Does my router hardware need to support 802.11s?


I'm not sure this is the best forum for this question. Please feel free to move it if it's not.

I would like to start experimenting with mesh technology. I already have Asus routers running FreshTomato, an RT-AC68U, and an RT-AC1900P. Both are supported by OpenWRT.

However, if I want to try OpenWRT for its mesh features, is that something that's available to most hardware with adequate CPU/RAM/storage, or does 802.11s have to be specifically supported in hardware?

IOW, can I get 802.11s running on these Asus routers?


See the table of hardware entry for this device

WiFi for the AC68U is completely unsupported!

seems like it is supported kinda by accident... you can use this at your own risk.

And to answer your other question:

As long as the wifi chipset is properly supported, 802.11s is just a software thing (assuming adequate ram and flash storage). That said, it is usually best to use a device with 3 radios so that one can be the mesh backhaul.

Keep in mind that mesh is specifically about wireless backhaul and it is not required for clients to roam across multiple APs. It will almost always be lower performance and more likely to experience issues than a wired backhaul situation, so if you have a wired backbone, stick with that and don't bother with mesh (unless it is for educational purposes or deployment in locations that do not have wired options for the APs).

What makes you believe that? Did you check the device pages (RT-AC68U, nothing at all about RT-AC1900P) for your routers?

Both devices come with BCM4360 radios, which can be considered completely unsupported, even for plain normal things (before even thinking about 'mesh'); yes, we have b43, no, that does not count as 'supported' for a 802.11ac radio.

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Thanks. Well, that's disappointing. I guess I was dead wrong. I don't understanding coding at all. Would you be able to explain why the driver is available for FreshTomato and DD-WRT but not OpenWRT? Again, not trying to be snide, just want to understand.

And...if I wanted to buy another Asus model that was supported, what might you recommend for something to perform 802.11s duties?

It's a "supply chain" thing, mostly. Certainly DD-WRT, maybe FT, had arragements with Broadcom that gave them access to the closed-source/propriatary drivers required for properly supporting the chipset. Since the code is not open source, it is not part of OpenWrt. It's unfortunate that Broadcom didn't open-source that code, but it was their decision for whatever reason to keep it closed.

Use the table of hardware and do your research. And don't necessarily limit yourself to Asus hardware.

Like I said before, one with 3 radios is best (often a 2.4 and then 2x 5GHz radios so one 5G radio can be dedicated to the 802.11s link).

Thanks. Can 2 radios be just as effective if I don't need high speed on my local WiFi? Or will it be a big bottleneck if I do that, because mesh is so much slower?

2 radios will force bottleneck... either one radio gets tasked for both the uplink mesh and AP mode operation, or one or the other is dedicated to the link, leaving the other for AP mode. Either way, this means that your max theoretical performance is limited to the 2.4G radio's throughput one way or the other.

You mean typical 2.4 GHz speeds? If so, I could live with that, at least for now. Or are you talking about speeds being limited to speeds much lower than that. In general, the most bandwidth I use is to play a 1080P video, maybe 10 MB/s max.

So, I watched OneMarcFifty's videos on Youtube, and it seems like the Dlink DIR-2660 appears to be a solid contender. It seems to check out in okay the hardware compatibility list.

Is there anything not in the list that I should watch out for with that model?Also, I'm not clear how to tell if it will only take a snapshot or a...sorry, what do you call a regular build (not a snapshot)?

On a separate note, sometimes, when I type text into the text box here for editing, no cursor is showing up. Makes it very hard to edit. Is this a known issue with the site?

The DIR-2660 A1 is capable of running the latest OpenWrt version as of this writing:

No known issue with the site. Check your computer/mobile device and/or your browser.

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Thank you for that.
Do you know if the DIR-2660 has removeable antennas?

Have you checked the manufacturer website?

Yes. There's so little info. there it's shameful.

Typically, if it doesn't say removable, they probably aren't.

Why do you ask? Do you want them to be removable? In most cases, it's best to use fixed antennas that are part of the design of the device -- this allows the radios to be precisely tuned and calibrated for the exact positions of the antennas, It is only in specific/special cases that it detachable antennas are useful and better than fixed.

Well, it basically means you have no option at all if you need a higher gain and/or directional antenna. 5dBi isn't even realy 5dbi when tested. And it's omni, so you have zero choice in that too.

What is your application? If it's a normal router for inside the home, that's typically the best configuration -- the multiple antennas (with known relationships) can handle multiple streams and have generally high performance. If you are running this outdoors or in a situation where you do really need a truly directional antenna, you should look specifically for products that fit that profile. Select the best tool for the job -- putting a device with a compromised antenna arrangement (to provide 'flexibility' for some later use/application) will typically result in a poor overall expereince when the need is for a more general indoor performance oriented solutoin.

I'd like to experiment with mesh configurations, with neighbours outside my place. Performance is not a big concern. But thanks.