RF Assessment When Upgrading

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RF Assessment When Upgrading

This is with regard to Meraki, BUT it can apply to any wireless deployment...


IHAC who has Meraki MR32 APs in their environment and they want to replace them with MR57 APs. Now, there is a world of difference between the two... 2x2:2 vs 4x4x4 (MR57) 1GHz ports vs 5GHz ports... .11ac vs WiFi-6E... etc...


My view is that an RF assessment should be done to ensure that these APs are deployed judiciously and in a way that provides the correct RF coverage, doesn't overlap with existing MR32 channels, etc. I would also think that fewer MR57s would be needed to cover the same area that the MR32s are covering today (same room/space). Seems like a BAD idea to just rip out an MR32 and replace it with an MR57 willy nilly... no?


Am I correct in my thinking?  

6 Replies 6
Kind of a big deal
Kind of a big deal

You’re correct. Upgrading from Meraki MR32 APs to MR57 APs is not just a simple swap due to the significant differences in their capabilities. The MR57, with its 4x4:4 MIMO, 5GHz ports, and WiFi-6E support, is a much more powerful device compared to the MR32.


Performing an RF assessment before deployment is indeed a good practice. This can help ensure that the new APs provide the correct RF coverage and don’t overlap with existing channels. It’s also important to consider the placement of the new APs. While the MR57s are more powerful and could potentially cover a larger area, the actual coverage will depend on factors like the physical layout of the space, the number of devices connecting to each AP, and the types of applications being used.


Simply replacing an MR32 with an MR57 without considering these factors could lead to issues like co-channel interference, inadequate coverage in some areas, or even too much coverage in others, which could cause unnecessary roaming.

I am not a Cisco Meraki employee. My suggestions are based on documentation of Meraki best practices and day-to-day experience.

Please, if this post was useful, leave your kudos and mark it as solved.
New here

Alessandro, you and I are on the same page. Thank you. I will give you the "acceptance" for the solution, but not right now because I would like to hear other opinions.


       - Planning to use 6E requires additional survey(s) targeted to that band , 



Kind of a big deal
Kind of a big deal

To be honest, in my opinion, the main differences between AP models from Meraki are performance and capacity related.  A CW9166 doesn't necessarily serve a bigger area than an MR32 and if there is a difference in the two it could be that it serves a smaller area as the higher density features actually lower the maximum broadcast strength.


 If the original wireless network was low density, then a modern low density model should be fairly like for like, but if they were placed to cope with a medium to high density of clients then you really would want to start again as @alemabrahao said.


Having said that, we usually do just replace in the same place as in a lot of areas we cannot damage the finishes any more.  If it doesn't quite work as expected we infill with an additional, but we hardly ever need to do that.

A model citizen

Model it in Ekahau or Hamina. Layout the concerns, validate validate validate, Perform post install assessments and make changes as needed. Some are easy, some not so much.....

Kind of a big deal
Kind of a big deal

Personally, I need more information to come to a conclusion.


A new wireless site survey costs money.  Additionally, there needs to be a budget for any new cabling they may be required to place APs into any new positions.


I can't see any case where upgrading from MR32s to MR57s will result in worse coverage.  If the number of APs is small, and if there is not a willingness to pay for any additional cabling that is likely to be required to relocate APs, then it doesn't make financial sense to get that site survey done.


>doesn't overlap with existing MR32 channels, etc


You said the MR32s were being replaced ... personally, I think it is a waste of time to use a wireless site survey for channel planning - indeed I think it often makes the operating environment worse.  A channel plan is done at a specific point in time.  Dynamic allocation can respond to changes in the environment.  And now you have the new AI channel planning
https://documentation.meraki.com/MR/Radio_Settings/AI_Powered_Auto_RF .



Overall, I have very little concern over this change apart from the financial cost.

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