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Outdoor MIMO Wireless Networks

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Outdoor MIMO Wireless Networks

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Copyright
2012 Aruba Networks, Inc. AirWave, Aruba Networks, Aruba Mobility Management System, Bluescanner, For Wireless That
Works, Mobile Edge Architecture, People Move. Networks Must Follow, RFprotect, The All Wireless Workplace Is Now Open For
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no responsibility for any errors or omissions.

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Certain Aruba products include Open Source software code developed by third parties, including software code subject to the GNU
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used can be found at this site:
http://www.arubanetworks.com/open_source

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Aruba Networks, Inc.

Outdoor MIMO Wireless Networks

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Table of Contents
Chapter 1:

Chapter 2:

Chapter 3:

Chapter 4:

Aruba Networks, Inc.

Introduction

About the Outdoor MIMO Wireless Networks VRD

Outdoor Deployment Types


Campus Extension
Outdoor Mesh with AirMesh

9
10
11

Aruba Reference Architectures

12

Outdoor Wireless Integrators

13

Assumptions

13

Reference Documents
Icons Used in this Guide

14
15

Outdoor Networking Deployment Methodology

17

Network Discovery

17

Preliminary (High-Level) System Design

18

Site Acquisition

18

Final (Low Level) System Design

19

Installation and Configuration

19

Coverage and Throughput Verification

20

Final Network Acceptance

20

Outdoor Access Points and Multichannel Backhaul

21

Choosing the Deployment Type

21

Understanding Single-Channel and Multi-channel Backhaul


The Evolution of Mesh Technology
Comparing End-to-End Performance

21
22
24

ArubaOS AP for Campus Extension


AP-175 (Campus Extension) AP

26
26

AirMesh APs for Outdoor Mesh Networks


MSR4000 Quad-Radio Mesh Router
MSR2000 Dual-Radio Wireless Mesh Router
MST200 Single-Radio Wireless Mesh Router
MSR1200 Dual-Radio Indoor Mesh Router

27
27
28
29
30

AP Model Summary

31

Outdoor Antennas and RF Coverage Strategies

33

Antenna Beamwidth, Pattern, and Gain


Omnidirectional Antenna Types
Directional Antenna Types

33
35
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Effect of Mechanical Down Tilt on Directional Antenna Coverage


Directional Antenna Conclusions

Chapter 5:

Chapter 6:

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40

RF Coverage Strategies for Outdoor WLANs


Understanding Side and Overhead Coverage
Sparse Side Coverage
Dense Side Coverage
Dense Overhead Coverage

41
41
44
45
46

Selecting an Aruba Outdoor Antenna


Understanding Aruba MIMO Antenna Part Numbers
Access Layer Antennas
Backhaul Layer Antennas

47
47
48
51

802.11n Multiple-In and Multiple-Out

53

Ratification and Compatibility

53

Understanding MIMO
802.11n Spatial Streams

53
54

Other 802.11n Technologies to Increase Throughput


40 MHz Channels
Improved OFDM Subcarriers
Space Time Block Coding and Maximal Ratio Combining
Short Guard Interval

54
54
56
57
57

Understanding MAC Layer Improvements


A-MSDU
A-MPDU
Block Acknowledgement

57
58
58
59

Putting It All Together From 54 Mb/s to 600 Mb/s

59

802.11 Terminology
Transmit, Receive, and Spatial Stream Designation
Modulation and Coding Scheme Index
2.4 and 5 GHz Support

60
60
61
62

Backward Compatibility

63

Maximizing Rate vs. Range with MIMO Outdoors


Direct vs. Indirect Multipath
Correlation and Decorrelation
Polarization
Leveraging Polarization Diversity to Improve Decorrelation

63
64
65
65
66

AP Selection for Common Outdoor Topologies

67

Single-Radio Point-to-Point Bridge: MST200

67

Single-Radio Leaf Node: MST200

67

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Chapter 7:

Chapter 8:

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Dual-Radio Outdoor-to-Indoor: MSR1200

68

Dual-Radio Mobile Applications: MSR1200 or MSR 2000

68

Dual-Radio Client Access: AP-175 and MSR2000

69

Single Hop Point-to-Point: AP-175 or MSR2000

69

Multi-hop Linear Mesh: MSR2000

70

Parallel Point-to-Multipoint: MSR2000 or MSR4000

70

High Capacity Mesh Core: MSR4000

71

Remote Thin AP Endpoints Overlaid on AirMesh

72

Aruba Software Technologies

73

Choosing an Outdoor Operating System

73

ArubaOS for Campus Extension

74

AirMesh for Outdoor Mesh Networking


Radio Frequency Management
Adaptive Wireless Routing
Path Distance Factor
Active Video Transport
Virtual Private LAN over Mesh
MobileMatrix and Seamless Session Persistent Roaming

75
76
78
86
91
93
96

Planning the Access Layer

101

Discovery
Define the Coverage Footprint
Identify Siting Constraints
Identify Quality-of-Service or Special Service Level Agreement Zones
Specify Key Network Design Parameters

101
102
103
103
103

Capacity Planning
Offered Loads of Typical Network Services
Bandwidth vs. Throughput
Client Throughput Requirements
Oversubscription Ratio
Strategic Throughput Reservation

104
104
104
105
106
106

Determining Cell Size


Matching Client and AP Power
Free-Space RF Propagation
Effect of Path Loss on Data Rate and Throughput
Estimate Path Losses
Link Budget Calculation and Link Balance
Path Loss Due to Cumulative RF Absorption
Path Loss Modeling for Indoor Coverage by Outdoor APs

107
107
108
109
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Summary

Chapter 9:

Chapter 10:

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Using the Aruba 3D Outdoor RF Planner


Finished RF Plan Examples

115
116

Planning the Mesh Backhaul Layer

119

Identify Portal Candidates

119

Choose RF Backhaul Topology


Serial Point-to-Point Connections
Parallel Point-to-Multipoint Connections
Full Mesh in a Multi-Gateway Design

120
120
120
121

Choose Capacity Injection Topology


End-Fed Injection Topologies
Center-Fed Injection Topologies
Hybrid Topologies
Maximum Hop Count
Maximum Number of Children
Ratio of Mesh Portals to Mesh Points

122
122
124
125
126
126
126

Capacity Planning
Determine Number of Usable Backhaul Channels
Compute Ingress Load
Compute Egress Load
Estimate Bandwidth of Individual Mesh Links
Mesh Capacity Math for Single Channel Backhaul Systems
Model End-to-End Traffic Flows

127
127
129
129
130
131
133

RF Design

134

Planning Mesh Layers with the Aruba 3D Outdoor RF Planner

135

Site Surveys for Large Outdoor Networks

137

Create a Soft RF Plan

137

General Considerations for Choosing Mounting Assets


Identifying RF Absorbers, Reflectors, and Interferers

139
140

Selecting Mounting Locations for Mesh Points


Performing the Survey
Choosing a Pole
Evaluating Pole Power From the Ground
Reading Pole Tags
Measuring Pole Dimensions

140
141
142
143
144
144

Radio LOS Path Planning


Antenna Height

146
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Chapter 11:

Chapter 12:

Surveys for Mesh Portal Mounting Locations


Wired Backhaul Assessment
Antenna Position and Orientation
Radio Interference
Weather Conditions
Ethernet Cabling
Grounding

148
148
148
149
149
149
150

Civils Approvals

150

Final Network Design

151

Best Practices for Conducting Outdoor Surveys


Personal Safety & Security
Building a Complete Outdoor Survey Kit

151
151
152

IP Planning for Aruba AirMesh

157

Configure a Router ID

157

Mesh Backhaul Links

157

Access Links and Client Devices

157

Wired Network Ethernet Link Parameters

157

IP Addressing and Networking

157

Installation, Validation, and Optimization

159

MeshConfig

159

Staffing Expectations

161

Aruba Outdoor AP Antenna Weatherproofing


Installing Antennas
Weatherproofing Connections

162
162
162

RF Coverage Validation
Reconciling Drive Test Data with Predictive Models

171
172

Mesh Network Optimization

172

Appendix A: Allowed Wi-Fi Channels

173

2.4 GHz Band

173

4.9 GHz Band

173

5 GHz Band

174

Appendix B: DFS Operation


Behavior of 5 GHz DFS Radios in the Presence of Radar

Appendix C: Campus Extension Example

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177

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Appendix D: Intermodal Transportation Example

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183

Application Types

183

Dense Overhead Coverage Strategy

184

Sparse Side Coverage Strategy

185

Appendix E: Open Pit Mine Example

187

Appendix F: Aruba Stadium Design Summary

189

RF Design

189

Picocell Coverage Strategy

190

Understanding the Structure of a Picocell

191

Picocell Coverage & Performance Validation Test Results

193

Appendix G: Terminal Doppler Weather Radars

197

Appendix H: Aruba Contact Information

201

Contacting Aruba Networks

Aruba Networks, Inc.

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Chapter 1: Introduction
This Solution Guide is designed to help customers understand the Aruba system architecture and the
individual components that are needed to deliver reliable, high-capacity outdoor networks using
802.11n with multiple-in and multiple-out (MIMO) radios.

About the Outdoor MIMO Wireless Networks VRD


Aruba has extensive experience designing complex outdoor WLAN solutions for applications like
stadiums, outdoor transportation terminals, oil and gas facilities, municipalities, and large campus
environments. Aruba outdoor solutions meet the needs of emerging applications by increasing the
speed of each connection. This increase in speed is achieved using MIMO-based radio techniques
and mesh routing for very large outdoor areas.
This guide describes these main points:
The lifecycle of an outdoor wireless network deployment
Typical basic processes and tools that are used in outdoor wireless networking
Products and technologies to meet the needs of a wireless network operator
MIMO antenna selection and placement for maximum capacity
Design recommendations for common deployment scenarios
Regulatory rules that must be incorporated into all outdoor RF designs

Outdoor Deployment Types


This guide addresses two distinct types of deployments, each of which has its own technical
requirements, coverage strategies, and implementation methodologies:
Campus extension with AP-175: Customers that have standardized on a controller-based thin
AP architecture for indoor coverage often want to extend the role-based access control (RBAC)
security model to the outdoor environments on their properties.
Outdoor wireless mesh with AirMesh: Some customers operate a wireless network that is
almost exclusively outdoors. Indoor connections can be provided from the outdoor network,
usually via remote bridge links or special-purpose indoor repeaters.
Aruba offers a choice of two different mesh-capable operating systems. The best choice typically
depends on which deployment type best fits the intended outdoor wireless network.
Both types of deployment use:

Mesh portals: Connected to the high-speed wired network (also known as wired gateways).
Mesh points: Unwired radios that connect to mesh portals using an RF backhaul link. Mesh
points are fully capable of multihopping over long distances.

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Campus Extension
ArubaOS outdoor solutions are used to extend secure indoor enterprise coverage to outdoor areas.
Some common examples of these applications include:
Campus coverage for universities, hospitals, and large enterprises

Manufacturing plants
Industrial yards
Ports, rail yards, and airports
Stadiums, arenas, and other large public venues for Internet access or 3G offload

In these environments, controller-based wireless LANs (WLANs) are generally running indoors using a
wired backbone to connect thin APs to an Aruba controller. For example, in the case of an intermodal
transportation facility or manufacturing plant, it is often true that the business offices either are using or
migrating to a controller-based architecture. For this reason, IT departments want to have the same
security model for outdoor facilities. Also, consistent equipment and configuration procedures can
reduce IT operating costs.
From a hardware perspective, a campus extension network generally requires a rugged version of the
dual-radio access point (AP) that is used indoors. A campus extension network is illustrated in
Figure 1. In this case, we assume an existing indoor ArubaOS WLAN, which is extended out via mesh
to cover the outdoor portions of the facility.

Figure 1

Campus extension network (Container Port)

For campus environments, both radios are often used to provide client access, with occasional short
mesh hops to connect remote buildings or provide spot coverage from utility poles nearby. Mounting
assets tend to be buildings; consequently, AP power is primarily power-over-Ethernet (PoE). Using
PoE leverages the existing indoor infrastructure and makes sense given the limited number of AC- or
DC-powered nodes.

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Generally, campus extension networks should use ArubaOS, with outdoor APs managed by the same
controller(s) that support the indoor network. ArubaOS is an overlay network, which assumes that a
reliable wired LAN or WAN interconnects the APs with their controller.
Outdoor Mesh with AirMesh
When a green-field outdoor wireless network is considered, as shown in Figure 2 the driving
application may or may not include some indoor coverage. But these large area networks use mesh
routing technology instead of extending an indoor controller-based architecture.

Ethernet

DSL

Figure 2

Green-field outdoor wireless network topology (City Grid)

In the long-term, multiple applications and new users must be supported on these outdoor networks.
During the planning stage, consider how network capacity can be increased in the future. Examples of
common green-field wireless networks include:
Municipal Wi-Fi for video surveillance and public/private network access
Mines, oil fields, and other large, outdoor, industrial facilities
Emerging smart-grid applications
In these green-field wireless networks, the outdoor mesh network provides the backbone for delivering
all applications and services. These networks can cover extremely large areas, measured in square
kilometers (km2) or square miles (mi2). Any viable mounting asset in the vicinity of a desired mesh
node location must be supported. Therefore, a wide variety of single-, dual-, and quad-band radio
options are necessary to provide the wireless architect with maximum flexibility. AC- and DC-power
dominates outdoor mesh networks, with some PoE at mesh portals. The 4.9 GHz licensed band can
be used in countries that allow it.
Outdoor mesh networks should generally use Aruba AirMesh on standalone Multi-Service Router
(MSR) routers. MSR routers provide LAN-like layer 3 (L3) and layer 2 (L2) traffic forwarding across

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links of varying quality and availability. These routers also provide a range of other features to
maximize the performance of various IP network services over a large area.

Aruba Reference Architectures


The Aruba Reference Design series is a collection of technology deployment guides that include
descriptions of Aruba technology, recommendations for product selections, network design decisions,
configuration procedures, and best practices for deployment. Together these guides comprise a
reference model for understanding Aruba technology and designs for common customer deployment
scenarios. Each Aruba VRD network design has been constructed in a lab environment and
thoroughly tested by Aruba engineers. Our customers use these proven designs to rapidly deploy
Aruba solutions in production with the assurance that they will perform and scale as expected.
The VRD series focuses on particular aspects of Aruba technologies and deployment models.
Together the guides provide a structured framework to understand and deploy Aruba wireless LANs
(WLANs). The VRD series has four types of guides:
Foundation: These guides explain the core technologies of an Aruba WLAN. The guides also
describe different aspects of planning, operation, and troubleshooting deployments.
Base Design: These guides describe the most common deployment models, recommendations,
and configurations.
Applications: These guides are built on the base designs. These guides deliver specific
information that is relevant to deploying particular applications such as voice, video, or outdoor
campus extension.
Specialty Deployments: These guides involve deployments in conditions that differ significantly
from the common base design deployment models, such as high-density WLAN deployments.

Specialty
Deployments

Applications

Foundation
Figure 3

Aruba Networks, Inc.

arun_0334

Base Designs

VRD core technologies

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Outdoor Wireless Integrators


Outdoor wireless networks are the most labor-intensive and challenging type of WLAN to design and
deploy. Many different disciplines and trades must come together for a successful outdoor network,
including:

Project management
RF engineering
LAN and IP network engineering
Construction and fabrication
Tower erection, climbing, and rigging
Grounding and electrical safety
AC, DC, battery-assist, and solar power systems
Municipal attachment rights agreements and city council testimony

Few IT departments have access to experts in all of these areas. Therefore, Aruba strongly
recommends that every customer that intends to deploy an outdoor system of any size engage an
experienced outdoor wireless network integrator. These companies can provide any type of resource
required for a successful project, and they can help navigate the many issues that inevitably come up
during an outdoor project.
Your local Aruba account manager can help direct you to a qualified outdoor integrator. You can also
explore the Aruba ServiceEdge provider network, which includes many integrators who specialize in
outdoor work: http://www.arubanetworks.com/partners/deployment_partners/locate.php.

Assumptions
In this guide we make several assumptions about the level of experience that a network planner has.
We provide references to some basic material, but we make the following assumptions:
Reader is familiar with unlicensed band plans.
Reader understands RF link budget planning in outdoor environments.
Reader understands MIMO fundamentals.
Reader is experienced with physical installation of outdoor radio equipment.

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Reference Documents
The following documents are recommended for further reading on 802.11n, MIMO, and outdoor
wireless networking technologies.
Designed for Speed: Network Infrastructure for an 802.11n World, Peter Thornycroft, Aruba,
2008
Next Generation Wireless LANs: Throughput, Robustness, and Reliability in 802.11n, Eldad
Perahia and Robert Stacey, Cambridge University Press, 2008
Hardware Installation Guides - Aruba AP-175 and MSR2000 Outdoor APs
Certified Wireless Network Administrator (CWNA) Study Guide, David A. Westcott & David D.
Coleman, John Wiley & Sons, 2006
Aruba Networks 3D Outdoor RF Planner
Aruba Antenna Matrix
The following reference materials and discussion groups are recommended for learning about Aruba
products and solutions:

For information on Aruba Mobility Controllers and deployment models, see the Aruba Mobility
Controllers and Deployment Models Validated Reference Design, available on the Aruba
website at http://www.arubanetworks.com/vrd

The complete suite of Aruba technical documentation is available for download from the Aruba
support site. These documents present complete, detailed feature and functionality explanations
beyond the scope of the VRD series. The Aruba support site is located at: https://
support.arubanetworks.com/. This site requires a user login and is for current Aruba customers
with support contracts.
For more training on Aruba products or to learn about Aruba certifications, visit the Aruba
training and certification page on our website. This page contains links to class descriptions,
calendars, and test descriptions: http://www.arubanetworks.com/training.php/

Aruba hosts a user forum site and user meetings called Airheads. The forum contains
discussions of deployments, products, and troubleshooting tips. Airheads Online is an
invaluable resource that allows network administrators to interact with each other and Aruba
experts. Announcements for Airheads in person meetings are also available on the site:
http://airheads.arubanetworks.com/
The VRD series assumes a working knowledge of Wi-Fi, and more specifically dependent AP,
or controller based, architectures. For more information about wireless technology
fundamentals, visit the Certified Wireless Network Professional (CWNP) site at
http://www.cwnp.com/

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Icons Used in this Guide


Figure 4 shows the icons that are used in this guide to represent various components of the system.

MST200
(logical)

MSR 2K
or AP-175

MSR4000
(logical)

MST200
(physical)

MSR1200
(physical)

MSR2000
(physical)

AP with
camera & light

RAP5

Wired
MUX

S3500
wired AP

Switch

Aruba
controller

AP

AirWave
server

Attenuator
Directional
antenna

Tunnels

Mobile phone

Smart phone

Video camera

Residence
Building

Surveillance
center

Figure 4

Aruba Networks, Inc.

Laptop

Network cloud

Router

arun_0445

Server

VRD icon set

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Chapter 2: Outdoor Networking Deployment Methodology


For many existing Aruba customers, an outdoor network often is an extension of their indoor network
that delivers coverage across a large enterprise or hospital campus. After mounting locations are
selected, installation for these customers is like adding coverage indoors: select the right APs and
antennas and make sure the controller supports the required licenses. For other customers who want
to build larger outdoor Wi-Fi networks, mesh radios are used and the selection of mounting locations
becomes more complex. This chapter describes a general methodology that is common to campus
extension and outdoor-mesh networks.
Whether you are extending an indoor network or building a large outdoor mesh network, the planning
process generally includes the steps displayed in Figure 5 to create a scalable, manageable network
with the required coverage and capacity:

Step 2
Preliminary
system
design

Step 3
Site
acquisition

Step 4
Final
system
design

Step 5
Installation
and
configuration

Step 6
Coverage and
throughput
verification

Step 7
Final
network
acceptance
arun_0423

Step 1
Network
discovery

Figure 5

Outdoor network deployment process

These steps can be completed quickly when an Aruba network is being extended because customers
are familiar with existing locations for outdoor antennas and radios. However, large outdoor networks
often require very detailed plans and may require civil approvals and permits for mounting locations
that are not owned by the network operator.

Network Discovery
Like all IT projects, an outdoor wireless network begins with a discovery process. An outdoor discovery
includes these components:
Map of the expected coverage area
Statement of desired operating capacity
List of potential mounting assets under the control of the network operator
Primary network users, in order of priority
Primary applications, in order of priority
Desired project schedule, broken into relevant phases
Available budget for initial construction and ongoing operation
Existing Aruba customers who plan campus extensions often can provide accurate mounting location
and terrain information that can be used during the outdoor planning process. These outdoor networks
may cover limited areas or be simple point-to-point solutions to bridge multiple buildings or locations

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together. For these customers, the locations of radios identified in the preliminary system design and
the final system design can be very close.
For large outdoor mesh networks, the objective of the discovery step is to deliver a realistic overview of
the whole network, by outlining wired and wireless resources, which provides the foundation for more
meaningful planning during later steps.

Preliminary (High-Level) System Design


The preliminary system design establishes clear coverage and capacity expectations for each outdoor
area. After the high-level coverage area is identified, break the area into smaller logical sections of
about 1-2 km2 or mi2 for further detailed planning. A preliminary design always includes the initial site
survey and an RF spectrum analysis. Depending on the size of the area to be covered, these two tasks
require the largest labor component of the preliminary design.
Large outdoor mesh networks rely on cells of coverage that communicate using layer 3 mesh routing.
First identify the number of active users that can be expected in each area and the peak bandwidth the
network is expected to deliver. Then use the following key metrics for further planning:

Number of cells per kilometer or square mile


The ratio of mesh points (unwired radios) to mesh portals (wired radios)
For each area, identify mounting assets with access to usable power

The preliminary system design generally includes these components:


Site survey and spectrum analysis report
First draft of the RF design model for the network, possibly including IP design
Preliminary bill of materials
Proposed mounting locations and wired network access locations
Radio propagation models and antenna selections for each mounting location
Testing tools needed to verify coverage and capacity
Preliminary budget estimate for integration and construction services

Site Acquisition
Site acquisition often involves two types of radio mounting assets:
Assets that are owned or under the control of the network operator, like buildings
Assets that may require permits and payment to a third party, like street lights
For example, a university that wants to expand the network to cover outdoor common areas can
generally assume that they can mount radios on the buildings and streetlamps within the campus. On
the other hand, if the preferred mounting assets for that same area require mounting on third-party
building rooftops or city-owned lights, then negotiations and timing can take longer. During site surveys
that include these types of locations, it is common to identify alternate mounting locations in case the
preferred sites are unavailable (which can be quite common).
Each mounting site must support the weight of radios and any wind load and have access to
continuous, unswitched electrical power. Each radio location must also have a suitable grounding
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path. The antennas and mounting methods for each site are selected to provide the desired client
coverage and to complete a reliable RF path to other mesh points along the path to the mesh portal
and the wired network.

Final (Low Level) System Design


The final design should provide a detailed RF design and include detailed mounting location
information, such as GPS coordinates step-by-step cable pathway instructions to help with radio
installation planning. The final design must also include detailed IP addressing information and other
back-end system interfaces that may be required, such as captive portals for public networks. For
Aruba customers, outdoor networks are often simple extensions of the current role-based access
controls. However, new multiuse outdoor networks may require implementation of new authentication
models that should be carefully considered when planning the network.
The final design typically includes this information:

Radio specifications for each validated mounting location


User device characterization for network planning
Clear coverage and capacity expectations by area
Mesh portal radio locations and wired network connections
Mesh point mounting locations and electrical powering plan
RF frequency plan if required
IP network design for the mesh network, wired network and back-office equipment
An agreed-upon method of testing and validating coverage and capacity
Deployment-related services and other resources

Installation and Configuration


To install and configure each radio, follow the steps in the hardware installation guides, as identified in
the final system design. As equipment is installed, carefully record the GPS coordinates of each radio
and document these for later use. Take pictures of each installation from multiple angles because
each location may not be visited for long periods of time. Aruba recommends that installers label each
cable and the port to which it is attached. Sometimes it is necessary to affix customer-specific labels
that identify the network owner or operator or other asset tracking information. This information is
invaluable for troubleshooting elevated radios.
To simplify installation in the field, always preconfigure each remote radio. Be sure to follow the IP
network design to include the mesh radios and back-office equipment.
Aruba strongly recommends that only experienced outdoor wireless integrators install outdoor radio
equipment. A licensed electrician must complete all radio grounding, and must install low-voltage or
high-voltage power systems required by the network.

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Coverage and Throughput Verification


While the network is being installed, it is common to measure coverage periodically using GPSenabled tools such as Air Magnet Survey Professional or Ekahau SiteSurvey Professional. When an
entire area or subarea is completely installed, drive tests are performed. Drive test results show heat
maps of the signal strength, which document the level of coverage. However, common best practice
is to measure the Receive Signal Strength (RSSI) using independent third-party tools. Doing so
ensures coverage in the required bands:
2.4 GHz 802.11 b/g/n
5 GHz 802.11a/n
Municipal use of the 4.9 GHz bands (optional)
Then compare these results with the original system design to identify coverage gaps or holes.
Address these gaps by identifying additional mounting locations and adding equipment and installation
resources from a pool that is reserved for this purpose.
RF signal strength heatmaps only tell part of the coverage story, namely the AP-to-client radio
propagation. Properly done with the AP power matching the expected client power, it can also indicate
the likely return path. However, it does not necessarily tell you anything about actual two-way data
throughput. This is especially true because the capacity of the network may increase based on MIMO
spatial streams in each location. As you will learn in Chapter 5, the ability of radios to decorrelate
individual spatial streams does not necessarily depend on SNR.
To test two-way throughput, one must take performance measurements from sample points around
the area using active testing tools such as iperf or Ixia IxChariot. Aruba recommends a uniform test
suite at each test point:
TCP upstream, downstream and bidirectional
UDP upstream, downstream and bidirectional
Repeat each of the above on each major type of client device to be used
In general it is important to use multiple streams (2-4 each way) whether using iperf or IxChariot to
generate sufficient load through the IP layer of the network driver stack. Once the throughput results
are obtained, additional optimization of the network may be advisable. It is also possible to test
different pathways across the network by using multiple traffic sink locations at various points in the
mesh.
During this phase, it is common to install monitoring systems and begin to measure the network
reliability. Additionally, the network operator is trained on how to use the monitoring systems.

Final Network Acceptance


During the final acceptance step, a coverage heat-map and throughput testing results from a drive test
are usually summarized and a final report is prepared with the assistance of the customer. The
network documentation should include the street address and GPS coordinates of every installed
radio, pictures of the majority of installations, and detailed IP network diagrams.

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Chapter 3: Outdoor Access Points and Multichannel Backhaul


Aruba offers a wide range of APs, antennas, and related accessories to enable campus extension and
outdoor mesh wireless networks. The choice of which hardware and operating system to use for a
given network is driven by the deployment type and often by the need for single-channel or multichannel backhaul.

Choosing the Deployment Type


Aruba has two families of outdoor APs: the AP-175 series and the MSR series. These APs are similar
in design, but run different operating systems. An outdoor area can be covered by extending an
existing Aruba indoor network through the use of the AP-175 outdoor AP with the proper antennas.
This AP runs ArubaOS and is managed by a controller. The AP-175 can interoperate with Aruba
indoor APs, can be used as mesh portals, and can be used with other ruggedized AP-175s that are
operating as unwired mesh points. Role-based user access policies are preserved across the
combined indoor and outdoor network.
In large outdoor networks, the AirMesh MSR series of wireless mesh routers are mounted on rooftops,
radio towers, street lights, and even traffic lights to extend coverage across large areas. When
considering outdoor Wi-Fi networks, good coverage is generally equated to the availability of suitable
mounting assets in combination with Aruba hardware and antenna flexibility. The MST1200 is an
indoor AP that is suitable for use as a mesh portal with external antenna connectors that can be
connected to remote antenna outdoors for a low-cost solution. The MSR series runs the Aruba
AirMesh operating system.
To provide scalable coverage over large outdoor areas, wireless networks use combinations of mesh
portals. Mesh portals are connected to the wired network and wireless mesh points. For each radio, its
role, frequency band, and channel are defined in the software configuration. Mesh links connect mesh
points to other mesh points and to mesh portals, which then connect to a high-speed wired network.
Table 1 lists the AP models that should be used for each deployment type.
Table 1

AP model based on deployment type

Deployment Type
Campus Extension
(ArubaOS)
Outdoor Mesh (AirMesh)

Dual-Radio
Rugged

Quad-Radio
Rugged

Single-Radio Single-Radio
Rugged
Indoor

Dual-Radio
Indoor

AP-175

AP-92

AP-124/AP-134

MSR2000

MSR4000

MST200

MSR1200

Understanding Single-Channel and Multi-channel Backhaul


A key factor in choosing which AP family is best for your outdoor network is the number of radio
channels that will be used for backhaul. In general, campus extension networks with the AP-175 tend
to have very few hops and can utilize a single-channel for intramesh backhaul, whereas outdoor mesh

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Outdoor Access Points and Multichannel Backhaul | 21

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networks built with the AirMesh family typically have many hops and use multiple channel backhaul
links to extend capacity.
The Evolution of Mesh Technology
Mesh networking technology has been enabling production networks for many years. In that time, it
has gone through several generations, culminating in the fourth generation AirMesh solution from
Aruba. Figure 6 illustrates the progression of technology enhancements:

4th Generation
Multi-radio 802.11n
Directional antennas
Layer 3 routing

Municipal coverage
HD-quality video
Voice, and mobility

3rd Generation

Performance
&
scalability

Multi-radio
Directional antennas
Layer 2 bridging

Hot zones
Low-res video

2nd Generation
Dual radio
Omni-directional antennas
Layer 2 bridging

Indoor & outdoor


Hot spots

1st Generation
Indoor access

Technology evolution

Figure 6

arun_0437

Single radio
Omni-directional antenna
Layer 2 bridging

Summary of wireless mesh technology evolution

To help put the value of the AirMesh solution into perspective, it is useful to consider how mesh
technology has evolved over the years:
First generation - Single radio L2 mesh. The earliest mesh implementations used single radio
APs in the 2.4GHz band for both client and backhaul service. Since there is only one radio, all
mesh nodes are on the same channel. This means that when one radio is transmitting, whether
a client or another mesh node, no other radio can transmit. This approach suffered from two
major performance limitations. First, client transmissions had to be received by the AP, and then
retransmitted on to the upstream mesh node(s). This meant that the offered load at the access
layer could not exceed 50% of the uplink bandwidth to avoid saturation. Second, if there was
more than one mesh hop, the same effect occurred again on the backhaul. This further reduced
the allowable offered load at the access layer. First generation meshes operated at layer 2.
Second generation - Dual radio L2 mesh. An obvious solution to the client performance
limitation was to use separate radios for client and backhaul service. Second generation mesh
APs typically used 2.4GHz for client access and the 5GHz band for backhaul. In this design, all
mesh radios shared the same channel, though client radios could use typical 1, 6, 11
channelization. Now the AP could serve clients simultaneously with backhaul traffic. However,
when relaying frames between mesh nodes, the 50% throughput drop per hop was experienced

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because each mesh node had to receive a transmission before repeating it upstream. Second
generation meshes also operated at layer 2.
Third generation - Multichannel Layer 2 backhaul. Some vendors eliminated the first and
second generation intermittent send-receive-send cycle by using two radios for the backhaul.
These radios are generally operating on separate non-interfering channels. Simultaneous send
and receive is now possible. This dramatically improves latency over multiple mesh hops.
However, due to the layer 2 topology, the mesh had a fixed tree structure such that all traffic
flowing through the mesh must pass through the root node. For some traffic flows this is no
problem. However, for peer-to-peer applications such as connecting a mobile police car to a
remote video camera, the root node bottleneck imposed significant performance degradation.
Also, intra-mesh roaming of mobile vehicles was typically not possible due to IP address
changes by the client.
Fourth generation - Multichannel Layer 3 backhaul. Aruba has delivered the industry's first
fourth generation mesh solution, combining the power of multiple backhaul radios with an RFaware layer 3 routing protocol inside the mesh. This allows the construction of high-speed mesh
cores which feed distribution and access tiers. Traffic flows directly where it is needed inside
the mesh, without imposing arbitrary paths or bottlenecks inside root nodes that are not the least
cost path. Further, AirMesh provides for seamless high speed roaming via a MobileIP-like
implementation. In addition, AirMesh includes the unique Virtual Private LAN over Mesh
(VPLM). VPLM presents a L2 appearance at the mesh ingress/egress points, while allowing the
mesh to operate internally in layer 3 mode. This combines the simplicity and compatibility of L2
with the performance and efficiency of L3.

Realizing the potential of a fourth generation mesh is the subject of most of this Design Guide. In
Chapter 9: Planning the Mesh Backhaul Layer on page 119, you will learn how to create an RF design
for a multichannel backhaul. In Chapter 11: IP Planning for Aruba AirMesh on page 157, you will learn
about the IP planning for the L3 features of AirMesh.

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Comparing End-to-End Performance


Single-channel backhaul was the dominant network design for most first and second generation
outdoor mesh networks. They remain an appropriate solution for campus extension use cases with low
hop counts, but their capacity limitations make them a poor choice for todays mesh networks that
need to deliver high capacity for multiple HD video streams across multiple hops. Traditional singleradio/single-channel multihop links experience a 50% or more decrease in throughput for each
network hop. Throughput is decreased because a single channel radio must share the air and repeat
transmissions from upstream to downstream nodes and vice versa. Single channel outdoor networks
generally use omnidirectional antennas, as shown in Figure 7. Using this strategy, nodes are placed
much closer together than the required Wi-Fi coverage dictates due to the lower combined gain of the
omni antennas.

Internet
Radio 1
Ch. 149

Radio 1
Ch. 149

Radio 1
Ch. 149

Ch. 149

12 Mb/s

Throughput

25 Mb/s
50 Mb/s
100 Mb/s

Figure 7

arun_0353

Radio 1

50% per-hop throughput loss on single-channel mesh networks

By contrast, it is possible to maintain high end-to-end throughput with low latencies by employing
multiple channels in the backhaul network, as shown in Figure 8. This architecture is mandatory as
more mesh client devices use 802.11n and as fixed high-bandwidth sources such as video cameras or
vehicle-mounted digital video recorders become commonplace. Multichannel mesh networks generally
employ directional antennas between individual mesh nodes, creating a mesh from a large number of
discrete point-to-point or point-to-multipoint links.

Ch. 149

Ch. 157

Ch. 153

Ch. 161

100 Mb/s

100 Mb/s

100 Mb/s

100 Mb/s

Throughput

Figure 8

Aruba Networks, Inc.

arun_0354

Internet

Throughput is maintained when using multiple backhaul channels

Outdoor Access Points and Multichannel Backhaul | 24

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Aruba has developed specific antennas, deployment practices, and software calibration controls that
work with the mesh routing algorithms to deliver reliable high- capacity RF coverage across very large
areas using multi-channel backhaul.
The performance difference between single-channel and multichannel backhaul architectures can be
easily demonstrated with any IP load generation tool, such as iPerf or Ixia IxChariot. To illustrate the
point, Aruba measured end-to-end throughput across 4 hops using a single-channel and multi-channel
configuration. The single-channel testbed used 4 mesh nodes, each with a single backhaul radio using
omnidirectional antennas. Figure 9 illustrates the multichannel mesh testbed on which the data in
Figure 10 was obtained. Both tests were conducted inside a Faraday cage to eliminate outside
interference.
Attenuator
R0

R1

MSR2k

Attenuator
R0

R1

MSR2k

Attenuator
R0

R1

MSR2k

R0

MSR 1200

arun_0430

MSR
1200

Attenuator
R0

IXIA

Figure 9

Multichannel mesh testbed

Figure 10 clearly shows the 50% per hop performance limitation of early mesh generations, as well as
the ability of AirMesh to maintain nearly constant end-to-end throughput and latency over large
distances.

Figure 10

Aruba Networks, Inc.

Multi-channel vs. single-channel backhaul performance: four hops

Outdoor Access Points and Multichannel Backhaul | 25

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Multichannel backhaul generally requires that directional antennas be used between radio pairs within
the mesh. This topology blends the best of outdoor mesh and point-to-point architectures into a single
platform. This is desirable for maintaining end-to-end throughput as shown these figures and also to
increase the allowable distance between mesh nodes. For the same range, a radio pair that uses
directional antennas can achieve a higher signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) in line of sight (LOS) and non
line of sight (NLOS) conditions. Higher SNRs translate directly into higher physical-layer data rates
and more overall network capacity.
To keep the management overhead low, AirMesh allows automatic software configuration of each
radio using a feature called Radio Frequency Management (RFM). RFM ensures the flexibility to
deploy each system using the frequencies, channels, and maximum power that are allowed within
each country. AirMesh is a layer 3 system, and RFM is capable of automatically provisioning IP
addresses on all multichannel radio pairs. For more information on RFM, see Chapter 7: Aruba
Software Technologies on page 73.

ArubaOS AP for Campus Extension


This section presents the Aruba AP-175 campus extension access point.
AP-175 (Campus Extension) AP
The multifunction AP-175, shown in Figure 11 is an affordable, fully hardened, outdoor 802.11n AP
that provides maximum outdoor deployment flexibility. The high-performance AP-175 delivers wire-like
performance at data rates up to 300 Mb/s per radio. The AP-175 is the outdoor radio of choice for
Aruba customers with installed controllers that are expanding coverage to adjacent outdoor areas.
5
6

AP175_01

Figure 11

Radio 1 (Antenna 1)

USB Console Interface

Reserved or Power Interface

Radio 0 (Antenna 1)

Radio 0 (Antenna 2)

Radio 1 (Antenna 2)

Ethernet Interface (PoE)

Grounding Point

AP-175 dual-radio access point

The AP-175 features two 2x2:2 MIMO radios, with one radio dedicated to 2.4 GHz and the other
dedicated to 5 GHz.The unit includes four N-type antenna interfaces, two per radio, in an over/under
configuration. The AP-175 can be mounted on the wall or on a mast in any outdoor area.

