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Migrating to 6GHz – Cisco Blogs

With greater than 18 billion gadgets in use and 4.2 billion extra to be transport in 2022, the sheer dimension 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 judge what are one of the best methods to do a migration from current Cisco on-prem legacy networks into the brand new world of 6GHz deployments.

For Cisco Enterprise clients, there are a number of features that must be evaluated for any profitable migration planning:

  • Present controller sort:

    • 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 assist:

    • 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 operating on common at energy stage 3-4?
    • or it’s round 1-2?

6GHz adoption is simply supported within the Catalyst 9800 IOS-XE controllers, operating 17.7 or increased. This imposes some further concerns both on controller sort migration, or about legacy entry factors which will must both be migrated, or supported by means of Inter Launch Controller Mobility (IRCM) options

Legacy APs
Determine 1. Legacy APs

Legacy Entry Factors

Through the years, it has at all times been doable to do co-existence of earlier generations of entry factors with the newly launched fashions, making certain each easy community upgrades and capability growth. Including new APs is often not a problem till we hit the situation of inter-generation gaps.

If a community that for any cause remains to be operating gadgets 2 generations away (for instance, a 2602 AP), and now wants to incorporate new 802.11ax fashions (for instance 9130)  or leap to the  9136  for 6GHz assist, this can want extra advanced migration paths, than merely including entry factors.

When there are a number of era gaps, if the legacy controllers can assist IRCM to the IOS-XE 9800,  it’s completely doable 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 preserve the community operating till all the pieces is migrated to the brand new {hardware} and requirements

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


Mannequin/Collection Final AireOS Assist IOS-XE assist IOS-XE AP equal Migration Notes
700/700W Collection 8.10 Not supported 9105 Migration by means 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 means of IRCM
2700 8.10 17.3 9120 Migration by means of IRCM
3700 8.10 17.3 9130 Migration by means 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 Straight supported
AP802/AP802H 8.5 Not Supported ISR10xx Migration by means of IRCM
2600 8.5 Not Supported 9120 Migration by means of IRCM
2800/3800/4800 8.10 Supported   Straight supported
1540 8.10 Supported   Straight supported
1550 8.5 Not supported   Migration by means of IRCM
1560 8.10 Supported   Straight supported
1570 8.10 As much as 17.3   Migration by means of IRCM

For an entire record, you possibly can verify the Cisco Wi-fi Options Software program Compatibility Matrix, alternatively, you possibly can run the Wi-fi Config Analyzer Specific, to verify your migration readiness


AP Migration Decision Flow
Determine 2. AP Migration Choice Move

AireOS 5508
Determine 3. Legacy Controller

Legacy Controllers

Relying on the prevailing controller sort, the migration could take totally different paths. Some eventualities will likely be easy, permitting a easy transition. Others might have further steps to efficiently migrate right into a Wi-Fi 6E community

What to anticipate:

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


Controller Migration Decision Flow
Determine 4. Controller Migration Choice Move

Migration Situations

On the whole, we must always attempt to migrate “per RF blocks”, defining it as a roaming space or area the place shoppers can transfer usually between entry factors, earlier than hitting idle timeout. Mainly, transfer these RF blocks fully, into the brand new APs, and IOS-XE controllers. For instance, both transfer a constructing or a whole ground into the brand new {hardware} and software program.  We should always keep away from “salt & pepper” deployments, mixing APs on totally different controllers on the similar time. Not as a result of it’s not supported, however as a result of mobility will likely be extra advanced, and it could result in points eventually (only a drawback prevention motion)

For eventualities the place it’s not possible to interrupt the RF setting into differentiated blocks (for instance a really giant constructing like an airport, or a totally open house workplace), we should 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 just isn’t supported in any IRCM model?

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

The 1040s are usually not 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, clients have combined fashions throughout a given constructing. For instance, the combo of 2700 and 2600. In these eventualities, the most suitable choice is to consolidate fashions per supported model, transferring all APs of a given sort collectively, so they’re contained in a selected RF house  to be able to facilitate migration in blocks

Situation 1: Legacy Controller helps IRCM

This would be the commonest situation, the place we have now 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 consumer must roam between legacy and new RF areas.

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

Issues to bear in mind:

  • If the controller is restricted to eight.5 (5508, 8510), we’ll want a particular IRCM model (, to attach them to IOS-XE
  • On the whole, 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 manner every group can do one of the best calculations that their respective model permits. We should always be sure that “Keep away from Overseas 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 varieties, this can keep away from APs becoming a member of the mistaken 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 operating on a controller mannequin WiSM2, 2504, 7510, vWLC, it’s not doable to determine an IRCM connection between the previous 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 options:

  • Hold the 2 networks separated, and migrate bodily RF areas as new APs are added, changing the previous ones. No roaming is feasible, and it is vitally vital to maintain consumer 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 consumer id, handle, and many others, will likely be misplaced on the change between controller varieties.  For instance, the best situation is to maneuver a whole constructing from one controller to the brand new one, doing a forklift AP substitute in a single day.
  • Keep away from migrations “per ground”, as in most constructing varieties, it’s regular to see shoppers 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 the sort of migration, it’s doable 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 selection, it’s doable to do a sleek AP substitute from Wave1, into Wi-Fi 6E fashions, at all times making an attempt to do the expertise migration, per bodily roaming RF space as described (per constructing, ground, and many others). As soon as all APs are migrated, the 17.3 controllers could be decommissioned

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

6GHz RF Protection vs 5GHz. AP substitute eventualities

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

Folks will wish to take a 5GHz AP and do a 1:1 substitute with a 6GHz supported AP, this will likely appear cheap, however there are some features 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 will likely be totally different as nicely.
  • 6GHz has totally different regulatory energy constraints than 5GHz. At present, most deployments will likely 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 could end in a barely decrease energy output

Rule of thumb:

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

The best option to know the typical energy stage per web site is to make use of WCAE software and verify the “Channel Stats 5GHz” tab. This may current a abstract per channel, both at controller, or web site tag stage, of the typical energy ranges (amongst different info).  For instance, it is a community the place migration to 6GHz might have further 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 operating 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

In case you use the newest 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 shoppers would look, in case you changed your present APs with 6GHz succesful {hardware}. The software 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 eventualities, the advice will at all times be: do a web site survey


For normal info on Wi-Fi 6E merchandise


Extra Assets

For 6GHz troubleshooting and modeling software go to WCAE




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