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Band Steering with Francois Verges

Band Select settings from the Advanced menu.

Band Steering

What is wireless band steering? Band steering is a method or feature within enterprise access points to sending dual-band stations to the 5 GHz band instead of the 2.4 GHz band.

Band Steering enabled access points delay responses to 2 GHz probe response frames.

Why would you want to enable band steering? The most common reason is to encourage 5 GHz capable stations to leave the congested 2.4 GHz band thus leaving legacy devices behind. The 2.4 GHz band has three non-overlapping channels which provides wireless engineers with a less channels to re-use. The 5 GHz band has 24 non-overlapping channels using 20 MHz channel-widths.

Francois Verges joins me as the special guest on the show to discuss the merits of band steering, why you should use it and also what you should look out for if you do implement this feature.

As I work primarily with Cisco wireless networks, I’ve provided an example of how to configure band steering. Cisco’s terminology for band steering is called Band Select.

I won’t go into the differences between Band Select and Band Steering in this episode. This is simply to show everyone where band steering can be enabled.

To view Cisco WLC Band Select settings:

Band Select settings from the Advanced menu. Cisco Band Select is enabled by default on the Cisco WLC./caption

Band Select is enabled by default on a Cisco WLC. The global settings for Band Select are located at Wireless > Advanced > Band Select.

Enabling Band Select on a WLAN.

Although Band Select is enabled globally on the controller, the setting itself must be enabled on the WLAN.

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Rowell, CWNE #210, is a network engineer in Higher-Ed. He enjoys working with wireless networking technologies and loves to share and engage with the community. You can connect with him on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

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  • If you don’t use the same SSID across both bands, you don’t need band steering. If you use the same SSID across both bands, then clients can roam to/from 2.4GHz, as their driver deems appropriate. 2.4GHz is far dirtier, on average, than 5GHz, which means that the user experience may vary greatly as the client roams. This inconsistent user experience is undesirable in most enterprise environments.

    • Thanks for your insight Devin. User experience should be our top priority when designing wireless networks. Because of that I usually don’t recommend band steering since we have little control over client drivers. One thing I do recommend is turning off more 2.4 GHz radios to “encourage” devices to join 5 GHz. Only testing and verification can really tell what our users experience.

  • Hello Rowell,
    thanks for that podcast and thanks alos to my friend Francois, hope to see him in france soon !! euro soccer is coming 😉
    and congrats rowell for these podcasts, waiting for next…

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