take you through the configuration wizard and you will see that there is no chance of making mistakes with this well-structured management web interface.

You can configure 25 access points in 10 minutes. Is that really possible?

Watch the video