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The AP-175 carries an IP66 rating and has been engineered to operate in harsh outdoor
environments. The AP-175 can withstand exposure to high and low temperatures, persistent moisture
and precipitation, and is fully sealed for protection from airborne contaminants.
As an 802.11n AP, the AP-175 works with centralized Aruba Mobility Controllers to enable the use of
existing role-based authentication systems.
The multifunction AP-175 can be configured through the Aruba Mobility Controller to provide WLAN
access with part-time or dedicated air monitoring for wireless intrusion prevention systems.
The AP-175 comes in three different versions, depending on the desired power source.
The AP-175P operates from standard 802.3at PoE+.
The AP-175AC model is used for a 100-240 volt AC power source.
The AP-175DC is used for a 12-48 volt DC power supply or solar bus.
The AP-175 and MSR2000 share the same underlying hardware platform. However, they ship from the
factory with different firmware images. An AP-175 cannot be converted to an MSR2000 or vice versa.

AirMesh APs for Outdoor Mesh Networks


MSR4000 Quad-Radio Mesh Router
The Aruba MSR4000 wireless mesh router, shown in Figure 12 delivers high-performance wireless
back haul and Wi-Fi access to outdoor environments where wired connectivity is impractical or
unavailable.

Radio 0 (Antenna 2)

Radio 1 (Antenna 2)

Radio 3 (Antenna 2)

Radio 2 (Antenna 2)

Ethernet Interface

Radio 3 (Antenna 1)

Radio 2 (Antenna 1)

Radio 0 (Antenna 1)

Radio 1 (Antenna 1)

10

Console Interface

Figure 12

MSR4000 quad-radio mesh router

The MSR4000 is ruggedized and hardened to withstand extreme environmental conditions, and it is
ideal for deployment in metro areas, oil and gas plants, retail centers, business parks, and
transportation hubs.

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A multiradio, multifrequency architecture combined with adaptive layer 3 technology makes the
MSR4000 unique. Together, these features provide unparalleled speed and reliability, low latency, and
seamless handoffs for voice, video, and other real-time applications across long-distance, outdoor
wireless mesh networks.
The MSR4000 consists of four independent 802.11a/b/g/n radios to create flexible outdoor wireless
mesh topologies that can use the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands as well as the 4.9 GHz public safety band.
Each radio is capable of providing a maximum throughput of 300 Mb/s.
Each individual radio can be configured to operate as a client access AP or as a point-to-point or pointto-multipoint node to deliver full-mesh backhaul. This four-radio architecture separates client access
and mesh backhaul and optimizes radio resources for both types of traffic to ensure high throughput
and low latency. The MSR4000 fully participates in the Aruba Adaptive Wireless Routing (AWR)
algorithms, which automatically optimize traffic flow between multiple wireless mesh routers for
maximum user capacity.
MSR2000 Dual-Radio Wireless Mesh Router
The Aruba MSR2000 dual-radio mesh router, shown in Figure 13 provides unparalleled speed and
reliability at the edge of large-scale mesh networks. The two radios deliver low latency and seamless
handoffs for voice, video, and other real-time applications across long-distance, outdoor wireless mesh
networks.

Note: The interface layout for the MSR2000 is


identical to the interface of the AP-175
(see Figure 11 on page 26).
Figure 13

MSR2000 dual-radio mesh router

The MSR2000 consists of two independent 802.11a/b/g/n radios to create flexible outdoor wireless
mesh deployments that use the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands or the 4.9 GHz public safety band. Each
radio provides a maximum throughput of 300 Mb/s.

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Each individual radio can be configured to operate as a client-access AP or as a point-to-point or pointto-multipoint node to deliver full mesh backhaul. If necessary, both radios in the MSR2000 can be
configured for backhaul on different channels. This configuration allows the MSR2000 to serve as an
unwired relay in a multichannel architecture and maintain high end-to-end throughput and low latency.
The MSR2000 fully participates in the Aruba AWR algorithms, which automatically optimize traffic flow
between multiple wireless mesh routers for maximum user capacity.
MST200 Single-Radio Wireless Mesh Router
The Aruba MST200 wireless mesh access router is considered a true edge router and connects
devices such as video surveillance cameras and IP phones to high-performance Aruba outdoor
wireless mesh networks. The MST200 uses the AWR protocol to determine the best path for each
device to send data to the wired network.

3
2

Figure 14

Ethernet Interface (PoE In)

USB Console Interface

Status LEDs

Integrated Antenna (14dBi 60x14)

MST200 single-radio wireless mesh router

The MST200 is also an ideal solution for delivering wired network connectivity to buildings inside a
mesh or at the end of a mesh. MST200s can also be used in pairs to construct low-cost, highthroughput point-to-point bridge links between two buildings when a full mesh is not required. The
integrated 14dBi dual-polarization 5GHz MIMO antenna greatly simplifies the installation process while
providing a clean, attractive look.
The MST200 is ruggedized and hardened to withstand extreme environmental conditions. The
MST200 is ideal for deployments in outdoor environments to support applications like video and
perimeter surveillance, metro area networks, electronic billboards, and mass transit networks. The

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MST200 is also ideal for public-safety monitoring along transportation corridors and for rapid
deployments at large-scale public events or during emergency response.
The MST200 provides a maximum throughput of 300 Mb/s and delivers unprecedented stability and
reliability. The MST200 and all MSR routers also employs Active Video Transport (AVT) traffic
shaping and load balancing algorithms for use across RF links. These algorithms enable the MST200
to deliver HD-quality video from fixed surveillance cameras to headquarters locations.
MSR1200 Dual-Radio Indoor Mesh Router
The Aruba MSR1200 wireless mesh router, shown in Figure 15 delivers high-performance networking
to remote indoor environments where wired connectivity is impractical or unavailable. Typically, large
outdoor networks require the ability to deliver wired and/or wireless connections to indoor users
through a bridge or repeater node. The MSR1200 is perfect for this application, whether serving as a
mesh point or a low-cost mesh portal. When mounted inside a vehicle, the MSR1200 is designed to
support seamless roaming with Aruba's MobileMatrix feature and participating in the mesh routing
protocols as a mobile mesh point.

Power LED

Radio 0 port LED

Radio 1 port LED

Ethernet port LED

1
2
3

Figure 15

Figure 16
Aruba Networks, Inc.

MSR1200 dual-radio indoor mesh router front panel LED

MSR1200 dual-radio indoor mesh router rear panel interfaces


Outdoor Access Points and Multichannel Backhaul | 30

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A multiradio, multifrequency architecture and adaptive layer 3 technology make the MSR1200 a full
participant in AWR dynamic routing. Together, the indoor and outdoor APs provide unparalleled speed
and reliability, low latency, and seamless handoffs for voice, video, and other real-time applications.
The MSR1200 consists of two independent 802.11a/b/g/n radios to create flexible indoor wireless
mesh deployments that use the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands. Each radio can be configured to operate
as a mesh portal or mesh point. By providing client access on one radio and using the second radio for
mesh backhaul, the client access and mesh backhaul data are separated. Separating this data
optimizes radio resources for both types of traffic to ensure high throughput and low latency.

AP Model Summary
Table 2 presents a quick-reference summary of the entire family of Aruba mesh APs presented in this
chapter.
Table 2

Outdoor features on each AP

Function / Model
Controller-Managed AP with ArubaOS

AP-175

4.9GHz Public Safety Band


Outdoor Rating

Aruba Networks, Inc.

MSR4000

MST200

MSR1200

IP66

IP66

IP66

n/a

Autonomous APs with AirMesh


Number of Radios

MSR2000

IP66

Outdoor Access Points and Multichannel Backhaul | 31

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Aruba Networks, Inc.

Validated Reference Design

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Chapter 4: Outdoor Antennas and RF Coverage Strategies


The information provided in this section will help you understand antenna basics and Aruba best
practices for how to cover common outdoor environments. For those new to RF engineering, Aruba
highly recommends the vendor-neutral Certified Wireless Network Professional training classes and
certifications which provide in-depth education on RF fundamentals. For more information, visit
www.cwnp.com.

Antenna Beamwidth, Pattern, and Gain


Antenna gain is a relative measure of how the antenna compares to an ideal isotropic radiator. The
gain of an antenna is specified in dBi, which is the directional gain of the antenna compared to an
isotropic antenna. An isotropic antenna is an ideal (theoretical) antenna that spreads energy in all
directions (in a sphere) with equal power. You may think of the sun as a good analog for an isotropic
antenna.

Equal signal strength


radiated over a sphere

Figure 17

Isotropic antenna

Antenna gain is often confused with power because the gain of an antenna can increase the
transmitted or received signal levels. However, it is important to note that gain is usually only stated as
a maximum value and this value will increase signal levels only in a particular direction. This is
because antenna gain is achieved only by compressing the radiated power into a tighter region in 3D
space, and antennas (by themselves) do not create increased power. Antenna gain is more correctly
described as a focusing of radiated power rather than an amplification of it. This means that any
antenna with gain > 1 dBi will provide higher signal levels than the isotropic radiator in some directions,
but will actually reduce signal levels in other directions. With increasing maximum gain, the area in 3D
space with reduced signal level grows inversely with increasing gain. This means that higher gain
antennas focus the power into a tighter and tighter region of space, which can actually result in much
worse coverage if clients are not in the region of higher gain.

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To help visualize the idea of focusing energy in some directions at the expense of others, imagine that
the sphere in Figure 17 is a rubber ball. Using the same ball with the same available surface area, how
would you be able to stretch the ball farther out? One way is to press down on the top of the ball and
squash it down vertically. The same basic shape is kept in the horizontal plane (round), but the ball is
forced to stretch, which creates a pancake shape in the vertical direction. Figure 18 represents the
concept of the omnidirectional antenna, which achieves a greater coverage distance in the horizontal
direction at the expense of coverage in the vertical areas of the radiating sphere.

Figure 18

Omni-directional antenna

What would happen if instead of squeezing the ball, you were to pinch it on one end? This concept is
illustrated in Figure 19. The ball is forced into a conical shape whose length depends on how much the
body of the cone is compressed. This represents the concept of a high gain directional antenna.

Figure 19

High gain directional antenna

It is not necessary for the cone to face sideways, parallel to the ground. It is also possible to pinch the
top of the ball and cause the cone to stretch down towards the ground. This is known as a squint or
downtilt pattern, and will be discussed extensively in the balance of this solution guide as it is Arubas
preferred antenna type for large outdoor yard and plant environments.

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Omnidirectional Antenna Types


Omnidirectional antennas fall into two categories. The classic omni - also known as the stick omni
due to its appearance - is a tall, thin radome whose length varies with the intended frequency band.
Both vertically polarized and horizontally polarized stick omnis are available, including 2x2 MIMO kits
that include one of each from Aruba for use in outdoor networks.
The other type of omni is known as the squint or downtilt omni. The squint is technically a
directional antenna because it faces down. However, the antenna is designed to provide standard
vertical polarization. It also operates as a full 360-degree omnidirectional antenna in the horizontal
plane. The antenna has a very low gain (3-5 dBi) depending on frequency, creating a tight, well formed
cell with the bulk of the signal focused down toward clients. See Figure 20 for an illustration of these
antenna patterns.
While squint antennas are common indoors, Aruba developed and brought to the market one of the
first outdoor models. This antenna is the result of our experience of providing coverage to intermodal
facilities that cover large areas and that require coverage behind and inside container stacks and
mobile equipment. However, this antenna is used in an increasing number of high-capacity outdoor
networks. This antenna is intended to be mounted high upsuch as on a high mast, light pole, or tall
communications towerwhere it has good LOS behind most obstructions. This antenna enables
wireless designers to use a dense outdoor deployment strategy in a manner similar to providing
consistent coverage indoors.

Pair of 8-dBi high-gain omnis

Figure 20

Pair of 3-dBi down-tilt omnis

H-plane comparison of stick omni and down-tilt omni antenna patterns

The horizontal range of the squint antenna is much less than the high-gain antenna due to the lower
overall gain as well as the shape and directivity of the pattern.

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However, the power of the squint antenna becomes obvious when we consider the E-plane pattern.
Figure 21 shows the vertical coverage of the same two antennas, which are mounted at a height of 12
meters (40 ft). One can immediately see that the -67dBm cell edge in the vertical plane does not even
reach the ground, whereas the squint omni not only reaches all the way but also has a clear LOS
behind any obstructions.

Pair of 8-dBi high-gain Omnis

Figure 21

Pair of 3-dBi down-tilt Omnis

E-Plane comparison of stick omni and squint omni antenna patterns

Directional Antenna Types


Though it is true that higher-gain antennas increase the range in the direction of the antenna gain, it is
not true that the signal strength is the same everywhere in that direction. High gain directional
antennas - also known as narrow vertical beamwidth antennas - achieve the range by stretching the
pattern. However, this stretch of the pattern also causes the area of reduced coverage that exists
between every antenna and the beginning of its main lobe to stretch out as well, as shown in Figure
22.

50% radiated towards sky

Ground level

447 m
1,500 m

Figure 22

Retail_139

50% radiated towards ground

Null zone of a narrow vertical beamwidth antenna

This diagram is typical of a 12-14 dBi antenna with an 8-degree vertical beamwidth (hence the term
narrow vertical beamwidth). It is assumed to be mounted at 30 meters with no down tilt. In the area
before the main lobe hits the ground, there will be some illumination by side lobes of the antenna
pattern. While there may be some signal, it will be anywhere from 20dB to 40dB lower than inside the
main lobe.

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Contrast the size of this area with that of a low-gain directional antenna - also known as a wide vertical
beamwidth antenna - as shown in Figure 23. In this case, a 5-dBi, 60-degree sector has a reduced
coverage zone of just 50 meters or so from the same mounting height.

50% radiated towards sky

Ground level

53 m
600 m

Figure 23

Retail_140

50% radiated towards ground

Null zone of a wide vertical beamwidth antenna

Effect of Mechanical Down Tilt on Directional Antenna Coverage


Mechanical down tilt is used on a directional antenna that is mounted high up to aim it toward its
intended coverage zone. Our experience is that professional wireless designers are often casual about
the actual angle of the mechanical down tilt. Generally they are content to estimate down tilt based on
a quick ground-based visual inspection of a site without fully considering the 3D implications on the
shape of the delivered coverage at ground level. However, the actual results of a high mounting height
and modest down tilt can often surprise even experienced wireless engineers. The following examples
show how important it is to use mechanical down tilt correctly, and where it is not suitable.

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Outdoor Antennas and RF Coverage Strategies | 37

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Validated Reference Design

We begin by showing (in Figure 24) the relative horizontal and vertical beamwidths of two commonly
used directional antenna types. On the left is a 12 dBi antenna (Aruba ANT-82) and on the right is a 7
dBi antenna (Aruba ANT-83). Both offer 90 degrees of horizontal beamwidth. This makes it easy to
see how the increased gain of the higher-gain antenna comes at the expense of vertical beamwidth
(60 degrees on the 7 dBi antenna versus only 10 degrees for the 12 dBi antenna). In this example, the
antennas were modeled at a height of 30 meters.
The lighter area in the diagram in the upper right (and in the diagrams that follow in this section) shows
the main lobe of the antenna in contact with the ground.
Plan View

7 dBi gain (ANT-83)


90 degrees horizontal beamwidth
60 degrees vertical beamwidth

12 dBi gain (ANT-82)


90 degrees horizontal beamwidth
10 degrees vertical beamwidth

Elevation View

Figure 24

Effect of Higher gain on vertical beamwidth

Note how narrow the vertical beamwidth of the high-gain antenna is and that the main lobe does not
touch the ground. And while the wider vertical beamwidth of the lower-gain antenna does touch the
ground, it is only the bottom portion of the main lobe, meaning that most of the signal is wasted
overhead. Both antennas could benefit from mechanical downtilt.

Aruba Networks, Inc.

Outdoor Antennas and RF Coverage Strategies | 38

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Validated Reference Design

In Figure 25, 10 degrees of mechanical down tilt is added to a narrow vertical beamwidth antenna on
the left (10 degrees) and an antenna with a wider vertical beamwidth antenna (60 degrees) on the
right.

12-dBi gain: 90 degree

Figure 25

7-dBi gain: 90 degree

Azimuth view with 10 degrees of mechanical down tilt

In Figure 26, the narrow vertical beamwidth antenna on the left sacrifices close-in coverage to achieve
greater range. Mechanical down tilt cannot fully compensate for this null area underneath the antenna
before the pattern hits the ground.

12-dBi gain: 90 degree

Figure 26

7-dBi gain: 90 degree

Elevation view with 10 degrees of mechanical down tilt

On the right, no null area exists, because more of the main lobe of the wide vertical beamwidth
antenna now hits the ground.

Aruba Networks, Inc.

Outdoor Antennas and RF Coverage Strategies | 39

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Validated Reference Design

Figure 27 shows the results when the down tilt is further increased to 30 degrees for the narrow
vertical beamwidth antenna (the antenna on the left). This is done in an attempt to obtain better
coverage close to the AP. The result is a distorted and narrow coverage pattern with even less
coverage that actually reaches the ground.

12-dBi gain: 90 degree


horizontal view

Figure 27

12-dBi gain: 90 degree


vertical view

Narrow vertical beamwidth with 30 degrees mechanical downtilt

A common mounting height for outdoor networks is 12-15m (4050 ft). Even at this relatively modest
mounting height, a small mechanical down tilt (1030 degrees) creates a narrow vertical beamwidth
antenna that creates only a small stripe of coverage on the ground. This limited coverage is the
opposite of what the wireless designer intended, which was to provide uniform coverage throughout
the coverage area.
Directional Antenna Conclusions
We have seen in this section that high-gain antennas are primarily intended for long-distance, point-topoint connections, not close-in client coverage. We have further established that:
Vertical beamwidth is more important than horizontal beamwidth in determining the experience
of clients.
Mechanical down tilt is not a good solution to compensate for narrow vertical beamwidth. It
reduces the size of the main antenna lobe that reaches the ground.
High mounting heights are not compatible with narrow vertical beamwidth antennas due to the
size of the null zone between antenna and the 3 dB point.
Low mounting heights are easily obstructed by ground level equipment or buildings.

Aruba Networks, Inc.

Outdoor Antennas and RF Coverage Strategies | 40

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Validated Reference Design

Assuming that the wireless designer is determined to use a narrow vertical beamwidth antenna for
client coverage, two methods are available to reduce the size of the null area:
Use mechanical down tilt. However, as we have seen, a relatively small amount of down tilt (just
15 degrees) produces the striping affect and reduces the overall coverage area.
Reduce the mounting height. The best way to maximize the coverage area of a narrow-vertical
beamwidth antenna and minimize the null is to reduce the mounting height. For this reason,
Aruba recommends that high-gain directional antennas that are used for client coverage (as
opposed to point-to-point links) should never be mounted higher than about 30 feet with a
maximum of about 5 degrees of mechanical down tilt.
It may seem that if you reduce the mounting height of a narrow vertical beamwidth directional antenna,
the coverage issues described here would be solved. Unfortunately, doing so renders the main lobe of
the signal more vulnerable to LOS obstructions that occur more often at lower mounting heights. The
network planner must constantly balance these trade-offs.

RF Coverage Strategies for Outdoor WLANs


A coverage strategy is a specific method or approach for locating APs inside a wireless service area.
Generally, any given coverage strategy will also call for a specific antenna pattern providing required
directionality (even if it is just using integrated antennas in an AP). Three basic coverage strategies are
generally used to provide 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz high capacity Wi-Fi coverage in outdoor environments:
Sparse side coverage
Dense side coverage
Dense overhead coverage
Coverage is sparse when a relatively small number of irregularly-spaced locations cover a large
space, often using high-gain, narrow-vertical beamwidth directional antennas. Coverage is dense
when many APs are relatively evenly spaced to cover a large area from many locations use lowergain, wide-vertical beamwidth antennas.
Understanding Side and Overhead Coverage
From a horizontal perspective, sparse and dense coverage are very easy to understand and to
visualize. Side and overhead coverage are more complex and will be considered in depth in this
section.
Side Coverage

Coverage is from the side when the main lobe of the antenna is approximately the same elevation as
the clients being served. If mechanical down tilt is in use, the elevation difference may be greater, but
it is still considered side coverage.

Aruba Networks, Inc.

Outdoor Antennas and RF Coverage Strategies | 41

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Validated Reference Design

Viewed from the side, the main lobe of the antenna pattern spreads out to a precisely engineered limit
all around the AP. A common misconception is that each pole-mounted AP serves the area directly
below. However, a client standing immediately underneath such an AP using a stick omni will not
benefit from the antenna pattern because the main beam is passing overhead. Instead, the client may
well be associated to the next AP over. Also, the 50% of the signal that is directed upwards from a
typical stick omni antenna is immediately wasted, as illustrated in Figure 28.
Side Coverage
Wasted
signal
60
3dB
beamwidth

arun_0433

10 m
Reduced coverage area outside
main antenna lobe

Figure 28

Side coverage

Overhead Coverage

Overhead coverage refers to the use of squint or downtilt omnidirectional antennas that face
downwards but are electrically designed to provide a full 360 degrees of coverage with standard
vertical polarization, as shown in Figure 29. All of the antenna gain is focused in the direction of the
clients underneath.

Overhead
coverage
20 m
120
arun_0434

120

Figure 29

Overhead coverage

Viewed from the azimuth, or overhead, both antennas provide full 360 degree coverage in a circular
shape. However, the downtilt omni will have a smaller, tighter pattern, whereas the side coverage AP
will spread its signal further out.

Aruba Networks, Inc.

Outdoor Antennas and RF Coverage Strategies | 42

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Validated Reference Design

Choosing Between Side and Overhead Coverage

Side coverage from low-gain directionals or omnis is recommended as the best and lowest-cost
solution for campus extension coverage at up to 9 meters (30 feet) of building height. In a standard
campus deployment, multiple APs on adjacent buildings work together to provide complete,
overlapping coverage of the target area.
For mounting positions higher than 12 m (40 ft), Aruba strongly recommends the use of squint omni
antennas. The reason for this is illustrated in the following diagram. For a standard 60 degree
directional antenna such as the ANT-2X2-D607 or ANT-2X2-D805, the -3 dB point where the main
lobe intersects the ground moves out 5.2 m (17 ft) from the AP for every additional 1 m (3.2 ft) of
mounting height. We have already shown that mechanical downtilt is limited in its ability to
compensate for increasing height.

000
R2
MS

40 m

000
R2
MS

25 m

MSR4K/2K
with
ANT-2x2-D607

60

000
R2
MS

40 m
= 80 m
sin(30)

25 m
= 50 m
sin(30)

10 m

10 m
= 20 m
sin(30)

90
arun_0435

30
17 m
43 m
69 m

Figure 30

Effect of increasing AP height on main lobe reaching ground level

In summary, for steep down angles and mounting heights over 12 m (40 ft) in outdoor areas, the lowgain squint omnidirectional antenna is ideal:
It limits range to a predictable area around each AP and reduces AP-to-AP interference
It reduces client density per AP by employing more, smaller cells
Its antenna pattern provides users at ground level with a higher signal than APs see to each
other

Adaptive radio management functionality is improved for auto-calibration of the RF network and
automation of ongoing operations.

Aruba Networks, Inc.

Outdoor Antennas and RF Coverage Strategies | 43

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Validated Reference Design

Sparse Side Coverage


The sparse side coverage strategy is used when outdoor areas have very limited vertical mounting
assets and usable electrical service. We start by using these few existing buildings, towers, and
structures that have power and data services. These are also typical locations for other transmitters
such as two-way radios and even cellular telephone base stations, so we often co-locate AP-175s or
AirMesh routers in the same positions. Figure 30 is a real customer example of a 5 km2 (2 mi2) seaport
showing the handful of locations with wired backhaul. Note the uneven distribution of locations
throughout the yard, making it impossible to achieve uniform signal levels.

Figure 31

Sparse side coverage example

In this deployment scenario we use very high-gain (13 dBi), 60-degree sector, moderate elevation
(50 degree) antennas to cover as much range as possible from each radio position.
Its Arubas experience that this strategy alone is inappropriate to deliver reliable outdoor coverage for
clients. Frequent LOS obstructions cause signal drop-outs and a poor user experience. The exception
to this observation is that side coverage remains a good alternative for covering fixed wireless
cameras, which are often at similar elevations. This coverage strategy also does not comply with
vendor RF design best practices from Cisco, SpectraLink, or Vocera when planning wireless Voice
over IP (VoIP) networks because it is not capable of delivering a consistent -67dBm signal level or
predictable roaming transitions throughout a coverage area.

Aruba Networks, Inc.

Outdoor Antennas and RF Coverage Strategies | 44

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Dense Side Coverage


Dense side coverage networks are most often seen in a campus environment where common areas
are surrounded by buildings that are accessible to the network operator. In a yard environment such as
pictured in Figure 32 below, dense side coverage can be achieved using existing light poles to mount
mesh radios at regular intervals. In these networks, AP-175s or AirMesh routers are deployed densely
using omnidirectional or sectored side coverage from buildings or utility poles. In dense side coverage
networks the radio density is high, providing good RF reliability because another radio always is
working nearby.

Figure 32

Dense side coverage example

Aruba typically recommends mid-gain (5 - 7 dBi) antennas rather than high-gain antennas in this
scenario to minimize close-in nulls. The mid-gain antennas deliver consistent client coverage
throughout as a result of delivering homogenous signal levels across large areas. These antennas can
also deliver good roaming performance. When AP-175s are deployed, ArubaOS can utilize Adaptive
Radio Management (ARM). Consistent AP spacing and the homogenous antennas on the building
walls enables the system to respond dynamically to ambient RF changes and is good for delivering
VoIP coverage.
Dense side coverage radio deployments can be consistent with voice handset vendor best practices
documented by Cisco, SpectraLink, and Vocera.

Aruba Networks, Inc.

Outdoor Antennas and RF Coverage Strategies | 45

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Validated Reference Design

Dense Overhead Coverage


The dense overhead coverage strategy is often seen in transportation, manufacturing and industrial
deployments where antennas can be mounted overhead. But it can be equally well applied to
metropolitan networks, and offers some advantages in terms of decreasing the channel reuse
distance. AP-175s or AirMesh routers are deployed densely and antennas are mounted higher up,
between 15-35m (50120 ft) above ground level. Existing light poles, high masts, and communication
towers are used to mount AP-175s or AirMesh routers every 200-300m (650-950ft), resulting in a high
number of alternate paths and a very reliable system.

Figure 33

Dense overhead coverage example

Aruba sells a specialized low-gain (typically 3-5 dBi), squint, omnidirectional antenna that faces down
to create very uniform cells. These antennas work reliably and deliver consistent performance in
cluttered outdoor environments like container ports and rail yards because they usually have clear
LOS behind ground obstructions that would block side coverage solutions.
The dense overhead coverage strategy results in excellent voice support and a dense number of
radios with LOS to many APs. This strategy is consistent with voice handset vendor best practices.

Aruba Networks, Inc.

Outdoor Antennas and RF Coverage Strategies | 46

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Validated Reference Design

Selecting an Aruba Outdoor Antenna


In outdoor networks, antenna types are always used for specific purposes. For example, directional
antennas are used for each backhaul link and omnidirectional antennas are used for access radios.
Aruba has invested heavily in research for MIMO antennas that deliver the highest possible
performance even in multipath-poor outdoor environments. The line of Aruba MIMO antenna products
represents the state of the art in rate-versus-range performance for outdoor extension and outdoor
mesh applications.
Aruba MIMO antennas contain special multiple-polarization arrays that have
been designed to maximize decorrelation of MIMO spatial streams, and
minimize intra-array coupling between antenna elements. Aruba does not
warranty the performance of outdoor networks using non-Aruba
antennas. The use of third-party antennas is at the customers own risk.

NOTE

Understanding Aruba MIMO Antenna Part Numbers


Aruba has introduced a proprietary line of MIMO antennas for use with the AP-175 and MSR series
APs and mesh routers. To minimize cost and maximize performance, these antennas include multiple
elements with polarization diversity.
Be sure to check whether the models you choose require a separate low-loss
RF cable to connect to the AP. Some Aruba antennas include pigtail
connectors and may not need RF cables for attaching to the AP. Your Aruba
representative can help you determine what parts are necessary.

NOTE

These antennas also introduce a new part number system that should make it easier to select the right
part and understand existing networks with these antennas installed. The system works like this:

ANT - NxM - ABCC


NxM=
2x2 for 2x2 MIMO
antennas

A=
D for dual-band
2 for 2.4 GHz single-band
5 for 5 GHz single-band

Figure 34

Aruba Networks, Inc.

B=
Single digit representing Hplane
0 = omnidirectional
1 = 10 degrees or less
2 = 20 degrees
3 = 30 degrees
4 = down-tilt
omnidirectional
5 = {reserved}
6 = 60 degrees
7 = 70 degrees
8 = 120 degrees
9 = 90 degrees

CC =
Two digits that represent
gain in dBi

Guide to Aruba outdoor antenna part numbers

Outdoor Antennas and RF Coverage Strategies | 47

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Validated Reference Design

Based on this system, the Aruba line of dual-band 2x2 MIMO antennas at the time of writing is as
follows:
ANT-2x2-D805: 120 Degree Sector, 5 dBi, 45 Polarization
ANT-2x2-D607: 60 Degree Sector, 7 dBi, 45 Polarization
For squint omni deployments, Aruba offers the following two element antenna:
AP-ANT-90: Down-tilt Omnidirectional, 3 dBi, V Polarization
Similarly, the Aruba single-band 2x2 MIMO antennas include:
ANT-2x2-2005: 2.4 GHz, Omnidirectional, 5 dBi, H/V Polarization
ANT-2x2-2714: 2.4 GHz, 70 Degree Sector, 14 dBi, H/V Polarization
ANT-2x2-5005: 5 GHz, Omnidirectional, 5 dBi, H/V Polarization
ANT-2x2-5010: 5 GHz, Omnidirectional, 10 dBi, H/V Polarization
ANT-2x2-5614: 5 GHz, 60 Degree Sector, 14 dBi, 45 Polarization
For the latest listing of Arubas line of antenna products, visit our web site on
http://www.arubanetworks.com/products/access-points/indoor-and-outdoor-antennas/. From this
page, you may also wish to download the Aruba Antenna Matrix, which is a handy quick reference
guide to the entire Aruba antenna line in table format.
Access Layer Antennas
For access layer radios, omnidirectional antennas can provide good all-around coverage for client
devices. These antennas can be applied in outdoor extension or outdoor mesh networks when
mounting locations like street lights have a clear view in all directions. The Aruba ANT-2x2-2005 is
good for this purpose. It is a kit of two 5dBi 2.4GHz antennas, one horizontally polarized and one
vertically polarized.
Aruba's squint antenna for outdoors is the ANT-2x2-D403. This is a 3dBi dual-band antenna with
vertical polarization.
For sectored coverage, Aruba offers a range of horizontal beamwidths such as the 5dBi 120 degree
ANT-2x2-D805 and the 7dBi 60 degree ANT-2x2-D607. A 14dBi 70 degree option is also available. All
Aruba directional antennas feature multiple polarizations.

Aruba Networks, Inc.

Outdoor Antennas and RF Coverage Strategies | 48

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Validated Reference Design

Table 3 shows the Aruba MIMO antenna family typically used for client connectivity.
Table 3
Omnidirectional antenna typically for access connections
Vertical

Horizontal

ANT-2x2-2005
5 dBi
Vert. Beamwidth: 30
2.4 GHz

ANT-2x2-5005
5 dBi
Vert. Beamwidth: 29
5 GHz

AP-ANT-90
3 dBi
Vert. Beamwidth: 57-61
Horiz. Beamwidth: 360
Dual-band

Aruba Networks, Inc.

Outdoor Antennas and RF Coverage Strategies | 49

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Table 3

Validated Reference Design

Omnidirectional antenna typically for access connections (Continued)


Vertical

Horizontal

ANT-2x2-D805
5 dBi
Vert. Beamwidth: 70
Horiz. Beamwidth: 120
Dual Slant: 45
2x 30" pigtails
Dual-band

ANT-2x2-D607
7 dBi
Vert. Beamwidth: 50
Horiz. Beamwidth: 60
Dual Slant: 45
2x 30" pigtails
Dual-band

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Outdoor Antennas and RF Coverage Strategies | 50

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Validated Reference Design

Backhaul Layer Antennas


For backhaul radio links, narrow beamwidth MIMO antennas in 5 GHz are popular because more
channels are available that are generally much cleaner than 2.4 GHz. In addition, narrow-beamwidth
MIMO antennas have improved interference rejection and can achieve higher SNRs based on good
LOS. Omnidirectional antennas generally are not used for backhaul links because they are exposed to
interference from a full 360-degree radius. For client connections, the Aruba MIMO-based
omnidirectional antennas work particularly well because a pair includes one vertical and one
horizontally polarized antenna. These antennas should be mounted above and below each other to
maximize decorrelation of multiple spatial streams. Table 4 shows a typical directional or sectored
antenna, typically used for backhaul or point-to-point links.
Table 4
Directional antennas typically used for backhaul or mesh links
Vertical

Horizontal

High Gain Directional


ANT-2x2-5614
14 dBi
Vert. Beamwidth 14
Horiz. Beamwidth 60
5 GHz

ANT-2x2-5010
10 dBi
Vert. Beamwidth 8
5 GHz

ANT-2x2-2714
14 dBi
Vert. Beamwidth 23
Horiz. Beamwidth 70
Dual Slant
45
Linear
2xN-type female
2.4 GHz

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Validated Reference Design

When you select the specific antennas to be used for each site, consider both the horizontal and
vertical beamwidth for each frequency. Previous sections described the result of poor planning or poor
installations using even small amounts of mechanical down tilt. Also, remember that some Aruba Wi-Fi
antennas are dual-band and may combine horizontal and vertically polarized antenna elements for
improved performance and ease of installation.

Figure 35

Azimuth follows the visible beam of antenna gain

During planning, the antenna azimuth or direction, as shown in Figure 35 should be specified for each
location, including combinations of built-in antenna down tilt plus any mechanical down tilt that should
be added by the installer using physical adjustments on the mounting brackets. In many cases, it may
be necessary to remotely locate the antennas from the AP or AirMesh router. For these sites, make
sure to identify the type and length of RF cable with the proper connectors and also adjust the RF link
budget to account for the added signal loss from this cable.
When selecting the antenna for each mounting location, refer to the Aruba Antenna Matrix for detailed
understanding of the antenna patterns and gain.

Aruba Networks, Inc.

Outdoor Antennas and RF Coverage Strategies | 52

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Validated Reference Design

Chapter 5: 802.11n Multiple-In and Multiple-Out


The promise of 802.11n networks is to provide wire like speeds to the end user, eventually as much
as 600 Mb/s per radio. This speed is achievable by using multiple technologies, including the use of
multiple-input and multiple-output (MIMO) technology. MIMO technology combines multiple send and
receive antennas, and multiple streams of data being sent at the same time. In addition, the 802.11n
specification adds new encoding algorithms and wider channels. This all comes together to increase
the data transfer rate significantly.

Ratification and Compatibility


The IEEE ratified the 802.11n amendment in September of 2009, but by that time 802.11n APs and
clients based on an early draft of the 802.11n standard were already actively deployed. In many
organizations, deployment was driven when the Wi-Fi Alliance used an early draft of the amendment
and certified draft-n products as interoperable. Interoperability certification gave customers the
confidence to deploy the products. This certification also gave the vendors the ability to start actively
producing and deploying 802.11n capable devices.
The devices produced under the pre-n certification are still in production today and all Aruba APs meet
the final standard. Backward compatibility between 802.11n APs and legacy clients is a key part of the
amendment. Backward compatibility means that stations that previously connected to 802.11a, b, or g
APs are still capable of connecting to 802.11n APs. New networks are now being deployed with
802.11n APs even where the clients do not support the standard.

Understanding MIMO
Unlike traditional 802.11a/b/g radios, which use single-input and single-output (SISO), 802.11n radios
use MIMO technology to increase throughput by increasing the number of radio transmit and receive
chains. An AP or client may have up to four transmit and four receive chains, and it is possible to have
a different number of transmit vs. receive chains. Figure 36 shows the difference between a SISO and
MIMO transmission.
Single in, single out

Multiple in, multiple out


Transmitter

Transmitter

SISO
Client

Figure 36

Aruba Networks, Inc.

MIMO
AP

MIMO
Client

arun_0312

Wireless
Channel

Wireless
Channel
SISO
AP

Receiver

Receiver

SISO vs. MIMO

802.11n Multiple-In and Multiple-Out | 53

Outdoor MIMO Wireless Networks

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Though many 802.11a/b/g APs have two antennas, they are not capable of
using both antennas at the same time. Instead, the two antennas provide
diversity. Each antenna receives a different receive signal strength and the AP
selects the strongest one to use for each reception. To send a signal, typically
the AP uses the antenna that was last used to receive a signal.

NOTE

802.11n Spatial Streams


The concept of spatial streams of data is related to the ability to transmit and receive on multiple
radios. More transmitters and receivers allow the AP to send independent streams of data. Much like
adding additional lanes to a road, multiple spatial streams allow the wireless AP to transmit more data
simultaneously. Spatial streams split data into multiple parts and forward them over different radios,
and the data takes different paths through the air. Figure 37 demonstrates the concept of multiple
spatial streams of data.

Client
Stream 2

Figure 37

arun_0313

Stream 1

A MIMO transmission with two spatial streams of data

Part of the advantage of MIMO and spatial streams is that APs can use multipath transmissions to
their advantage. SISO systems see performance degradation due to multipath transmissions because
the multipath may add to signal degradation. However, 11n APs use multipath transmission to reach
their full speeds. The delay in the propagation of paths at different rates allows MIMO and spatial
streams to be received correctly at the other end of the transmission link. In a SISO system, that delay
can cause interference.
Multiple antennas are needed to transmit and receive multiple spatial streams. Depending on
hardware, an AP or client can transmit or receive spatial streams equal to the number of antennas it
has. However, the AP may have more antennas than spatial streams.

Other 802.11n Technologies to Increase Throughput


Two spatial streams allow us to double the transmission rate. But this alone is not adequate to get us
from 54Mbps in 802.11a/g to 300Mbps with 802.11n. The 802.11n standard includes four other
physical-layer technologies that work together to deliver 300Mbps. They are 40 MHz channels,
improved OFDM subcarriers, short guard interval, and space-time block coding.
40 MHz Channels
Previously, 802.11 transmissions were transmitted using 20 MHz data channels. Anyone who has
deployed an 802.11a/b/g AP has worked with 20 MHz channels, with each AP set to a single, nonoverlapping channel. With 802.11n, two channels can be bonded, which actually more than doubles

Aruba Networks, Inc.

802.11n Multiple-In and Multiple-Out | 54

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Validated Reference Design

the bandwidth because the guard channels in between also are used. Figure 38 shows the difference
is width for a 40 MHz spectral mask as opposed to the 20 MHz mask originally specified for 802.11
transmissions.

-30 MHz
-28 dBr

+19 MHz
0 dBr

-21 MHz
-20 dBr

-9 MHz
0 dBr
-20 MHz
-28 dBr

+30 MHz
-28 dBr

+21 MHz
-20 dBr

-40 MHz
-40 dBr

+30 MHz
-40 dBr

-30 MHz

-20 MHz
-30 MHz

-10 MHz

fc

-11 MHz +11 MHz


-20 dBr -20 dBr

+20 MHz
-28 dBr
+30 MHz
-40 dBr

-30 MHz
-40 dBr

+20 MHz
+30 MHz
+30 MHz
+10 MHz

-30 MHz

-10 MHz

fc

-20 MHz

Spectral mask for 40 MHz channel

Figure 38

+9 MHz
0 dBr

+30 MHz
+10 MHz
+20 MHz

Spectral mask for 20 MHz channel

arun_0319

-19 MHz
0 dBr

Spectral mask, 40 MHz vs. 20 MHz channels

In the 5 GHz band, multiple 40 MHz channels are available, and depending on the regulatory domain,
additional channels are available with dynamic frequency selection (DFS) enabled. Figure 39 outlines
the available 40 MHz channels in the 5 GHz band. At the time of this writing (January 2011), some
channels have recently become unavailable for new AP models.

Band
edge

Frequency (MHz)

5150

36

40

5180 5200

Channel

Band
edge

Frequency (MHz)

5450

100

104

5500 5520

Channel

Band
edge

Frequency (MHz)

5725

149

153

5745 5765

44

48

5220 5240

108

112

5540 5560

157

161

5785 5805

52

56

5260 5280

116

120

5580 5600

165

60

64

5300 5320

124

128

5620 5640

Band
edge
5850

Band
edge
5350

132

136 140

Band
edge

5660 5680 5700 5725

US UNII III / ISM band


5725-5850 MHz
5x 20 MHz channels
2x 40 MHz channels

US intermediate band
UNII II extended
5450-5725 MHz
11x 20 MHz channels
5x 40 MHz channels
Requires DFS
Channels in red are
currently unavailable
in the US, Canada,
and the EU due to new
regulatory requirements.

Channels defined for 5 GHz band (US regulations), showing common 20 MHz channel plan and 40 MHz options

Figure 39

arun_0314

Channel

US UNII I and UNII II bands


UNII I: 5150-5250 MHz
UNII II: 5250-5350 MHz
8x 20 MHz channels
4x 40 MHz channels
UNII II requires DFS

40 MHz channels in the 5 GHz band

The limited number of channels in the 2.4 GHz band makes 40 MHz channels unsuitable for use. The
2.4 GHz band has only three 20 MHz non-overlapping channels available in most regulatory domains.
If a single 40 MHz channel is deployed in the 2.4 GHz band, the channel covers two of the three
usable channels. Aruba recommends that 40 MHz channels only be deployed in the 5 GHz band
where more non-overlapping channels are available for use. As you can see in Figure 40 a 40 MHz

Aruba Networks, Inc.

802.11n Multiple-In and Multiple-Out | 55

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Validated Reference Design

channel overlaps two of the three available channels in the 2.4 GHz frequency band.
4

Channel
Center frequency

Figure 40

WARNING

11

10

11

12

13

arun_0345

2412 2417 2422 2427 2432 2437 2442 2447 2452 2457 2462 2467 2472

The 2.4 GHz band is not suitable for 40 MHz channels

Aruba recommends that customers do not use 40 MHz channels in the 2.4
GHz band due to the lack of available bandwidth and high chance of
interference with legacy 802.11b/g networks. While it is possible to enable
these channels, the end result is fewer overall channels and a decrease in
throughput.

Improved OFDM Subcarriers


Orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM) is the encoding scheme that is used in Wi-Fi
transmissions. OFDM splits a single channel into very small subcarriers that can transport
independent pieces of data as symbols. Each symbol represents some amount of data, which
depends on the encoding scheme. The data subcarrier count has increased from the original 48 to 52
subcarriers in 20 MHz channels and 108 subcarriers in 40 MHz channels. This increase means that
more data channels are available to carry traffic. Each additional subcarrier can carry data over the
channel, which increases throughput. In Figure 41 you can see the difference in sub-carriers that
802.11n brings to 20 MHz channels, as well as the number of carriers available with 40 MHz channels.

-10 MHz

26
carriers

Center frequency

28
carriers

+10 MHz

-10 MHz

52 subcarriers (48 usable) for a 20 MHz


non-HT mode (legacy 802.11a/g) channel

-10 MHz

Center frequency

+10 MHz

56 subcarriers (52 usable) for a


20 MHz HT mode (802.11n) channel

57
carriers

-20 MHz

28
carriers

57
carriers

Center frequency

+10 MHz

+20 MHz

114 subcarriers (108 usable) for a 40 MHz HT mode (legacy 802.11n) channel

Figure 41

Aruba Networks, Inc.

arun_0317

26
carriers

Increase in subcarriers increases throughput

802.11n Multiple-In and Multiple-Out | 56

Outdoor MIMO Wireless Networks

Validated Reference Design

To see how this directly affects data rates, Table 5 shows the difference in speeds that occur from
legacy rates to high throughput (HT) rates. Wi-Fi engineers can use this information to compare rates
used under 802.11a/g to the new HT rates used in 802.11n. For more information about this
comparison, see Modulation and Coding Scheme Index.Modulation and Coding Scheme Index on
page 61.
Table 5

802.11a/g vs. 802.11n (one spatial stream)


HT rates with 800 ns guard interval

802.11a/g

802.11n (1 SS)

6.5

12

13.0

18

19.5

24

26.0

36

39.0

48

52.0

54

58.5

N/A

65.0

Space Time Block Coding and Maximal Ratio Combining


MIMO also uses diversity techniques to improve the performance. Between two communicating
stations, one station can have more antennas than the other. If there are more transmit antennas than
receive antennas, Space Time Block Coding (STBC) can be used to increase the signal-to-noise ratio
(SNR) and the range for a given data rate. For STBC, the number of transmit antennas must be
greater than the number of spatial streams.
The operation of Maximal Ratio Combining (MRC) is dependent on the number of available receive
radio chains. When there is more than one receive chain, the MRC technique combines the signals
received on multiple antennas. The signals can come from one or more transmit antennas. When the
signals are combined, the SNR is improved and the range for a given data rate is increased.
Short Guard Interval
The guard interval is the spacing between OFDM transmissions from a client. This interval prevents
frames that are taking a longer path from colliding with subsequent transmissions that are taking a
shorter path. A shorter OFDM guard interval between frames, from 800 ns to 400 ns, means that
transmissions can begin sooner in environments where the delay between frames is low.

Understanding MAC Layer Improvements


Moving up the OSI reference model, the 802.11n standard also includes several MAC-layer
technologies to greatly improve the efficiency and throughput of wireless transmissions. These are AMSDU, A-MPDU and block acknowledgements.

Aruba Networks, Inc.

802.11n Multiple-In and Multiple-Out | 57

Outdoor MIMO Wireless Networks

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A-MSDU
Aggregate MAC Service Data Unit (A-MSDU) allows stations that have multiple packets to send to a
single destination address and application to combine those frames into a single MAC frame. When
these frames are combined, less overhead is created and less airtime is spent on transmissions and
acknowledgements. A-MSDU has a maximum packet size of 7935 bytes. Figure 42 shows how AMSDU aggregation occurs.
Applications

P2

P1

P3

P2

MSDU (MAC Service Data Unit)

P3

MAC processing

MAC
header

P1

MAC processing

P2

MPDU (MAC Protocol Data Unit)

P3

Aggregated MSDU format (A-MSDU)

Figure 42

arun_0315

P1

PHY layer

A-MSDU aggregation

A-MPDU
Aggregate MAC Protocol Data Unit (A-MPDU) combines multiple packets that are destined for the
same address but different applications into a single wireless transmission. A-MPDU is not as efficient
as A-MSDU, but the airtime and overhead is reduced. The maximum packet size is 65535 bytes.
Figure 43 shows the operation of A-MPDU operation.
Applications

P2

P3

MSDU (MAC Service Data Unit)

MAC processing

MAC
header

P1

MAC
header

P2

MAC processing

MAC
header

P3

Aggregated MPDU format (A-MPDU)

Figure 43

Aruba Networks, Inc.

MPDU (MAC Protocol Data Unit)

PHY layer

arun_0316

P1

A-MPDU aggregation

802.11n Multiple-In and Multiple-Out | 58

Outdoor MIMO Wireless Networks

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Block Acknowledgement
Block acknowledgements confirm that a set of transmissions has been received, such as from an AMPDU. Only the single acknowledgement must be transmitted to the sender. Block
acknowledgements also can be used to acknowledge a number of frames from the same client that
are not aggregated. One acknowledgement for a set of frames consumes less airtime. The window
size for the block acknowledgement is negotiated between AP and client. Figure 44 shows the two
cases of block acknowledgement in action.

Block acknowledgement covers many frames


in one acknowledgement
P4 header

P3 header

P2 header

P1 header

header Ack P1, P2, ... P4

P3

P2

P1

header
header Ack P1, P2, ... P3

Figure 44

arun_0318

Aggregate MPDU is a special case requiring block acknowledgement

Block acknowledgement of multiple frames

Putting It All Together From 54 Mb/s to 600 Mb/s


Figure 45 illustrates how 802.11n increased transmission speed so dramatically by showing how the
technologies of the 802.11n standard are combined to increase throughput. As each of these
technologies is combined, the speed increases dramatically.
11n allows for up to 4 streams
of MIMO spatial multiplexing
600 Mb/s

600 Mb/s 4 spatial streams,


4x4:4 minimum

Improved OFDM 52 subcarriers vs.


48 for original
65 Mb/s

Figure 45

Aruba Networks, Inc.

300 Mb/s 2 spatial streams,


2x2:2 minimum

Reduced guard interval between OFDM symbols


400 ns instead of 800 ns
150 Mb/s

arun_0311

Original
802.11a,g
OFDM
54 Mb/s

40 MHz channels
instead of 20 MHz
135 Mb/s

4 x 150

450 Mb/s 3 spatial streams,


3x3:3 minimum

MIMO increases data throughput to APs up to 600 Mb/s

802.11n Multiple-In and Multiple-Out | 59

Outdoor MIMO Wireless Networks

Validated Reference Design

802.11 Terminology
When discussing 802.11n networks, certain terms are commonly used by engineers to denote the
general capacity of a system, and the instantaneous connection rates between individual stations.
Transmit, Receive, and Spatial Stream Designation

Number of
transmit antennas

Figure 46

Number of
receive antennas

Number of
data spatial streams

arun_0304

In 802.11a/b/g, only a single antenna and a single stream of data are involved. But 802.11n adds
multiple antennas and multiple streams of data to increase the transmission capabilities of APs and
stations. It is important to understand the nomenclature that is used to describe the capabilities of the
system to transmit data at certain rates. Figure 46 shows this nomenclature.

Transmit, receive, and spatial stream nomenclature

Transmit: The number of antennas that are dedicated to transmitting data.


Receive: The number of antennas that are dedicated to receiving data.
Spatial streams: The number of individual data streams that the radio is capable of
transmitting. An 802.11 a/b/g AP (1 x 1 : 1) is capable of one stream of data, or one
transmission, to a client at a time. An 802.11n AP is capable of transmitting multiple streams of
data at the same time to the same client. The number of spatial streams must be less than or
equal to the number of transmit or receive antennas, depending on which way traffic is flowing.

Aruba Networks, Inc.

802.11n Multiple-In and Multiple-Out | 60

Outdoor MIMO Wireless Networks

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Modulation and Coding Scheme Index


The modulation and coding scheme (MCS) index is used to arrive at the data rates for a connection.
When speeds are discussed, the MCS rate is often used as a short hand for the modulation type and
spatial streams. The actual data rate is dependent on the guard interval and channel width as well.
The network engineer can determine the maximum expected connection speed of the client if the
following information is known:
Number of spatial streams
Modulation type in use
Channel width
Guard interval
Table 6 shows the change where one spatial stream is used to map older 802.11 a/g rates to newer
802.11n 1x1:1 rates with an 800 ns guard interval. It includes the modulation method and MCS rate.
Use this information when examining the full MCS rate table that follows.
Table 6

802.11a/g vs. 802.11n (one spatial stream) HT rates


with 800 ns guard interval
Modulation
Method

802.11a/g

MCS (1 SS)

BPSK 1/2

6.5

12

QPSK 1/2

13.0

18

QPSK 3/4

19.5

24

16QAM 1/2

26.0

36

16QAM 3/4

39.0

48

64QAM 1/2

52.0

54

64QAM 3/4

58.5

64QAM 5/6

65.0

N/A

Aruba Networks, Inc.

802.11n (1 SS)

802.11n Multiple-In and Multiple-Out | 61

Outdoor MIMO Wireless Networks

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Table 7 shows the HT rates used in 802.11n. Some steps in the higher rates have been skipped over,
but the same process of speed increases repeats with higher the higher rates. Thinking back to Figure
45 with the pipes, these rates show the active combinations of modulation, channel width, guard
interval and spatial streams. The data rate can change on a packet-by-packet basis depending on the
environment and other factors.
Table 7

802.11n MCS index


20 MHz Channel in Mb/s

40 MHz Channel in Mb/s

800 ns GI

400 ns GI

800 ns GI

400 ns GI

BPSK

6.5

7.2

13.5

15.0

QPSK

13.0

14.4

27.0

30.0

QPSK

19.5

21.7

40.5

45.0

16-QAM

26.0

28.9

54.0

60.0

16-QAM

39.0

43.3

81.0

90.0

64-QAM

52.0

57.8

108.0

120.0

64-QAM

58.5

65.0

121.5

135.0

64-QAM

65.0

72.2

135.0

150.0

BPSK

13.0

14.4

27.0

30.0

QPSK

26.0

28.9

54.0

60.0

10

QPSK

39.0

43.3

81.0

90.0

11

16-QAM

52.0

57.8

108.0

120.0

12

16-QAM

78.0

86.7

162.0

180.0

13

64-QAM

104.0

115.6

216.0

240.0

14

64-QAM

117.0

130.0

243.0

270.0

15

64-QAM

130.0

144.4

270.0

300.0

216.6

405.0

450.0

288.9

540.0

600.0

Index

Spatial
Streams

Modulation
Type

Repeats for Three Streams


23

64-QAM

195.0
Repeats for Four Streams

31

64-QAM

260.0

2.4 and 5 GHz Support


For an engineer with Wi-Fi experience but new to 802.11n, it can be difficult to understand that the
amendment is not synonymous with the frequencies on which the network operates. Previously, the
most commonly referenced amendments to the 802.11 standard operated in only one band. 802.11a
networks operated only in the 5 GHz band and 802.11b/g networks operated only in the 2.4 GHz band.
The amendment and band could be referred to interchangeably when discussing network operations.
However, 802.11n applies to the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands.

Aruba Networks, Inc.

802.11n Multiple-In and Multiple-Out | 62

Outdoor MIMO Wireless Networks

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When we discuss clients and APs, it is important to specify the band that each can operate on in
addition to the 802.11n features that are supported. For single radio APs, the categorization is
802.11a/n for 5 GHz and 802.11b/g/n for 2.4 GHz, which signifies that 802.11n speeds and features
are available in each band.

Backward Compatibility
The 802.11a/b/g only APs and clients are no longer being produced in many cases, so it is important to
understand that backward compatibility for legacy clients is built into the 802.11n standard. Many
organizations have specialized devices that have not yet reached the end of their service and that
cannot be upgraded to take advantage of the new 802.11n standard. In these cases, the 802.11n APs
will continue to support legacy devices by default in a compatibility mode.
In much the same manner as 802.11g is able to co-exist with 802.11b, older clients will cause APs to
use a compatibility mode so that they can work with legacy clients. This degradation of service has the
expected results on performance: all clients are forced to operate around the lowest common
denominator in the area. Slower clients require that faster clients perform certain portions of the
transaction, such as a request to send data, at a lower speed. Faster clients are unable to operate at
optimal speeds. To combat the loss of throughput that is experienced by 802.11n devices, the Aruba
Adaptive Radio Management (ARM) feature implements airtime fairness to prevent slower legacy
clients from starving higher-speed clients.

Maximizing Rate vs. Range with MIMO Outdoors


To achieve the highest PHY-layer data rates, MIMO relies on unique spatial streams arriving at the
receiver from more than one direction. These multiple inputs and multiple outputs can be used to
dramatically increase the link capacity. However, in the outdoor environment it is difficult, if not
impossible, to predict the spatial diversity that can be expected on any given link. If some multiple
inputs and multiple outputs are occurring due to surrounding buildings or terrain, it is likely the AP will
experience some benefit. On the other hand, if the AP is connecting to another AP across a wide open
flat area, there is no guarantee that the receiver will see anything but the single originally transmitted
signal. The next section describes what modern outdoor RF planners should consider when
performing active surveys for MIMO networks.

Aruba Networks, Inc.

802.11n Multiple-In and Multiple-Out | 63

Outdoor MIMO Wireless Networks

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Direct vs. Indirect Multipath


When designing outdoor MIMO networks, it is vital to understand different types of multipath and what
types are helpful to maximize performance. Two types of multipath are available:
Direct Multipath: created between the direct paths of the antennas

Indirect Multipath: created by scattering and reflections in the environment


Tower 1

Tower 2

6
1,6
1,5

1,4
1

arun_0425

Figure 47

Direct multipath example

Tower 1

Tower 2

1,6
1,5
1

arun_0425

1,4

Ground

Figure 48

Indirect multipath example

Compare Figure 47 and Figure 48. Direct multipath is created by the use of multiple antennas and
indirect multipath is created by reflections in the environment. Though these figures show only the
paths for Antenna 1, the 802.11n standard can use the full matrix of direct and indirect paths between
antennas 1 through 6.

Aruba Networks, Inc.

802.11n Multiple-In and Multiple-Out | 64

Outdoor MIMO Wireless Networks

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Based on Aruba research and customer deployments, it is expected that typical long-range bridging
links will have the following characteristics that will limit the available throughput based on multipath:
A lack of significant indirect multiple paths based on mounting height
Inability to discriminate the direct multiple paths with increasing link distance
For shorter range links, indirect multiple paths may also be low compared to indoor environments.
However, discrimination of the direct multiple paths should make multiple direct paths available if the
antenna spacing is adequate on the tower (or horizontally on a boom), which means that link capacity
is increased significantly.
Correlation and Decorrelation
Correlation is a complex mathematical parameter that is related to the statistical degrees of freedom
between the antennas in a MIMO array and the paths available. Attempts to decorrelate paths in an
802.11n setting are related to the available multipath (direct and indirect) and the patterns and
polarizations of the antennas used. Ideally, all direct and indirect paths multiple paths between
antennas 1 through 6 would be available and uncorrelated. This deployment would result in the
highest possible throughput.
However, in a real environment, the objective of decorrelation and the multiple available paths
between the antennas can be inversely related. For example one way to decorrelate antennas 1
through 3 in the Figure 47 would be to use directional antennas and aim the antennas in three different
directions (120 degrees separated). Similarly, antennas 4 through 6 could be aimed in different
directions. This configuration would decorrelate the antennas at both ends of the link, but at the same
time may reduce the number of available paths between the antennas. For example if fewer of
antennas 4 through 6 are in the direct or indirect pattern of antenna 1, the throughput could drop
significantly due to the lack of available multiple paths.
For the outdoor case, direct multipath is the more important consideration, leaving Polarization
diversity as the best available technique for decorrelation of small MIMO arrays.
Polarization
Polarization is a description of the orientation of the electric field within an electromagnetic wave.
Linearly polarized antennas produce a wave that has a polarization which is commonly referenced to
the surface of the earth in outdoor applications. If the electric field is horizontal with respect to the
Earths surface, the wave is termed horizontal polarization. Similarly, if the electric field is vertical, it is
considered vertical polarization. Polarization diversity can be used in MIMO systems as a method of
reducing correlation. Because antennas in a typical MIMO array are linearly polarized, it is often
possible to isolate reception between horizontal and vertical polarization by 10-15 dB. This isolation
results in a high degree of decorrelation between the antennas. Although the use of decorrelation
through polarization diversity could be helpful to increase throughput, it is also possible that
decorrelation through polarization diversity could reduce the number of available direct multipath
opportunities and thus reduce throughput in some settings.

Aruba Networks, Inc.

802.11n Multiple-In and Multiple-Out | 65

Outdoor MIMO Wireless Networks

Validated Reference Design

Leveraging Polarization Diversity to Improve Decorrelation


In indoor environments, it is generally understood that multipath created by reflections from walls and
objects can enhance throughput by MIMO system by providing the ability to support multiple decorrelated spatial streams. In outdoor links, the availability of multiple beneficial reflections can not
typically be assumed. In fact, in many outdoor designs, clear Line of Sight (LOS) is generally
recommended to avoid signal degradation due to attenuation and obstructions in the environment. In
the worst case example for an outdoor clear line of sight link, the direct radio path may be the only path
available with no useful reflections to enhance MIMO performance. In general, at long distances from
the AP and assuming relatively short spacing between the MIMO antenna elements, the outdoor case
could revert to SISO data rates, meaning that all available paths between the antennas are
correlated and only a single independent data stream can be supported.
Fortunately, however, the use of multiple polarizations for transmit and receive can be substituted for
multipath reflections to enhance MIMO decorrelation and recover multiple data stream MIMO
performance. For this reason Aruba outdoor accessory MIMO antenna arrays use multiple
polarizations. This better ensures that multiple data streams can be supported over the available range
of coverage.

NOTE

Aruba Networks, Inc.

Aruba MIMO antennas contain special multiple-polarization arrays that have


been designed to maximize decorrelation of MIMO spatial streams, and
minimize intra-array coupling between antenna elements. Aruba does not
warranty the performance of outdoor networks using non-Aruba
antennas. The use of third-party antennas is at the customers own risk.

802.11n Multiple-In and Multiple-Out | 66

Outdoor MIMO Wireless Networks

Validated Reference Design

Chapter 6: AP Selection for Common Outdoor Topologies


Aruba offers a flexible product line for designing reliable, high-capacity, outdoor networks. This section
reviews some typical application use cases and describes the hardware options that a wireless
architect might select for each case.

Single-Radio Point-to-Point Bridge: MST200


The MST200, shown in Figure 49 provides a low-cost point-to-point connection between any two
remote Ethernet networks. The integrated 14dBi multiple-polarization antenna in the MST200 provides
for simplified installation and good aesthetics. AirMesh operating system software provides for a
complete PtP solution with no additional hardware required.
MST 200

Mesh link

IP
network

Figure 49

IP
network

arun_0400

MST 200

MST200 operating as a point-to-point bridge

Single-Radio Leaf Node: MST200


When operating as a leaf node at the mesh edge, the MST200 is a low-cost solution to expand the
mesh network and increase network capacity.
MSR
4K/2K

MST 200

IP
network

Mesh
link

arun_0401

MSR
4K/2K

Figure 50

MST200 operating as a leaf node

The long range of the MST200 enables flexible deployments for wired devices or low-power Wi-Fi
clients. With proper high-gain antennas, two MST200 or MSR2000/4000 Series routers can establish
mesh links over more than 5 km distance and can achieve 100 Mb/s or more of TCP/IP throughput at
distances of up to 1 km.

Aruba Networks, Inc.

AP Selection for Common Outdoor Topologies | 67

Outdoor MIMO Wireless Networks

Validated Reference Design

Dual-Radio Outdoor-to-Indoor: MSR1200


Figure 51 shows the MSR1200. Most frequently, the MSR1200 is used to connect to an outdoor mesh
network and to distribute coverage inside select buildings. This scenario can also be reversed such
that the MSR1200 can serve as a low-cost mesh portal mounted indoors, connected to antennas that
are mounted outside the building using low-loss coaxial cable.

Mesh link
IP
network

MSR 4K/2K

arun_0402

MSR 1200

Figure 51

MSR1200 mounted indoors with outdoor antennas for backhaul

Dual-Radio Mobile Applications: MSR1200 or MSR 2000


Though it is not ruggedized for outdoor installations, the MSR1200 can be installed inside the cabin or
cargo area of vehicles, with antennas mounted remotely. Unlike the MSR1200 that must be mounted
in a dry area on a vehicle, the MSR2000 can be exposed to the elements, which makes mounting
more flexible on larger public safety and other vehicles. By using both radios, one for client access and
one for backhaul, the MSR2000 and MSR1200 can be used to create a mesh network to support
mobile clients.
MSR 1200
in car
IP
network

MSR 4K/2K
arun_0403

Mesh link

Figure 52

Aruba Networks, Inc.

MSR1200 or MSR2000 mounted inside a vehicle compartment

AP Selection for Common Outdoor Topologies | 68

Outdoor MIMO Wireless Networks

Validated Reference Design

Dual-Radio Client Access: AP-175 and MSR2000


Either the AP-175 or the MSR2000 can be used to establish a reliable outdoor Wi-Fi hot-spot with
dual-band coverage.
MSR 2K
or AP-175

IP
network

Figure 53

AP-175 or MSR2000 mounted to a building or wired pole to


provide campus extension

Single Hop Point-to-Point: AP-175 or MSR2000


Either the AP-175 or the MSR2000 can be configured as a mesh portal and connected to the wired
network (see Figure 54). The AP-175 is used to extend an Aruba indoor network to outside areas of
relatively modest coverage, like a university or business campus. The MSR-2000 is typically used
when larger areas that require more mesh points are anticipated.
MSR 2K
or AP-175

Mesh link

MSR 2K
or AP-175

arun_0397

IP
network

Figure 54

Aruba Networks, Inc.

AP-175 or MSR2000 configured to provide one-hop mesh to


provide remote client service

AP Selection for Common Outdoor Topologies | 69

Outdoor MIMO Wireless Networks

Validated Reference Design

Multi-hop Linear Mesh: MSR2000


The MSR200 can be used to alternate channels and extend a very long bridged connection, perhaps
around physical obstacles or over very long distances (see Figure 55).
Ch. 149
Mesh link

MSR 2K

Ch. 157
Mesh link
IP
network

MSR 2K

arun_0399

MSR 2K

Figure 55

MSR2000 extends a long bridged connection

Parallel Point-to-Multipoint: MSR2000 or MSR4000


Using AWR, any MSR radio can maintain a maximum of six mesh links with six different neighbors, as
shown in Figure 56. For simple networks, the MSR2000 can be used to create a shared point-tomultipoint network for connecting remote sites to a core site. The second radio is used on the mesh
points to provide client devices access to the network. A single MSR4000 providing sectored
coverage on each radio can support up to 24 directly-connected child mesh points.
Mesh links
MSR 2K

MSR 2K

arun_0398

IP
network

MSR 2K

Figure 56

Aruba Networks, Inc.

MSR2000 maintaining multiple mesh links

AP Selection for Common Outdoor Topologies | 70

Outdoor MIMO Wireless Networks

Validated Reference Design

High Capacity Mesh Core: MSR4000


The MSR4000 quad-radio router, shown in Figure 58 is purpose-built to operate as a high-capacity
mesh portal or mesh point. Aruba customers often deploy a network of MSR4000s as a mesh core,
leveraging multichannel mesh to maintain end-to-end performance. Then, MSR2000s are used to
create a mesh distribution layer which in turn connects with MSR1200 and MST200 edge access
nodes. This can be visualized in Figure 57.

Edge access

MST200

MSR1200
00
T2
MS

MS
R1
200

Mesh core

MS
R1
200

MSR4000s

Wired
network

00
T2
MS

arun_0352

MST200
MSR2000

Figure 57

Using MSR4000 to create a multi-tier mesh with dedicated mesh 'core'


for backhaul

Each radio can be configured to operate in the 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, or 4.9 GHz bands. Careful channel
assignments and frequency reuse plans allow networks to scale to very large sizes and sustain very
high throughput even across many mesh hops.

MSR 4K

MSR 4K
MSR 4K

IP
network

arun_0396

MSR 4K

Figure 58

Aruba Networks, Inc.

MSR4000 operates as a high-capacity mesh portal or mesh point

AP Selection for Common Outdoor Topologies | 71

Outdoor MIMO Wireless Networks

Validated Reference Design

Remote Thin AP Endpoints Overlaid on AirMesh


Figure 59 shows a standard ArubaOS controller-based thin AP network that is overlaid on an AirMesh
routed network connecting different facilities, combining an ArubaOS and Aruba AirMesh solution in
order to cover difficult areas for signal.
MSR
4K/2K

CAP/RAP

MSR
4K/2K
4

Living
community

IP network

Aruba
controller

4.9GHz
2.4GHz

MSR 4K/2K
4.9GHz
2.4GHz

4.9GHz

Campus
building

Apartment

Figure 59

S3500
wired AP

arun_0436

2.4GHz

RAP5

ArubaOS overlay network using AirMesh routers

In this example, a customer wants to use standard Aruba APs in remote buildings in a campus or yard
environment that require multiple hops to reach. These buildings do not have other wide-area
connectivity, for instance guard shacks or off-campus housing. By combining the ArubaOS and Aruba
AirMesh solutions, the customer can operate a converged network that utilizes the centralized security
model to areas that otherwise are difficult to cover with a typical outdoor network extensions.

Aruba Networks, Inc.

AP Selection for Common Outdoor Topologies | 72

Outdoor MIMO Wireless Networks

Validated Reference Design

Chapter 7: Aruba Software Technologies


In general, as we have seen, the deployment type will usually determine the choice of AP model and
operating system. However, some simple topologies such as single hop mesh networks can work
equally well with AP175 or MSR2000. This chapter describes some of the unique outdoor networking
software features - with a focus on Aruba's AirMesh operating system - to help the wireless architect
choose between product families.

Choosing an Outdoor Operating System


As you saw in previous chapters, the deployment type generally drives the decision of AP hardware,
which in turn determines which OS will be used. Campus extension networks almost always use
ArubaOS with APs managed by a controller. Outdoor mesh networks almost always use Aruba
AirMesh with a decentralized control plane and full layer 3 routing inside each mesh node. Table 8
summarizes the features that are available on each operating system.
Table 8

Feature comparison of Aruba outdoor APs by operating system

Operating System
AP Type

ArubaOS
AP-175

AirMesh
MSR2000

MSR4000

Thin

Controller required

Centralized policy enforcement

Layer 2 mesh

MST200

MSR1200

Autonomous

Active Video Transport

Any radio / Any band

IP Mobility

MobileMatrix

MobileMatrix

MobileMatrix

MobileMatrix

ARM

RFM

RFM

RFM

RFM

Layer 3 mesh with AWR


Role-based access control

Client authentication
with 802.1X and WPA2

MobileIP Roaming
Dynamic radio management
4.9 GHz band support

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ArubaOS for Campus Extension


ArubaOS is the operating system and application engine for Aruba mobility controllers and thin mesh
APs. Aruba customers that are extending their network outdoors can simply increase the AP license
counts to cover the outdoor APs and maintain existing authentication mechanisms, while retaining full
advantage of all controller-based features. The software architecture of ArubaOS is designed for
scalable performance, and is built using three core components:
First, a hardened, multicore, multithreaded supervisory kernel manages administration,
authentication, logging, and other system operation functions.
Second, an embedded real-time operating system powers dedicated packet-processing
hardware, and implements all routing, switching, and firewall functions.
Third, a programmable encryption/decryption engine built on dedicated hardware delivers clientto-core encryption for wireless user data traffic and software VPN clients.

NOTE

ArubaOS is typically selected for outdoor networks in two scenarios. First,


when providing dual-band client access to outdoor areas around an existing
ArubaOS indoor deployment. Second, when there is a desire to use the
controller to enforce role-based access control in an outdoor mesh
environment.

The ArubaOS secure enterprise mesh solution is an effective way to expand network coverage for
outdoor and indoor enterprise environments using layer 2. Using mesh, you can bridge multiple
Ethernet LANs or you can extend your wireless coverage. As traffic traverses across mesh APs, the
mesh network automatically reconfigures around broken or blocked paths. This self-healing feature
provides increased reliability and redundancy: the network continues to operate if an AP stops
functioning or a connection fails.
Aruba controllers provide centralized configuration and management for APs in a mesh environment;
local mesh APs provide encryption and traffic forwarding for mesh links. Aruba thin APs can be
configured as mesh portals or mesh points. Mesh portals are wired to the network infrastructure. APs
that are connected to the wired network occasionally are referred to as gateways or root nodes.
Their primary function is to accept connections from unwired mesh points to expand coverage even
when wired network access is unavailable.
Provisioning mesh APs under ArubaOS is similar to thin APs; however, there are some key
differences. Thin APs establish a channel to the controller from which they receive the configuration for
each radio interface. Mesh nodes, in contrast, get their radio interfaces up and running before making
contact with the controller. This requires a minimum set of parameters from the AP group and mesh
cluster that enables the mesh node to discover a neighbor to create a mesh link and subsequent
channel with the controller. To do this, you must first define and configure the mesh cluster profile
before configuring an AP to operate as a mesh node.
For much more information on the mesh features of ArubaOS, please refer to the ArubaOS 6.0 User's
Guide.

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AirMesh for Outdoor Mesh Networking


The challenge of providing high-speed Wi-Fi to users across large outdoor areas requires a different
approach than distributed thin APs connecting over reliable wired links to a scalable controller. Each
unwired mesh node must participate in an exchange of reachability information and examine path
metrics to make intelligent forwarding decisions. This exchange must occur even during periods where
it may not be possible to communicate with a centralized controller. In addition, the user community on
large outdoor networks is not typically managed by a single centralized entity, so authentication must
become more highly distributed and flexible.
To meet these challenges, Aruba developed a purpose-built mesh operating system called AirMesh.
AirMesh has many technologies that were specifically created to address the hard problems of
delivering high capacity reliably across large geographic areas:
Radio Frequency Management (RFM) - RFM is a patented intelligent technology that
successfully brings up an entire mesh network including provisioning of IP addresses and
subnets, channel assignments and radio power levels. Once the mesh is up, it ensures
extremely fast convergence due to topology changes, and continuously optimizes the network to
mitigate RF interference.
Adaptive Wireless Routing (AWR) AWR is a patented routing protocol designed for
wireless networks that provides RF-aware, layer 3 network intelligence and fast convergence
that optimizes the traffic flow in a mesh network.
Path Distance Factor (PDF) PDF is the underlying link metric protocol and algorithm used to
estimate both RF channel conditions and IP network distances. It is used by both RFM and
AWR.

Active Video Transport (AVT) AVT is a patented technology that optimizes and prioritizes
video traffic. AVT significantly improves video quality by reducing packet loss and jitter. AirMesh
delivers video at 30 frames per second.
Virtual Private LAN over Mesh (VPLM) Customers used to have to choose between the
simplicity of layer 2 mesh tree topologies or the robustness of layer 3 any-to-any packet
forwarding. With VPLM, the mesh presents a standard L2 VLAN that is tunneled across a
transparent L3 mesh, giving the best of both worlds.
MobileMatrix This Aruba capability enables reliable roaming between mesh routers in less
than 50 milliseconds so that users application sessions are maintained even if they are moving
at high speed

In this section, we look in detail at the operation and algorithms used by all six of these technologies.

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Radio Frequency Management


Radio Frequency Management (RFM) is the software module that performs neighbor discovery and
automatic channel assignment. This technology automatically provisions IP addresses on all routers
and links, maintains link status, and reports dynamic changes to ensure that no portion of the network
becomes isolated from a mesh portal. RFM is tightly coupled with the AWR protocol and notifies the
routing algorithm of channel changes or when new mesh nodes are detected. Though it appears in the
middle of the software process stack in Figure 60, we begin with RFM here as it makes both AWR and
PDF easier to understand.
Node A
AWR
Layer 3

RF-aware L3 routing
Layer 3 Convergence
Multiple gateways
OSPF ASBR
Local Repair
Channel changes
New mesh nodes

RFM
Layer 2

Neighbor Validation
Channel Provisioning
IP Address Provisioning

Node B
Via IP

AWR

Table updates
Protocol messages

Via 802.11 data


frames

RFM

Exchange neighbor
information

PDF metrics

Layer 2

Neighbor discovery
Layer 2 Convergence
Island Avoidance

Figure 60

Via beacons

PDF

PDF value
announcements
arun_0548

PDF

Interprocess communication of key AirMesh modules

Neighbor discovery is a good example of how RFM, AWR and PDF work together to operate the mesh
transparently. The automatic neighbor discovery feature is an always on process in the PDF layer
where each radio performs an active scan of configured channels to find a valid neighbor. If one is not
found within approximately 5 seconds, a periodic discovery process kicks in that continues to scan for
available neighbors until one is found. RFM synchronizes channel use across the cells in an area
every time a radio changes channels. If multiple radios send channel changing announcements at
the same time, the announcement precedence value decides which link each mesh node should
select.
Each radio runs the neighbor discovery process independently and each radio reports the discovery
outcome to the RFM process. After validation, radios compute path metrics for IP route selection and
choose from a list of candidates that are selected by a defined priority list from the pool of neighbors
within radio range. IP addresses can be generated automatically or they can be generated statically
using DHCP reservations based on the MAC address of the radio. After a candidate is selected by
RFM, the link is established and AWR is notified.

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To be considered a valid neighbor, all of the following must be true about the radio interface
configurations on each neighbor:
The radio operation mode must be set to mesh (as opposed to client service)
The mesh ID profile must match

The radio physical mode must be compatible (e.g. data rate, channel width)
The SNR must be above the minimum threshold (defaults to 15dB or greater)
The neighbors must have available peer capacity
It must not conflict with any existing neighbor-to-neighbor link
It must be allowed by the ACLs on each neighbor

Note that the neighbors need not be on the same channel, as channel assignments are made later in
the discovery process. Each radio on an AirMesh AP may have a maximum of six neighbors. So an
MSR4000 could have 24 neighbors while and MSR2000 could have 12 neighbors. If more candidates
are available than slots, neighbors are prioritized based on the following criteria, in order of
precedence:
A preferred neighbor specified by the network administrator has highest priority. This is used to
force specific links if desired.
The candidate neighbor with the higher RSSI/SNR will always have next highest priority.
The candidate neighbor with more reachable mesh portals is chosen next.
A candidate with a more optimal RF link will be preferred.
If multiple radios are able to see the same neighbor, additional decision making is performed in the
AirMesh AP to make the selection.
Channel assignment is one of the most important RFM functions and well worth understanding. It is
significantly more complex than the non-mesh indoor AP systems such as Aruba's Adaptive Radio
Management (ARM) in ArubaOS. In a mesh network where multiple radios are used on every AP,
often with directional antennas, the mesh must intelligently choose the ideal channel for each hop
between neighbors. The ideal channel can change over time, forcing periodic ripples in the mesh as
nodes reconverge.
For every link between valid neighbors in the mesh, a reverse tournament algorithm is used to select
the most optimal channel. The algorithm uses the Path Distance Factor subsystem described later in
this chapter to conduct the tournament. Here are some of the factors that go into the patented process:
The tournament always begins with the mesh portal choosing its channel(s) first
Nodes with lower PDF values have higher priority and complete first (the process proceeds from
the portal outwards)
Non-DFS channels are preferred over DFS channels

Self-interference within the AP is considered

The result is a channel reuse plan that maximizes end-to-end performance across the entire mesh, not
just individual links. RFM runs continuously in all AirMesh nodes. If new nodes are found, RFM adds
them into the existing mesh. If a better neighbor link is found, it will replace the old link so long as the
old link is not passing traffic. If more redundant links can be formed, they will automatically be
incorporated into the link metrics.

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The power of RFM is its ability to bring up a large, complex mesh very quickly with minimal
administrator configuration. For a 50 node mesh, the entire process can typically be completed in five
minutes or less. Reconvergence due to link failures can occur in 10 seconds or less. All the network
administrator needs to do is set up a mesh ID profile, and optional channel list or preferred neighbor
list. The RF and layer 3 IP routing topology is self-generating and optimized for end-to-end
performance rather than simple individual links.
Adaptive Wireless Routing
Aruba Adaptive Wireless Routing (AWR) is a purpose-built layer 3 wireless routing protocol that is the
foundation of the reliable AirMesh technology. The patented AWR routing protocol is specifically
designed for scalable wireless networks and is suitable for mobile and fixed wireless applications.
To address the need to cover large areas, AWR provides standard layer 3 IP routing advantages, such
as fast convergence, carrier-grade scalability, natural load sharing, and support for multiple concurrent
gateways.
Unlike legacy IP routing protocols, AWR is based on a distance vector algorithm that incorporates
wireless link quality metrics like RSSI and Wi-Fi retransmissions in the optimal L3 path selections.
Additionally, AWR includes client loading information for very fast IP route convergence that can
maintain mobile sessions even during routing updates. AWR routing includes special enhancements
that dampen fluctuations during route table updates, a very important feature to stabilize the wireless
network even when the RF environment may be changing rapidly.
AWR works well for both mobile and fixed wireless mesh networks with a combination of desirable
features:
Fully distributed, providing resiliency against link and node outages
No system-level single point of failure in Aruba AirMesh networks
Dynamic, adaptive and proactive routing
Self-forming, self-healing mesh topology requires no user administration
Fast convergence supports high mobility and high network up-times
Flexible adaptation to radio link quality changes delivers users the highest capacity
Highly scalable protocol requires low computational and communication overhead
Simple and easy layer 2 features ensure a connection at any instant
Maintains multiple routes to each destination for fast fail-over and load-balancing
Security over mesh links ensure all the routing packets are encrypted
Protocol discriminates between temporary wireless fades and other outages
Having established the critical role of AWR in delivering the performance and reliability benefits in an
AirMesh system, the wireless architect will wish to thoroughly understand its operation. Therefore, we
will consider it in detail in the next few subsections. To set the stage, let's begin with a short primer on
key concepts relating to routing protocols in general and mesh routing in particular.
Layer 2 vs. Layer 3 Forwarding in a Wireless Mesh Network

In an outdoor mesh network, all inter-node communications are wireless - which is why most wireless
mesh vendors claim to use some form of routing among all nodes. But such routing is really nothing
more than an extension of the spanning tree protocol designed for L2 networks.
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Most wireless mesh vendors do not use L3 routing because of its high cost and complexity. Regularly
exchanging route information can consume precious wireless bandwidth. In large networks routing
tables can grow correspondingly large, requiring a considerable amount of memory in the routers.
Constantly updating routes and making real-time packet forwarding decisions demands substantial
computational resources. Because network layer routing can undermine the price/performance of a
vendor's product, most choose instead to route at the link level.
A
B

Gateway

Figure 61

STP path between node A and B


AWR routing path between node A and B

arun_0553

Wired Backhaul
Optimal paths to the gateway
Alternate back-up routes

Layer 2 vs. Layer 3 forwarding paths in a wireless mesh network

As you can see in the figure, all L2 mesh architectures funnel all traffic to a single gateway. This poses
numerous performance and reliability challenges. While the gateway may in fact be the destination for
important traffic such as video archiving servers, what about secondary video feeds that are needed
by mobile law enforcement or emergency response personnel? Also, this type of unintelligent
forwarding does not allow for multiple gateways for load balancing, much less redundancy. There is a
single point of failure in the network. This approach truly ties the hands of the wireless architect for
today's increasing performance demands.
Technical Requirements of Mesh Routing

A routed wireless mesh network is highly flexible and inherently fault-tolerant. It simplifies line-of-sight
problems and extends the reach and coverage of the network with a minimal amount of network
infrastructure and interconnection costs. There are also hybrid wireless mesh networks where some
mesh routers are mobile and the others are not.

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In whatever case is considered (whether mobile or fixed or hybrid), wireless mesh networks have
some common essential characteristics:
Highly dynamic
Autonomous
Peer-to-peer
Multi-hop
Limited per-hop and end-to-end bandwidth
Limited computing power and storage memory
Wireless mesh networks are highly dynamic for several reasons: First, the routers themselves may
move (e.g. in mobile or hybrid wireless mesh networks), causing fast topological changes. Second,
even if the routers themselves are fixed, radio link qualities can change very quickly because of
interference, geographical and environmental factors. Link state in a radio mesh is not binary (up or
down); rather a wide range of link qualities are possible depending on RF channel conditions. A link
going sub-threshold can produce a topology change even though the path remains valid for other
points in the mesh. Third, nodes may enter or leave at any time due to local RF or power conditions.
As a result, the rate of topology changes in a mesh network is dramatically higher than in a wired
system.
Each node must be completely autonomous in its decision making, with no dependencies either on
other mesh nodes or a centralized topology store that could become unreachable. Communication
with other mesh nodes will therefore be peer-to-peer by definition and will require multiple hops most
of the time. Resource constraints both in terms of channel capacity and the mesh radios themselves
must also be considered.
From these characteristics of wireless mesh networks, it is evident that the desired technical
requirements for any wireless mesh routing protocol are as follows:

Distributed operation
Very fast convergence (for mobility as well as topology changes)
Extremely scalable (to hundreds or thousands of nodes)
Very small channel bandwidth use for routing control plane
Very small CPU and memory footprint
Proactive operation (to reduce initial delay)
Link quality-aware and link capacity-aware path metrics
Free from loops at all times

Given these baseline requirements, it becomes possible to compare the major available routing
methods in use to see which is the best starting point for a mesh routing protocol.
Review of Dominant Routing Methods

The traditional routing protocols - such as Open Shortest Path First (OSPF) or Routing Information
Protocol (RIP) - are designed for wired networks, and cant deal with fast topological and link quality
changes that are common for wireless mesh networks. They can be classified into two categories
according to their design philosophy:
Distance vector (RIP, IGRP)
Link state (OSPF)
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Distance vector routing protocols (DVRPs) were used in early packet networks such as the ARPANET.
The main advantages of the distance vector approach are simplicity and computation efficiency.
However, this approach suffers from slow convergence and tendency of creating routing loops. While
several approaches were proposed which solve the looping problem, none of them were able to
overcome the problem of slow convergence.
This led to the creation of a completely new routing technology called link state. In link state, global
network topology information is maintained in all routers by periodic flooding of link state updates by
each node. Any link change triggers an immediate update. As a result, the time required for a router to
converge to the new topology is much less than in the distance vector approach. Due to global
topology knowledge, it is also much simpler to prevent routing loops.
Unfortunately, as the link state method relies on flooding to disseminate the update information,
excessive control overhead may be generated, especially when mobility is high (or severe radio
interference is present that causes link status flapping) and frequent updates are triggered. As mobility
increases, the traditional link state protocols like OSPF become infeasible as they will consume a large
portion of network capacity and node processing power just to keep up with the fast topological
changes. The overhead of the routing control traffic becomes so large that it simply overwhelms the
data traffic.
In addition to the traditional routing protocols designed for wired networks, a number of routing
protocols designed for mobile ad hoc networks have been proposed. They are commonly broken down
into two broad classes:
1. Reactive routing protocols (i.e. AODV, DSR, TORA), which only discover and maintain routes on
demand. By adapting to the traffic pattern on a demand or need basis, they can utilize CPU and
bandwidth resources more efficiently, at the cost of increased route discovery delay.
2. Proactive routing protocols (i.e. DSDV, OSLR), which always maintain routes to every possible
destination on the assumption that they may be needed. In certain contexts, the additional
latency incurred by the reactive routing protocols may be unacceptable. Proactive routing
protocols are desirable in these contexts if bandwidth and CPU resources permit.
The ad hoc routing protocols mentioned above have made significant improvements with regard to
dealing with fast topological changes in mobile environments. For example, AODV is an on-demand
(reactive) distance vector protocol. The basic idea behind these reactive protocols is that a node
discovers a route in an on-demand fashion. It computes a route only when needed. In on-demand
schemes, query/response packets are used to discover route to given destination. However, since a
route has to be entirely discovered prior to the actual data packet transmission, the initial latency may
degrade the performance.
Like the link-state method, on-demand routing schemes also suffer tremendous protocol overhead
when traffic load and mobility are high. Simulation results have shown unacceptable level of packet
loss and long delays during high mobility. Moreover, most of the existing protocols, traditional and ad
hoc alike, have severe scalability and stability issues in terms of adapting to fast radio link quality
changes that are common for both mobile and fixed wireless mesh networks.
Distance Vector Routing Properties

We have seen that none of the dominant wired routing protocols may be used directly for a wireless
mesh. It is also clear from this analysis that the link state method is inherently incompatible with the
technical requirements set forth above due to its high resource requirements for bandwidth, CPU
power and memory footprint. Conversely, the DVRP method is a very good fit for these requirements
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due to its simplicity and small resource requirements, providing that the convergence and looping
challenges can be overcome. Let's consider these problems in more detail.
There are two types of loops that can occur in a DVRP-based system: short term and infinite. Both can
be visualized in the diagram below. The number listed next to each link is the path cost.

Cost = 1

Cost = 1

arun_0549

Cost = 10

Figure 62

Possible loops with distance-vector routing

A short-term loop can occur if link B->C fails. In this case, a routing loop between A and B is created if
A tries to send a packet to C. The loop will clear itself once the cost of path A->B is equal to 10.
An infinite loop will occur if link A C also fails before a short-term loop between A and B is cleared.
In this case, traffic will loop forever between A and B.
In addition to loops, convergence time has always been a shortcoming of DVRP-based systems. From
a routing perspective, convergence is defined as the process of the entire network reaching a new
stable loop-free state following any event that changes the topology. The convergence time is simply
the elapsed amount of time required to complete this process. In a large network with many nodes and
exponentially more possible paths, it is not uncommon too see convergence times on the order of
minutes or even hours. This occurs because no individual node has any idea of the entire network
topology. As a result, convergence requires many individual changes to ripple through the network
until a new optimal solution is reached.
The AirMesh AWR Implementation

Aruba developed the Adaptive Wireless Routing protocol to solve the problems mentioned above. The
AWR protocol is an adaptive, distributed, proactive routing protocol designed specifically for wireless
mesh networking. It is based on a distance-vector foundation, with enhancements that eliminate both
types of looping while radically reducing convergence time (typically five seconds or less for a large
mesh of several hundred nodes). AWR also includes a unique mechanism to dampen fluctuations
during routing table updates, as well as the patented Local Repair mechanism for fast route
convergence and network overhead reduction.
In AWR, each router maintains an enhanced DVRP routing table that contains all the information
necessary to forward a data packet toward its destination. Each routing table entry is tagged with a
destination sequence number originated by the destination node. This helps on identifying the stale
routes from the new ones, thus avoiding loops.
In AWR, each node keeps track of its continued connectivity to its neighbors. A broken link may be
detected by the layer 2 PDF protocol discussed later in this chapter, or it may be detected by using

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AWR's layer 3 enhanced wireless hello protocol. To maintain the consistency of routing tables in a
dynamically varying network, each node periodically transmits scheduled updates, and also transmits
triggered updates when significant new information is available.
To address the convergence time problem, AWR introduced two patented innovations to the classic
DVRP method: Route Diversity and Local Repair. With route diversity, AWR maintains multiple routes
to each destination that could be used for fast fail-over and load balancing. This is similar to the
feasible successor concept from link-state protocols. In other words, every AWR node effectively has a
priori local link state knowledge for all valid paths to its immediate neighbors. It is considerably different
from DVRP in which only one valid path exists to each destination. While simple in concept, Aruba's
implementation required significant engineering to perfect.
Local Repair is a process to discover a new route locally without resorting to an end-to-end route
discovery when an intermediate link breaks. AWR includes a proprietary messaging mechanism to
further speed up the convergence and to further reduce the routing overhead by making the reconvergence as local as possible. The benefits of Local Repair are visualized in Figure 63 and
Figure 64 below.

A
B

Figure 63

arun_0550

Topology events propagate network wide without local repair

Consider a source node S attempting to send traffic to destination node D across a mesh network, as
show in Figure 63 above. Consider further that the link from A to B fails. Without local repair, A will
broadcast to the entire network that it has lost the connection to B. This routing update will flood to all
of As upstream and downstream nodes, including S, and cause them to update their routing tables.

Figure 64

Aruba Networks, Inc.

arun_0560

Local repair contains topology events and accelerates convergence

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With local repair, a special message is sent by A only to its immediate neighbors. Neighbor C will
respond to that message that it has a valid route to D. Node A can then repair its routing table without
affecting any other nodes. In this way, local repair can greatly reduce the routing overhead in
unreliable network.

Figure 65

AWR allows the mesh to route around failed or degraded links

This innovation delivers extremely fast convergence - even faster than wired link state protocols. This
is because AWR effectively localizes topology changes to the nodes in the immediate vicinity of the
change (from an L3 perspective). This reduces both the geographic scope of topology change control
traffic, as well as the convergence period. This approach is best fit for the typical topology event
triggers in a wireless mesh.
AWR works well for both mobile and fixed wireless mesh networks. It offers a very attractive
combination of desirable features for wireless mesh routing protocols:
Fully distributed, providing resiliency against link and node outages, ensuring there is no
system-level single point of failure
Dynamic, adaptive, proactive routing: self-forming, self-healing, reducing initial delays
Fast convergence: enabling high mobility and greatly improving serviceability
Flexible adaptation to not only topological but also radio link quality changes

Maximize user throughput by taking radio link quality into consideration (extremely important for
wireless mesh networks)
Highly scalable (low computational & communicational overhead). Especially important for large
wireless mesh network deployment
Simple and easy to implement
Multiple loop-free routes to each destination for fast fail-over and load-balancing
Security (all the routing packets are encrypted and authenticated)
Support multi-radio, multi-hop wireless mesh networks

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Unique capability of discriminate between temporary wireless fades and an actual loss of
wireless links due to mobility, router failure etc.

AWR is running in tens of thousands of wireless mesh nodes, including some of the largest outdoor
mesh networks on the planet. Many simulation and experimental results have shown that AWR works
well for both mobile and fixed wireless mesh networks, and AWR showed superior performance with
respect to its peers for a wide range of user applications.
Inter-band and Intra-band Routing

A full layer 3 mesh routing protocol provides the wireless architect with unprecedented degrees of
freedom. Especially when combined with multiple backhaul radios in a single AP chassis. Therefore, it
is worth calling out some of the specific new topologies that are possible with AWR.
Each radio in an AirMesh access point that is configured for backhaul mode is treated by AWR as a
discrete IP interface. It has most of the important interface configuration options you would expect on a
wired router. This makes it possible to forward traffic directly between any two backhaul radios in the
same chassis. Furthermore, because AirMesh allows any radio to be configured for any band, AWR
does not require or care that traffic flow on a specific band. The diagram below illustrates this flexibility:

5 GHz

4.9 GHz

5 GHz

2.4 GHz

2.4 GHz
5 GHz

4.9 GHz

5 GHz
arun_0552

Internet

5 GHz

Figure 66

Inter-band and intra-band routing in an AirMesh network

You can see both intra-band and inter-band forwarding routes in the diagram. Intra-band forwarding
means sending traffic between two radios on the same frequency band. For example, ingress on
channel 149 and egress on channel 153. Unlike some competing layer 2 mesh implementations,
AirMesh does not require you to designate an upstream and downstream direction. Frames are
frames, to be forwarded according to standard routing algorithms.
Even more interesting is inter-band forwarding. In this case, traffic may travel on any combination of
bands - 5GHz, 4.9GHz and 2.4GHz - to reach its destination. These are all simply hops with a given
cost as far as AWR is concerned.
This provides the wireless architect with the ability to use an alternate band in a particular geographic
area that may be challenged in the primary mesh band due to local interference or other conditions.
Another application is in very large meshes with two-tier RF backbones using different frequency
bands for each tier. Let's say you are using the UNII-3 band for the first mesh tier, and the UNII-2 band
for the second tier to inject capacity into the first tier. In the injection nodes, one radio would be
designated as an uplink on UNII-2, while the other backhaul radio(s) would be on UNII-3.

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OSPF Autonomous System Integration

Wireless mesh networks from Aruba using AWR also support OSPF routing. OSPF is a hierarchical
interior gateway protocol that employs link state to create an optimal hierarchy among routers in a
network.
The OSPF autonomous system boundary router (ASBR) function is utilized so that external routers
include the wireless mesh in their route tables. The AWR implementation in AirMesh supports both
backbone and non-backbone areas as defined in the OSPF standards.
OSPF periodically publishes link state advertisements (LSAs), which are required by the external
gateway routers. Support for these OSPF features enables network operators to optimize routing
across multiple autonomous systems wired and wireless in any single network domain.
Multiple Gateways

Finally, AWR makes it possible to automatically balance traffic loads across all available gateways to
the Internet or other external networks. In fact, the entire AirMesh network constantly balances the
total load to optimize traffic flow, even under adverse conditions with high levels of RF interference.
This is particularly useful for wireless architects who may be accustomed to hardwiring specific traffic
flows to get around L2 mesh traffic flow limitations. For example, consider a video surveillance
deployment with 10 cameras with a bitrate of 8Mbps each. If only 5 cameras can be accommodated on
a single gateway, the wireless designer may choose to statically assign 5 cameras to each of two
different gateways on two different channels. However, with AWR this is completely unnecessary.
Simply add the necessary number of uplinks and AWR will manage the rest.
AWR Scaling & Configuration Best Practices

Follow these general recommendations when AWR is used:


The number of nodes in a single mesh area or cluster must be less than 50. This is more than
sufficient for many networks, as this works out to approximately 5 km2 (2 mi2). Larger meshes
can be easily constructed out of multiple mesh areas.
The network should be planned to limit the number of hops to six or less.
One mesh portal should aggregate no more than 16 downstream nodes at typical ingress loads.
The number of nodes in a single mesh network depends on the capacity and the traffic of each node.
Assume all four radios of a MSR4000 work in backhaul mode, then the total sustainable UDP
throughput of the MSR4000 is about 200 Mb/s X 4 = 800 Mb/s. If each child node needs an average 50
Mb/s of bandwidth, the number of nodes that can be served by one MSR4000 gateway is 16. This
value may increase or decrease based on your specific offered loads, as well as link-specific
throughput reductions due to RF impairments such as free space path loss, attenuation due to ground
clutter, and the like.
Path Distance Factor
Both AWR and RFM depend on a patented Aruba technology called the Path Distance Factor (PDF).
PDF is both the algorithm and method by which link metrics are computed and shared between peers
in an AirMesh network. For example, the AWR protocol utilizes PDF to compute RF-aware routing
tables. In an AirMesh network, each node announces its own PDF information in a beacon frame to
reduce the need for dedicated transmissions for propagating RF state. Each receiving node calculates
and updates its PDF value and propagates it to its neighbor in the next beacon. In the most simple
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terms, the PDF value is the routers distance to the nearest portal. A portals PDF value can be 0 or
any value larger than zero if we want to give different weight to different portals.
A PDF is a 32-bit integer. A vendor specific IE extension is added into the 802.11 beacon and probe
response management frame. The PDF value is then announced periodically inside the beacon frame.
Other management frames such as probe response frame may also contain PDF values.
By taking advantage of existing 802.11 beacon and probe response management frames, PDF adds
no extra burden to the existing 802.11 mesh network. Since beacons and probe response frames can
be received by all neighbors in the coverage area, each one is effectively a local broadcast. Every
AirMesh nodes latest PDF value is announced to all neighbors nearby. Contrast this approach with
spanning-tree PDUs or routing protocol announcements that add much more burden to the limited
wireless bandwidth.
PDF Initialization and Update Logic

Each router initializes its own PDF value to infinite, which implies that each mesh node assumes it
does not have a valid link to any portal when powered on.
If the router is a portal, which is known either from the configuration or from user CLI, the router then
changes its own PDF value to the user specified value or a default pre-configured portal PDF values
(zero in the basic case).
Since each router periodically broadcasts its PDF via beacons, all neighbors will receive the updated
PDF value sooner or later. Upon receiving a beacon, the router performs following steps to process a
PDF update.
Receiving beacon/
probe response
on one interface
New
neighbor?

No

Yes

Neighbor has
finite PDF & my own
PDF is infinite?

Do I have a
valid link with this
neighbor?

No

No

Yes

Yes
Add the new neighbor into
the topology database,
PDF[if] = neighbor_PDF +
cost_to_neighbor,
Start new neighbor creation process

Add the neighbor


into the topology
database and return

Update the neighbor in


the topology database,
PDF[if] = min(existing PDF,
neighbor_PDF+cost_to_neighbor)

Update the neighbor


in the topology
database and return

Calculate own new PDF


Router_pdf = min{PDF[if] for
all ifs on the router}

Figure 67
Aruba Networks, Inc.

arun_0442

Set the new PDF


value into the
beacon/probe
response

Logic flow for PDF update processing


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On a given mesh router, each radio maintains a topology database that contains all scanned
neighbors. This is called the candidate list. The radio selects valid neighbors from the candidate list to
form links. For those neighbors which have valid links with the router, they form the neighbor list.
As shown in Figure 67, upon receiving a PDF update from a neighbor, the router first checks if it is a
new neighbor or not. If the neighbor is new, it is added into the topology database. If the neighbor is
not new, the router checks to see if it has an existing link to the neighbor. If it does, the router will see
whether its own PDF needs to be updated. If it does not, it means the router does not have valid link
with the neighbor, then only the topology database is updated.
One special case is that the router s own PDF value is still infinite while the neighbors PDF value is a
finite number. This means that the router itself is still in the island state, meaning that it does not have
any path to reach a mesh portal but the neighbor does. In this special circumstance, in order to get out
of the island state quickly, the router immediately sends out link establishment request to the neighbor.
As Figure 67 shows, the whole PDF is similar to a routing update, but with much simpler logic. Each
interface on the router has a PDF value, and the routers unique PDF value is the minimum PDF value
among all of its interfaces.
Multiple portal support is easily achieved utilizing PDF. If the wireless engineer assigns a different PDF
range to different portals, one can clearly distinguish different portal paths for each node. By giving
different initial PDF values to different portals, portal load balancing is also supported.
PDF Timeouts

Each neighbors PDF value has a timeout timer associated with it. If the router has not received any
beacon/probe response message from the neighbor within the timeout period, the neighbors PDF
value will be set to infinite again.
A neighbors
PDF update
times out

Do I have
a link with this
neighbor?

Yes

Change the neighbors


PDF to infinite,
remove it from neighbor list

No
Update the neighbor
in the topology
database and return

Calculate own new PDF


Router_pdf = min{PDF[if]
for all ifs on the router}

Figure 68

arun_0443

Set the new PDF


value into the
beacon/probe response

Logic flow for the timeout of a PDF value

Figure 68 shows the logic flow associated with a timeout event. As with the PDF update, the router first
has to check if it has a valid link to the neighbor. If it does not, then it just needs to update the topology
database. If it does have a valid neighbor, that node has to be moved from the neighbor list back to the
topology database (candidate list). The link has also to be either removed or set to down state.
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Loop Avoidance

The PDF update, together with the topology database builds a loop-free tree topology in the mesh
network. This loop-free tree is similar to a spanning tree, but with following differences:
1. Link redundancy is supported
2. Each link's weight is taken into the consideration
3. Multiple portals are supported, and each one can have different weights
The mechanism the PDF algorithm uses to ensure a loop-free tree is as follows. Each node builds its
topology with PDF information received from all of its neighbors. The topology database contains each
neighbors PDF value, plus its own PDF value to the neighbor. Note that the neighbors PDF value is
the neighbors cost to the nearest portal, similar to the Reported Distance (RD) in the diffusing update
algorithm (DUAL). The routers PDF value, which is similar to the Feasible Distance (FD) in the DUAL,
will be one of the neighbors PDF values (RD) plus the routers cost to that neighbor. Such neighbors
are referred as Successors in DUAL.
PDF to X = 90

C
Cost = 20

Destination
X

Cost = 10

arun_0444

PDF to X = 90

PDF to X = 100

As successor is B

Figure 69

Loop-free tree using PDF

Figure 69 is an example of how PDF ensures a loop-free tree. Assume the PDF value of router A to
destination X is 100 via router B. In another words, As feasible distance to X is 100, and B is As
successor. Router C also has a route to the destination X, which has a PDF value of 90. Since the cost
from router A to router C is higher than the cost from router A to router B, router A chooses router B as
the successor, and sets its own PDF value to X as 100.
Although router A does not use router C as the successor, router A still saves router Cs information,
together with its reported distance to X in its topology database.
If the link from router A to router B fails, router A can then choose router C as the new successor. In
this case, it will update its PDF to destination X to 110. However, how does the router know whether
the path from router C to destination X is loop-free?
Router A can safely decide the path is loop-free by comparing router Cs reported distance (90) with
router As original feasible distance (100). If the RD is less than the original FD, it means that router C
satisfies the feasibility condition (FC), and router C becomes the Feasible Successor (FS). In our case,
router Cs reported distance (90) is indeed less than the original FD (100). This means that router Cs
path to destination X does not involve router A, therefore router A can safely choose router C as the
new Successor.

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If router Cs RD value is higher than router As original FD, it implies that router Cs path to destination
X might be via router A, which might lead to a loop.
It can be seen from the example that the PDF algorithm completely guarantees that the constructed
tree is loop-free. On the other hand, not all loop-free paths are included in the tree.
Each router calculates its PDF to the destination via all feasible successors, and picks the lowest FS
as the PDF value. If multiple FSs yield the same minimum PDF value, they all become the routers
successors. In the case of topology changes, if any given FS is locally available in the topology
database, the convergence will be very fast. If no FS is available, the router will have to send out
queries to its neighbors. The query propagates (diffuses) until a reply is received. Routers that do not
find a FS will return an unreachable message.
Directional Link Buildup

After a neighbor is selected, the one with larger PDF value needs to explicitly send out a link
establishment request to the other end. If a router receives a link establishment request from a
neighbor which has even smaller PDF, the request will be denied.
The principle is that the link buildup process is directional. The one with larger PDF value has to be the
link establishment initiator. This requirement brings more benefits than ensuring a loop free tree. When
the receiver gets the request, it can evaluate the overall channel utilization and RF conditions before
specifying which channel should be used for the connection establishment.
Radio State Machine

Each radio interface runs an independent state machine. The state machine consists of three different
states: Discovering, Connecting and Connected.
Discovering state: The radio performs either passive or active scanning. This is the initial state
when radio is enabled to backhaul mode and its mesh configuration mode is set to auto.
Connecting state: if any neighbor is found in the Discovering state, the radio goes into the
Connecting state to establish a valid link with that node.
Connected state: If a valid link is established, and the routers own PDF becomes finite, the
radio stays in the Connected state.
In any of these states, if the radio interface receives a connecting request from a neighbor with larger
PDF value, it will respond to it.
Since each radio will periodically get into passive scanning mode even after valid links are established,
the radio will eventually find all possible neighbors on all channels.
Mesh Network Convergence

PDF propagation starts from the mesh portals and reaches every node in the mesh network. This is
called convergence. After the convergence is complete, a loop-free tree exists and every node has
achieved a stable state.
Since only mesh portals will start with finite PDF values, other nodes can only change their default
infinite PDF values to finite values after finding a valid path to one of the portals.
This implies that if a router still has the default infinite PDF value, it is in the island state. In this case, it
will keep doing neighbor discovery until its PDF becomes finite.

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Multichannel Mesh Channel Assignment

PDF not only ensures a converged mesh network, but also provides a mechanism for automatic best
channel selection during the mesh forming process.
Mesh portals always pick the best channel first. They then propagate their choice to child routers within
one hop of the portal. When multichannel backhaul is being used, these child routers will then pick the
best channel from remaining available channel pools, and so on.
Basically, the portal has higher priority over mesh points to choose the best channel available at the
time of neighbor link formation. And each router makes its own local decision on which subsequent
channel to pick, based on channel conditions such as interference, signal strength and noise. This
procedure ensures an optimal channel selection scheme for the entire mesh network. With Aruba
AirMesh, no work needs to be done by the wireless engineer to provision the backhaul network, nor is
there any requirement for inflexible static channel assignments.
Active Video Transport
Arubas Active Video Transport (AVT) traffic-shaping system delivers progressive, non-interlaced
HD-quality video at up to 30 frames per second. With AVT, users perceive a significant improvement in
quality, while behind the scenes AVT makes intelligent tradeoffs between latency and impairments to
video quality.
Challenges In Carrying Video Traffic Over IP Networks

Fully appreciating AVTs ability to improve video performance requires understanding the causes and
effects of the most common impairments to video quality packet loss, packet reordering and packet
jitter.
Voice and video traffic is normally transmitted in wired and wireless networks using the connectionless
UDP protocol. Real-time applications like voice normally cannot benefit from the retransmission
feature of the connection-oriented TCP protocol. When packets are lost or corrupted in a UDP data
stream, they are simply lost and are never recovered.
Destination
B
Source

Out of order packets

B
A

IP
network

Duplicated packets

Constant rate video packets

.......

C D E

Various delayed packets

Figure 70

Aruba Networks, Inc.

arun_0554

Lost packets

Challenges in carrying isochronous video traffic across wireless mesh networks

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Figure 70 above illustrates some of the most common issues encountered with video traffic traversing
IP networks:
Out-of-Order Packets: Traffic loss in wireless mesh networks can be significant due to periodic
congestion. Dropped packets or transmission errors that corrupt packets can occur due to a link
data rate being too high, external RF noise or interference, antenna misalignment, moving
obstacles, multi-path fading, user mobility, or a low or variable RSSI. Consequently, packets
often arrive at their destination in a different order than they are sent from the source. TCP
reorders these packets into their original sequence, but UDP does not. With UDP applications,
packets are consumed in the order they are received.
With compressed digital video, the effect of packet reordering can be worse than the equivalent
amount of packet loss because an out-of-sequence packet disrupts the decoding process. For
this reason, video equipment is often designed to simply drop the packet, or with high-end
systems, build in some delay in the decoder to create a brief window of opportunity for
reordering out-of-sequence packets.
Lost Packets: Uncompressed video signals are tolerant of moderate packet loss, but any
amount of packet loss for compressed video signals becomes noticeable often in annoying
ways. And because wireless mesh networks have limited bandwidth, some form of compression
is typically used.
Delayed Packets / Jitter: Without some provision in the video decoder, jitter causes quality to
degrade with noticeable pixilation or blurred images. The same delay built into sophisticated
video equipment to create a window of opportunity for packet reordering also facilitates the
removal of jitter from the incoming packet stream.
The sources of packet jitter in a wireless mesh network include variations in delay at the source,
variable link data rates along the path, changing traffic conditions in QoS queues, changes in
end-to-end routes, the non-deterministic effects of the CSMA/CA protocol, and roaming.
Compression algorithms commonly used in digital video applications are stateful. In stateful
communications, the arriving bit stream is used to make changes in the existing image rather than
construct a new image during each frame interval. Stateful compression algorithms have the
advantage of being highly efficient, which is desirable in a wireless mesh network. However, they have
the disadvantage of not being tolerant of packet loss, and often require a disruptive resynchronization
between the encoder and decoder when packet loss, reordering and jitter become severe enough.
How AVT Works

As stated earlier, Arubas AVT traffic-shaping system delivers high-definition video by making an
intelligent tradeoff between latency and the impairments to video quality. The increased latency
required to compensate for packet loss, reordering and jitter is imperceptible to users. What is
perceptible is the significant improvement in video quality.
AVT uses four technologies to deliver cinema-quality 30-frame progressive video across the wireless
mesh network deep packet inspection, MAC protocol optimization, an in-network retransmission
protocol, and adaptive video jitter removal.
An AVT link consists of a tunnel with two components: ingress and egress. AVT improves the video
traffic by retransmitting lost packets, removing in-packet jitter, and by reordering packets automatically
inside the mesh without any action by the upper layer application.

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At the ingress point, AVT uses deep packet inspection to find the video stream in the data flowing
across the network. Then AVT differentiates the video frames within in the video stream and marks key
video attributes like the compression ratio, frame type, alignment, and AV synchronization of each
frame.
Deep packet inspection also identifies and extracts the compression algorithm, video decoding buffer
model, video frame-type boundary and video timing used by the packet stream. This information is
needed to properly share the traffic through the Aruba wireless mesh network.
At the egress point, AVT restores the video frame into the original format based on the information
marked by the AVT ingress.
The MAC protocol optimization and in-network retransmission protocol work together to minimize and,
when necessary, recover from packet loss. This combined prevent-and-recover approach is especially
effective in noisy RF environments where packet loss can occur most often.
To further improve the video quality, AVT introduces a jitter buffer to overcome any unexpected jitter
and delay caused by the wireless network. At the egress, AVT uses the jitter buffer to collect, store,
and reorder the video frames and then sends them onto the wired network in their original sequence,
synchronized with the video decoder.
Figure 71 shows a typical mesh topology with video surveillance. MSR #1, MSR #2, and MSR #3
create a wireless mesh network:
MSR #1 is a leaf router connected with a video camera.
MSR #2 is a middle router that connects MSR1 and MSR2 with two mesh links.
MSR #3 is the mesh gateway router that connects to the video surveillance center (PC).
The MSR closest to the camera or video source is considered the AVT ingress, and the gateway MSR
generally is the AVT egress point.

Mesh link

Camera

AVT
egress

Video traffic
MSR1

Figure 71

MSR2

MSR3

Video
storage
server

arun_0390

AVT
ingress

Mesh link

Example of AVT ingress and egress

AVT leverages the multicasting capability in AWR to provide concurrent and efficient multi-path
transmission of HD-quality video to multiple destinations. Multicasting is especially useful for video
surveillance applications that require monitoring and recording at multiple locations or for IPTV
applications that broadcast video to multiple viewers.
Virtual Private LAN over Mesh
Virtual Private LAN over Mesh (VPLM) is proprietary Aruba AirMesh technology that is used to provide
the simplicity of native layer 2 services to customers while retaining all of the routed network
advantages delivered by AWR, operating at layer 3 in the mesh network.

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VPLM is essentially an overlay technology that enables native plug-and-play L2 VLAN connections
that are served by the underlying AWR routing protocol. The concept and architecture of VPLM is very
similar to Virtual Private LAN Services (VPLS) technology, which is the solution that is widely used by
worldwide ISPs to provide L2 services to enterprise customers. But VPLM is adapted to ensure loopfree topologies over wide area mesh networks.
VPLM Overview

Figure 72 demonstrates the typical VPLM architecture, where VLAN 100 is used by a customer to
provide video surveillance services over the mesh network and VLAN 102 is used to provide standard
2.4 Ghz client access. MSR1 on the left runs VPLM on VLAN 100 and Camera1 on the left side can be
plugged into the MSR without any special configuration. Data from that port is trunked over the mesh
network transparently. All video frames captured by Camera1 are tagged by MSR1 with VLAN 100,
and then sent to the wired network over the mesh network where they then are forwarded to the wired
network also using VLAN 100. Video frames are routed by the AWR routing protocol so they always
use the most optimal path.
VPLM instance
VLAN
102
MAC
STA2

Router ID
MSR3

BSS on
VLAN 102

VLAN Router ID
102
MSR3

STA1
CE
STA2

MSR2

VL
Camera1
on
VLAN 100

PE

AN

BSS on
VLAN 102

10

CE
VLAN 100
MSR1

Mesh cloud

Camera2
on
VLAN 100

MSR3

VPLM instance

Router ID
MSR3

MAC VLAN Router ID


Camera2 100
MSR3

Figure 72

VLAN
100
102

Router ID
MSR1
MSR2

MAC VLAN Router ID


Camera1 100
MSR1
STA1
102
MSR2

arun_0429

VPLM instance
VLAN
100

PE

Virtual private LAN over Mesh

The same VLAN tagging and AWR routing mechanism applies to client access traffic in VLAN 102, but
in this case all devices associated with a specific ESSID and connected with MSR1 are tagged and
then sent over the mesh network.
VPLM Implementation

The VPLM feature is similar in concept to how VLANs are implemented on just about any ethernet
switch, with the exception that each VLAN must be individually defined on each AirMesh node. Each
node maintains a VPLM membership database (MDB). The MDB is a table that describes the

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relationship between VLAN numbers and router IDs. Individual VLANs are completely isolated from
one another as expected. And VPLM supports 802.11e to 802.1Q mapping.
VPLM utilizes a control plane service to coordinate between AirMesh nodes. This service is
responsible for collecting VLAN and site information from all interfaces on a given node. It manages
the MDB table, and periodically exchanges MDB data with other nodes participating the VPLM
instance.
For each VLAN configured for VPLM on a given node, the classic forwarding and learning processes
work exactly as expected. As new source MAC addresses are learned, the VPLM forward information
database (VFIB) will be updated. The VFIB is a table that describes the relationship between client
MAC address and router IDs. For unknown destination MAC addresses, we will flood the frame(s) to
all routers in the same VLAN.
All frames to be bridged on the VLAN will be forwarded to the proper VPLM tunnel. Frames are
encapsulated inside tunnel protocol headers and forwarded across the mesh by AWR like any other
traffic.
VPLM is meant to be transparent so it does not run STP. Because VPLM fully supports the AWR
multiple gateways feature for load balancing, it is necessary to implement an internal loop avoidance
mechanism within VPLM. This is accomplished with the Site ID. This is a self-defined number for each
L2 wired network that can forward and receive traffic with a VPLM tunnel. All of the AirMesh nodes that
connect to the same Layer 2 network must be configured with the same Site ID. Different L2 networks
must have different Site IDs, as shown in Figure 73.

