I am looking for some advice or tips on how to optimize my WIFI access points.
I have a Raspberry Pi 4 running OpenWrt 22.03.3 as my main router and 2x Unifi U6 Lite AP’s running OpenWrt 22.03.3 also with WPA2/WPA3, connected to an 8-port Gb switch.
Everything is working fine, but I was wondering about other options like fast roaming or band steering, automatic channel selection, etc…
What are the best practices/ optimizations to consider when using 2 dumb WiFi AP’s?
My advice is the following:
- It can be useful to run a wifi scan to determine the best (i.e. least congested) channels before starting your channel assignments.
- Manually set the channels such that no neighboring APs use overlapping channels.
- On 2.4G, use channels 1, 6, 11 (if you are in North America), don’t use the other channels (i.e. 2-5, 7-10)
- On 5G, avoid DFS channels.
- Manually set the power levels to the minimum necessary to cover the desired area, while minimizing the overlap region between your APs. This will help encourage roaming.
All of the above is important for the ‘first principles’ configuration to optimize your network. With this done properly, you may find that the roaming is nearly seamless.
IMO, 802.11k/r/v may actually cause more issues that it resolves, but it entirely depends on the client device in use. There are many devices that simply don’t play nice with these standards (even when they claim to support them). Of course, the intent of the standards is to improve the roaming experience, so if you would like to set those up, do it after the standard roaming is working well.
I like this video from Crosstalk Solutions as an explainer of the basic tuning steps.
I'll let other people speak to fast roaming. Not my area of expertise. I've never used it because I've never needed it. I've never had a home so large that wasn't well served by one main device. I use my secondary device only as client bridge in my office where it connects to my 5GHz "backbone" with a better connection than any device can get. That is more because my laptop doesn't have AX and it does have gigabit ethernet.
Both of these things are best done manually.
The whole paradigm of band steering is best done by device management. Put devices where high-performance isn't necessary on 2.4GHz. Smart TVs, ROKUs, printers, that sort of thing. They can all be relegated to 2.4GHz. Save 5GHz for the devices that matter, like your laptop you are streaming torrents to.
And I have yet to find an ACS algorithm that works well. One big issue with ACS is that the routers aren't necessarily well placed to see interference that the devices on the periphery can see. Generally a good wi-fi scanning app is your best friend. This way you can roam the peripheries and see what channels may be interfering better than the router can.
I watched the video from Crosstalk solutions and implemented the recommendations.
I tried Fast roaming but noticed some android devices don't like it, so I will leave it disabled.
I guess I don't really need to change anything else now, seems good so far.
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