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How many WLCs can a 3502 register to?



We have a very interesting deployment scenario requiring a very flexible and fluid configuration.  I have 6-10 sites that have a 2100 or 2500 WLC and a 3502 AP directly connected.  I also have quite a few (~20) 3502 APs that move between each of the sites.  When the mobile 3502s move into range of each site, I would like to have them register to whichever WLC is available.  From what we've seen, it looks like an AP can be configured to connect only to 1 primary and 1 backup WLC.  Could the 3502 APs be configured to register and connect to up to 6-10 WLC?

In certain circumstances, we will have more than one WLC on site (as many as 6) temporarily.  I'm planning on using Mobility Groups to allow all of the WLCs to communicate, but we still may have many 3502s coming into and out of the network. 

Can the 2100/2500 WLCs and 3502s do what I'm suggesting above without problems?



7 Replies 7

Leo Laohoo
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You can configure Primary, Secondary and Tertiary WLC.

How many WAPs can a WLC will support depends on the license you've purchased and the model of your WLC.

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Thanks for the reply.  Curiously, and to clarify, you can only configure an AP to connect to up to 3 WLCs, correct? 

If I have 4 physical locations and want a vehicle to be able to roam between those 4 vehicles (connect up to each network as it gets within range), I am out of luck?  I can only connect to up to 3 WLCs, and therefore, only 3 locations.  Is this correct?

Is there any other way to do this?  We actually have the equivalent of more than 6 locations and need individual APs to be able to roam between them and provide mesh connectivity to other APs at or around those locations.

Thanks in advance,


you can only configure an AP to connect to up to 3 WLCs, correct?

You can configure the WAP to CHOOSE which three WLC to connect to and they are in order.  For example, let's presume you have correctly configured your WAP withe the primary, secondary and tertiary controllers.   All of your WLC and WAPs and network is fine so, obviously, the WAP joins the primary controller.  If the primary controller looses contact to the network (broken link, crashed, had a holiday, etc.) the WAP will join the secondary controller and continuously polls the details of the primary controller.

Let's say that the primary controller is still on holidays and the secondary controller has had enough and would like to watch the Kentucky Derby, well that's fine because the tertiary controller is there so the WAP goes to see the tertiary controller and the WAP continuously "polls" the primary and secondary controllers.

So the primary controller comes back from a long vacation and the WAP sees it back online, of course, the WAP goes to join the primary controller and they live happily ever after.  The end.

Is there any other way to do this?  We actually have the equivalent of more than 6 locations and need individual APs to be able to roam between them and provide mesh connectivity to other APs at or around those locations.

I've never done this before but this is achievable.  HOW will the WAP in the vehicle get an IP address?  I'm not sure here but here's how I'd go about testing this (anyone, please feel free to jump in and poke around) but let's say that each site has it's own DHCP scope.  You can configure the scope of each site to have Option 43 enabled each stating the nearest WLC per site.  On the WAP, I'd say leave the primary WLC details blank.

Why not just put a wireless adapter in the vehicles instead of using a access point?

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The above description was about as simple as I could get it, but essentially, we need the mesh connectivity.  The above is actually intended to be done ALL with mobile vehicles of different types.  Some of the mobile vehicles will be full on communications hubs (with Internet access) and others will be simply nodes on a network.  We need the ability to dynamically create mesh networks where the nodes can connect to the comm hubs but also provide connectivity to additional nodes that can't reach back to the comm hubs. 

Sometimes these comm hubs will be deployed on their own, and in other circumstances we will have multiple comm hubs that will be in range of one another or connected to the same mesh network.  Currently, I've figured out how to handle multiple WLCs on the same network (Mobility Groups), multiple DHCP servers, and multiple Call Managers.  We're just trying to determine if we can get the flexibility out of the AP/WLCs that we desire or if certain APs won't be able to connect to certain WLCs.  Sounds like the DHCP option 43 is perhaps the ticket.

Anybody have any additional thoughts?

You could use AP on WGB mode to talk to MAP/RAP/Local mode APs however this wgb can't work as repeater for other infrastructure device like MAP.

AP learns WLC info dynamically through L2 broadcast, L3 mechanism as part of each join process. After AP join it learns other WLCs in the same Mobility group, Primary & Secondary back up controller info configured on that WLC. If primary sec & tertiary configured on that AP is NA then it tries to use previously learnt Primary backup, Secondary backup, as 4th & 5th HA option, after that it will try WLC learnt through Mobility group and previously joined WLC.

WLCs IP info is stored on the AP's nvram.

AP#show capwap client config -- to see all WLCs ip info. have seen 10 WLCs IP listed in there, not sure that's the hardlimit.

I vaguely saw a similar deployment of WAPs but it wasn't controller-based (not in 2006).  It was for the A*******n Customs Services.

They put classified equipment in a vehicle with wireless WAPs and external antenna.  The vehicle roams the international airport and connects to the network that way.  We did the purchasing but we didn't do the configration of the WAPs.  Too many men-in-black along the way and they kept body-frisking me every time we ask questions.

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