Site ID 1

Site ID 2

Figure 73

arun_0555

VPLM uses site IDs to avoid loops

In summary, VPLM provides native plug-and-play and easy-to-use L2 services to customers, retains
all L3 core benefits in the AirMesh network, and is the default mode of operation of Aruba AirMesh
products.

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MobileMatrix and Seamless Session Persistent Roaming


Aruba's MobileMatrix provides the ability to roam seamlessly, potentially at very high speeds,
throughout the Aruba wireless mesh infrastructure. The integration of the network and link layers in
AWR provides the cross-IP subnet roaming capability needed to allow clients to move from wireless
mesh AP to mesh AP in less than 50 milliseconds while maintaining session persistence and keeping
the same IP address. Fast roaming maintains a continuous application connection, which is critical for
latency-sensitive applications like voice and video.
The IEEE 802.11 standard does not specify a robust, interoperable mechanism for roaming. In fact, it
requires each client have only a single connection. There is also no provision for an AP to identify
clients within its range, which places the burden on the clients to detect available connections and
initiate a roaming request.
The inter-AP protocol (IAPP) specified in IEEE 802.11f provides a means for nomadic movement
between APs. But the delay involved is generally longer than required to support real-time voice and
video applications. Plus, IAPP is problematic for connections that use WEP, WPA or WPA2 security.
Without any enhancements, IAPP is suitable only for data applications that are insensitive to latency
and require no security.
Roaming in Wi-Fi networks is possible at layer 3 with the Mobile IP standard described in IETF
RFC3344. Optional for IPv4 and required for IPv6, Mobile IP enables packets to be forwarded in
tunnels from a system with a fixed IP address to mobile devices that roam among multiple networks.
These mobile devices can roam across multiple subnets, where it becomes necessary to assign a new
and different IP address.

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Significantly, Mobile IP was designed to be transparent to both the mobile node itself and the
correspondent node at the remote end, which may be either mobile or stationary. But Mobile IP is very
complicated and is not widely adopted. Arubas MobileMatrix leverages the capabilities of IAPP and
adopts a simplified version of Mobile IP to make roaming fast and seamless without high overhead.
MobileMatrix maintains full interoperability with ordinary Wi-Fi clients. It does not require any special
software on servers, clients or internetworking systems external to the wireless mesh. The contrast
between Mobile IP and MobileMatrix may be visualized in Figure 74.
RFC3344 Mobile IP

MobileMatrix

Permanent
Home Agent

Permanent
Home Agent

Foreign
Agent

Proxy
Home
Agent

Foreign
Agent

Client moves

Client
10.1.2.100

Centralized
Long handoff control path
over multi-hops to AC
Slow switch to new AP

Figure 74

Client moves

Client
10.1.3.100

Client
10.1.2.100

Distributed
Short handoff control path
between local mobility services
Fast switch to new AP

Client
10.1.3.100

Handoff setup
control path

arun_0556

Old AP
10.1.2.1

MobileMatrix overcomes challenges using MobileIP on wireless mesh networks

MobileMatrix uses four methods to achieve fast, cross-IP subnet roaming:


The Global MobileMatrix Service process maintains all mobile user information required by the
other MobileMatrix processes.
The Access Point MobileMatrix is responsible for initiating and completing the roaming requests
on behalf of clients and within the wireless mesh infrastructure. It is equivalent to the Mobile IP
foreign agent, and runs on all routers.
Any router that serves as a gateway to an external network uses two additional processes that
are equivalent to the Mobile IP home agent. The Local MobileMatrix Service maintains the
mobile user information required by the local gateway. It is an extension of the Global
MobileMatrix Service.
The MobileMatrix Traffic Gateway is the companion process in gateway routers. It is responsible
for establishing the route to the mobile clients current AP, which includes advertising any new
route to the AWR protocol.
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MobileMatrix roaming begins by inheriting the standard MAC layer trigger mechanism initiated by the
Wi-Fi client. But IAPP only supports roaming within a single IP subnet, which is problematic for IP
applications. In fact, if a client roams with IAPP to an AP on a different IP subnet, its IP address can no
longer be used in a current session. Consequently, it will require a new IP address and re-initiate a
new session.
To support cross-IP subnet roaming, MobileMatrix uses a special gateway function, which is
analogous to Mobile IPs home agent, to recognize that a client IP address is now using a different AP.
MobileMatrix immediately updates the routing tables in AWR to route packets via the new AP.
GMS
DHCP
DNS
AAA

LMS: Local MobileMatrix Service


MTGW: MobileMatrix Traffic Gateway
GMS: Global MobileMatrix Service
APM: Access Point MobileMatrix

Gateway 1
Gateway 2

LMS
MTGW

Cl

LMS
MTGW

ie

nt

in

fo

Home
agent

Foreign
agent

arun_0557

Client info

Client

Figure 75

Aruba Networks, Inc.

Roaming within a mesh - control plane

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While MobileMatrix and Mobile IP take a similar approach to roaming, the important difference is
speed. The ability to complete the transition in less than 50 milliseconds gives MobileMatrix seamless
session persistence for virtually any IP application, including voice. The 50-millisecond transition
period is from beginning to end for both the client and the wireless mesh network. Wi-Fi clients
constantly scan for available wireless mesh APs. When a stronger signal is detected, the client can
initiate an IAPP roaming request. In fewer than 50 milliseconds, MobileMatrix recognizes the request
and initiates an update to the route tables in AWR, and then propagates the changes to affected
routers in the wireless mesh while the client simultaneously re-associates with the new wireless mesh
AP.

DHCP
DNS
AAA

LMS: Local MobileMatrix Service


MTGW: MobileMatrix Traffic Gateway
GMS: Global MobileMatrix Service
APM: Access Point MobileMatrix

GMS

3
5

Gateway 1
Gateway 2
Control transfer

LMS
MTGW

LMS
MTGW

APM

APM
Home
agent

APM

Foreign
agent

1
7

arun_0558

Client

Figure 76

Aruba Networks, Inc.

Roaming within a mesh - data plane

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Chapter 8: Planning the Access Layer


When outdoor mesh coverage for fixed and mobile client devices is planned, many important things
must be considered in a well-defined sequence, beginning with the connection between the client
devices and the closest AP. Client devices come in a rich variety of typesfrom mobile Wi-Fi devices
such as smartphones or mobile routers installed on vehicles to fixed cameras wired directly into mesh
nodes or wireless client bridges. As a rule, always plan the access layer first and then plan the
backhaul layer.
Contrary to the approach recommended by some vendors, mesh access layers cannot simply be
planned by taking a fixed number of APs in a square kilometer or square mile and laying them out in a
grid. While this type of approach may help for rough order-of-magnitude budgeting, it will not deliver a
working mesh. There is no one size fits all mesh access layer design - every one is unique. From the
available mounting assets to the ground clutter environment, and from the client device mix to the
typical building construction materials, no two mesh access layers can use the same design.
The access layer design methodology recommended by Aruba can be visualized in five major steps as
follows:

Define coverage
footprint
Identify siting
constraints
Identify QoS /
SLA zones
Specify
key design
parameters

Capacity Plan
Identify offered
load by device

Match
client to AP power

Assign minimum
throughputs
Choose oversubscription ratio
Identify usable
channel count

Figure 77

Cell Size

Choose minimum
data rates
Estimate
path losses

RF Design

Model

Identify valid
mounting assets

Create 3D
Coverage Model

Choose antennas
and bearings

Create bill of
materials

Choose best
mounting sites
arun_0546

Discovery

Iterate until all requirements are met

Mesh access layer planning methodology

By following this process, the wireless architect can be assured that the node densities are appropriate
to that specific mesh and that it should generally operate as expected. The balance of this chapter
explores the technical concepts required to move through the steps successfully.

Discovery
A thorough discovery process is the key to getting the survey right the first time, and avoiding
unexpected trips to revisit the site. Most if not all of the following areas should be considered during
this process.

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Define the Coverage Footprint


All outdoor networks start with one or more coverage areas marked on a map. For outdoor hotspot
networks, this may simply be an outline showing the service area. For video surveillance networks, it
could be the field-of-view map from the video integrator showing all camera locations and bearings.
For campus extensions, it could be the perimeter around selected buildings on the campus.

Figure 78

Figure 79

Municipal mesh network coverage area

Intermodal railyard coverage area

Whatever the footprint size or shape, this is the first major constraint on the project. Only the mounting
assets in the footprint are generally of interest. The topography and ground clutter characteristics of
the area will have to be managed. The overall cost of the project is directly related to the size of the

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area. Later in the planning process, if the budget will not cover the entire footprint, one of the most
common solutions is to reduce the coverage area permanently or to break it into phases. (Reducing
AP density to meet budgetary requirements is almost always a bad idea - it is much better to maintain
density and reduce the coverage area.)
Identify Siting Constraints
The design team needs to know what limits they have to choose mounting assets within the network
footprint. For mesh portals, it is critical that a complete list of preferred mounting structures is provided
before the survey team deploys. There can be thousands of buildings in a few square kilometers or
miles. Survey teams on a tight schedule cannot afford to drive around randomly choosing structures.
They need an initial set to work with.
For municipal deployments, it is common that city-owned and even county-owned buildings are
preferred because the leasing arrangements are minor or nonexistent. Schools are another common
mounting point for municipal networks.
If existing poles are to be used, you need to find out what entities own which poles, and how you tell
the difference. Some areas are served by multiple power, telephone and even cable companies. Each
may have their own poles, and on the same street even. Find out which electrical utility and telco
providers are willing to contribute their poles, and how to recognize and read their pole tags. Confirm
that acceptable electrical power exists.
It's also crucial to know what structures cannot be used. For campus deployments, identify which
buildings have the least aesthetics or approvals requirements. For historic areas, even city-owned
structures are likely off limits or have serious limits.
Identify Quality-of-Service or Special Service Level Agreement Zones
It is common that some areas within a given coverage footprint have special requirements. Examples
of these include:
High bandwidth / Minimum QoS zones: These areas may have a higher minimum data rate
specified than the average required for the rest of the footprint. There may be more rigorous
indoor penetration requirements. Different zones could have different minimums.
Low user density zones: For areas with sparse populations or low expected offered loads,
perhaps it is desirable to have reduced node density to save overall network cost.
Fee-based / High availability zones: These areas may have paying subscribers on the
network. Extra care may be desired in the engineering in these areas to maximize the customer
experience.
Specify Key Network Design Parameters
The customer should provide top-level network engineering criteria that will significantly impact the
choices available to the design team. Examples include:
Minimum average data rate in the overall coverage area
Expected concurrent users per access node
Average and peak bit rate from video cameras selected for the project

Minimum and maximum available uplink circuit bandwidth (physically available and affordable
within the available budget)

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Total budget for capital equipment


Total budget for physical installation

These are just a few of the possible examples. As you begin the discovery process, think carefully
about the nature of the project to come up with a list that is as comprehensive as possible.

Capacity Planning
With discovery completed, the next step in planning any access layer is to understand the expected
offered load that the network must support. This information is required before an RF design can be
completed because capacity requirements determine AP counts and densities.
Offered Loads of Typical Network Services
Different services have different bandwidth and delay requirements from the outdoor network. These
services can be generalized into three typical profiles:

real-time voice, which requires very low delay and jitter


real-time video, which varies by quality, frame rate, and encoding type
other data services, like Internet access

For planning purposes, non-real-time video generally can be regarded as a data service and we
generically use a range of 512 Kb/s to 2048 Kb/s for real-time video. While the theoretical peak 2
spatial stream data rate of an 802.11n outdoor network is 300 Mb/s, this throughput metric represents
only the physical RF connection rate, not the application layer throughput. As in all data connections,
application communications must pass through several other communications layers with each layer
adding overhead to the original application layer data. The true application layer throughput is
measurably smaller than the physical RF link data rate.
If an AP uses encryption, this added fixed-length header also adds overhead. For normal data
messages this is typically <5%, which can generally be ignored. However, for a network with voice
applications, where many small packets are sent very frequently, the throughput consumed by the
encryption header can become relatively large. Network designers must factor this loss of throughput
into capacity planning in areas that are expected to support a high volume of VoIP.
Table 9 lists the throughput requirements for typical Wi-Fi network services.
Table 9
Service capacity and priority
Service Type

Quantity and
Unit

Occupied
Direction
Throughput

Delay
Remarks
Sensitivity

Voice

Single caller

64 Kb/s

Bidirectional

Very

Using common codecs

Video surveillance

Single camera

512 - 2048 Kb/s

One way (up or


down)

Very

Depends on video
quality

Internet access service

Per active subscriber

512 - 1024 Kb/s

Asymmetric

No

Typically rate-limited

Bandwidth vs. Throughput


The 802.11 physical layer operates at half-duplex because only one station may transmit on a wireless
channel at the same time. 802.11 data rates such as 54 Mb/s or 300 Mb/s refer to one-way, raw
physical layer bandwidth. No consideration is given for latency from an application perspective and no
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consideration is given for transmission overhead. In addition, such data rates represent single client
to single AP speeds under best-case conditions; actual client bandwidth will be lower under real-world
conditions and client counts.
By contrast, application performance is heavily dependent on round-trip, full-duplex network
performance. Even applications that have asymmetric traffic profiles, such as video cameras, must still
employ delivery guarantee mechanisms which require acknowledgements, windowing, and
sequencing at upper layers of the protocol stack. Latency in all layers and in any network element can
significantly reduce performance.
As a result, application developers typically express their network requirements in terms of throughput.
Throughput is defined as the effective data transfer rate at the application layer, and can be measured
as an average or a peak.
Therefore, we need a mechanism to convert between the bandwidth values that will be used for WLAN
design and the throughput values that must be guaranteed to applications. The simplest and most
conservative technique is the following formula:
802.11n Throughput = Bandwidth * 0.50
802.11a/b/g Throughput = Bandwidth * 0.40
In other words, 300Mb/s of half-duplex bandwidth provides 150 Mb/s of full-duplex throughput with
802.11n. If a client is connecting at a lower data rate, say 78Mb/s (also known as MCS12) it could
expect a maximum throughput of 39Mb/s. Note that these data rate examples assume the use of
40 MHz channels. With outdoor deployments, it is more likely that 20 MHz channels will be used on
both the access and backhaul layers.
Client Throughput Requirements
Traffic modeling is a useful tool to set expectations for service levels on the network. The idea is to
clearly outline coverage areas for each mix of applications, based on application demands and
customer usage behaviors. The result of traffic modeling is the average and peak calculated offered
load during busy times, which the system should then be designed to handle.
A vital step in designing the access layer of an outdoor network is to determine the minimum client
PHY-layer data rates to an AP based on the traffic model. This in turn determines the maximum
allowable distance to an AP during the RF design phase, delivering adequate Wi-Fi coverage so that
high throughput connections are possible from the client to the AP or AirMesh router. Network
planners then move on to ensure that backhaul calculations connections deliver sufficient capacity
where it is needed.
Data modeling includes:
Coverage area and client devices by priority
Data applications in priority and subsequent throughput calculations

Number of associated users and the expected number of concurrent transmitters (e.g. duty
cycle)
Average PHY data rate and total application throughput for a typical AP radio

A common recommended user number of each AP is 15 to 25 for data-only users. For users with VoIP
wireless handsets, the user number is reduced to 7 to 8 voice users per AP, when data is present. In
large public venues, 50 users per AP is not uncommon as a planning value, however, this represents a
bandwidth limitation and may not always be achievable based on the ability or inability to re-use
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channels in each venue. Though hundreds of users can be associated to an AP, the goal is to
determine the number of active users that can be supported by available RF capacity. This number
should be used as a guideline and may vary widely when considering outdoor networks. Different
regions and concentrations of users require more client and backhaul capacity than less used areas.
Oversubscription Ratio
When designing an outdoor network, begin by considering the number of fixed permanent terminals,
such as IP video cameras for surveillance, Wi-Fi voice telephones, and RFID or scanner applications.
Then consider other types of client access devices that are expected to be used, typically enterprise or
public Internet access users, with an expectation of seamless roaming across the coverage area.
Multiply the bandwidth requirements of each of these applications by the number of concurrent devices
using each application. Then add all of the application requirements together to determine the total
expected offered load for each subarea within the network.
However, this is not a complete picture. If only one of four online users is actually communicating at a
time, the duty cycle of each client can be considered to be 25%. The oversubscription ratio is the
inverse of the duty cycle, or 4:1 in this example.
For voice services, the oversubscription ratio usually can be large, such as 8:1, but data services often
trend up and down with a peak time, based on user behavior. Enterprise networks see a mid-morning
and mid-afternoon peak in activity, which planners must prepare for. For this reason, pure data
services may require a subscription ratio as small as 2:1 or lower. Network planners must set realistic
objectives, but network operators often trade these usage trends and subscription ratios against the
need for adding unnecessary or expensive capacity. Large public networks may use different
oversubscriptions ratios and time of day, but the key point is that the network must accommodate the
highest load anticipated within each subarea of the outdoor network.
Strategic Throughput Reservation
Consider the long-term growth requirements when the wireless network capacity is specified. When
the capacity of a wired network is planned, operators usually reserve 20% or more for network
expansion and optimization. For best results, when planning your outdoor Wi-Fi network, you should
do the same to accommodate unanticipated coverage gaps or the need to add mesh portals to busy
areas that may need more capacity as more devices and new applications emerge.

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Determining Cell Size


The distance between clients and APs is one of the main factors that determines the throughput of an
access layer. Therefore, the minimum throughput requirement from the capacity plan directly
determines the number of access layer radios that are required per km2 (mi2). As the distance from the
client to the AP increases, the wireless signal strength decreases. Lower signal strengths produce
lower connection data rates. Adding more access layer radios can reduce the AP-client distance and
increase performance. In this section, you'll learn about some of the complex factors affecting PHYlayer data rates.
Matching Client and AP Power
The biggest factor that limits the size of a access layer Wi-Fi cell is the transmit power of the client
devices that will be supported in each area. Wireless communications are not one-way; they require a
solid round-trip connection with equal performance to and from the client device. Professional wireless
designers routinely conduct surveys to measure the received signal strength indicator (RSSI) or SNR
at various distances from each AP. However, this measurement is only one-half of the round-trip
communications link because the client device must also be capable of transmitting to the AP
successfully.
Common sense suggests that handheld devices with batteries and small antennas that operate at
street level will transmit over a much shorter distance than an AP mounted up in the air using high-gain
directional antennas.
When planning access layer coverage, the transmit power of the expected client devices determines
how far apart the mesh routers can be placed. The devices must remain in range of these weaker
client devices. Coverage must overlap to ensure no signal loss to maintain seamless, sessionpersistent roaming.
For example the AP-175 is capable of 25 dBm of conducted power with both chains, but the latest
models of voice handsets and ruggedized mobile terminals are limited to 12 dBm plus a small amount
(~3 dB) of gain from the antenna. If this important imbalance is overlooked, Wi-Fi users would say that
they have 5 bars on the client display, but they have a very poor connection. This problem occurs
because the client can hear the AP signal, but the AP cannot hear the client well enough to establish a
reliable link.

12 dBm
Output

Retail_130

20 dBm
Output
20 dBm Output

Figure 80

Aruba Networks, Inc.

Mismatched client and AP power output

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Free-Space RF Propagation
The RF signals emitted by an antenna go through significant attenuation, even in free space (i.e., no
obstructions between the transmitter and the receiver), before they reach the intended recipient. The
free-space propagation loss in dB is given by the formula:
Lp = 32.4 + 20 log10(f)+ 10nlog10(d)
The frequency of transmission f is specified in MHz and the distance d is specified in kilometers. The
higher the transmission frequency, the higher the propagation loss is for the same distance.
The parameter n is known as the path loss exponent (indicating how fast the signal attenuates with
distance), whose value is 2 for free-space communication. In non-line-of-sight communication and in
indoor environments, many other factors such as attenuation due to absorption, reflections and
multipath come into this equation. If the types of material and the exact amount of the attenuation are
known, these losses may be added to the propagation loss formula to help you calculate the actual
loss. In a mixed environment, such as a warehouse, a different path loss exponent value may be used
instead to approximate the path loss. For example, a value of 2.5 to 4 may be typical of most indoor
environments, though the path loss exponent can be as high as 8 in some RF unfriendly environments.
Figure 81 shows how path loss increases with distance in the 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz bands.

Figure 81

Aruba Networks, Inc.

Link loss across a range of common outdoor WLAN distances

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You may have noticed when using a connection utility or site survey software that the signal strength
of an AP drops off very fast near the AP, and then much more slowly. The figure clearly shows why this
is the case, due to the exponential nature of RF signal propagation. In fact, for every doubling of
distance, an RF signal will experience 6dB of path loss.
Medium
throughput

Low
throughput

arun_0348

High
throughput

Radius

Figure 82

Effect of distance on mesh network capacity

Effect of Path Loss on Data Rate and Throughput


802.11 protocols have different physical layer connection rates, which are usually realized based on
signal quality and other environmental factors specific to each location. Radio manufacturers
characterize the PHY-layer data rates that can be achieved based on minimum levels of required SNR
for each individual rate. Figure 83 shows data from one combination of radio and antenna that show
how the predicted data rate decreases as path loss increases.

Figure 83

Aruba Networks, Inc.

TCP throughput with increasing path loss (theoretical)

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If the mesh link will be used to backhaul wireless clients (such as laptops or wireless terminals) as
opposed to wired IP clients (such as a video camera or server), it is also useful to have an estimate of
the AP to client throughput, again by modeling or measurement of the specific AP and client
combinations. For MIMO connections, it is important to include the antennas that are planned to be
used at both ends of the client connection in the test or analysis. The following Figure 84 shows an
example test result using a MIMO client with 5 dBi antennas to the Aruba AP175P with ANT-2x2-2005
(5 dBi omnidirectional) antenna array. This is a common configuration, such as might be found
between a mobile vehicle with a roof mounted antenna, and a mesh point providing access layer
service. The results presented are using a 20 MHz, 2.4 GHz channel in the upstream direction.
Depending on the application, testing or modeling of both the upstream and downstream directions
independently may be an important.

Figure 84

Outdoor MIMO client rate vs. range test (2.4GHz, HT20, 5dBi each end)

Of course, the aggregate capacity of a cell depends on the percentage of total clients that are farther
away (higher path loss). When a far client is transmitting at a low rate, nearby clients must wait. It is an
ironic challenge that the bigger the coverage area of an AP, which can reach many more people than
a small cell, the fewer users it can serve based on bandwidth availability.
In cases where more capacity is required, the cell size can be further decreased, which lessens this
effect because fewer users will be connecting to each AP and through each mesh portal. This standard
step is designed to accommodate growth, and network operators should plan for this to happen as the
network experiences increasing numbers of users in the different areas. AirMesh products are
designed with flexible capacity growth in mind and mesh nodes can be added easily.
Estimate Path Losses
A major part of coverage planning is accurate RF link budget calculations and propagation models that
are specific to the area to be served. Each link budget accommodates the maximum path loss through
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the air and walls and trees, and includes loss from antennas and connectors. To form a link budget,
calculate the maximum path loss between each transmitter and receiver in a wireless system to arrive
at the limiting link budget:
The forward path link budget from the AP to the client
The reverse link budget from the client radio to the AP
In other words, the calculations in the formula in the Link Budget Calculation and Link Balance section
must be applied in both directions. To achieve a balanced link budget for planning, the lowest value
should be used when outlining where nodes should be placed to ensure that they are always in range.
Typically, the limiting link budget will be from the client to the AP, which we learned earlier determines
what bandwidth and modulation type are available to deliver the required TCP throughput.
Link Budget Calculation and Link Balance
Because each bit rate requires a specific minimum receiver sensitivity for a given radio, any wireless
network (simply referred to as link for the purpose of this discussion) design must estimate the
available link budget in dB to make sure that the link budget is at least 0 dB for the highest bit rate
desired. It is also a good practice to leave some reasonable margin (e.g., 10 dB) in the link budget to
accommodate any variations in signal strength caused by interferers or reflectors and to increase the
reliability of the link. Use the link budget analysis to estimate the range or capacity or to select an
antenna.
The first step in the calculation of the link budget is to calculate the received power at the receiver.
The received power is given as:
Received Power = Radiated Power (or EIRP) Path Loss + Receiver Gain
The equivalent isotropic radiated power (EIRP) is the correct technical term) in dBm is given as:
EIRP (dBm) = Radio Transmit Power (dBm) Cable/Connector/Switch Loss (dB) at
Transmitter + Transmit Antenna Gain (dBi)
The path loss can be calculated using the appropriate path loss formula, as discussed earlier, and may
include attenuations caused by other objects in the path, if known. The Receiver Gain is given as:
Receiver Gain = Receive Antenna Gain (dBi) Cable/Connector/Switch Loss (dB) at Receiver
When the received power (or signal strength) is known, the link budget can be calculated by
subtracting the receive sensitivity of the receiver from the received power:
Link Budget = Received Power Receive Sensitivity
The noise floor at the receiver can be subtracted from the received power to calculate the SNR. If the
noise is lower than the Rx sensitivity, the link will be limited by the Rx sensitivity. Otherwise, the link
will be limited by the noise floor.
For example, with 30 dBm EIRP (e.g., 23 dBm transmit power, 10 dBi antenna gain, and 3 dB cable/
connector loss) in 2.4 GHz, the signal attenuates to -50 dBm at 100 meters in free space. For a
receiver with receive gain of 0 dB (e.g., 2 dBi Receiver antenna and 2 dB cable/connector loss), the

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received power is -50 dBm. If the receive sensitivity is -91 dBm for 1 Mbps, then the link margin is 41
dB. However, if the noise floor is -85 dBm, then the SNR is 35 dB. In either case, the signal is more
than enough to decode the 1 Mbps data rate. However, as the distance increases the noise floor will
be the limiting factor in this specific example.
The choice of an antenna and transmit power are dictated by the specific requirements of the wireless
system. For example, in order to create symmetric links (i.e., each end of the wireless link can talk to
the other end with same bit rate at the same reliability), the transmit power at both ends should be kept
the same, assuming the RX sensitivity and noise floor are identical at both ends. The range of the
system for such symmetric networks should be increased by selecting the appropriate antennas on
both ends, rather than increasing the transmit power at one end (which increases the range in only one
direction). It is also important to calculate the link budget in both directions separately to make sure
that the bidirectional system requirements are met, given the system parameters in each direction.
By solving the equation above for a desired value such as power at the receiver, free space
propagation models can be used to calculate the RF levels of access and backhaul links, including a
fade margin to address expected environmental variances. Backhaul link calculations are more
predictable, because most have clear LOS due to their higher mounting heights. Less accuracy is
found in the access links because of NLOS expectations and unstable signal strength due to complex
wave environments and more interference and unpredictable noise at street level. Aruba provides
planning tools to help automate this process and minimize the mathematics. Nevertheless, outdoor
engineers are encouraged to understand the fundamentals behind the planning tools to assist in
troubleshooting network issues.
Path Loss Due to Cumulative RF Absorption
Natural features and the materials used to construct structures produce variable loss in RF signals.
The attenuation numbers for concrete walls are somewhat controversial. This is because there are
different types of concrete materials in use in different parts of the world, and the thickness and coating
of each type differs depending on whether it is used in floors or in interior or exterior walls. Brick walls
usually have attenuation at the lower end of the range shown in Table 10.
Table 10

Aruba Networks, Inc.

Attenuation of common building materials


2.4 GHz

5 GHz

Interior drywall

3-4 dB

3-5 dB

Cubicle wall

2-5 dB

4-9 dB

Wood door (Hollow - Solid)

3-4 dB

6-7 dB

Brick/Concrete wall

6-18 dB

10-30 dB

Glass/Window (not tinted)

2-3 dB

6-8 dB

Double-pane coated glass

13 dB

20 dB

Steel/Fire exit door

13-19 dB

25-32 dB

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In outdoor areas, trees can have significant impact on RF propagation. The attenuation caused by
trees varies significantly depending on the shape and thickness of the foliage. The rule of thumb is
about 1.2 dB of attenuation per meter for 5 GHz and about 0.5 dB per meter for 2.4 GHz. However,
rain, snow, and fog attenuation outdoors is very small for frequencies under 10 GHz. The rain
attenuation at 5 GHz is barely noticeable (< 1 dB per kilometer).
5m
indoors

10 dB
wall

100 m
free space
100 m
free space

Signal
strength
(dB scale)

6 dB
wall

50 m
wooded region

Transmitter

Figure 85

Distance

arun_0448

5m
indoors

Receiver

Cumulative losses from free space and structural absorption

The diagram above shows how such a model would be applied to an outdoor radio system. Building
penetration and walls are usually assigned figures of 6 - 20dB, whereas different types of terrain, such
as trees, can be modeled by modifying the path loss coefficient. All the losses along the path are
additive, of course. This type of model is used outdoors, where cellular operators have found that the
large amount data available (for example, from satellite surveys) allows them to accurately model
terrain and individual structures with considerable success, although results are statistical rather than
precise.

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Path Loss Modeling for Indoor Coverage by Outdoor APs


In access layer RF design you can use the recursive methods and the Keenan-Motley models1 for
calculating path loss. These methods can be used wireless backhaul links and AP network-to-client
links. In all cases, consider penetration loss when the RF signals must pass through walls, windows,
and floors. Frequently, outdoor networks are designed to reach the back wall of the street-facing
rooms. The designs assume that some type of window or other RF entrance to the building must be
considered.

PL =
In these formulae:
d is the distance

is the wavelength
N is the number of walls
Lw is the penetration loss of that wall (many references available on-line)
M is the number of floors
Lf is the penetration loss of each floor.

Propagation models used in macro cellular telephone models are not applicable in Wi-Fi mesh
systems. Telephony base stations are most frequently installed on rooftops and operate at lower
frequencies with different loss characteristics. In mesh systems, the antennas of the APs are typically
installed closer to street level, to avoid the penetration loss associated with buildings, terrain, foliage,
walls, and other obstacles.
Gant-AP
PL
Lwall
Lfloor

Lfeeder

PAP-out
Rsen-AP
arun_0428

PSTA-out
Rsen-STA

Figure 86

Estimating path loss in multistory structures

For nonmetalized windows or other dielectric layers in the window, the loss is typically ~3 - 6 dB. The
loss does not necessarily increase for multiple layers and a thin layer of nonmetallic material imparts
little or no loss. In this context, thin is defined as less than /20, where = wavelength and is 12 cm
(4.72 in.) at 2.45 GHz.

1.

J. M. Keenan, A. J. Motley, Radio Coverage in Buildings, British Telecom Technology Journal, Vol. 8, No. 1, Jan 1990.

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Summary
As we have seen, the range and coverage of each client access AP will depend on a number of RF
considerations:
1. The lesser of AP or client device power
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.

The sum of the AP and client antenna gains


The pattern of the AP antenna and client antennas
The receive sensitivity of the AP and client radios
The target data rate and associated 802.11 required SNR
Consideration of absorption and losses

Using the Aruba 3D Outdoor RF Planner


Link budget calculation for horizontal coverage is a laborious process, especially for large mesh
networks. In Chapter 4, we learned how important it is to also calculate the vertical coverage of every
antenna. In the past, wireless engineers typically used complex spreadsheets to estimate horizontal
coverage and relied on their hard-won experience to judge the vertical coverage.
Aruba introduced the patented 3D Outdoor RF Planner in 2007 to make this process faster, simpler
and more accurate. This 3D visualization tool is fully integrated with Google Earth and provides the
ability to accurately predict outdoor WLAN coverage based on RF calculations (bandwidth, distances,
gain, coverage, etc.) using real-world data including actual access point and antenna polar pattern
data. This free online tool accepts Google Earth .kmz input files and then assists the wireless engineer
in visualizing large outdoor networks in 3D, with various combinations of antennas and transmit power.

Figure 87

Aruba Networks, Inc.

Example of Google Earth mapping functions for planning

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Access to the 3D Outdoor RF Planner is online and no copies of your work are saved. You input a
Google.kmz file and enter the APs and antennas you want to use. Then the tool calculates a
propagation heat-map for several data rates and signal strengths and saves that as a file that you can
download and play back in Google Earth Pro. You can work many variations with the tool, to find the
right balance between coverage and capacity. It is located online at:
http://outdoorplanner.arubanetworks.com
While the Aruba 3D Outdoor RF Planner is free, you must purchase a Google Earth Pro license when
using it for commercial purposes. These online tools can help you to create a network plan that is very
close to the actual design before you travel onsite, which minimizes field survey work later.
Finished RF Plan Examples
The following figures show examples of a completed RF plan.

Figure 88

Aruba Networks, Inc.

Coverage example: Simultaneous mesh/coverage view with color-coded


channels in two groups

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Figure 89

Figure 90

Aruba Networks, Inc.

Client throughput display

3D view coverage

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Aruba Networks, Inc.

Validated Reference Design

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Chapter 9: Planning the Mesh Backhaul Layer


In the previous chapter, we learned to calculate link budgets based on the expected client device radio
capabilities to ensure that the access layer of an outdoor network will support the minimum required
client connection rates. These calculations lead to a nominal distance between mesh points or, said
differently, the node density of each area stated as nodes per square kilometer or nodes per square
mile. In this chapter, the discussion changes to planning network capacity of the mesh itself using both
individual RF links and end-to-end paths in the backhaul layer.
The term mesh denotes a specific network topology. However, both ArubaOS
and AirMesh use the same mesh software regardless of the topology or
number of links. Therefore, we use the term mesh generally to describe any
wireless backhaul connection.

NOTE

The general methodology Aruba recommends for backhaul layer planning is shown in the figure below:
Discovery

Topologies

Identify Portal
Candidates

Choose RF
backhaul topology
Choose capacity
injection topology

Capacity Plan
Identify usable
channel count
Choose HT40
or HT20
Compute
ingress load

RF Design

Model

Finalize
portal locations

Create 3D
Coverage Model

Add relay
nodes if needed

Create bill of
materials

Choose antennas
and bearings

Model
end-to-end flows

Figure 91

Iterate until all


requirements are met

arun_0547

Compute
egress load

Planning methodology for mesh backhaul layer

As you can see, this is an iterative experience of continual adjustments based on technical and
nontechnical factors.

Identify Portal Candidates


Every backhaul design must begin by identifying a list of potential mesh portal locations, with a
preference for buildings that are owned by individuals or companies that are participating in the
network operation, which may be the local school district, city government, public safety agencies, or
port or transportation facility operators. Create this list to reduce the time needed for the civil permitting
processes and increase the probability of obtaining the mounting assets with optimal LOS conditions
for the network. Always start with the obvious beneficiaries of the network and move on to other
possibilities only if necessary.

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Choose RF Backhaul Topology


When mesh networks are built, several very common topologies are used over and over. These are
the building blocks of any campus extension or outdoor mesh network. This section describes the
most common scenarios that can be combined to deliver the required coverage and capacity across
small or large geographic areas, using the Aruba MSR product line.
Serial Point-to-Point Connections
Figure 92 shows a simple deployment scenario where two locations are connected using a point-topoint link. Based on a strong link budget, these links can achieve up to 300 Mb/s of physical layer
throughput with minimal loss due to management overhead data.

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149

Node 1

Figure 92

Node 2

Serial point-to-point link

When many serial PtP links are extended over large distances with many hops, it is commonly referred
to as a linear or serial mesh. Figure 93 is a multichannel design in this topology to preserve and
maximize end-to-end throughput. We saw in Chapter 3: Outdoor Access Points and Multichannel
Backhaul the profound performance difference of a multichannel design over a single-channel system.
Ch. 157

Ch. 153

Ch. 161

arun_0341

Ch. 149

Point of
presence

Figure 93

Serial multi-channel mesh links in a linear topology

Parallel Point-to-Multipoint Connections


Figure 94 shows three nodes that connect to the wired mesh portal directly.

149

149

149

arun_0339

Point of
presence

Figure 94
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Parallel point-to-multipoint single channel links


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Each unwired mesh point uses one radio to build a mesh link that is connected to the mesh portal in
parallel. In this topology, full throughput can be assumed between the mesh portal and each mesh
point. However, topology also requires that each mesh portal fall within the antenna pattern of the
mesh portal and share a common channel.
Full Mesh in a Multi-Gateway Design
Serial point-to-point and parallel point-to-multipoint topologies can be combined with multiple wired
gateways to construct a robust mesh. If a network contains multiple mesh portals, dont forget to
consider the throughput balance in the case of a failed or unreachable portal. Wired mesh portals are
often backup connections for other large mesh areas and they become critical components in
delivering backup network capacity when a critical link fails. Both load scenarios should be considered
if the mesh network directs traffic to available wired egress points. If engineered too conservatively, a
failure of one mesh portal could cause users in adjacent areas to experience slow service. If the
primary portal fails, all users in the affected area are automatically routed to the remaining portals that
do have access. So the pain of the outage is spread by reduced capacity for all affected users, but no
users completely lose connectivity. Figure 95 illustrates this concept in the mesh network topology.

