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Purchase advice - WLC or Mobility Expres or standalone AP's

Hi folks,

I am trying to balance wireless features vs cost to implement a Cisco Wireless solution across my small office and home network. Any guidance would be welcome.


The current setup is 2 x Cisco 887VA router providing internet access to a Cisco ASA 5510, soon to be 5515-x. The ASA connects to a Cisco 2960 switch in the office and home that have all devices connected via Ethernet or via a standalone AP. 

I am looking to implement a Cisco wireless solution to further develop my Cisco skills in a mini production network as I continue learning through the certification paths. So number of devices is <20 and VLANs in use <10. At present, 2 Access Points provides enough coverage.



Mobility Express - was my first though as the cheapest option for deploying a Master/Client AP and Client AP. This is proving to be expensive because of the limited Master AP models to retain AC wireless, and even up to N Band. Controller based options are much cheaper.

Wireless Controller - My knowledge is limited here and prices vary considerably. Any advice for this route would be appreciated as all I need is to run a few VLANs and include AC wireless. Preferably on a Mesh WLAN. 

Standalone AP - I note there are SAP2602 and SAP3602 (datasheet link doesn't work) and thinking this is the option for me. Connect an AP to each switch.

Catalyst WLC - there are some OS images that allow a 3850 and 3650 to run Wireless AP. This would allow me to pick up a variety of CAP AP versions. Since Cisco removed this features on later OS images, it may not be an option for me, but wondering if there was a reason this was done and thus ignore this possibility.


Essentially I am a sole trader which means I have difficulties purchasing from Cisco partners as I am told that they only deal with commercial. This leaves me to buy online and means I cannot get a support contract and thus, have to be on the ball with what I buy as the device cannot be upgraded. 


Any input on deployment would be appreciated, I am willing to invest in kit to develop knowledge and skills while running my network. There are limits to my resources.





Scott Fella
Hall of Fame Guru

This is my opinion, two great choices that can help you learn and ramp up are either looking at the Cisco 3504 controller and maybe the 9120/9130 access points. The 3504 is AireOS and the 91x0 series access point are the newer ap’s that Cisco makes. The 91x0 can also be used or converted to EWC which allows the ap to also be a controller. IOS-XE is where Cisco is going right now and majority of their investment in the wireless space. AireOS and IOS-XE is both good to know and have hands on experience. I would stay away from Mobility Express and any old stand-alone ap’s. Invest in the EWC access point, look at the 3504 if you want AireOS also, you can switch back and fourth, and if you want a controller, the 9800-L is a small controller that is IOS-XE. You can install the 9800-CL on a VM at home/work which is free and use the 91x0 ap’s. <> <> <>

The 9800-CL and 91x0 would be the way to go if you have a VM, but the EWC is probably your cheapest path. You can always try to also find a 3504 for cheap, but with anything, you need to be able to download images, which require a support contract.
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Thanks Scott, I really appreciate the advice.

I am thinking the 91xx AP route is the best way forward. I was looking at older AP's to reduce costs but an initial look at pricing means the new AP's are probably worth the extra investment. I wasn't aware of the VM option and a useful to run different configurations.

This weeks task is to get quotes now and feeling my budget is going to get stretched with a new ASA and AP


No problem. Depends on really what you want. It’s hard to say... I have equipment at my disposal I use for my home production. I use to have an ISR and an ASA and decided to use a Meraki MX appliance. Just read up and see really what makes sense for you.
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