Migrating to 6GHz – Cisco Blogs

With greater than 18 billion units in use and 4.2 billion extra to be transport in 2022, the sheer measurement of current Wi-Fi deployments worldwide is simply mind-boggling. In view of the brand new Wi-Fi 6E and 6GHz adoption push, it’s important to guage what are the very best methods to do a migration from current Cisco on-prem legacy networks into the brand new world of 6GHz deployments.

For Cisco Enterprise prospects, there are a number of points that have to be evaluated for any profitable migration planning:

  • Current controller kind:

    • is it AireOS?
    • Mannequin? (Mainly, can it  run 8.5 or 8.10?)
    • is it IRCM succesful (2504/wism2 can’t do mobility to 9800)

  • Entry level Stock:

    • Are there any 802.11n fashions nonetheless in use? (per instance, 2600, 3600, 1520, 1600, and many others)
    • Are there any Wave1 APs? (final era of IOS, per instance 1700, 2700, 3700)
    • Mesh deployments?

  • PoE help:

    • What’s the most supported energy customary? (802.3bt, 802.3at, and many others)
    • Any energy budged constraints per port?
    • Or APs are powered by energy injectors?

  • Present 5GHz TX energy

    • Is my community working on common at energy degree 3-4?
    • or it’s round 1-2?

6GHz adoption is just supported within the Catalyst 9800 IOS-XE controllers, working 17.7 or greater. This imposes some extra issues both on controller kind migration, or about legacy entry factors that will have to both be migrated, or supported by way of Inter Launch Controller Mobility (IRCM) options

Legacy APs
Determine 1. Legacy APs

Legacy Entry Factors

Through the years, it has all the time been potential to do co-existence of earlier generations of entry factors with the newly launched fashions, making certain each clean community upgrades and capability growth. Including new APs is generally not a problem till we hit the state of affairs of inter-generation gaps.

If a community that for any purpose continues to be working units 2 generations away (for instance, a 2602 AP), and now wants to incorporate new 802.11ax fashions (for instance 9130)  or soar to the  9136  for 6GHz help, this may want extra advanced migration paths, than merely including entry factors.

When there are a number of era gaps, if the legacy controllers can help IRCM to the IOS-XE 9800,  it’s completely potential to design a migration plan, with out the necessity to do a “forklift” set up.  This may guarantee little or no ache to customers, and maintain the community working till every thing is migrated to the brand new {hardware} and requirements

Within the following desk, we are able to see a abstract of software program help ranges and migration choices for many entry factors fashions from 11n era fashions:


Mannequin/Collection Final AireOS Assist IOS-XE help IOS-XE AP equal Migration Notes
700/700W Collection 8.10 Not supported 9105 Migration by way of IRCM
1040 8.3 Not supported 9115 AP must be changed
1260 8.3 Not supported 9115 AP must be changed
1600 8.5 Not supported 9115 Both 8.5 IRCM, or {Hardware} changed
1700 8.10 17.3 9115 Migration by way of IRCM
2700 8.10 17.3 9120 Migration by way of IRCM
3700 8.10 17.3 9130 Migration by way of IRCM
1810/1810W 8.10 As much as 17.3 9105 {Hardware} changed or IRCM between IOS-XE variations
1830/1840/1850 8.10 Supported 9105 Instantly supported
AP802/AP802H 8.5 Not Supported ISR10xx Migration by way of IRCM
2600 8.5 Not Supported 9120 Migration by way of IRCM
2800/3800/4800 8.10 Supported   Instantly supported
1540 8.10 Supported   Instantly supported
1550 8.5 Not supported   Migration by way of IRCM
1560 8.10 Supported   Instantly supported
1570 8.10 As much as 17.3   Migration by way of IRCM

For a whole record, you may test the Cisco Wi-fi Options Software program Compatibility Matrix, alternatively, you may run the Wi-fi Config Analyzer Categorical, to test your migration readiness


AP Migration Decision Flow
Determine 2. AP Migration Determination Move

AireOS 5508
Determine 3. Legacy Controller

Legacy Controllers

Relying on the prevailing controller kind, the migration might take totally different paths. Some situations shall be easy, permitting a clean transition. Others might have extra steps to efficiently migrate right into a Wi-Fi 6E community