149

Internet

157
153

165
161

153

165
Internet

157
Portal 1
161

161

Portal 2
153

149

149

Figure 95

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165

Mesh network of any scale, campus to metropolitan area networks

One powerful feature of fourth-generation mesh networks is the use of MIMO-based directional
antennas to deliver much higher capacities. As we will see in Chapter 10: Site Surveys for Large
Outdoor Networks on page 137, this changes the outdoor site survey process in some important ways.
For instance, when surveying for first- and second-generation meshes with omnidirectional antennas,
it was always a struggle to find a pole that had ideal LOS to all of its neighbors. By using high-gain
directionals on each leg, the wireless architect has dramatically more flexibility to choose poles.
Increased transmit and receive gain also improves performance through trees and other ground
clutter.

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Choose Capacity Injection Topology


With the optimal RF backhaul topology selected, the wireless architect should turn next to the capacity
injection topology. You may think of this as the L3 traffic topology for flows that leave or enter the
mesh. RF backhaul is primarily concerned with L1 physical paths without regard for the mesh role of
any node is a portal or a point. By contrast, the capacity injection topology designates which nodes are
to be mesh portals, and what the size of their uplinks needs to be.
There are two basic injection topologies in a mesh network that utilizes L3 routing: end-fed and centerfed. Each type is further differentiated based on whether a single-channel or multi-channel RF
topology underlies the layer 3 path. Advanced designs may combine both types into hybrid topologies
that provide the greatest possible IP throughput while conserving channel space.
The choice of which nodes to make into portals can have profound consequences for the downstream
capacity of a mesh network. As a result, injection planning is always an iterative process. The wireless
architect will create a first draft and then run end-to-end calculations. Many more drafts follow as the
architect does what-if scenario analysis to arrive at the maximum ingress & egress capacity for the
lowest cost.
End-Fed Injection Topologies
As the name implies, an end-fed mesh places the uplink or capacity injection point at the end of a
string of mesh nodes. Figure 96 shows a typical end-fed capacity injection topology.
Multichannel

Ch. 149

Ch. 157

1 hop

Ch. 153

2 hops

Ch. 161

3 hops

Internet
Ch. 149

Ch. 149

Ch. 149

Single
channel
1 hop

Figure 96

2 hops

3 hops

arun_0564

Ch. 149

End-fed capacity injection topologies

Both single-channel and multi-channel RF topologies can be end-fed. The specific combination of RF
and injection topologies chosen determines the capacity of that system (or branch). In the next section,
we will review how to model the actual throughput of these combinations.

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While the injection topology is effectively linear in terms of IP packet flow, the underlying layer 1 RF
backhaul topology could be any of the choices covered in the last section. For example, the nested
point-to-multipoint network shown in Figure 97 is an end-fed design.

Internet

157

165
149
161
153

153
157

arun_0565

157

161

Figure 97

End-fed injection topology overlaid on hierarchical point-to-multipoint


RF topology

Most legacy L2 mesh networks are by definition end-fed designs. In Figure 97 you can plainly see that
the single mesh portal serves as an end-fed injection point for the entire system. This is because layer
2 meshes funnel all traffic up to a single common uplink. Even when a secondary mesh portal is
deployed for redundancy, in an L2 mesh will generally use STP to eliminate loops within the mesh so
there is only one active gateway at any time.

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Center-Fed Injection Topologies


In a center-fed design, the uplink node is chosen to be approximately in the middle of a string of mesh
nodes. Figure 98 shows a center-fed topology in both the single-channel and multi-channel case.
Multi-channel
Ch. 153

Ch. 161

2 hops

Ch. 149

Ch. 157

1 hop

Ch. 153

1 hop

Ch. 161

2 hops

Internet
Single channel
Ch. 149

2 hops

Ch. 149

Ch. 149

1 hop

Figure 98

Ch. 149

1 hop

Ch. 149
arun_0566

Ch. 149

2 hops

Center-fed capacity injection topologies

Center-fed designs are intended to reduce hopcount, therefore maximizing capacity from the leaf
nodes and minimizing uplink latency. While they can be used with either single- or multi-channel RF
topologies, they are especially useful in single-channel systems where keeping hopcounts very low is
vital to achieve the capacity objectives of the mesh.
One very powerful form of center fed injection is the dual-uplink ring topology. It is only available in
fourth generation mesh architectures that employ native layer 3 routing inside the mesh. To illustrate
why, consider a ring of mesh nodes as shown in Figure 99. Imagine that we have deployed mesh
nodes on the corners of a city with streets in a standard grid configuration. Each node is only able to
see two other nodes due to the height of buildings in between.
Internet

165

149
Portal B

161

Internet

Figure 99

Aruba Networks, Inc.

157

153

arun_0567

Portal B

161

Dual center-fed injection topology overlaid on a ring RF topology

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In a layer 3 ring with two mesh portals, traffic can flow either direction inside the ring to the portal with
the least cost path. With AWR, both injection nodes can be used simultaneously and load can be
balanced across them. If any of the nodes opposite the portal were to fail, the system falls back to
being a linear mesh with two center-fed segments. If either of the uplinks were to fail, the system
retains the ring topology with a reduced overall uplink capacity.
Hybrid Topologies

Internet

Figure 100

arun_0568

It is possible to combine the end-fed and center-fed topologies into a hybrid topology. One of the most
common such applications is to use an end-fed, multi-channel backbone to anchor a series of centerfed single-channel branches as shown in Figure 100.

Hybrid topology that combines end-fed and center-fed

There are multiple scenarios where the wireless architect may wish to employ this approach:
Geography: The physical layout of the coverage area lends itself to this design. For example, in
a metropolitan area where a main highway or ring road is used as a backbone to feed branches
down individual streets.
Channel Count: The number of available backhaul channels is very limited, such that there are
not enough to use multi-channel everywhere inside the coverage area.
Capacity: To create a very high-capacity mesh core with multiple load balanced uplinks,
capable of serving much lower offered loads from individual branches
Redundancy: To limit hopcount increase from node failure, by leveraging the ring topology for
the mesh core with multiple uplinks

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Maximum Hop Count


If a mesh nodes use multiple backhaul radios with and the uplink and downlink using well separated
channels in the same band (40MHz minimum center frequency spacing), the throughput between any
given pair of nodes changes very little as the number of hops increases. However, the uplink
bandwidth must still be shared by all of the different traffic streams flowing through it. The total
accumulated offered load from tributary mesh nodes along the path is the main factor to consider
because wider coverage areas often bring more users and the need for more capacity.
For multichannel mesh backhaul, Aruba recommends a maximum hopcount of 10, with a preferred
value closer to 6. If the mesh nodes will use a single backhaul radio, then the mesh becomes subject
to the classic 1/N performance limit, where N is the number of hops. Aruba recommends limiting hop
counts in single radio backhaul to no more than 3.
Maximum Number of Children
In an Aruba AirMesh mesh network, some number of mesh points associates with each mesh portal
and create a mesh area. The AWR routing protocol is used within the mesh area to determine the
optimum path. L3 operation of the infrastructure is critical to increasing the scale of the network, even
if only L2 services are presented at the mesh edge using VPLM.
When large outdoor areas are covered, Aruba recommends that one outdoor mesh area contain no
more than 50 child nodes. At a common node density of 10 APs per km2 (25 nodes per m2), this is
sufficient to cover 5 km2 or 2 m2. If more nodes are required for a very large mesh, divide that
coverage area into multiple smaller mesh areas by adding mesh portals. Realistically, the capacity
demands on these Wi-Fi networks seldom allow such sparse deployments and the number of nodes
per portal is generally much smaller than 50.
Ratio of Mesh Portals to Mesh Points
The number of mesh portals determines the maximum possible uplink throughput for all users
connected in a given mesh area. In sparse networks (with relatively few nodes per square kilometer or
square mile) many mesh points can cover a large area without a lot of mesh portals. Conversely, highusage areas usually have many users or use applications like video surveillance, which has a high
duty-cycle. In high-usage areas, reduce the ratio of unwired mesh points to each mesh portal, to
ensure that capacity is available to deliver high-speed access to the wired network without the mesh
portals becoming a network bottleneck.

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For example, Figure 101 shows a mesh that has five nodes: one mesh portal and four mesh points. It
is easy to see that if the wired network capacity to the mesh portal were limited to 45 Mb/s, the entire
network would be forced to operate within that available capacity. To scale capacity to support future
applications, add another portal location. Or convert any mesh point to a mesh portal by putting a DSL
or other modem on a pole where service is available. This adds more capacity when it is needed and
exactly where it is needed, without the requirement to predict where the usage may occur. A common
strategy in outdoor broadband networking is to provide a good enough level of coverage during the
initial build-out, then selectively add capacity as the network grows. At a high level, the strategy is to
start with large areas, but make them smaller and smaller over time by adding mesh portals.
Node 1
Mesh portal

149

Node 1

161

45
Mbps

157

153
Node 2

Internet
165
Node 3

Node 4

Figure 101

arun_0393

Node 5

Wired uplink capacity shared by child mesh nodes

Capacity Planning
As with planning any wireless network, a mesh backhaul layer requires many tradeoffs. For instance, a
suboptimal portal location must be used because the owner of the preferred location will not agree to a
lease. Or a relay node is required on a very long connection to maintain end-to-end throughput. This
section will summarize some of these factors.
Determine Number of Usable Backhaul Channels
The 5-GHz band(s) allow many more nonoverlapping channels than 2.4 GHz. In the United States
before 2007, the UNII-I, -II, and III bands allowed the use of a total of thirteen 20-MHz channels (or
six 40-MHz channels). The number of available 5-GHz channels varies significantly from country to
country.
In 2007 the radio regulatory bodies in many countries allowed the use of the UNII-II extended band
from 5470 MHz to 5725 MHz as long as UNII-II equipment was capable of Dynamic Frequency
Selection (DFS). DFS requires that the AP monitor all RF channels for the presence of radar pulses
and switch to a different channel if a radar system is located. Wi-Fi equipment that is DFS-certified can
use the extended band, which adds up to another eleven 20-MHz channels or five 40-MHz channels
(depending on the radio regulatory rules in each country).
The MSR series of wireless mesh routers also supports the 4.9 GHz licensed band. In the United
States, up to two nonoverlapping 20-MHz channels are available between 4940MHz and 4990MHz.
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Japan allows up to four nonoverlapping 20MHz channels, or two non-overlapping 40MHz channels.
See Appendix A: Allowed Wi-Fi Channels on page 173 for a complete list of available channels.
Remember that with AWR, licensed 4.9GHz channels can simply add to the total channel pool. They
can also be reserved and assigned on a static per-link basis in high-interference or other challenging
areas.
Choose Between 40MHz or 20MHz Channels

One of the most complex questions facing the wireless architect with an 802.11n outdoor mesh is
whether to use bonded channels for backhaul links.
In general, Aruba recommends that one approach this question based on the network topology.

Campus Extension: Outdoor continuity or building perimeter coverage will generally use
bonded channels for consistency with indoor networks, especially in University environments
where laptops with full-featured NICs are used outside. However, in many countries the lower
UNII channels are restricted for indoor-only use. Therefore, it may be necessary to use DFS
channels to achieve channel bonding if desired by the wireless architect.
Outdoor Mesh: Most outdoor MIMO wireless mesh networks should only use 20-MHz channel
widths, also known as HT20. Using high-throughput 40-MHz (HT40) channels reduces the
number of radio channels by bonding them together. As we learned in Chapter 5, channel
bonding is required to achieve the highest possible MCS rates of 300Mbps or better.

From an access-layer perspective, it is better to have 50 users each on two different HT20 channels
than 100 users on one HT40 channel. Also, most handheld devices are not capable of taking full
advantage of 40-MHz channels due to their limited processing power single spatial stream radios.
HT40 channels are never expected to be used on the 2.4-GHz band for reasons that are beyond the
scope of this guide.
The main benefit to using HT40 channels for access is the ability for individual stations to burst at the
maximum PHY rate when only a portion of the users are trying to use the WLAN. However, in the
auditorium scenario, we must support so many users in a single room that we need every possible
channel. In this case, we accept a reduction in the maximum per-station burst rate during light loads in
exchange for a greater total user capacity at all times.
To DFS or Not to DFS?

With as many as twenty 20-MHz channels, the 5-GHz band with DFS now has sufficient channels to
employ channel bonding on a mesh backhaul in dozens of countries. Without DFS channels, channel
bonding is really not a viable strategy because it consumes the channel space too rapidly. So why
wouldnt everyone use DFS?
Actual or false positive radar events can be extremely disruptive to a WLAN that attempts to use DFS
channels. Users on DFS channels can potentially experience lengthy service interruptions from radar
events. Because radar frequencies do not align with 802.11 channelization, such events can impact
multiple Wi-Fi channels simultaneously. See Appendix B: DFS Operation on page 177 for a more
detailed discussion of radar operation and DFS compatibility. The wireless architect must assess
proximity of the network to radar sources in the 5250-MHz to 5725-MHz band. A DFS survey is
strongly recommended as the best way to answer this question.

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Compute Ingress Load


With the channel space determined, the next step is to quantify the expected offered load that will be
presented to the mesh layer for transit. To simplify the problem, Aruba recommends dividing the client
population into categories and looking at each separately. Common client categories in outdoor mesh
networks include:
Fixed clients: Any client device which is stationary and generates continuous, predictable load.
Typical examples include IP video cameras, SCADA or similar telemetry sensors, and remote
buildings connected wirelessly by bridging across the mesh. For metropolitan mesh networks,
you would also include providing access to indoor users via high-power customer premise
routers.
Temporary clients: Devices which come and go from the access layer. Examples include
smartphones, tablets and laptops used to access the mesh from homes or businesses. Other
common temporary clients in metropolitan networks include mobile vehicles such as police or
fire with rugged computers installed and higher gain antennas fixed to the roof. For enterprise
networks such as railyards or manufacturing plants the mobile vehicles could be cranes,
locomotives, trucks or other service vehicles.
You should have already computed most or all of this information if you followed the access layer
planning methodology presented in Chapter 8: Planning the Access Layer. For each type of client, it
will be necessary to assign an average offered load in kilobits or megabits per second. This is
generally simplest for fixed clients, where an IP camera or sensor bitrate can be easily determined. For
temporary clients, the wireless architect must make assumptions about the average number of clients
per cell, and the average offered load of each.
Once the loads are assigned by client type, Aruba recommends constructing a spreadsheet with every
node in the network, and totaling the fixed and temporary loads for each one.
Compute Egress Load
With all the attention to channel planning, the uplink throughput or wired egress of a Wi-Fi mesh is
often overlooked. It is common to see costly and sophisticated mesh networks connected to lowcapacity DSL uplinks, especially in metropolitan networks outside the United States.
Understanding the full offered load from the mesh to each portal is vital to any successful outdoor
network. Be sure that with lower capacity wired uplink networks, the wired network itself does not
become a bottleneck. Follow the complete process described in this chapter to accurately assess the
required uplink bandwidth.

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Estimate Bandwidth of Individual Mesh Links


With the ingress and egress loads computed, the wireless architect needs one more input before
analysis of end-to-end traffic flows can be performed. That is an estimate of the IP bandwidth of each
mesh link. Short links at high data rates will be able to carry much more traffic than long and/or
impaired links at low data rates. This in turn directly affects the end-to-end analysis.
The Aruba 3D Outdoor RF Planner will automatically compute estimated bandwidths for every link in a
mesh. This saves the architect significant time and effort in hand-computing link budgets for every
possible link. Also, link budgets do not directly translate into speeds in MIMO, as spatial stream
decorellation is not directly related to SNR. To help the architect gain a general feel for how a MIMO
backhaul link can perform with various antenna combinations, Aruba provides real-world data below
from our open test range.

Figure 102

5 GHz MIMO backhaul

Figure 102 provides the mesh test results for a single hop mesh using a 40 MHz channel, short guard
interval (SGI) in the 5 GHz frequency band. The results shown were obtained with the Aruba AP175P
and ANT-2x2-5614 (directional, 14 dBi) or ANT-2x2-5010 (omnidirectional, 10 dBi) in various
combinations. The differences in throughput achieved are primarily a function of the different antenna
gains used in pairs for this test. Different RF and capacity injection topologies may require combining
directional and omnidirectional antennas on different links, so it is often useful to have a throughput
estimate, based on either testing or modeling of the specific antenna pairs, for each antenna
combination planned to be used in the network design.

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Mesh Capacity Math for Single Channel Backhaul Systems


In Comparing End-to-End Performance in Chapter 3, we explained the throughput penalty that is
experienced by single channel mesh backhaul topologies. Because wireless architects will want to
employ hybrid injection topologies, it is worth understanding in more detail how to quantify the
performance penalty on single channel backhauls. This will prepare you for the next step in the
methodology where capacity planning is done on the entire backhaul layer.
For purposes of this discussion, we will make the following assumptions:
All APs are using the same 5 GHz channel
All APs can hear all of the other devices on the same channel
All traffic uses all hops to get off of the network
The APs are distributed in a linear fashion as would be the case for a street deployment
The AP which is hardwired is at one of the mesh
The propagation environment does not generate a lot of reflection
With Aruba's unique multi-polar antennas the solution provides the full 802.11n dual stream
throughput rates
Allowing for some derating this analysis assumes 80 Mbps goodput in a 20 MHz channel
No other channel impairments are present
With these assumptions in mind, let us consider single channel backhaul systems with varying hop
counts.
Ch. 149

arun_0569

1 Mbps

Figure 103

One-hop system

In this case there is one hop. The leftmost mesh portal will exchange its traffic directly on the wire. The
first mesh point on the right will exchange its traffic over the 80 Mbps connection to the mesh portal.
Ch. 149

Ch. 149

1 Mbps
arun_0570

1 Mbps

Figure 104

Two-hop system

In this case there is one hop to the first mesh point and two hops to the second mesh point. If only one
unit is busy at a given time bandwidth available to the first mesh point is 80 Mbps 1 and the
bandwidth available to the second mesh point is 80 Mbps 2. This is referred to as the peak rate
available at each unit.

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When both units are busy and loaded equally the wireless architect now has to consider the total
number of hops in determining the bandwidth that both devices can carry. For example assume that
the first and second mesh points have a sustained ingress load of 1 Mbps.
The traffic from the first meshed unit has to use the 5 GHz channel one time to send the 1 Mbps
back to the portal.
The traffic from the second meshed unit has to use the 5 GHz channel two times to send the 1
Mbps back to the portal.
So, 1 Mbps of ingress traffic on each unit generates 2 Mbps of egress traffic on the mesh portal as
expected. However, this process generates a total of 3 Mbps of 5 GHz traffic on the channel. In this
fashion we say that the average sustained date rate at each AP is equivalent to 80 Mbps 3 or 26.6
Mbps. Total system capacity of the meshed units is 53.2 Mbps so the single-channel mesh penalty for
a two hop system is 33%.
Ch. 149

Ch. 149

1 Mbps

1 Mbps

1 Mbps
arun_0571

Ch. 149

Figure 105

Three-hop system

In this case there is one hop to the first mesh point, two hops to the second mesh point, and three hops
to the third mesh point. If only one unit is busy at a given time, bandwidth available to the first meshed
unit is 80Mbps 1, the bandwidth available to the second meshed unit is 80 Mbps 2, and the
bandwidth available to the third meshed unit is 80Mbps 3.
For example assume that the first, second, and third mesh points have a sustained ingress load of 1
Mbps.
The traffic from the first mesh point has to use the 5 Ghz channel one time to send the 1 Mbps
back to the portal.
The traffic from the second mesh point has to use the 5 GHz channel two times to send the 1
Mbps back to the portal.
The traffic from the third mesh point has to use the 5 GHz channel three times to send the 1
Mbps back to the portal.
So, 3 Mbps of combined ingress traffic generates 6 Mbps of 5 GHz traffic on the channel. In this
fashion we say that the average sustained date rate at each AP is equivalent to 80 Mbps 6 or 13.3
Mbps. Total system capacity of the nodes is 39.9 Mbps so the single-channel mesh penalty for a three
hop system is 50%.
Ch. 149

Ch. 149

Ch. 149

1 Mbps

1 Mbps

1 Mbps

1 Mbps
arun_0572

Ch. 149

Figure 106
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Four-hop system
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The logic just presented can be extended to higher order systems with arbitrary numbers of hops. We
use N to denote the number of hops. We represent channel capacity with the variable C.
The peak rate that can ideally be delivered to the end of a single channel linear mesh decreases as C/
N. The sustained average that can be delivered to each AP can be shown to be equal to 2C/(N*(N+1))
The single-channel mesh penalty can similarly be calculated as (100 - 200/(N+1))%.
Model End-to-End Traffic Flows
We can use our understanding of mesh capacity math to model the aggregate end-to-end offered load
that is presented to wired uplinks at mesh portals, and to perform what if? analysis on various
injection topology options. After you have calculated the throughput requirement for access
connections and ensured that end user devices are close enough to each AP to achieve typical offered
load onto the backhaul layer from each mesh node. Don't forget to include any wired devices such as
video cameras or remote bridge links that also place load on the backhaul layer.
For example, in Figure 107 the Wi-Fi mesh network and the point-to-point throughput of each mesh
link is 80 Mb/s, based on link budget planning for the mesh links. Lets assume that a number of
cameras (that operate at 4 Mb/s each) will be deployed in this area and lets explore the impact of hop
counts and aggregated data flows.

Uplink
option 1
80 M
AP 1

AP 2

80 M

80 M
arun_0355

80 M

Uplink
option 2

AP 4

Figure 107

AP 3

AP 5

Point-to-multipoint multihop example

In Figure 107 if the portal is located at AP1 in an end-fed design, the maximum backhaul throughput of
the whole network is only 80 Mb/s. The throughput is 80 Mb/s because all users that are not directly
connected to AP1 must traverse the mesh to reach AP1 and the wired network. If a camera with a
4Mb/s bitrate connects directly to AP2, there is now 76 Mb/s of access throughput for all downstream
nodes in the rest of the mesh. If each AP has 12 concurrent cameras, this throughput may not be
sufficient. Therefore, AP3, AP4, and AP5 must limit their offered loads to 26 Mb/s each, even though
their individual mesh links are capable of carrying more traffic. If each AP has 12 concurrent cameras,
this uplink throughput will not be sufficient.

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Now consider the same topology, but use a center-fed topology with AP3 as the gateway or portal to
the wired network. The backhaul capacity of the whole network is greatly increased. AP1 and AP2
share 80 Mb/s of backhaul and can provide about 40 Mb/s of access-layer throughput each. AP4, and
AP5 each can offer a full 80 Mb/s of access throughput. The total supported egress load would
therefore be 240 Mb/s for the same monthly uplink circuit cost.

RF Design
Multichannel mesh backhaul layers deliver very high end-to-end performance, but this comes at a
price. The RF design of such a mesh requires more work, and careful planning of the bearing and
mechanical tilts of the high-gain antennas that will be used. First- and second-generation meshes with
their omni antennas were simpler in some respects, but suffered big performance penalties. So this is
a small price to pay for the performance gain, but it is important to recognize the additional time
required during the survey and planning process.
Let us consider a sample backhaul RF topology, which uses different channels on each backhaul radio
link. In Figure 108 each radio talks to at least two neighbors that use the same channel. This is
important to consider that fact when selecting the antenna type for each location. It is no longer
preferable for an AP to be in range of a single upstream device, although this always remains an
option when forming mesh links to distant endpoints using linear spurs. In general, the antenna
pattern should accommodate strong links to at least two diverse upstream mesh points for system
reliability.
1

11

Channel 11

157
6

36
Channel 1

149
1

44

36

153
11

11

11

165

40

44
6

157

40

165
1

36

149

11

157
11

11

11

153

149

36
6

44

153
1

40

arun_0427

Channel 6

11

Figure 108

Aruba Networks, Inc.

Frequency reuse on access and backhaul networks

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Avoid engineering a link through obvious obstacles like buildings and trees, which can absorb the
802.11 radio signals. When possible, the best case for a strong link outdoors is a clear line of sight
(LOS) or as close to that as you can achieve.

NOTE

Aruba MIMO antennas contain special multiple-polarization arrays that have


been designed to maximize decorrelation of MIMO spatial streams, and
minimize intra-array coupling between antenna elements. Aruba does not
warranty the performance of outdoor networks using non-Aruba
antennas. The use of third-party antennas is at the customers own risk.

Planning Mesh Layers with the Aruba 3D Outdoor RF Planner


In addition to providing three-dimensional visualization of client coverage, the Aruba 3D Outdoor RF
Planner also predicts the performance of individual mesh links automatically.
When entering data into the online tool, the wireless architect can specify backhaul antennas, cable
losses, mechanical tilts and much more. The tool performs horizontal and vertical antenna alignment
checking, and estimates received signal strength and throughput for each link.
One particularly handy feature is the auto mesh computation function. The tool will automatically
compute and visualize only the links that exceed a specified RSSI threshold. Of course, manual link
specification is also supported.
This means that the tool is equally valuable for backhaul-only deployments that do not include client
coverage. Video surveillance deployments are a good example of such a use case.
Here are some examples of mesh links that have been modeled with the tool:

Figure 109

Aruba Networks, Inc.

Coverage example: Simultaneous mesh/coverage view with color-coded


channels in two groups
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Figure 110

Figure 111

Aruba Networks, Inc.

Elevation profile visible in Google Earth

Overhead standard plan view coverage with mesh links

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Chapter 10: Site Surveys for Large Outdoor Networks


The survey process for an outdoor mesh network can be extremely labor intensive. Outdoor
networking necessarily is more complicated and has many more external dependencies and inputs
than a traditional indoor deployment has. An outdoor site survey is also critical to a successful
deployment. No amount of modeling in Google Earth or studying photographs can replace the need for
an engineer to physically stand at each and every proposed mounting location to verify that it will
actually work. In fact, the engineer should ideally be in an aerial manlift at the exact height where the
AP is expected to be mounted!
Aruba recommends the following basic process for an outdoor survey. You will customize the process
on a site-by-site and project-by-project basis depending on the particulars of each one.

Survey
mesh
points

Survey
mesh
portals

Civil
approval
process

Final
network
design
arun_0561

Create
soft
RF plan

Figure 112

Outdoor survey process

This guide assumes that an experienced, insured, and licensed (if required) outdoor integrator has
been selected to perform the critical survey, design, and installation activities. Specialized skills and
test equipment are needed to successfully plan, install, and test large-scale outdoor mesh networks.
Your Aruba representative can recommend a qualified outdoor integrator who can assist you in this
process.

Create a Soft RF Plan


Before an outdoor wireless network is deployed, the environment must be evaluated. A successful
evaluation of the environment enables the proper selection of Aruba APs and antennas and assists in
their placement for optimal RF coverage.
The potentially immense scale of outdoor deployments requires consideration of factors that do not
come into play in a typical indoor deployment:
Range or distance between APs must be considered during the planning phase, taking into
consideration the AP to client link calculations. Available AP mounting locations are often far
less flexible in an outdoor environment than an indoor environment. Regardless of these outdoor
restrictions, the desired goal is increasingly to achieve throughput results similar to an indoor
deployment.
Considering vertical antenna patterns and planning for elevation differences between APs and
from AP to client can be critical to success. To plan for these differences in elevation, you must
understand the full three-dimensional coverage pattern provided by the antennas that will be

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deployed in the environment. You must make sure that backhaul antennas are aligned in both
horizontal and vertical planes.
The RF environment might change on a day to day basis, so consider nonfixed items, such as
shipping containers, vehicles, and future building construction, when planning for an outdoor
deployment.

The predesign or soft RF plan is critical to building the confidence to move ahead with further
planning. For planning purposes, Aruba recommends that large coverage areas be broken into smaller
areas of 1 km2 or 1 mi2 as shown in Figure 113. When breaking areas into subareas, that they should
follow the terrain or the user communities. Areas can and will overlap in practice, but this approach
allows smaller RF network surveys to be more easily divided among multiple survey teams. Develop a
preliminary soft RF plan using a GIS tool such as GoogleEarth. Complete a first-order approximate
placement of all mesh nodes in each grid square. Factor AP density by zone type (e.g. normal, QoS,
paid). Choose the ideal mounting locations from an RF perspective, for instance you may wish to
preferentially site APs at intersections to maximize the number of sight lines. Be as realistic as
possible about site mounting locations, based on the node densities per area and known mesh portal
locations.

Figure 113

Aruba Networks, Inc.

Separating large coverage areas into 1 square mile / 1 square kilometer squares

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Secondarily, pay particular attention to LOS and propagation for each backhaul mesh link. A unique
link budget calculation might be required and the AP might need to be moved to achieve the
acceptable link budget. Each site should be located where some antennas can cover the client access
requirement. Others that have near LOS to other mesh radios may require remote installation of some
antennas. When using this technique, be sure to account for cable loss in the link budgets.

Figure 114

Example soft RF plan

General Considerations for Choosing Mounting Assets


The goal of any outdoor network survey is to identify readily accessible radio locations, especially
wired network connections. On a campus, an even distribution of AP-175 mesh portals can be
mounted on the various buildings around the campus and coverage can be extended using a few AP175 mesh points. In larger outdoor networks, operators must often secure roof rights or civil permits for
installation on street lights or other building structures for AirMesh routers.
Consider several factors when selecting mounting locations for mesh portals and mesh points. The
locations must be physically strong enough to support the weight and wind-loading of the proposed
radios and they must have access to electrical power. Do not select lights that may be bank-switched.
Bank switches use a centralized photo-sensor to turn power on for entire blocks of lights, but otherwise
power at each light remains off during daylight hours. This detail is easy to overlook, because most site
surveys are done in full daylight and power to the lamps may be assumed. To guarantee that a series

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of lights are independently powered, observe whether they turn on individually or as an entire bank at
dusk.

NOTE

If bank switched lights cannot be avoided, it will be necessary to budget for


battery-assist cabinets for every pole that is bank-switched. Your Aruba
representative can help you identify a vendor that can provide these products.

Identifying RF Absorbers, Reflectors, and Interferers


It is critical to identify RF absorbers, reflectors, and interference sources while out in the field during
the installation phase. Ensure that these sources are taken into consideration when installing and
mounting an AP to its fixed outdoor location.
RF Absorbers

Cement and concrete structures


Trees and vegetation
Brick walls

RF Reflectors

Metal objects, such as roof-installed air-conditioning equipment, chain link fences, wire fences, or

water pipes - shipping containers


RF Interference Sources

Other 802.11 or non-WiFi access equipment operating nearbynvers


Industrial RF welding equipment or other Industrial, Scientific and Medical (ISM) equipment that

utilizes RF to heat or alter the physical properties of materials


Military, commercial aviation, or weather radar systems

Selecting Mounting Locations for Mesh Points


In general, link budget planning to support the desired client devices delivers a desirable distance
between mesh points, which is also described as the node density of a mesh network. However, in
outdoor networks, radios must be situated wherever mounting locations can be found. The goal is to
closely meet the node density requirements that are identified for each square mile or square kilometer
as physically achievable based on mounting assets that exist in each area.
Street lights get a lot of attention as mounting locations for a few reasons. They can handle the weight
of the radio; they may be below the tree line (so the light reaches the street); they are out in the center
of the street rather than to one side or another; and they may have electricity in some form already
available.
When you consider antenna locations, combine built-in down tilt with mechanical alignments that come
from use of features on the mounting bracket. But, remember that not all brackets allow positioning in
all dimensions. In general, the installer should attempt to keep antennas vertically or horizontally
aligned for many reasons, not the least being that this is the most visually appealing.
Minimize installations that are close to obstacles like metal signs, walls, and floors and instead try to
create cells that offer good LOS to subscribers.

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Performing the Survey


With all the preparation complete, it is finally time to begin the survey. If there are multiple grid
squares, assign them to separate survey teams. Then each team will visit every location in the soft RF
plan in their square.
At each location, these tasks will be performed:
Select a physical pole using the mandatory pole selection criteria described below
Perform 2.4/5GHz spectrum clearing using a bucket truck at intended mount height
For troublesome locations, note the nature of the problem, such as:
All 2.4GHz/5GHz useable channels are taken
The noise floor, in either band, is higher than expected (usually higher than -85dBm)
Local narrowband interference
Look for backup / alternate mounting locations with desirable spectrum characteristics
Discard pole if spectrum characteristics are undesirable, and an alternative can be provided
Record pole tag(s) and GPS position(s)
Photograph pole(s) from multiple angles & identify filename
Take any further notes on how pole can be identified, such as
in front of building front door with address
3rd pole south from NE corner of Main street and 1st Avenue
To simplify the choice of choosing poles and ensure consistency among multiple survey teams, it is
helpful to define mandatory and optional selection criteria during the discovery phase. Mandatory
criteria are non-negotiable. Every pole must meet those requirements to make it from the soft RF plan
into the final design. Examples of such factors include, but are not limited to:
Pole is owned by an eligible provider participating in the project
The pole has no physical damage and is standing exactly vertical
The concrete to which the pole is mounted has no physical damage and the pole does not sway
unexpectedly when force is applied
Lamp has a photo sensor with an installed photocell (ensures constant power)
Lamp voltage is <=240V (using power company supplied criteria)
Mesh node has <40% Fresnel-obstructed LOS to all adjacent neighbors
If the mesh point is adjacent to a portal, it must have unobstructed LOS
If mounting on a lamp arm, the arm is of sufficient length for Aruba pole-mount kit

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Choosing a Pole
Each location where you choose to mount a radio should have these characteristics:
Meets all of the mandatory selection criteria; the optimal height that has the best LOS to all
adjacent portals and mesh points

A good view of the street level that is to be covered with Wi-Fi access at 2.4 or 4.9 GHz - minimal
trees or other ground clutter obstructing sight lines

No ground clutter
Figure 115

Heavy ground clutter

Good mounting location versus a bad mounting location

Intersections are preferred over the middle of a block to maximize coverage. As Figure 115 shows, it
may be better to mount the radio out over the street rather than close to the pole itself if direct-mount
omnis are being used. A location that is close to the pole may obstruct coverage behind the pole and
may have less LOS to other mesh nodes. However, if directional antennas are being used, you may
mount directly to the vertical section of any pole without concern.

Arm mount with omnis


Figure 116

Pole mount with directionals

Flexible mounting of Aruba APs to vertical poles and lamp arms

When mounting locations are selected, a primary consideration for the operational expenses of the
network is who owns the asset. Whether it is a rooftop or a city-owned street light, the owner must
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grant access. Often the owner will offer a lease agreement allowing the mesh routers or AP-175 to be
mounted and powered if they are given compensation and indemnification for any possible accidental
damage.
Evaluating Pole Power From the Ground
It is not always possible to determine in advance whether the poles in a soft RF plan have constant,
unswitched power. Or whether the AC voltage is compatible with the radio equipment.
Experienced outdoor survey teams can often make an accurate, informed guess by inspecting a pole
for the presence of a photocell. This can be done from ground level in many cases. The figures below
show poles with and without photocells.

Lamp Head - Remotely Switched


Figure 117

Lamp Head - Constant Power

Identifying pole power taps from the ground

For a pole to have constant power, it must have a photocell. The photocell acts as a switch that allows
power to flow to the lamp when it is dark. If there is no photocell, then the pole must be remotely
switched.
Photocells are quite large - nearly 4 inches across. They are quite easy to see from the ground. Figure
117 shows lamp heads with and without a photocell. On the right, you can clearly see the cylindrical
shape of the photocell sticking up on the right. On the left, you can see a much smaller bump. This is
the plastic cover that protects the socket from weather when a photocell is not installed.

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Reading Pole Tags


In order for a pole owner to review and approve your list of selections, they have to be able to identify
each pole. This is done through the pole tag.
When you have chosen a pole, look for a numbered plate in the lower section of the pole, within 2
meters of ground level. It may be plastic or metal. As you go down a street, the numbers on the tags
should increase or decrease. On very old poles, the entire pole may have been repainted many times
causing the tag to almost disappear into the paint. There are an almost infinite variety of pole tags. A
few examples are depicted below.

Figure 118

Pole identification tags and marks come in many forms - and are vital to
obtaining attachment rights

Sometimes, strings of bank switched poles are identified by a single pole somewhere on the string. If
the pole you really want does not have a tag, follow the AC power up or down the street until you find a
pole on that circuit that does have a tag. Without the tag, the pole owner will not be able to include it in
a lease agreement.
Measuring Pole Dimensions
One of the most easy-to-overlook tasks on an outdoor survey is to measure the dimensions of the
poles to which equipment will be mounted. Many deployments have been interrupted when the
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installation crew did not have the proper size mounts. Having insufficient length of cables - whether for
power, ethernet or RF - is also an instant showstopper. Taking good measurements during the survey
will ensure that expensive install crews do not have downtime for these reasons.
There are two methods to measure the diameter of a pole. As shown on the leftmost photo, one can
hold up a measuring tape across the pole and simply estimate the diameter. For a more precise
measurement, one can wrap the tape around the pole as shown in the righthand photo. Then divide
the measured circumference by the value of pi, or 3.1415927.

Figure 119

Two methods to measure diameter of pole

Most poles taper with height. So if you are measuring at ground level, you will want to estimate how
much less the diameter will be at the intended mounting height. A street pole that is 20cm (7.8 in) in
diameter at chest height may be only half of that diameter at the top. However, a wooden style
telephone pole will not taper as much. The most accurate measurements of course are made at the
mounting height. If the taper is not considered, the install crew could easily bring mounting parts that
are too big.
Pole height is also critical. Most people are not good at judging pole height from ground level with any
accuracy. Poles are rarely marked as to their height. In a pinch, if you have two engineers in your
survey team one can stand next to the pole and the other person can estimate how many multiples the
pole appears to be. Aruba recommends carrying a high power laser distance finder that is rated to at
least 40m to take an accurate fix from the ground.

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Radio LOS Path Planning


All wireless links require radio line of sight between the two antennas for optimum performance. The
concept of radio LOS involves the area along a link through which the bulk of the radio signal power
travels. This area is known as the first Fresnel Zone of the radio link. Ideally, no object (including the
ground) must intrude within 60% of the first Fresnel Zone. Figure 120 illustrates the concept of a good
radio LOS.

