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Wi-Fi Roaming for the RB4011 Series

Posted: Wed Dec 19, 2018 10:29 am
by und3rd06012
Hello everyone,

I recently bought a RB4011iGS+5HacQ2HnD-IN and I have a few questions to ask.
I am planning to buy two more of these devices in order to have Wi-Fi coverage across my whole house. My question is this: Is there a way to do some kind of seamless Wi-Fi roaming across the house with these devices? In order to be more specific: If I do for example a skype call and I start moving from the one side of the house to the other, in which case the device will receive the signal from another AP, will the device lose the connection and the Skype call will drop/wait for reconnection or will it be seamless? If there is a way to be seamless can you please guide me through the settings so I can do it across all the APs? If it can't be seamless with this equipment, can I buy 2 Mikrotik routers from the RB4011 series (but the non Wi-Fi model) and use 2 Ubiquiti APs with them in case these are able to do what I am asking? (I know the last part is for the Ubiquiti forums, but I am asking it here in it here in case someone has experience with the aforementioned setup).

I am sorry if I posted this to the wrong sub-forum. I am new here and I have very little experience in general with networking.

Thank you for taking the time to read my post.

Re: Wi-Fi Roaming for the RB4011 Series

Posted: Wed Dec 19, 2018 11:27 am
by muetzekoeln
This is requested by users for many years:

viewtopic.php?f=19&t=86271

Re: Wi-Fi Roaming for the RB4011 Series

Posted: Wed Dec 19, 2018 11:35 am
by normis
Even your linked topic explains, that this already happens.

Re: Wi-Fi Roaming for the RB4011 Series

Posted: Wed Dec 19, 2018 7:43 pm
by Quindor
This question keeps popping up now and then.

Wireless roaming is purely a client related matter. Your smartphone or laptop will be the device that decides if it's going to move to a new (now stronger/closer) AP or not. This is standard WiFi functionality and keeps getting improved each WiFi version. This can however cause a slight hiccup when it moves over from one AP to another, but on a properly configured system, this should be almost impossible to notice (missing maybe 1 ping, if any).

Backstory, what is often referred to is known as "true seamless roaming" and it's a very special setup where all the access-points are run on the same frequency and sending out the same ID and a central controller takes all the packets in from those and makes sure everything works correctly. That way, the client never knows which AP it's sending its data to and thus it's supposed to be completely seamless (in theory). There are however a lot of downsides with this kind of setup. It's very much out of RFC specs so it has a lot of compatibility issues, all AP's are run on the same channel limiting the available bandwidth severely, using multiple chains is an issue (limiting bandwidth even further), newer features such as AC or mu-mimo are NOT going to work, and well, the list keeps going.

Only when you have a VERY specific use case (For instance, you have a large warehouse and a few (not too many because the system will become overloaded because of shared bandwidth) wireless scanners which for some reason cannot roaming themselves (bad hardware/software), this could work, but better to replace the scanners then design some kind of weird wireless system.

So, the proper way to set it up and have as little as possible roaming hiccups is by running a Mikrotik CAPsMAN setup and running all traffic tunneled to a central router. That way when a client roams it will keep it's DHCP assignment and sessions so it basically won't notice a thing when changing between AP's.

As an example, I have 5 AP's setup in my own home (5x wAP AC) with a CCR1009 as my main router which runs CAPsMAN. All traffic comes in from whatever AP I'm connected to and even when downloading and running around the house and grounds, I always stay connected and something like a download keeps running without an issue. CAPsMAN in the logs clearly shows I'm hopping between AP's but all sessions stay alive without issue.

I've included what the central CAPsMAN router shows in the logs and where you can see how my phone connects to whatever AP is best at that time.
capsmanroaming.png
So I believe the setup you are looking for can work perfectly well for your intended application! RB4011 itself is also powerful enough to be used as a central router and CAPsMAN head.

p.s. I know the discussion in that topic highlights missing features such a 802.11r and 802.11k support and although they might provide some form of benefit, in my home situation with between 20 to 50 devices I don't seem to miss it much.

Re: Wi-Fi Roaming for the RB4011 Series

Posted: Thu Dec 20, 2018 8:43 am
by und3rd06012
Thank you all so much for your replies!

@Quindor: If the setup is like a daisy-chain, for example like this:

RB4011 #1 <-----> RB4011 #2 <-----> RB4011 #3

is the implementation that you are describing possible? Because from your post I understand that the 2 additional routers should connect directly to a central one. Or I am getting it wrong? (Please excuse my ignorance.)

If it is possible, how should I setup exactly the 3 routers so I can achieve what you managed to do?

Re: Wi-Fi Roaming for the RB4011 Series

Posted: Thu Dec 20, 2018 10:03 pm
by Quindor
Thank you all so much for your replies!

@Quindor: If the setup is like a daisy-chain, for example like this:

RB4011 #1 <-----> RB4011 #2 <-----> RB4011 #3

is the implementation that you are describing possible? Because from your post I understand that the 2 additional routers should connect directly to a central one. Or I am getting it wrong? (Please excuse my ignorance.)

If it is possible, how should I setup exactly the 3 routers so I can achieve what you managed to do?
@und3rd06012 yeah sure, that can work, no problem. You can see all the wired ports as separate devices from the wireless in those devices. So wired could be switched and wireless can be tunneled or whatever you'd like really! We are talking about connecting them by cable right? Wirelessly uplink is a bad idea if there is any possible chance of preventing that scenario.

Anyway, assuming you are using cabled connections, either from a central location or daisy chained like you show above, you can setup a CAPsMAN setup which will make it so that you only have configure the wireless networks you want once and all the devices will get the same settings and make it roam well, etc.

Now about setting it all up, that's a bit much to go over in a topic like this. Check to see if there are videos online. Mikrotik also have a lot of helpful Wiki articles about it. In the end, and that's how I mostly figure it out too is by just playing with it trying to understand how it works. :)