What to anticipate:

  • “Era 1” controllers: 5508, 8510. They will help as much as 8.5 AireOS model, which can permit mobility situations between them and new IOS-XE 9800 controllers (Inter-release Controller Mobility, IRCM help).  Additionally, they may help  each IOS and AP-COS entry factors, from 1700 to 3800 fashions (Wave1, Wave2 802.11ac )
  • “Era 2” controllers: 5520, 8540, 3504 . All of those can help as much as 8.10 AireOS, additionally permitting IRCM situations with 9800. AP help will moreover embrace 802.11ax fashions, like the brand new Catalyst 9105, 9120, and 9130. and many others.
  • “Era 1” controllers with out IRCM: 2504, WiSM2, vWLC, 7510. No mobility is feasible between them and IOS-XE, so extra steps with totally different migration situations are wanted


Controller Migration Decision Flow
Determine 4. Controller Migration Determination Move

Migration Situations

Generally, we should always attempt to migrate “per RF blocks”, defining it as a roaming space or area the place purchasers can transfer usually between entry factors, earlier than hitting idle timeout. Mainly, transfer these RF blocks utterly, into the brand new APs, and IOS-XE controllers. For instance, both transfer a constructing or an entire flooring into the brand new {hardware} and software program.  We must always keep away from “salt & pepper” deployments, mixing APs on totally different controllers on the identical time. Not as a result of it isn’t supported, however as a result of mobility shall be extra advanced, and it might result in points ultimately (only a drawback prevention motion)

For situations the place it’s inconceivable to interrupt the RF atmosphere into differentiated blocks (for instance a really massive constructing like an airport, or a totally open house workplace), we must both arrange synthetic boundaries primarily based on roaming frequency and utilization or do a forklift improve

Example of RF area/building migration
Determine 5. Instance of RF space/constructing migration

What occurs if the AP mannequin shouldn’t be supported in any IRCM model?

This could possibly be the state of affairs of a legacy controller, nonetheless working in 8.3, with some AP fashions that aren’t supported past that model. For instance, the state of affairs of 20 APs of 2700 Collection, and 10 APs of 1042 Collection.

The 1040s will not be supported in 8.5. On this case, the popular choice is to prioritize the substitute of these APs first, transferring the impacted space into 9800 as step one. Typically, prospects have combined fashions throughout a given constructing. For instance, the combo of 2700 and 2600. In these situations, the best choice is to consolidate fashions per supported model, transferring all APs of a given kind collectively, so they’re contained in a particular RF house  with a purpose to facilitate migration in blocks

Situation 1: Legacy Controller helps IRCM

This would be the commonest state of affairs, the place now we have both 8.5  (5508/8510) or 8.10 (5520/3504/8540) AireOS controller.  The migration image will begin with the creation of  IRCM setup between AireOS and 9800 controllers, then both change APs in RF areas connecting them to the brand new controller, permitting mobility to behave when a shopper must roam between legacy and new RF areas.

This methodology permits the sleek coexistence of each controllers, with RF areas migrated as wanted, with none in a single day switchover.

Issues to remember:

  • If the controller is proscribed to eight.5 (5508, 8510), we’ll want a particular IRCM model (, to attach them to IOS-XE
  • Generally, it’s best to separate the RF community into totally different areas, configuring totally different RF group names between the legacy and IOS-XE controllers. This fashion every group can do the very best calculations that their respective model permits. We must always ensure that “Keep away from International AP Interference” is enabled on RRM/DCA configuration (it’s by default)
  • At all times configure the first/secondary controller identify in entry factors. The brand new controllers will reject unsupported APs, but when any AP may work in each controller sorts, this may keep away from APs becoming a member of the flawed one, or flip-flopping between them, till the migration is able to proceed

Situation 2: Legacy Controller not supporting IRCM

If the legacy community is working on a controller mannequin WiSM2, 2504, 7510, vWLC, it isn’t potential to ascertain an IRCM connection between the outdated controller to the brand new 9800 dealing with the 6E APs. This limits considerably the choices which are out there, and it forces a extra aggressive migration course of