Figure 120

Visual and radio LOS

If obstacles are in the radio path, there may still be a radio link but the quality and strength of the signal
will be affected. Calculating the maximum clearance from objects on a path is important because it
directly affects decisions about AP and antenna placement and height. Clearing the Fresnel zone is
especially critical for long-distance links, where the radio signal could easily be lost if not accounted for
when planning a link budget.
When planning the radio path for a wireless bridge or mesh link, consider these factors:
Avoid any partial line of sight between the antennas.
Be cautious of trees or other foliage that may be near the path or may grow and obstruct the
path.
Be sure there is enough clearance from buildings and that no building construction may
eventually block the path.
For very long distance links, the curvature of the earth (20 cm per km) may need to be
considered in the calculation of relative heights, but this is done automatically in the Aruba 3D
Outdoor RF Planner.

Check the topology of the land between the antennas using topographical maps, aerial photos,
or even satellite image data. Google Earth features offer a visible link path with obstacles as a
tool.
Avoid a path that may incur temporary blockage due to the movement of cars, trains, or aircraft.

Antenna Height
A reliable wireless bridge or mesh link usually is achieved best by mounting the antennas at each end
high enough for a clear radio LOS between them. The minimum height required depends on the
distance of the link, obstacles that may be in the path, topology of the terrain, and the curvature of the
earth (for links over 3 miles).
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For long-distance links, the AP may have to be mounted on masts or poles that are tall enough to
attain the minimum required clearance. Use Table 11 to estimate the required minimum clearance
above the ground or path obstruction for 5 GHz mesh links.
Table 11 Maximum clearance of First Fresnel Zone by altitude
Total Link Distance

Max Clearance for 60% of


Approximate Clearance for
First Fresnel Zone at 5.8 GHz Earth Curvature

Total Clearance Required at


Mid-point of Link

0.25 mile (0.402 km)

4.6 ft (1.4 m)

0.007 ft (0.002 m)

4.6 ft (1.4 m)

0.5 mile (0.805 km)

6.2 ft (1.9 m)

0.03 ft (0.010 m)

6.2 ft (1.9 m)

1 mile (1.6 km)

8.9 ft (2.7 m)

0.13 ft (0.04 m)

8.9 ft (2.7 m)

2 miles (3.2 km)

12.5 ft (3.8 m)

0.5 ft (0.15 m)

13.1 ft (4.0 m)

3 miles (4.8 km)

15.4 ft (4.7 m)

1.0 ft (0.3 m)

16.4 ft (5.0 m)

4 miles (6.4 km)

17.7 ft (5.4 m)

2.0 ft (0.6 m)

19.7 ft (6.0 m)

5 miles (8 km)

20 ft (6.1 m)

3.0 ft (0.9 m)

23 ft (7.0 m)

7 miles (11.3 km)

23.6 ft (7.2 m)

6.2 ft (1.9 m)

30 ft (9.1 m)

9 miles (14.5 km)

27 ft (8.2 m)

10.2 ft (3.1 m)

37 ft (11.3 m)

12 miles (19.3 km)

30.8 ft (9.4 m)

18.0 ft (5.5 m)

49 ft (14.9 m)

15 miles (24.1 km)

34.4 ft (10.5 m)

28.0 ft (8.5 m)

62.7 ft (19.1 m)

In Figure 121, a wireless bridge or mesh link is deployed to connect building A to building B, which is
located three miles (4.8 km) away. Mid-way between the two buildings is a small tree-covered hill.
From Table 11 it can be seen that for a 3-mile link, the clearance required at the mid-point is 5.3 m
(17.4 ft). The tree tops on the hill are at an elevation of 17 m (56 ft), so the antennas at each end of the
link need to be at least 22.3 m (73 ft.) high. Building A is six stories high, or 20 m (66 ft.), so a 2.3 m
(7.5 ft.) mast or pole must be constructed on its roof to achieve the required antenna height. Building B
is only three stories high, or 9 m (30 ft.), but is located at an elevation that is 12 m (39 ft.) higher than
building A. To mount an antenna at the required height on building B, a mast or pole of 1.3 m (4.3 ft.) is
needed.

Figure 121

Aruba Networks, Inc.

Link budgets include Fresnel Zone clearance

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Surveys for Mesh Portal Mounting Locations


Develop a list of potential mesh portal locations, with a preference for buildings that are owned by
individuals or companies that are participating in the network operation, which may be the local school
district, city government, public safety agencies, or port or transportation facility operators. Create this
list to reduce the time needed for the civil permitting processes and increase the probability of
obtaining the mounting assets with optimal LOS conditions for the network. Always start with the
obvious beneficiaries of the network and move on to other possibilities only if necessary.
The process of examining sites usually involves walking and documenting the physical mesh portal
mounting locations.
Visit each preferred portal location in the soft RF plan that was used in Google Earth and the Aruba
Outdoor Planning tool to confirm the availability or constraints of mounting on the desired structure.
Make sure each location can be powered and properly grounded and that outdoor Ethernet Category
5E cable to the wired network is available for mesh portals. Always be prepared to find alternate
locations and carefully consider future use of some radios that may require point-to-point mesh
backhaul to increase capacity in an area. These upgrades may be critical to an economically
successful long-term network deployment.
Wired Backhaul Assessment
For locations with desirable locations, complete a backhaul survey with the following steps:
Inspect the MDF on the property for space and power to support wired connectivity between
Mesh Portals and Aruba controllers
Determine the cable path (risers plus horizontal runs) between the MDF and the IDF(s) nearest
the Mesh Points. Ensure that adequate conduit space exists, that difficulty/cost of running
connectivity is within acceptable limits.
Determine the cable path (risers plus horizontal runs plus penetrations) between the Mesh
Points and their nearest IDFs.
The mounting location for the AP is within 100 meters of an IDF, using an existing roof
penetration; OR
The mounting location for the AP is within 100 meters feet of an installable all-weather enclosure
with power that can house Aruba power injectors and Ethernet lightning arrestors, AND the
enclosure location is within 100 meters of a network interconnect.
Determine how any necessary grounds will be accomplished.
Antenna Position and Orientation
After the required antenna height has been determined, other factors that affect the precise position of
the wireless bridge or mesh link must be considered:

Be sure no other radio antennas are within 2 m (6 ft.) of the wireless antennas, including other
Wi-Fi radio antennas.
Place the wireless bridge or mesh link away from power and telephone lines.
Avoid placing the wireless bridge or mesh link too close to any metallic reflective surfaces, such
as roof-installed air-conditioning equipment, tinted windows, wire fences, or water pipes. Ensure
that at least 5 feet clearance exists from such objects.

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The wireless bridge or mesh link antennas at both ends of the link must be positioned with the
same polarization direction, either horizontal or vertical. Proper alignment helps to maximize
throughput. Remember that these antennas must be aligned vertically. It is very common to
forget this requirement when installing mesh backhaul links.

Radio Interference
The avoidance of radio interference is an important part of wireless link planning. Interference is
caused by other radio transmissions using the same or an adjacent channel frequency. First scan your
proposed site using a spectrum analyzer to determine if any strong radio signals use the 802.11a/b/g/
n channel frequencies. Then plan to use a channel frequency that is far away from any other signal.
If radio interference is still a problem with your wireless bridge or mesh link, change the antenna
direction to see if the situation improves.
Weather Conditions
When planning wireless bridge or mesh links, consider any extreme weather conditions that are known
to affect the location. Consider these factors:
The wireless bridge or mesh link is tested for normal operation in temperatures from -30C to
+55C. Operating in temperatures outside of this range may cause the unit to fail.
The wireless bridge or mesh link can operate in winds up to 90 miles per hour and survive higher
wind speeds up to 125 miles per hour. You must consider the known maximum wind velocity
and direction at the site and be sure that any supporting structure, such as a pole, mast, or
tower, is built to withstand this force.
To protect against lightning-induced surges, the AP requires lightning protection on the radio
interface ports.
The wireless bridge or mesh link is weatherproofed against rain. However, it is recommended
that weatherproof sealing tape be applied around the Ethernet port and antenna connectors for
extra protection. If moisture enters a connector, it may cause degradation in performance or
even a complete failure of the link. For long-distance links, plan 0.7 dB of additional margin per
km to allow for RF losses that occur during periods of heavy rain or snowfall. See Chapter 12:
Installation, Validation, and Optimization on page 159 for detailed instructions.
Snow and ice: Falling snow, like rain, has no significant effect on the radio signal. However, a
buildup of snow or ice on antennas may cause the link to fail. In this case, clear the snow or ice
from the antennas to restore operation of the link.
Ethernet Cabling
When a suitable antenna location has been determined, you must plan a cable route from the wireless
bridge or AirMesh router to a suitable power source and, in the case of mesh portals, to an Ethernet
network.
Consider these points:
The Ethernet cable length should never be longer than 90 m (295 ft).
Determine a building entry point for the cable (if applicable) and how to weatherize the building
ingress/egress.

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Determine if conduits, bracing, or other structures are required for safety or protection of the
cable.
For lightning protection at the power injector end of the cable, consider using a lightning arrestor
immediately before the cable enters the building.

Grounding
Weatherproofing and grounding of the radio is critical to protect the sensitive electronics. The Aruba
AP-175 and outdoor AirMesh routers all use industrialized housings that are designed to protect the
radio from the weather. It is important that the wireless bridge or mesh link cables and any supporting
structures are properly grounded. In general, every RF connector that is attached to an antenna
should be protected with a lightning arrestor that is individually grounded. Each AP-175 or AirMesh
router also includes a grounding screw for attaching a ground wire to the AP housing. Be sure that
grounding is available and that it meets local and national electrical codes.

Figure 122

AP85 with lightning arrestors and chassis ground

Civils Approvals
Major Tasks:
Customer submits Mesh Point selections to utilities & manages approvals/rights process
Customer submits Portal location selections to land/building owners and manages approval/
rights process
Customer generates a list of all encroachment, minor-use, major-use, miscellaneous-use and
other permits required by all government agencies with jurisdiction inside the coverage zone.

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Approvals:
One or more city governments
Utilities
Landholders / Building owners
PUC / Regulatory agencies

Final Network Design


With the survey complete, the wireless architect now has all of the facts needed to adjust the soft RF
plan as needed to produce a final network design. This may be further broken down into a high-level
design and a low-level design. The high-level design contains macro elements such as how the overall
RF and capacity injection topologies map to specific structures, uplink capacities, access layer cell
sizes, client types supported and the like. The low-level design often consists of the site-by-site build
plans for individual rooftops, or physical installation plans for each of the various types of poles to be
used. If battery-assisted or solar-assisted power solutions are required, these may also be detailed in
the low-level design.

Best Practices for Conducting Outdoor Surveys


Personal Safety & Security
Outdoor surveys are some of the most interesting and technically rewarding projects a wireless
engineer can undertake. They also expose engineers to a variety of personal safety and security risks
which should be thoroughly understood and prepared for before setting off into the field.

NOTE

Aruba strongly recommends that outdoor survey crews work in teams of at


least two engineers.

The most obvious risks have to do with driving, walking and climbing. While driving, the survey crew is
studying the environment scouting for mounting assets and it is very easy to become distracted.
Survey vehicles tend to drive more slowly and make unplanned turns and stops, which can also create
unsafe situations. Survey crews regularly exit their vehicle to study sight lines, take photographs or
GPS readings, and perform tests such as spectrum analysis or throughput measurements. In a
metropolitan survey, these activities usually take place right next to an active roadway. In a railyard or
manufacturing plant, they may occur next to active train tracks or moving cranes or other vehicles with
limited visibility to people standing on the ground, or ability to stop suddenly. And of course climbing
can involve walking on rooftops, getting up in bucket trucks or actually climbing poles to inspect sight
lines and mounting locations.
Other risks are less obvious but happen more often than you might think. Here are a list of some of the
situations for which you should be prepared:

Theft or mugging Survey crews routinely carry valuable items including laptops, PDAs,
cameras and GPS units. Because they usually travel and are unfamiliar with the survey area, it
is easy to enter less safe parts of town without realizing it. A lone engineer is more of a target
than a team. Always secure the survey vehicle when stopping for lunch or going inside a building
to talk to property managers.

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Police Stops Police officers and private security guards are trained to notice unusual activity in
their patrol areas, and survey crews create a lot of unusual activity! Many experienced survey
engineers have been stopped and questioned about what they were doing at various points in
their careers.
Citizen Stops Security personnel are not the only ones to stop you. Its pretty common to have
locals come up and ask what youre doing. Looking official with a company shirt and ID badge
makes a big difference here.
Photography Experienced survey engineers try to be very aware of what direction they are
shooting photos. If one is in a neighborhood that feels risky, it probably is. Be very careful not to
aim at people engaging in activities that might become upset. The same rule applies to military
bases or other high security facilities.

Safety and security are the responsibility of each survey team member that goes into the field. Here
are some best practices to consider:
ALWAYS work in teams of at least two individuals. This allows one person to focus on driving or
situational awareness, while the other person can focus on the survey itself. Should something
occur, the buddy system can also ensure that timely assistance is forthcoming.
ALWAYS be aware of your environment and what is going on nearby.
ALWAYS wear personal protective equipment (PPE) including at least an approved highvisibility traffic safety vest and steel-toed boots or other appropriate footwear. Additional PPE
such as hardhats and safety glasses may be required in specific facilities. Most hardware stores
around the world carry a selection of safety glasses, hard hats, vests and other PPE.
NEVER climb any type of structure without successfully completing an appropriate safety class
and ensuring adequate spotters
NEVER operate lifts, booms, cranes or other machinery without successfully completing an
appropriate qualification and training class
Its a standard procedure both inside the United States and especially in the rest of the world to
notify the local authorities before heading out for survey work that involves driving or testing in
public areas. Its a good idea to have a business letter on official letterhead from the agency or
enterprise that is sponsoring the survey with a contact number for security personnel to call for
more information.
Its also a good idea to look as official as possible Wear a company shirt, an ID badge, and
have extra business cards with you.
Never leave any hotel without your passport or drivers license.
Building a Complete Outdoor Survey Kit
Knowing what to pack in advance before boarding a plane to go conduct an outdoor survey can mean
the difference between success and failure. A complete outdoor survey kit enables a wireless engineer
to squeeze every bit of productivity from each minute in the field. This means getting done faster, with
more accurate data, and less stress trying to make the plane back home.
Aruba recognizes that the full kit as described here is an investment for many partners and customers.
But for those engineers who expect to perform outdoor surveys even just a few times per year, the
investment is easily recoverable in productivity and reduced travel costs from quicker onsite trips.

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Road time is some of the most expensive time on a per-hour basis, especially when travel to other
countries is considered.
The basic field survey kit that Aruba outdoor engineers carry consists of the following:
Soft RF Plan: Never go into the field without having completed a soft RF plan! One of the fastest
ways to waste time in the field is to show up without a plan and try to design the network on the
fly. The few hours needed to do a thorough soft plan can literally shave days or weeks off the
time required to build a network up link by link on the ground.
Laptop with GoogleEarth Pro and GPS-enabled 3G/4G card: Chances are the soft RF plan
will be completed in Google Earth (http://earth.google.com). The Pro version includes support
for realtime GPS tracking. When combined with a 3G/4G modem, this allows you to track your
exact position in realtime. This allows the survey team to reach each node on the soft plan very
quickly and accurately. Without this tool, it is incredibly easy to waste time driving in unfamiliar
areas trying to find the exact spot on the paper map. This tool alone can cut survey time by as
much as half. Many 3G/4G modems include a built in GPS that can be read by Google Earth on
a COM port. If yours does not, you can use an external handheld GPS with a USB cable.

NOTE

Aruba strongly recommends that outdoor survey crews work in teams of at


least two engineers.

GPS-enabled Camera with 10X Optical Zoom: A good camera has always been a basic
requirement of any survey kit, indoor or outdoor. Aruba strongly recommends a 10X optical
zoom for outdoor surveys, which allows the engineer on the ground to read labels high in the air
on pole lamps and radio equipment from as far as 40 meters (130 ft) below. Many inexpensive
GPS-enabled cameras were introduced recently. The GPS feature saves enormous amounts of
engineer time. Heres why. Without GPS tagging, the engineer has to spend many hours
manually sorting and filing all of the photographs taken on a per-pole or per-node basis so they
can be easily recovered later for a report. With GPS tagging, there is no need to do any
sorting at all. When using a GPS-aware photo application such as Google Picasa
(http://picasa.google.com) on Windows or iPhoto 2011 on the Mac (http://www.apple.com/ilife/
iphoto/), you can simply browse the photos by location. All pictures taken at the same street
corner will be grouped together, making photo recovery a snap. Not only that, but engineers who
were not even present on the survey can quickly get a sense of the network layout.
Handheld GPS with USB Port: Buy the cheapest handheld GPS you can find that includes a
USB port. Use the GPS to capture waypoints of potential radio locations and other structures of
interest. The GPS can also be used while driving for realtime maps with Google Earth. And it is
necessary to perform drive testing with AirMagnet Survey Pro or Ekahau Survey Pro. Youll also
find the tracks function useful as it records your entire drive path which can very useful weeks
after you get back to jog memories. Many smartphones also include basic GPS functionality like
capturing waypoints. However, they are nowhere near as accurate as a dedicated GPS, and
they burn up the battery very fast.
GPSGate Software: While GoogleEarth can directly communicate with a GPS over the USB
port, other applications such as AirMagnet Survey Pro only know how to read from COM ports.
GPSGate is a USD $40 software utility that provides a realtime USB-to-COM port software
bridge (http://www.gpsgate.com/).

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High-power Laser Distance Meter: Most people are bad at estimating heights of poles and
structures from the ground. Very bad. Since accurate heights are critical for modeling in the
Aruba 3D RF Outdoor Planner, why guess? A high power model good to 40m (130 ft) will give
you precise information and typically costs less than USD $100.
Mobile Spectrum Analyzer: You cannot use a given AP location if there is too much
interference. A basic task at each proposed radio site is to perform a few minutes of spectrum
clearing, and record it for subsequent report creation. There are multiple options, from USB
cards that connect to laptops, to custom cards that plug into an iPad, to dedicated handheld
units. Aruba currently prefers AirMagnet SpectrumXT which costs a little more but has advanced
time-saving features and good accuracy. We also happily recommend the Wi-Spy series of USB
analyzers from MetaGeek which start at as little as USD $199 as of this writing
(http://www.metageek.net/).
GPS-Enabled Site Survey Software: For post-installation drive testing to prove coverage, it is
absolutely necessary to have a professional site survey software tool that is GPS-enabled.
The two principal choices as of the publication date are AirMagnet Survey Pro
(http://www.airmagnet.com/) and Ekahau Site Survey Pro (http://www.ekahau.com). Expect to
pay a couple of thousand US dollars. In the past, outdoor engineers were known to hand draw
coverage zones by taking periodic readings with a laptop NIC client adapter utility. Such
methods are not only highly inaccurate, but also very incomplete and look unprofessional. Aruba
uses AirMagnet due to its integration with Google Earth, which allows the wireless engineer to
superimpose models from our 3D RF Outdoor Planner on top of the drive test results to quickly
prove to the customer that we met their expectations.
Magmount Antennas with RF Extension Cables: Readings taken inside a vehicle are not
accurate due to absorption, reflection and scattering from the metal and glass on the vehicle.
Signals inside may be anywhere from 5dB to as much as 20dB off. When drive testing, its vital
to have antennas mounted outside the vehicle. Any major online vendor of RF products will
carry magmount dual-band antennas covering both 2.4GHz and 5GHz. Make sure to get at least
2 meters of cable length, and we recommend having an RP-SMA connector on the end. You
should also buy a short pigtail to adapt the RP-SMA connector to an MMCX connector, which is
used on WLAN NICs and USB spectrum analyzers that support external antennas. Finally, dont
forget to buy as many antennas as you have radio chains in your test equipment!
Handheld Radios (or walkie talkies): Aruba recommends that each member of the survey
team have a handheld radio for low-cost and fast communication while outside the vehicle.
When performing active testing with an engineer at each end of a link, these come in very
handy. When surveying in another country, its much cheaper than burning minutes on a SIM
card.
Power: Power management is a critical survey skill. Nothing wrecks a survey faster than running
out of juice. Aruba engineers carry multiple power sources and backups to deal with almost any
contingency. These include:

400Watt AC inverter and power strip. This allows direct charging of equipment from the
vehicle alternator using standard AC power cables. Its a good idea to buy an inverter that
includes separate leads for a cigarette lighter and alligator clips for direct battery attachment.
Laptop Cigarette lighter attachment. Many laptop makers and third parties offer DC adapters
that power a laptop directly from a cigarette lighter. These are quite useful.

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Spare laptop batteries. In case of a power issue or inverter failure, Aruba engineers carry
multiple high-capacity laptop batteries to keep things going. This is also handy if multiple
laptops are in use and there arent enough slots in the power strip. Be sure to recharge every
night in the hotel.
Spare camera battery and charger. Rare is the survey that does not exhaust a camera battery
midway through the day. We have noticed that the GPS-enabled cameras also burn more
battery than usual to maintain a GPS position fix. Be sure to recharge every night.
Lots of AA and AAA batteries. The handheld GPS, walkie talkies, laser distance meter and
other devices use standard disposable batteries. Have plenty of spares of each type you
require.
Personal Protective Equipment: Approved traffic safety vest, appropriate footwear, and any
other required safety items for the environment in which you will be working.

All of the above items are required for basic predeployment visual survey work and post-deployment
coverage validation testing. However, if you expect to perform active RF testing using Aruba APs and
antennas then you will need additional equipment.

Mobile Crane or Towers: Outdoor surveys are useless unless the test AP is mounted at
roughly the actual height at which it will be installed. Homebrew towers made of PVC pipe are
inherently unstable above just a few meters which is not nearly enough. Aruba strongly
recommends mobile masts from Blue Sky Mast (http://www.blueskymast.com/), which are
lightweight, man-portable units originally designed for military communications. They are
available in heights from 5m to 15m, with a rich assortment of accessories for rigging APs and
antennas. Alternatively, Aruba engineers have rented towable booms or lifts. These have the
advantage of allowing an engineer to inspect the exact sight line from the perspective of the
antenna. However, they require proper safety flagging on the ground and can require a trained
operator.

Access Points: Generally you will pack two APs for mesh testing, to evaluate link speed at
various ranges or environmental conditions. This also gives you a spare in case something
happens to one of the units.
Antennas: Pack a full set of antennas to adequately measure the expected use cases from the
soft RF plan. Its a good idea to throw in some extra antennas in case your testing shows that an
alternate model would be a better fit.

Throughput Testing Software Utility: With MIMO systems, SNR and data rate alone do not
paint a complete picture of link performance. Aruba recommends pushing traffic across a test
link using a test application. The freeware utility iPerf is widely used and quite useful, or if you
have access to a professional tool such as Ixia IxChariot (http://www.ixia.com) or VeriWave
WaveDeploy (http://www.veriwave.com) this is even better.
Cables: Be sure to include plenty of each major type of cable. If you are mounting the AP at
tower height, be sure that your ethernet cables can reach the ground with length to spare to
reach the power injector. Make sure to have RF cables to connect antennas. If your AP is at
ground level, make sure you have long enough RF cables to reach the antenna height for each
RF connector on the AP. And dont forget to pack your console cable plus a spare!

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Power: All this additional equipment needs to be powered. The AP power source must be
stationary at the tower location, so it is separate from the vehicle power listed earlier. You will
need the following for each end of the link:
802.3at power injector. Injectors allow you to both power the AP as well as connect to it from
the ground to do configuration and gather statistics. Be sure to have the proper injector for
your AP. The MSR4000 requires 4-pair, 60W 802.3at while the MSR2000 uses 2-pair 30W
802.3at.
Fully charted 12V deep cycle battery. Aruba recommends a standard automotive or marine
battery in a 100 amp-hour size. 100 Ah is generally enough to get in a full day of testing with
extra equipment plugged in.
12V battery charger. Keep this in the hotel room to recharge the deep cycle batteries at night.
Youll need one per battery.
Tools: A field toolkit with all the tools needed to assemble mounting brackets, hang APs, fix
antennas, and the like needs to be included.

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Chapter 11: IP Planning for Aruba AirMesh


A well-designed IP network is critical to building and managing many networking devices, including
each AirMesh router. Keep accurate records of geographic installation details to aid in troubleshooting
network problems and maintaining network service-level agreements. IP network planning identifies IP
network infrastructure components and addressing schemes that must be considered and planned.

Configure a Router ID
The router ID is a unique 32-bit IP address that represents the name of the router, which is used often
in AWR routing.

Mesh Backhaul Links


A typical backhaul link in Aruba mesh networks can be thought of as a logical point-to-point
connection. To avoid unnecessary issues, Aruba highly recommends that IP subnets that use /30 bit
IP subnet masks be used to allow for a large number of IP networks, which may occur as the network
grows over time. Mesh networking by its very nature implies that many IP networks are reachable, but
AWR makes sure the entire path, not just the next hop router, is the highest performing route. Wireless
signals often take paths that are completely unpredictable to humans, but intelligent link analysis and
network routing keeps up with these changes in real time.

Access Links and Client Devices


Access links are basically Wi-Fi access or mesh backhaul interfaces that are used on every mesh
portal or mesh point. Onboard DHCP services can be configured manually or allowed to assign IP
addresses automatically to infrastructure routers and Wi-Fi clients. Manual DHCP assignment for
mesh routers is recommended and requires that the MAC address of the router be recorded and
mapped to an IP address in the DHCP server, just as a static user assignment would be. Static
addressing of mesh routers ensures that each device can be referred to reliably by its IP address for
monitoring and debug, even though the topology may change constantly.

Wired Network Ethernet Link Parameters


In most cases, mesh portal connections to the wired network are automatic, perhaps with an IP
address reserved in a central DHCP server. Occasionally, operators may configure the Ethernet
interface speed statically, but by default it is auto-sensing, so no configuration is required.

IP Addressing and Networking


Large outdoor network plans must include detailed IP addressing and routing information, which may
support fixed and mobile wireless clients and devices. Network redundancy and the need to
continually add capacity with more mesh portals usually drives the IP network design, making sure that
expansion can keep pace with wireless needs.
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As applications are identified and bandwidth estimates acquired, a prioritization scheme should be
agreed upon where certain applications like VoIP or a certain group of users such as first responders,
are prioritized over other applications or users when the network is busy.
This list summarizes the IP addressing considerations:
ESSID to IP network mapping and VLAN identifiers

VLAN trunking requirements across mesh backhaul links


Wireless encryption for each ESSID and back-office interfaces like RADIUS servers
Infrastructure redundancy for wired and wireless infrastructure
Infrastructure IP addressing for mesh portal and mesh point router IDs
Infrastructure IP addressing for mesh links and clients
Requirements for NAT with consideration for legacy and emerging applications
DHCP servers, scope assignment, and lease times for each network
DHCP static IP assignments for infrastructure devices

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Chapter 12: Installation, Validation, and Optimization


Typically, installers preconfigure each device to minimize the time to physically mount each radio. At
each site, avoid other cables and follow local building codes for connecting to power. Aruba outdoor
radios come with flexible mounting brackets, suitable for use on many common mounting structures.
Lightning arrestors should always be ordered and installed with outdoor radio equipment. It is critical
that the mounting structure and each radio in particular is well grounded by a licensed electrician,
following the recommendations in each installation guide.

MeshConfig
Aruba MeshConfig is an easy-to-use web-based tool that simplifies the deployment, configuration and
administration of Aruba AirMesh wireless mesh routers. From any PC running Windows 7 or XP, IT
organizations can view the AirMesh topology, monitor clients, manage faults, view historical reports,
and distribute software images to all or specific AirMesh routers.
MeshConfig provides comprehensive historical reporting on client, mesh link and device health.
MeshConfig can monitor and manage multiple AirMesh networks containing up to 250 wireless mesh
routers. AirMesh routers can be automatically discovered from a range of IP addresses or they can be
added manually. As the mesh network inventory populates, MeshConfig identifies the properties of
AirMesh routers, including router name, IP address, image version, status and alarm conditions.
Network-wide settings can be configured within MeshConfig and propagated to all AirMesh routers in
the network. Individual device settings are easily accessible from the web interface.
The MeshConfig topology mapping capability shows the links between AirMesh routers as well as link
status, link quality and real-time performance statistics for each link. Individual links can be disabled,
enabled or designated as a preferred connection. Router-specific parameters including radio,
channel and security settings can be configured through the MeshConfig web interface. Once
committed, the progress of router configuration changes can be tracked in real time.

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The browser-based MeshConfig tool lets IT upload topography, Google Earth and other digital
background maps to view and monitor mesh deployments across geographical areas.

Figure 123

Realtime display of mesh topology and status in Aruba MeshConfig

MeshConfig keeps track of the AirMesh router inventory by serial number, model and firmware
version.

Figure 124

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Mesh node inventory report in Aruba MeshConfig

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Staffing Expectations
Table 12 lists the resources that typically are involved in a mesh network deployment. The table should
help you understand the steps to building a successful mesh network. Whether you are building a
small video surveillance network or a wide area network that covers many square miles, someone
needs to consider all aspects of the network deployment.
One way to think about the planning and deployment of a very large mesh network is to recognize that,
fundamentally, a large mesh network is many small mesh clusters organized into seamless coverage
areas that use a common authentication mechanism.
Table 12

Resources and their typical responsibilities

Resources

Responsibility

Operator Management

Services and coverage roll-out


Relationships: permits, mounting, services, customers

Application Engineering Manager

RF and IP network design: installation validation


Systems specifications and product requirements

Project Manager

Budget, planning, and control


Customer engineering interface with partners

Radio Design Engineer

Capacity design and coverage simulation


Site installation guidance IP data network design
Site configuration data capture and monitoring

Network Design Engineer

IP back office interfacing, billing, and overlay services


NMS infrastructure and integration with data design

Site Installation Engineer

Site acquisition and installation


Permitting, inspections, and compliance

Site configuration Engineer and


Commissioning Engineer

Site data configuration


Function verification testing
System capability verification

Outdoor networks are very complex and have many variables that require flexibility that typically is not
encountered when designing indoor wireless networks. The following steps are commonly addressed
during the planning and installation process, and they are assigned to one or more of the deployment
team members:
Application information collection
Data modeling of applications
Network load calculations
Coverage calculation for preliminary sites

Capacity calculation for preliminary sites


Map-based provisioning
Final site information verification, based on site surveys
Final coverage calculation
Final capacity calculation

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Final design, dependent on assets


Mesh point site design and equipment configuration
Mesh portal site equipment configuration
IP network design and equipment configuration
Hardware pre-configuration and preparation
NMS node configuration and installation
Functionality verification tests
System coverage verification tests
System throughput verification tests
Final as-built system design documentation

Aruba Outdoor AP Antenna Weatherproofing


Installing Antennas
1. Before connecting the antennas, identify which of your antennas are 2.4 GHz and which are
5 GHz.
2. After identifying which antennas will go where, install them by placing the antenna connector
over the corresponding connector and the AP and turning the connector clockwise until hand
tight. Repeat this process for each antenna.
3. Place the included metal weatherproof caps over any unused antenna interfaces by turning
them clockwise until hand tight.
Weatherproofing Connections
Weatherproofing your antenna and/or cable connections on your outdoor AP is essential to reliability
and longevity of your product. This process prevents water from entering the AP or antennas through
the connectors.
A good weatherproofing job consists of three wrappings:
1. electrical tape
2. butyl rubber
3. electrical tape
The first wrapping of tape should be at least two layers, followed by a single wrap of butyl rubber, and
four-layer wrap of electrical tape. This provides good protection from water, heat, and other potential
hazards that could damage your AP or antennas.
Additionally, wrap your connections such that water is always directed down and away from
connections.

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Required Items and Tools

3/4 (19 mm) Vinyl Electrical Tape


Butyl Rubber Tape
Knife or Box Cutter

Types of Connections

The following sections provide guidance on weatherproofing directly connected antennas (Figure 125)
and cable connections (Figure 126). The same materials are needed for weatherproofing both types of
connections but the procedure is slightly different. For weatherproofing directly connected antennas,
see Weatherproofing Directly Connected Antennas on page 165. For weatherproofing cable
connections, see Weatherproofing Cable Connections on page 168.

AP175_11

Weep holes

Figure 125

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Connectors on bottom of antenna

N-type connector
on an RF cable

AP175_16

N-type
connector
on a pigtail

Figure 126

Cable Connections

Important Points to Remember

Do not cover the weep holes on the antennas. Doing so can restrict the release of condensation
from the antennas.
Proper weatherproofing is not a fast process. Set aside ample time to complete the steps
outlined below.
When wrapping, make the each layer of tape as flat as possible. Wrinkles and folds in the tape
create places for water and moisture to gather.

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Weatherproofing Directly Connected Antennas


First Wrapping of Tape

1. Before wrapping the antennas, locate the weep holes (Figure 125). Weep holes allow
condensation that has built up inside the antenna to escape.
2. Prepare the antenna connector by cleaning and drying it.
3. Cut a 4 (100 mm) strip of electrical tape from the roll. Pre-cutting the tape into strips makes in
easier to maneuver the tape around the antennas and other components of the APs case.
4. Beginning just below the weep holes, tightly wrap the connection with a layer of the 3/4 (19mm)
electrical tape. Overlap the tape to a half-width.
5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until the wrapping extends all the way to the APs case.

Pieces of tape as needed


Wrap tape from
just above knurled
section to base of
antenna mount

AP175_12

Leave
weep holes
uncovered

Figure 127

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First Wrapping of Tape (AP-175 shown)

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Wrapping of Butyl Rubber

1. Cut a 3/4 (19 mm) strip of butyl rubber.


2. Wrap the strip of rubber around the taped connector (Figure 128)
3. Join the two ends by pushing them together until there is no longer a seam (Figure 129).
Cut 3/4 strip
of rubber

Squeeze thinner
& wider

AP175_13

Wrap rubber
around base
of antenna
mount

Butyl Rubber Placement (AP-175 shown)

Wrap rubber
around base
of antenna
mount

Squeeze to
bond rubber
to itself

Rubber will
be wrapped
with 4 layers
of tape

Figure 129

Aruba Networks, Inc.

AP175_14

Figure 128

Butyl Rubber Wrap

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Second Wrapping of Tape

1. Cut a 4 (100 mm) strip of electrical tape from the roll.


2. Where you begin wrapping depends on the orientation of the antenna. Water should flow in the
opposite direction of the wrapping to prevent water from entering the connector between the
layers of tape.
Therefore, if the antenna is facing up, you should begin wrapping at the AP end of the
connector. This will ensure that your fourth and final layer will be layered correctly. Conversely, if
your antenna is facing down, you should begin wrapping on the antenna end of the connector.
3. After completing the fourth layer of tape, check your work to ensure there are no places where
water can collect. If there are, you must smooth out those areas with additional layers of tape or
remove the weatherproofing and begin again.
Pieces of tape as needed

First and third layers wrap


top to bottom

Figure 130

Second and final layers wrap


bottom to top

AP175_15

Rubber will
be wrapped
with 4 layers
of tape

Completed Wrapping (Antenna on Top of AP, AP-175 shown)

4. Repeat this process for all connectors.

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Weatherproofing Cable Connections


First Wrapping of Tape

1. Prepare the antenna connector by cleaning and drying it.


2. Cut a 4 (100 mm) strip of electrical tape from the roll. Pre-cutting the tape into strips makes in
easier to maneuver the tape around the connectors and other components but is not required.
3. Beginning at the top of the connector, tightly wrap the connection with a layer of the 3/4 (19mm)
electrical tape. Overlap the tape to a half-width.
4. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until the wrapping extends all the way to the cables insulation.

AP175_17

Wrap tape
from antenna
connector base
to cable

Pieces of tape as needed

Figure 131

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First Wrapping of Tape

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Wrapping of Butyl Rubber

1. Cut a piece of butyl rubber large enough to wrap around the connector and extended past the
first layer of tape.
2. Wrap the strip of rubber around the taped connector (Figure 132)
3. Join the two ends by pushing them together until there is no longer a seam (Figure 133).
Wrap rubber
around connector
and cable

AP175_18

Stretch thinner
& wider

Figure 132

Butyl Rubber Placement

Squeeze to
bond rubber
to itself

Rubber will
be wrapped
with 4 layers
of tape

AP175_19

Wrap rubber
around connector
and cable

Figure 133

Aruba Networks, Inc.

Butyl Rubber Wrap

Installation, Validation, and Optimization | 169

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Validated Reference Design

Second Wrapping of Tape

1. Cut a 4 (100 mm) strip of electrical tape from the roll.


2. Using 3/4 (19mm) electrical tape, begin wrapping at the connector and create four layers.
3. After completing the fourth layer of tape, check your work to ensure there are no places where
water can collect. If there are, you must smooth out those areas with additional layers of tape or
remove the weatherproofing and begin again.
Pieces of tape as needed

First and third layers wrap


top to bottom

Figure 134

Second and final layers wrap


bottom to top

AP175_20

Rubber will be wrapped


with 4 layers of tape

Completed Wrapping

4. Repeat this process for all connectors.

Aruba Networks, Inc.

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RF Coverage Validation
It is common for the network operator and installer to work together to install instrumentation in the
network to gather usage data on a routine basis. Instrumentation is installed very early in the
deployment so that the results of this data gathering can be used to enhance the build-out by providing
near real-time feedback.
Network verification tests include a review of the installation documentation and the expected
coverage and capacity in the final system design. Third-party tools such as Air Magnet or Ekahau are
then used to perform drive tests in the coverage area and capture heat maps that display signal
strength for the coverage area.
During these drive tests, it is also customary to pause periodically and measure the uplink and
downlink data rates. Simple tests are performed using utilities like IPerf or FTP file transfers to
document the available throughput.
In most networks, validation becomes iterative; as areas are examined, it is common to fill in coverage
gaps using reserved mesh points. If throughput bottlenecks are identified, it may be necessary to
reduce hop counts in large areas by converting a mesh node to a mesh portal and provide additional
wired network access.

Figure 135

Aruba Networks, Inc.

Sample drive test results

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Reconciling Drive Test Data with Predictive Models


When AirMagnet Survey Professional and the Aruba 3D Outdoor RF Planner are used, it becomes
possible to create a closed loop outdoor engineering process. As we have seen, the 3D Planner
produces three-dimensional RF coverage models that can be viewed in Google Earth.
As of this writing, AirMagnet Survey features a Google Earth export capability where heat maps that
are captured using real-time GPS drive-testing can be overlaid on the predictive model. These
enhanced heat maps provide the wireless architect with a sophisticated tool to demonstrate to the
customer that the predicted coverage has been delivered.

