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Understanding Cisco 5508 WLC Licensing

Cisco 5508 wireless controller offers AP association quantity support via upgradeable software licenses. 

This is different than other controller models that have ‘hard set’ ap quantity support (NME-WLC, 2100, 4400 and Wism series).   The number of supported access points for non 5508 WLC’s can be inferred from the model number of the corresponding controller.  For example, the AIR-WLC4402-12-K9 supports 12 access points, the AIR-WLC2106-K9 supports 6 access points,  and the NME-AIR-WLC8-K9 supports 8 ap’s.  Wism controllers have two onboard controllers which each support 150 access points, for a total of 300.

You can order Cisco 5500 Series Controllers with support for 12, 25, 50, 100, 250 or 500 access points as the controller's base capacity. You can add additional access point capacity through capacity adder licenses available at 25, 50, 100 and 250 access point capacities. You can add the capacity adder licenses to any base license in any combination to arrive at the maximum capacity of 500 access points. The base and adder licenses are supported through both rehosting and RMAs.

Key points to be aware of

·         Support for 500 access point licenses is a new feature and requires WLC code 7.0.98:

·         Before 6.0.196, licenses were separated in to BASE and PLUS types.

With 6.0.196 and all later code (including 7.0 releases), All features included in a Wireless LAN Controller Wplus license are now included in the base license.

·         5508’s are shipped with both permanent and evaluation base and base-ap-count licenses that expire after 60 days.


1)      Q: How do I obtain a 5508 license?

A: Licenses may be purchased through Cisco or your Cisco reseller

2)      Q:  How do I install a new 5508 license?

A:  The license file must first be downloaded to a TFTP server that the 5508 can reach via IP.  Once this has been done, refer to the following URL for the remaining steps:

3)      Q: How do I view the current license status of a 5508?

A: Via the controller’s GUI interface, Choose Management > Software Activation > Licenses

4)      Q: I’ve just received a replacement/RMA 5508 for a failed unit.  How do I transfer the license to the new 5508?

A: Replacement 5508’s come preinstalled with the following licenses: permanent base and evaluation base, base-ap-count, which are valid for 60 days.  Within 60 days you’ll need to register the existing license for the new 5508.

Have the following information available:

1)      Product ID, which will always be: AIR-CT5508-CA-K9

2)      Serial  number of the failed/old 5508

3)      Return Material Authorization (RMA) Number provided with replacement 5508

Once you have the above information ready, access the following URL to submit the request to have the license reassigned:

Select  “Cisco 5500 Series Wireless Controllers” then click ‘Goto RMA Portal’

Enter the requested information along with the security word authenticator and click ‘Continue’ (Serial and RMA numbers below are for display only):

licensing screen shot.bmp

Follow the remaining prompts, and the rehosted license will be emailed to you, usually within an hour.

Procedure from 7.0.98 configuration guide: