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Wireless Reviews

Features

Since the WAP321 is priced over twice what you'd pay for a selectable dual-band N consumer router, you should expect more features for the money, and the WAP321 delivers! Here is a feature summary culled from various Cisco docs:

  • AP/WDS Bridge/WDS Repeater modes
  • Client bridge mode (no WDS required)
  • Eight SSIDs
  • SSID broadcast control
  • 1 management VLAN plus 8 VLANs for SSID
  • SSID to VLAN mapping
  • Auto-channel selection
  • Transmit power adjust
  • Multicast and Legacy Rate setting
  • MCS setting
  • Rogue AP detection
  • WAP and Station Enhanced Distributed Channel Access (EDCA) QoS (802.11e)
  • TSPEC support
  • Bandwidth utilization (% of AP bandwidth used before AP stops allowing associations)
  • Diffserv based client QoS
  • Client limit (32 maximum, 20 active recommended)
  • 802.11i preauthentication for fast roaming
  • IPv6 Host, RADIUS,syslog, NTP support
  • Wireless enable/disable scheduling per SSID
  • WiFi Protected Setup (no physical pushbutton)
  • WEP, WPA/WPA2 Personal and Enterprise security
  • MAC address filtering
  • Management access control
  • IPv4, IPv6, MAC Deny/Permit ACL
  • HTTP/HTTPS/Telnet/SSH/Bonjour/SNMP v3 administration
  • Internal and syslog log support
  • LAN and WLAN traffic statistics
  • Packet capture
  • 802.1d Spanning Tree support

Figure 5 is a shot of the web admin interface so you can get an idea of the approach. As it has with its Linksys consumer routers, Cisco has adopted the same look-and-feel across its small business line. So the approach is similar to what we've seen in the recent RV router reviews.

The look is nice and clean, but requires a wide format screen and therefore isn't tablet and notebook friendly. You'll find yourself doing a lot of horizontal scrolling, especially in the status screens.

WAP321 landing page

Figure 5: WAP321 landing page

Unfortunately, Cisco doesn't have an online emulator so that you can take the WAP321 for a test drive. There are a lot of features and nuances, so you might want to download the admin guide. I'm going to touch on some of the highlights and have included a mess of screenshots in the gallery for other features.

Both HTTP and HTTPs connections are supported to the web admin interface and HTTPS is enabled by default. But if you just hit the AP's IP address, you don't get auto-forwarded to the secure interface; you need to specify https://.

One of the things you should get with a more expensive AP is more knobs to twiddle. Figure 6 shows the radio settings that you can play with. Supported modes are 802.11a, 802.11b/g, 802.11a/n, 802.11b/g/n (default), 5 GHz 802.11n and 2.4 GHz 802.11n. Transmit power can be cranked down (only) to 50, 25 and 12%.

WAP321 radio settings

Figure 6: WAP321 radio settings

You get control over advertised Legacy and Multicast rates and can pick and choose the 802.11n MCS settings, too. Basically, this means you get fine control over the link rates that clients can use.

All those TSPEC settings are mainly there to support Voip and Voice Over Wireless LAN (VoWLAN) devices that support 802.11e. You also get priority-based EDCA (Enhanced Distributed Channel Access) AP and Client controls, which also require devices to support 802.11e.

One bandwidth control feature that doesn't require 802.11e is Bandwidth Utilization. You simply set a percentage (the default is 0) of radio bandwidth that can be used before the AP stops allowing new client associations. This is a simple way to prevent individual APs in multi-AP installations from becoming overloaded.

The WAP321 supports two wireless bridging methods. WDS bridge supports up to four associations with static WEP or WPA2/AES encryption. WDS bridge partners automatically also function as repeaters; there is no way to create a closed bridge (block client association) other than to not provide the encryption key to users.

Work Group Bridge mode doesn't use WDS, so will work with any access point or router. The Access Point Interface controls in Figure 7 are used when you want to set this flavor of bridge up as a repeater. Note that you can use either WDS or Work Group Bridge mode, not both at once.

WAP321 Work Group Bridge settings

Figure 7: WAP321 Work Group Bridge settings

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