Figure 136

Comparing 3D Outdoor Planner prediction with drive test results

Mesh Network Optimization


After a large mesh network has been deployed and is operational, it is important to monitor and
analyze the network for optimal performance. Network operators may change several variables as the
number of users increases or as new applications and load are added. These parameters are just
some that are available to tune the mesh network:
Tune the backhaul channels
Tune the access channels
Adjust the antenna directions
Adjust the antenna AP power output
Add mesh portals to increase capacity
Add mesh points to increase coverage

Aruba Networks, Inc.

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Appendix A: Allowed Wi-Fi Channels


This appendix is a reference of Wi-Fi frequency allocations and channel assignments. Notice that
there are significant variances based on the country of operation. This information is valid as of the
date of publication.

2.4 GHz Band


The IEEE 802.11 standards define 14 channels. Each channel is 22 MHz wide, but the channel
separation is only 5 MHz, which leads to channel overlap that allows signals from neighboring
channels to interfere with each other. In a 14-channel system (11 usable channels in the US), only
three nonoverlapping 25 Mhz channels (and thus, noninterfering) are possible: 1, 6, and 11.

Figure 137

IEEE 802.11 2.4 GHz ISM channel allocations

4.9 GHz Band


The U. S. Federal Communications Commission allocated 50MHz of spectrum from 4940MHz to
4990MHz for public safety radio services in 2003. Any state or local government entity that provides
public safety services - defined as being focused on the protection of life, health or property safety are eligible. Eligible public safety agencies may apply for a license to utilize this band for the purpose
of deploying wireless networks for police, fire, medical and similar user communities. In the US, there
are two non-overlapping 20MHz channels. Various channelizations are possible, with the most
common being channels 22 and 26.
802.11j-2004 or 802.11j is an amendment to the IEEE 802.11 standard designed specially for
Japanese market. It allows wireless LAN operation in the 4.9 to 5 GHz band to conform to the
Japanese rules for radio operation for indoor, outdoor and mobile applications. The amendment has
been incorporated into the published IEEE 802.11-2007 standard. In Japan, there are four nonoverlapping 20MHz channels. HT40 operation is also permitted.

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The 4.9GHz band is supported on the AirMesh product family from Aruba. ArubaOS does not support
4.9GHz band operation.
FCC
band
edge

Band
edge

23
22

20 MHz channels
(US)

25
24

20

184+/188-

20 MHz & 40 MHz


channels (Japan)

Frequency

26

21

184

192+/196-

188

192

196

4910 4915 4920 4920 4930 4935 4940 4945 4950 4955 4960 4965 4970 4975 4980 4985

Figure 138

4990

arun_0559

Japan
band
edge

4.9 GHz band plan for US and Japan regulatory domains

5 GHz Band
The 5 GHz band(s) allow many more nonoverlapping channels than the 2.4 GHz band. In the United
States before 2007, the UNII-I, -II and III bands allowed the use of a total of thirteen 20 MHz channels
(or six 40 MHz channels), but the number of available 5 GHz channels varies significantly from country
to country. Figure 139 shows the number of 20 MHz channels and 40 MHz channel pairs available for
use in the 5 GHz band.
ChannelsChannels
defineddefined
for 5-GHz
Regulations),
Showing
Common
20-Mhz
Plan and
and40
40-Mhz
Options
for 5Band
GHz (US
band
(US regulations
), showing
common
20 MHzChannel
channel plan
MHz o ptions

Band
Edg e
515 0

Channel
Frequency (MHz)

Channel
Frequency (MH z)

Channel
Frequency (MHz)

Band
Edge
5 450

36

40

1 00

10 4

48

52

56

60

64

108

112

116

120

124

550 0 55 20 5 540 556 0 558 0 56 00 56 20

Ba nd 1 49 153 157
161
Edge
57 25 5745 57 65 5785 58 05

Figure 139

Aruba Networks, Inc.

44

518 0 52 00 5 220 52 40 52 60 5 280 5300

165

Ba nd
Edge
58 50

532 0

US UNII-I and UNII-II Bands


US UNII
I and UNII
II bands
UNII-I:
5150-5250
MHz
UNII I:
51 50-5 250MHz
MHz
UNII-II:
5250-5350
UNII
II: 5250
-535 0 MHz
8x20
MHz
channels
8x MHz
20 MHz
channels
4x40
channels
4x 40requires
MHz channels
UNII-II
DFS
UNII II r equires DFS

Band
Edg e
535 0

12 8 1 32

136

140

56 40 566 0 568 0 57 00

Band
Edg e
572 5

US Intermediate Band
US intermedia
(UNII-II
Extended)te band
(UNII II extended)
5470-5725
MHz
5450MHz
-572channels
5 MHz
11x20
11x
2
0
MHz
channels
5x40 MHz channels
5x 40 MHz
Requires
DFSchannels
Requires DF S

US
ISM
USUNI-III
UNII III/ /
ISMBand
ba nd
5725-5850
MHz
57 25-5 850 MHz
4x20
4x 20MHz
MH z channels
channels
2x40
2x 40MHz
MH z channels
channels

5 GHz nonoverlapping channels

Allowed Wi-Fi Channels | 174

Outdoor MIMO Wireless Networks

Validated Reference Design

In 2007 the radio regulatory bodies in many countries allowed the use of the UNII-II extended band
from 5450 MHz to 5725 MHz as long as UNII-II equipment was capable of dynamic frequency
selection (DFS). DFS requires that the AP monitor all RF channels for the presence of radar pulses
and switch to a different channel if a radar system is located. Wi-Fi equipment that is DFS-certified can
use the extended band, which adds up to another eleven 20 MHz channels or five 40 MHz channels
(depending on the radio regulatory rules in each country). See Table 13 for additional frequency bands
and channels for other regulatory domains.

DFS Channels

Table 13

Additional frequency bands and channels for other regulatory domains

Channel #

Frequency
(MHz)

USA

Europe

Japan

Singapore

China

Israel

Korea

Brazil

36

5180

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

40

5200

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

44

5220

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

48

5240

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

52

5260

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

56

5280

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

60

5300

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

64

5320

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

100

5500

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

104

5520

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

108

5540

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

112

5560

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

116

5580

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

120

5600

No

No

Yes

No

No

No

Yes

No

124

5620

No

No

Yes

No

No

No

Yes

No

128

5640

No

No

Yes

No

No

No

Yes

No

132

5660

No

No

Yes

No

No

No

No

No

136

5680

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

No

Yes

140

5700

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

No

Yes

149

5745

Yes

No

No

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

153

5765

Yes

No

No

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

157

5785

Yes

No

No

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

161

5805

Yes

No

No

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

165

5825

Yes

No

No

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Total without DFS

Total with DFS

20

15

19

13

21

20

Aruba Networks, Inc.

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Appendix B: DFS Operation


With a total of about twenty 20-MHz channels (different countries support slightly different numbers)
the 5 GHz band with DFS now has sufficient channels to implement most outdoor MIMO mesh
backhaul links. However, DFS comes with a cost that could adversely affect outdoor mesh
performance with DFS enabled. If the network is operating in proximity to radar sources in the 5450- to
5725-MHz band, operation of the mesh could be disrupted as required by the terms of the DFS grant.
The next section provides an overview of how DFS works and what you can expect when radar events
occur.

Behavior of 5 GHz DFS Radios in the Presence of Radar


Actual radar events can be extremely disruptive to a mesh network that attempts to use DFS channels.
To better understand what this means, we will review the constraints on APs and clients on these
channels.
The rules for DFS are different for different countries or regions. The definitions of what kind of signals
should be considered radar signals and how each signal is classified also vary (per region and over
time). But, at a high level, the following steps provide a generic description of DFS for WLAN:
1. Before initiating any transmission on a DFS channel, the device (can be AP or client) monitors
the channel for the presence of radar signals for the channel availability check (CAC) time. In
most cases, the CAC time equals a minimum of 60 seconds, but it is increased to a minimum of
10 minutes for channels in the 5,600- to 5,650-MHz subband in Europe (channels 120, 124, 128,
116+, 120-, 124+, and 128-).
2. If any radar signal is detected, the device blacklists the channel and selects a different
channel. If that channel is also a DFS channel, the process in step 1 is repeated. If a non-DFS
channel is selected, this process no longer applies. Any blacklisted channels are considered
unavailable for a minimum of 30 minutes (non occupancy period).
3. If no radar signals are detected during the CAC time, the device can start using the channel.
4. While using the channel, the device that owns the connection (typically the AP) continuously
monitors the channel for radar signals (in-service monitoring). If a radar signal is detected, the
AP issues commands to all clients to instruct them to stop any transmissions on the channel,
and selects a new available channel. After detection, the AP needs to clear the channel within
10 seconds.
As you can see, APs on DFS channels take longer to come up and users on DFS channels can
potentially experience lengthy service interruptions from radar events. Because radar frequencies do
not align with 802.11 channels, such events can impact multiple Wi-Fi channels simultaneously.
Therefore, the wireless designer is strongly encouraged to conduct a DFS survey during the HD
WLAN planning process to validate the availability of these channels. Just because no airport is
nearby does not mean that no radar is nearby. Other common sources of radar include marine
shipping traffic, military installations, and doppler weather systems at local television stations.

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A DFS survey is relatively simple to perform, and it requires an Aruba controller and AP. A DFS survey
has these basic steps:
1. Install the controller with ARM scanning disabled. If the controller is not in the location where the
survey will take place, arrange for wide-area connectivity to the AP.
2. Provision the AP to operate on channel 52.
3. Allow the AP to dwell on that channel for four hours.
4. If a radar event has occurred, it can be noted from the system log, and you will notice that the AP
will be on another channel.
5. Repeat steps 2 and 3 on the next highest 20-MHz channel until channel 140 has been
completed.
Unfortunately, radar pulses cannot be detected with any PC-based portable spectrum analyzers on the
market as of this writing. The cost of renting and operating a laboratory-quality spectrum analyzer is
typically much higher than simply using the Aruba equipment that you intend to deploy.

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Appendix C: Campus Extension Example


This appendix describes a University campus that wants coverage in the common areas by extending
their controller-based indoor network.
It is common for customers who operate large campus style facilities to consider migrating from a firstgeneration wireless network with partial facility coverage to an enterprise-grade, full-coverage, secure
system. Such systems have the capacity and redundancy to support mission-critical high bandwidth
applications, employee or student broadband connectivity anywhere on the campus, Voice-over-WiFi
and Real-Time Location Services (RTLS). Campus extension networks must also supply secure data
access to a variety of different roles within the organization, each with its own security attributes.
Finally, it may provide courtesy Internet access to in a secure and dependable manner.
For any campus wireless network project, Aruba recommends using a qualified services partner to
complete the extensive diligence that is required including campus inspections, detailed analysis of an
RF surveys, 3D RF modeling using Aruba proprietary tools, and technical peer review.
The high-level requirements for any campus are to cover areas in between major buildings, with a
dense deployment of three to four APs in range for most users and two APs in less busy areas. We
use 10 db as the design margin, which is conservative but recommended due to the trees and other
obstructions common in this type of facility. For very heavily wooded campuses, you may wish to
consider keeping the typical mounting heights below 4 meters, to avoid the dense tree canopy for
client access connections. Don't forget about parking lots, loading docks, maintenance bays, and other
areas of interest to the customer.
The ANT-2x2-D805 is often recommended for campus deployments, which is a 120 degree sectored
antenna. It can be placed on the external overhang of the campus buildings (see Figure 141).
Vertical

Horizontal

AP-ANT-2x2-2005
5 dBi
Vert. Beamwidth: 30

Figure 140

ANT-2x2-D805 is recommended for campus deployments with


close-in coverage requirements

To limit cost, Aruba generally prefers to locate APs indoors, and drill a core hole outside where an
antenna will be mounted directly. This produces better coverage by eliminating building shadowing,
reduces installation labor and materials. Like security cameras, when mounted directly to the building
within 24 of a core hole, this approach eliminates the need for lightning protection on these APs by

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sharing the cone of protection of the structure itself. Mounting APs on a roof with non-penetrating
mounts is unnecessary, expensive, and will reduce coverage due to building shadowing.
The building mounting strategy proposed by Aruba has excellent aesthetics, is consistent with building
codes, and has provided superior RF coverage in other similar campus installations. Here are
photographs of the mounting strategy when mounted to the top of a building wall using the Aruba ANT91 antenna (the non-MIMO predecessor to the ANT-2x2-D805).

Figure 141

Side mounting to rooftop parapet with 10 degrees of downtilt


for campus coverage

Aruba recommends creating a 3D RF model of the campus showing all of the expected antenna
mounting locations. For each AP position, the Aruba 3D Outdoor RF Planner creates an antenna
pattern in 3 dimensional space that predicts the coverage for various data rates using variables
provided by an engineer for output power, fade margin, cable loss and other factors. Here is an
example showing campuswide coverage in the 5GHz and 2.4GHz frequency bands.

Figure 142

Aruba Networks, Inc.

5 GHz campus coverage using the ANT-2x2-D805

Campus Extension Example | 180

Outdoor MIMO Wireless Networks

Figure 143

Validated Reference Design

2.4 GHz campus coverage using the ANT-2x2-D805

Be sure to consider high-density areas when preparing a campus design, such as ampitheaters or
outdoor eating areas or university-style quad spaces. In such locations, it will be necessary to have
overlapping coverage from multiple APs sufficient to handle the expected user capacity.

Aruba Networks, Inc.

Campus Extension Example | 181

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Aruba Networks, Inc.

Validated Reference Design

Campus Extension Example | 182

Outdoor MIMO Wireless Networks

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Appendix D: Intermodal Transportation Example


Aruba has worked closely with our customers and partners to develop our recommendations for ports,
airports, truck, rail-yards, and other intermodal facilities. We are directly invested in helping our
customers deliver reliable and responsive business applications at the lowest possible cost.

Application Types
In this Enterprise network, several categories of wireless applications run on the network in a typical
intermodal facility. Most often, mobile terminal applications are deployed that have the following
attributes:
Real time
Character-based
Transmission Control Protocol (TCP)/Internet Protocol (IP)
Uses vehicle-mounted or rugged portable Windows platforms
Can be mounted in a truck, mobile crane, or locomotive
Operators frequently have deployed wireless analog and digital video cameras that share the 2.4 GHz
band. These devices are often not 802.11n-based devices, but because they share the same
frequency band, these cameras and 802.11 systems have been shown to interfere with each other and
with the Wi-Fi network. In many cases, migrating these systems to 802.11n-based systems can reduce
interference and improve system performance and return on investment for the whole network.
Many intermodal facility operators have also expressed interest in using Voice over Wi-Fi handsets to
provide voice without having to pay recurring monthly charges to wireless carriers.
Support for standard wireless devices such as laptops is often required so that management and
engineering can access home network resources while working in the field. Mobile terminal
applications are often revenue-generating devices, and when service is unavailable, yard operations
can be negatively affected directly.
One of the most common business drivers behind network refreshes at intermodal facilities, such as
ports, is that 900 MHz radios used by first-generation application terminals are, in general, no longer
available. Another common driver is that existing vehicle-mounted and handheld rugged data
terminals are approaching end-of-life.
Typically, intermodal facility operators select standards-based 802.11a/b/g/n WLAN technology that
operates in 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz as the replacement network platform inside their yards.

Aruba Networks, Inc.

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Dense Overhead Coverage Strategy


The most reliable design for mobile cranes, vehicles and ground personnel is the dense overhead
strategy. In this design, Aruba mesh-capable access points are deployed densely (every 200-300m)
and antennas are mounted high up, between 15-40m above ground level. Existing light poles, high
masts and communications towers are typically used for mounting APs and antennas.
Aruba developed a specialized low-gain (typically 3-5 dBi) squint omnidirectional antenna that faces
down to create tight cells. These tight cells are known to work reliably and deliver consistent
performance in environments where many large vertical obstructions may exist. For more information,
see Antenna Beamwidth, Pattern, and Gain on page 33. Figure 144 illustrates 5 Ghz coverage for an
intermodal transportation facility.

Figure 144

Dense overhead coverage for an intermodel transportation facility

This strategy results in excellent coverage deep inside container stacks and other obstructions.
Because of the consistent cell spacing, it also delivers superior voice support. The dense radio
topology, with LOS between many APs is consistent with voice handset vendor best practices and the
high number of alternate paths results in a very reliable system.

Aruba Networks, Inc.

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Outdoor MIMO Wireless Networks

Validated Reference Design

Sparse Side Coverage Strategy


This RF coverage strategy uses existing towers and structures that have power and data services. In
this deployment area, we use very high-gain (13 dBi), sectored, wide horizontal (120 degree),
narrow elevation (8 degree) antennas to cover as much range as possible from each radio position.
The main advantage of this strategy is that it reduces installation costs by leveraging a limited number
of existing mounting assets that have power or wired backhaul. See Figure 145 for an example of an
intermodal transportation facility.

Figure 145

Spare side coverage for an intermodal transportation facility

This solution works well for fixed cameras where predictable link budgets can be worked out in
advance. However, automated RF management algorithms such as ARM or RFM cannot be used in
this type of environment due to the rapidly changing RF environment.

Aruba Networks, Inc.

Intermodal Transportation Example | 185

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Aruba Networks, Inc.

Validated Reference Design

Intermodal Transportation Example | 186

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Validated Reference Design

Appendix E: Open Pit Mine Example


The Wi-Fi mesh network is an integral part of mining operations. The mesh network allows for the
locations of the various grades of ore to be closely tracked so that the blending process can be
precisely controlled, which results in the required grades of ore for shipping.
Mining operations contain a very wide variety of applications. For example:
Video (CCTV) and portable devices (handheld computers, smartphones)
Research and support vehicles
Mining vehicles, such as dump trucks, excavators, dozers, front-end loaders, graders, water
trucks, service trucks, fuel tankers, workshop trucks, and blast rigs.
Research equipment also requires additional high capacity wireless bandwidth:
Ground-probe radar, portable equipment for data logging etc.
In addition, a changing mix of fixed and semifixed locations such as trailers and buildings need
coverage. These nodes can be moved throughout the mine pit area as the shape of the mine pit
changes to maintain Wi-Fi mesh coverage throughout the mine pit.
An open pit mine is an extremely complex environment that requires a flexible WLAN solution for
standard coverage as the parameters of the mine changes.
Figure 146 is an overview of the coverage. The pit coverage is shown in yellow and the access road
coverage is shown in orange. A high-capacity multichannel linear mesh circles the pit and provides
alternate paths in case of a backhaul radio failure. The client radio APs are located at the edge of the
pit with antennas directing the radio signals into the mine. For this depiction, the wave propagation is
shown tilted down by 30 degrees into the pit. The backhaul mesh is shown in the blue and yellow lines,
and the client access is shown as opaque orange and yellow coverage.

Figure 146
Aruba Networks, Inc.

Open pit mine overview with MIMO data rates


Open Pit Mine Example | 187

Outdoor MIMO Wireless Networks

Validated Reference Design

Figure 147 represents the expected coverage of the mine itself. The distance between nodes is
approximately 1 kilometer and this model shows the expected throughput between each node.
Multiradio mesh configuration is supported in AirMesh by using wireless mesh. Interference
management is important, and a separation of at least 2 channels is recommended. Antennas should
be mounted carefully to minimize interfering signal levels between upstream (wired network) and
downstream (client-device) connections.
Directional sectored antennas can be used to extend distances several kilometers between nodes and
throughput is preserved.
Figure 147 is a model of the mine road coverage with backhaul nodes identified. This model can be
extended to cover other locations within the mine territory such as crew living areas, railheads, and
airstrips and is an example of a linear mesh.

Figure 147

Aruba Networks, Inc.

Open pit mine road coverage

Open Pit Mine Example | 188

Outdoor MIMO Wireless Networks

Validated Reference Design

Appendix F: Aruba Stadium Design Summary


Planning a high-capacity, or dense WLAN to deliver ubiquitous WiFi coverage with transparent
connectivity for POS devices, press and fans in an outdoor stadium environment requires careful RF
design to ensure adequate signal is delivered to all areas and to properly manage co-channel
interference. Considerations include antenna selection, antenna orientation both horizontally and
vertically, elevation (e.g. the distance from the AP-to-client) and the effect of structural materials on
signal propagation. In addition, pervasive high-throughput 802.11n coverage with multiple inputmultiple output (MIMO) signal propagation behaves differently than traditional 802.11abg signals in
this type of facility. In summary, there are many significant differences in planning the WLAN for a
stadium vs. a typical carpeted indoor environment.
Aruba has extensive experience designing complex stadium WLAN solutions, including in stadium
environments including for the 2008 All Star Game, Angel Stadium in Anaheim, the 2009 FIFA World
Cup, the 2009 and 2010 Australian Open, American Airlines Center in Dallas, United Center in
Chicago, and many more. In addition, we have ultra-high capacity stadium designs under construction
around the world. In this section, Aruba presents our RF coverage strategy for a hypothetical American
baseball stadium. Validation data from testing in real stadiums is presented along with the design
below.

RF Design
For a large venue such as a baseball stadium, planning in terms of both coverage and capacity is
critically important, although in the most traditional sense these are somewhat opposing parameters.
Whereas coverage usually refers to the use of high gain antennas and high power settings to achieve
maximum range, capacity typically indicates use low gain, low power solutions to limit targeted
coverage area per AP and provide better per user experience. To balance these two goals, it is
important to leverage 3D antenna pattern visualization techniques which aid in antenna selection and
placement.
When considering any new stadium deployment, the following should be kept in mind:
AP density is determined by a combination of subscriber count and an oversubscription ratio.
Aruba APs can support up to 150 associated clients per radio per AP, though it is considered a
best practice to keep the number of simultaneously transmitting clients to 50 or fewer with
802.11n APs in order to maximize average throughput for each client. The oversubscription ratio
is similar to that used in a WAN circuit or a LAN switch, where the backplane typically has a
lower total capacity than the total aggregate capacity of all ports because not all ports are fully
utilized at the same time in most environments. A radio with 150 associated users and 50
transmitters would have a 3-to-1 oversubscription ratio.
High user count areas (such as press box or luxury suites) rely on more targeted coverage and
as such can be provided coverage through access points concealed above the drop ceiling
similar to indoor office space planning.
Overhangs and rafters should NOT be used to mount APs and antennas. While these locations
generally provide good line of sight to a large targeted area, the signal dispersion is so great
over just 20-30 feet that significant co-channel and adjacent-channel interference results.

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Aruba Stadium Design Summary | 189

Outdoor MIMO Wireless Networks

Validated Reference Design

Therefore, a method to minimize the size of each cell, such as the picocell method proposed
below, is necessary to achieve capacity objectives.
With many more radio cells to support thousands of users, it is critically important to minimize
overlap of radio cells covering different areas, such as the upper level from the lower level. The
2.4GHz band only has 3 non-overlapping channels, as opposed to 5GHz where there are as
many as 9 non-overlapping non-DFS channels (and up to 11 more in the DFS range).

The following section synthesizes all of these considerations with the customer requirements and
stated assumptions to produce a complete design.

Picocell Coverage Strategy


Based on extensive real-world testing, Aruba recommends an RF design strategy that utilizes three
interleaved blankets of APs to cover the lower sections, club level, and upper sections respectively.
We call this approach picocell and it can be visualized as follows:

Figure 148

Using three separate coverage 'blankets' to minimize inter-blanket interference

In the figure above, you can see one AP from each blanket. To minimize interference between
individual blankets, the lower deck antennas are mounted underneath the precast concrete seats and
aimed through the concrete up above the field. Similarly, the upper deck antennas are also mounted
underneath the concrete and aimed up through the concrete. In both cases, the antenna is aimed to
match the slope of the seats to maximize coverage and minimize self-interference.
In the middle, a blanket of APs is installed in the suites above or below the ceiling (below is preferred
for optimal RF performance). Blowups of each blanket along with physical installation details are
provided below.

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Within each blanket, the design calls for APs to be installed every section. On the suite level the APs
are placed every other suite. The APs on each suite level are staggered relative to the APs above or
below, creating a checkerboard pattern when viewed from the side. A fourth blanket covers the
exterior gate areas and the fan walkways on street level. Of course, the AP densities just described
may vary from stadium to stadium depending on the precise construction materials and user density
requirements.
With all blankets installed, the stadium would look similar to the 3D model below. This is a predictive
RF model showing the estimated -65dBm signal boundary for each picocell. The different colors
represent different 802.11 channels in the 2.4GHz band.

Figure 149

Visualization of stadium-wide coverage blankets at -67dBm cell edge power

While not depicted in the model, there are also AP blankets on the press level, the mezzanine (office)
level, and the lower service level. Also, each of the concourses has its own blank of APs to provide
reliable coverage to the concession areas as well as roaming coverage to fans on the move.

Understanding the Structure of a Picocell


This section will help wireless engineers understand the requirements and constraints of channel
reuse. Picocells are one of the most interesting and challenging RF designs to undertake. Controlling
the collision domain requires careful analysis in three dimensions, not only between APs and clients
but also between clients.

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An under-floor picocell system has two key RF design differences from a conventional WLAN
deployment:
Client device radios increase picocell radius as opposed to shrinking a cell radius as is usually
the case
The link budget for clients at the picocell edge must factor in variable amounts of structural and
body loss
In conventional WLAN deployments, wireless designers following best practices will consider client
radio capabilities to restrict the effective cell size of an AP. This is because wireless links are two-way,
and the weakest link is typically from the client to the AP. A good predictive model will use the lesser of
the AP or client transmit power, plus the sum of both AP and client antenna gains, to estimate the
distance at which a given data rate is available. Client transmissions beyond the cell can be safely
ignored due to the spacing of APs in most environments.
With a picocell design, the extreme proximity of overlapping APs and clients means that client radios
effectively increase the size of a cell. This is illustrated in the figure below.

Figure 150

Structure of a picocell

The picocell is divided into the following components in the H-plane:

Inner AP Radius (r1) This is the usual cell edge of the AP. It is the target data rate radius, not
the interference radius. It is defined as the maximum distance at which the SNR exceeds the
value required to demodulate the desired minimum data rate, typically 150Mbps in an HD-WLAN
using 20MHz channels. In a picocell operating at very low transmit power, this distance is often
less than 30 feet (10m).

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Client Interference Radius (r2) This is the distance at which the 802.11 preamble of any AP or
client radio transmission (transmitted at 6Mbps per the standard) will interfere with a samechannel transmission by another station. Typically, this means that the SNR is 4dB or greater,
which is the minimum required to decode an 802.11a/n frame. Therefore, this is much greater
than the Inner AP Radius.
A picocell network works best when the seats are full. In this case, the
increased lateral human body attenuation will shrink the client interference
radius dramatically. This effect is deliberately exploited in picocell design to
achieve reuse.

NOTE

Validated Reference Design

Outer Picocell Radius (r3) This is the outer boundary of all the Client Interference Radii when
multiple clients exist at the edge of the Inner AP Radius. This is the effective radius of the
picocell.

From this analysis, it is clear that client transmissions have the result of increasing the size of a
picocell due to the small power levels and short distances involved.

Picocell Coverage & Performance Validation Test Results


Aruba has carried out detailed RF propagation studies of concrete at over a dozen stadiums. We have
studied concrete as old as the 1920s and as recent as 2005. To help customers and partners better
understand Arubas picocell strategy, we share below the results of some of those tests.
The basic installation of a picocell is fairly straightforward. Aruba recommends the ruggedized AP-175
802.11n MIMO access point which is IP66 rated and therefore does not require enclosures with laborintensive bulkhead connectors and RF patch cables. For the antenna, we use two of our ANT-2x2D607 which is shown in the photos below. This is a 7dBi, 60H x 60E dual band, dual element
antenna with multiple polarizations inside the radome for improve MIMO performance. Each antenna
has two pigtails, which connect to the two corresponding antenna interfaces on each radio.

Figure 151

Aruba Networks, Inc.

Picocell installation underneath concrete stadium seating

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To measure RF signal from this AP/antenna combination, Aruba used AirMagnet Survey Pro 7.0 with
AirMagnet 802.11abgn card to walk every 2nd row for two sections on either side of the AP. Here is the
AirMagnet heat map for the 2.4GHz band with RSSI filters of -65, -72 and -85dBm, and signal-to-noise
ratio (SNR) filters of 30, 20 and 10dB respectively. (With the filter applied, any area that has more
signal than the filter appears in color, while any area that does not meet the criteria appears in grey.)

NOTE

Figure 152

Aruba Networks, Inc.

The TX power during this test was set to 12dBm, plus 7dBi of gain, for an EIRP
of 20dBm.

Picocell RF propagation in 2.4GHz and 5GHz with AirMagnet Survey

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Aruba has also studied bidirectional throughput for the picocell design with a mix of common client
devices. We use the WaveDeploy Pro tool from VeriWave Corporation, which loads a small software
agent on each client. The agents are remotely controlled from a test console that starts and stops each
test run, and visualizes the resulting data.

Figure 153

Picocell TCP throughput heatmap with VeriWave WaveDeploy

For these tests, we used a Windows 7 laptop with a 2x3 802.11n wireless network adapter, an iPhone
3GS, and an iPad 1. The square box with the red dashes shows the minimum target cell size of 25
seats by 20 rows, centered directly above the AP under the stands. You can see that the laptop is able
to deliver over 25Mbps of UDP throughput using HT20. The iPad with its HT20 radio delivers over
15Mbps down and 10Mbps up, while the iPhone (as expected) achieves around 10Mbps upstream
and 5Mbps downstream. The iPhone 3GS is a legacy 802.11g radio, with a very limited network
processor.
Overall, from both an RF and an IP throughput perspective, the picocell design developed by Aruba
provides excellent near-field performance, while greatly limiting the interference radius of each
individual cell.
For additional information on RF and capacity planning for high density environments, Aruba has
published a Validated Reference Design for High Density (HD) WLANs. This free document includes
important concepts, methodologies, and performance data needed by a wireless architect to plan this
type of environment.

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Appendix G: Terminal Doppler Weather Radars


In 2009, the FCC, NTIA, FAA and industry began working to resolve interference to Terminal Doppler
Weather Radar (TDWR) systems used near airports that has occurred from some outdoor wireless
systems operating in the 5470 MHz 5725 MHz band. These wireless devices are subject to the FCC
Section 15.407 of our rules and when operating as a master device they are required to implement
radar detection and DFS functions. The FCC in conjunction with industry is continuing to develop longterm improvements to the DFS test procedures that will ensure that devices better protect TDWR
operations.

Figure 154

United States Terminal Doppler Weather Radar Sites

In the interim, the FCC has published new requirements and guidance for operation of outdoor
wireless devices which are summarized as follows:
1. Operation in the 5570-5680 MHz frequency range is no longer permitted. As a result when
running ArubaOS versions (TBD) or higher, channels 116-128 have been disabled on all Aruba
US controllers and access points.
2. When installed outdoors professional installation is required. Although EIRP and channel
restrictions are enforced by ArubaOS, professional installers must be familiar with the FCC
requirements and ensure that the product is installed in compliance with the FCC granted
conditions. These additional conditions include:
a. Only Aruba approved antennas and accessory hardware may be used for outdoor
installations. Use of non-Aruba outdoor antennas or third party RF components could result in
operation outside the FCC granted conditions. Use of non-approved components can cause
spurious and impact compliance with the new TDWR protection measures.

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b. Changes or modifications to the equipment are not permitted. Any unapproved changes can
result in non-compliant operation and will void the equipment warranty.
c. There are no user serviceable parts, all repairs and service must be handled by Aruba
Support. (1-800-wifilan), http://support.arubanetworks.com.
d. All products using external antennas must be professionally installed and the installer must
ensure that the antenna gain is correctly provisioned in software during setup. The antenna
gain used for provisioning may be reduced by the cable loss measured at the installation:
Gprovisioned = Gantenna Cable Loss (dB)
3. For installation within 35 km of a TDWR location, the FCC requests voluntary registration. A
voluntary WISPA sponsored database has been developed that allows operators and installers
to register the location information of the UNII devices operating outdoors in the 5470 5725
MHz band within 35 km of any TDWR location (see http://www.spectrumbridge.com/udia/
home.aspx). This database may be used by government agencies in order to expedite
resolution of any interference to TDWRs.

Figure 155

Aruba Networks, Inc.

35 Kilometer Voluntary Registration Zones in Florida State

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Table 14 provides the list of TDWR locations.


Table 14

TDWR Locations and Frequencies

State

City

Latitude (N), Longitude (W)

Frequency
(MHz)

AZ

PHOENIX

33.420352, -112.16318

5610

CO

DENVER

39.72722, -104.52639

5615

FL

FT LAUDERDALE

26.142601, -80.34382

5645

FL

MIAMI

25.757083, -80.491076

5605

FL

ORLANDO

28.343125, -81.324674

5640

FL

TAMPA

27.85867, -82.51755

5620

FL

WEST PALM BEACH

26.687812, -80.272931

5630

FL

WEST PALM BEACH

26.687812, -80.272931

5615

GA

ATLANTA

33.646193, -84.262233

5615

IL

MCCOOK (ORD)

41.796589, -87.857628

5615

IL

CRESTWOOD (MDW)

41.6514, -87.7294

5645

IN

INDIANAPOLIS

39.636556, -86.435286

5605

KS

WICHITA

37.506844, -97.437228

5603

KY

COVINGTON-CINCINNATI

38.89778, -84.58028

5610

KY

LOUISVILLE

38.04581, -85.610641

5646

LA

NEW ORLEANS

30.021389, -90.402919

5645

MA

BOSTON

42.15806, -70.93389

5610

MD

BRANDYWINE

38.69528, -76.845

5635

MD

BENFIELD (BWI)

39.09056, -76.63

5645

MD

CLINTON (DCA)

38.758853, -76.961837

5615

MI

DETROIT

42.11111, -83.515

5615

MN

MINNEAPOLIS

44.870902, -92.932257

5610

MO

KANSAS CITY

39.49861, -94.74167

5605

MO

ST LOUIS

38.804691, -90.488558

5610

MS

DESOTO COUNTY (MEM)

34.896044, -89.992727

5610

NC

CHARLOTTE

35.337269, -80.885006

5608

NC

RALEIGH DURHAM

36.001401, -78.697942

5647

NJ

WOODBRIDGE (EWR)

40.593397, -74.270164

5620

NJ

PENNSAUKEN (PHL)

39.950061, -75.069979

5610

NV

LAS VEGAS

36.144, -115.007

5645

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Table 14

Validated Reference Design

TDWR Locations and Frequencies (Continued)

State

City

Latitude (N), Longitude (W)

Frequency
(MHz)

NY

FLOYD BENNETT FIELD

40.588633, -73.880303

5647

OH

DAYTON

40.021376, -84.123077

5640

OH

CLEVELAND

41.289372, -82.007419

5645

OH

COLUMBUS

40.00611, -82.71556

5605

OK

AERONAUTICAL CENTER

35.405, -97.625

5610

OK

AERONAUTICAL CENTER

35.393, -97.629

5620

OK

TULSA

36.070184, -95.826313

5605

OK

OKLAHOMA CITY

35.27611, -97.51

5603

PA

HANOVER (PIT)

40.501066, -80.486586

5615

PR

SAN JUAN

18.47394, -66.17891

5610

TN

NASHVILLE

35.979079, -86.661691

5605

TX

HOUSTON INTERCONTL (IAH)

30.06472, -95.5675

5605

TX

PEARLAND (HOU)

29.515852, -95.241692

5645

TX

DALLAS LOVE FIELD

32.92494, -96.968473

5608

TX

LEWISVILLE (DFW)

33.064286, -96.915554

5640

UT

SALT LAKE CITY

40.967222, -111.929722

5610

VA

LEESBURG (IAD)

39.083667, -77.529224

5605

WI

MILWAUKEE

42.81944, -88.04611

5603

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Appendix H: Aruba Contact Information


Contacting Aruba Networks
Web Site Support
Main Site

http://www.arubanetworks.com

Support Site

https://support.arubanetworks.com

Software Licensing Site

https://licensing.arubanetworks.com/login.php

Wireless Security Incident


Response Team (WSIRT)

http://www.arubanetworks.com/support/wsirt.php

Support Emails
Americas and APAC

support@arubanetworks.com

EMEA

emea_support@arubanetworks.com

WSIRT Email
Please email details of any security
problem found in an Aruba product.

wsirt@arubanetworks.com

Validated Reference Design Contact and User Forum


Validated Reference Designs

http://www.arubanetworks.com/vrd

VRD Contact Email

referencedesign@arubanetworks.com

AirHeads Online User Forum

http://airheads.arubanetworks.com

Telephone Support
Aruba Corporate

+1 (408) 227-4500

FAX

+1 (408) 227-4550

Support
United States

+1-800-WI-FI-LAN (800-943-4526)

Universal Free Phone Service Numbers (UIFN):

Australia

Reach: 11 800 494 34526

United States

1 800 9434526
1 650 3856589

Canada

1 800 9434526
1 650 3856589

United Kingdom

BT: 0 825 494 34526


MCL: 0 825 494 34526

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Telephone Support
Universal Free Phone Service Numbers (UIFN):

Japan

IDC: 10 810 494 34526 * Select fixed phones


IDC: 0061 010 812 494 34526 * Any fixed, mobile & payphone
KDD: 10 813 494 34526 * Select fixed phones
JT: 10 815 494 34526 * Select fixed phones
JT: 0041 010 816 494 34526 * Any fixed, mobile & payphone

Korea

DACOM: 2 819 494 34526


KT: 1 820 494 34526
ONSE: 8 821 494 34526

Singapore

Singapore Telecom: 1 822 494 34526

Taiwan (U)

CHT-I: 0 824 494 34526

Belgium

Belgacom: 0 827 494 34526

Israel

Bezeq: 14 807 494 34526


Barack ITC: 13 808 494 34526

Ireland

EIRCOM: 0 806 494 34526

Hong Kong

HKTI: 1 805 494 34526

Germany

Deutsche Telkom: 0 804 494 34526

France

France Telecom: 0 803 494 34526

China (P)

China Telecom South: 0 801 494 34526


China Netcom Group: 0 802 494 34526

Saudi Arabia

800 8445708

UAE

800 04416077

Egypt

2510-0200 8885177267 * within Cairo


02-2510-0200 8885177267 * outside Cairo

India

91 044 66768150

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