Migration alternate options:

  • Preserve the 2 networks separated, and migrate bodily RF areas as new APs are added, changing the outdated ones. No roaming is feasible, and it is extremely essential to maintain shopper VLANs totally different between controllers, to keep away from ARP proxy points between each controllers. Throughout this course of, we should take care on stopping roaming occasions as shopper id, deal with, and many others, shall be misplaced on the change between controller sorts.  For instance, the best state of affairs is to maneuver an entire constructing from one controller to the brand new one, doing a forklift AP substitute in a single day.
  • Keep away from migrations “per flooring”, as in most constructing sorts, it’s regular to see purchasers roaming between APs on totally different flooring
  • Briefly, change the legacy controller with one which helps IRCM

Situation 3: AP is supported as much as 17.3 however not in later variations

This may occur when “Wave1” APs are nonetheless current, for instance, 1700/2700/3700 AP fashions. For one of these migration, it’s potential to maneuver all APs into IOS-XE, with the 17.3 launch, then add a secondary wlc to host the brand new Wi-Fi 6E APs, utilizing 17.9, and set up an IRCM hyperlink between each controllers.

On this feature, it’s potential to do a swish AP substitute from Wave1, into Wi-Fi 6E fashions, all the time attempting to do the know-how migration, per bodily roaming RF space as described (per constructing, flooring, and many others). As soon as all APs are migrated, the 17.3 controllers might be decommissioned

In some situations, the client might deploy a 9800-CL in 17.3 as a brief controller to host the legacy APs

6GHz RF Protection vs 5GHz. AP substitute situations

One widespread dialogue level is: How totally different goes to be the cell protection, in 6GHz, when in comparison with a 5GHz AP?

Individuals will need to take a 5GHz AP and do a 1:1 substitute with a 6GHz supported AP, this will likely appear affordable, however there are some points to think about:

  • As WiFi-6E makes use of a better frequency, the propagation traits are totally different, the sign drops barely quicker in 6 than in 5GHz. The distinction must be round 2 dBm on measurements over the identical distance. Materials absorption shall be totally different as properly.
  • 6GHz has totally different regulatory energy constraints than 5GHz. At present, most deployments shall be utilizing Low Energy APs (for simplicity sake’s, let’s say 24dBm in FCC, 23 dBm in ETSI). Which means that relying on the present community AP radio’s energy ranges,  utilizing 6GHz might end in a barely decrease energy output

Rule of thumb:

  • In case your energy degree common is round 3-4, it’s potential to do a 1:1 AP substitute, and have an identical protection degree in 5 and 6 GHz
  • If the facility degree is in 1-2, then chances are you’ll want round 10 to twenty% extra entry factors

The simplest approach to know the common energy degree per web site is to make use of WCAE instrument and test the “Channel Stats 5GHz” tab. This may current a abstract per channel, both at controller, or web site tag degree, of the common energy ranges (amongst different data).  For instance, this can be a community the place migration to 6GHz might have extra entry factors:


Example of site with low 5GHz coverage
Determine 6. Instance of web site with low 5GHz protection

Versus this different one, the place the deployment is working on low energy, so becoming with out points into 6GHz necessities:


Example of site with good  5GHz coverage
Determine 7. Instance of web site with good 5GHz protection

If you happen to use the most recent model (0.9.11) of WCAE, you may also get a “6GHz predictive” view of how the facility distribution, Close by relationships, and RSSI for purchasers would look, should you changed your present APs with 6GHz succesful {hardware}. The instrument will match ETSI or FCC regulatory necessities, adapting powers and variations as wanted. That is helpful to get a style of how the community would look, doing a direct migration, with out including any APs.

6GHz  Predictive RRM modeling
Determine 8. 6GHz Predictive RRM modeling

For advanced or demanding deployment situations, the advice will all the time be: do a web site survey


For common data on Wi-Fi 6E merchandise


Further Assets

For 6GHz troubleshooting and modeling instrument go to WCAE







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