The Meraki MR58 is one of the industry’s first 802.11n outdoor access points and also one of the only economical multi-radio solutions. It is a unique product, and we get a lot of questions from customers about how best to deploy it to take full advantage of its capabilities. With 3 high speed 802.11n MIMO radios on 3 different frequencies the MR58 has unparalleled flexibility to replace old “single use” hardware platforms.
As the “Veg-O-matic” of access points (It slices, it dices, it minces, it juliennes, it makes French Fries!), the MR58 is a powerful tool for solving all kinds of network deployment challenges.
3 things to remember about the MR58
1. There are three radios in the MR58. One (R3) always operates in a 2.4Ghz channel. The other two (R1 and R2) always operate in different 5Ghz channels.
2. Channels are selected automatically. If the MR58 is a deployed as a repeater (is not connected directly to the Internet), it will find a strong uplink on any radio and hold that channel. The other radios will pick channels depending on the default settings in dashboard.
3. Each radio requires 2 antennas, or a dual-feed MIMO antenna. Both antennas should cover the same area and have the same strength/type. The best coverage and connection signal strength will come from having the same coverage area and orthogonal polarizations.
3 types of deployments that the MR58 is great for:
1. High Client-Density Networks
When deployed as a gateway (with its own dedicated internet connection) the MR58 can move client traffic on all of its radios. With band steering enabled on Dashboard, client devices capable of 5 GHz operation will jump to those radios automatically. With all three radios aimed at the same coverage area, hundreds of users can connect simultaneously. Even in a network with some MR58 repeaters, the additional bandwidth available in 5 GHz because of the third radio means that mesh connections will not distract in any way from providing full bandwidth to the user community. For example, at a GigaOm conference earlier this year we had over 100 simultaneous user on a single device with zero hiccups.
2. Large Area Networks
For good client coverage over spread out areas like a school/corporate campus or a city district, each of the radios can be put to specific use. One of the 5 GHz radios can be paired with directional antennas that specifically point toward the system gateway. The other 5 GHz radio should use the standard omni-directional antennas to provide a balance between good 5 GHz client coverage and strong meshing. The more MR58’s that can see each other on the “extra” 5 GHz radio, the better failover and localized interference rejection will work. Finally, the 2.4 GHz radio should be pointed at the area where clients are expected to be. This can be done with omni antennas, omni antennas designed with down-tilt for ground level coverage, or a weak sector antenna with aimed wide angle coverage.
3. Long Distance Point to Point Bridges
A set of MR58s can be used to create a long distance “bridge” or a repeating series of long distance links. Using two high gain directional antennas, links of up to 20 Kilometers can be created. For links longer than 20 km or that require higher speeds (shorter, stronger paths), 2 sets of directional antennas can be used to create a full speed mesh relay. The remaining radio can be used for client coverage, local mesh links, or an additional long distance link. Either the 2.4 GHz radio or the 5 GHz radios can be used for the creation of a long distance link. 2.4 GHz will work better at extreme distances (15-20Km); 5 GHz links have an advantage in environments that have a lot of 2.4Ghz noise, like cities or areas with overlapping networks of coverage. For information on link distances, see our range calculator tool.
We hope that this MR58 “primer” is helpful in figuring out how to get the most out of your Meraki network!
-Posted by Morgan Teachworth