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Cisco Mobility Express

Cisco Mobility Express

Cisco Mobility Express

Cisco Mobility Express is a small to medium sized Wi-Fi solution which can be deployed in just under 20 minutes. In this episode, I talk about my what Cisco Mobility Express entails and how I configured a couple of Cisco 1800 series access points.

Other access points that can be controllers with Cisco Mobility Express include the 2800 and 3800 series access points. This is a special image and not the lightweight images we typically use with the larger controller based models. What’s so special with Cisco Mobility Express is there is a built-in controller. This AP can serve wireless clients and function as a controller to manage up to 25 access points and 500 clients.


Deploying a Cisco Mobility Express controller can be completed in under 20 minutes. After completing the boot up process, a new SSID, CiscoAirProvision, will be enabled. It can be joined using your desktop/laptop computer or with an app, CiscoWireless.

For testing purposes I used the app on my iPhone which was surprisingly simple.

It’s only 5 steps:

  1. Configure an admin account
  2. Setup the controller – System name, management IP address, etc.
  3. Configure wireless networks
  4. Set up RF Parameter Optimization
  5. Confirm and Reboot

Reminder: Configure your switch port properly! If you’re tagging multiple VLANs for your wireless networks, be sure to configure trunk ports to the access point.

A controller can function as one single controller but for redundancy, each Cisco Mobility Express AP (1800,2800,3800 series) can be redundant to each other. But if you want to statically configure a primary and secondary controller, you can do so using the CLI.

The election of a controller happens in one of three ways:

  • User defined
  • Least client load
  • Lowest MAC address

All of your advanced troubleshooting will be done using the CLI as well.

Within the web interface, to manage the controller, you have the ability to modify the configuration such as radio policies for your SSID, VLAN tags for an SSID and advanced settings such as channels, channel widths, and transmit power.

Monitoring will yield statistics on access points and individual wireless clients.

You can view access point statistics such as:

  • Channel utilization
  • Interference
  • Configured data rates
  • Throughput
  • Noise
  • Current transmit power

Client statistics collected include:

  • MAC address
  • Uptime
  • Current SSID connected to
  • Signal strength
  • Basic client capabilities

In addition to the statistics above, you can view the top applications used by each client and on the network.

Useful Commands

To get to ap level from controller:


To get back to controller cli from ap cisco shell:


Troubleshooting AP join issues from controller:

debug capwap events enable

More detail:

debug capwap detail enable

View errors:

debug capwap errors enable

What you can configure via the AP:

Set static IP address:

capwap ap ip <ip-address> <subnet mask> <default-gateway>

Configure static controller IP:

capwap ap primary-base <controller-name> <ip-address>

Setup a primary and secondary AP for controller:

config ap priority 4 <ap>
config ap priority 3 <ap>

Links and Resources

15 Wi-Fi Blogs To Read via Network Computing

Are there any other blogs missing from this list? One I can think of is

Interference sources on the Wi-Fi Network via Netscout

Cisco to dismiss up to 5500 employees or 7% of their workforce via Arstechnica

How To Deploy Cisco Mobility Express via Packet6

Troubleshoot AP Joining Issues via Packet6

Cisco Mobility Express Deployment Guide via Cisco

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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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  • Hi Rowell,

    Which AP did you used?
    I’m trying in a 3800 which I’ve converted into controller capable with the command
    AP#ap-type mobility-express tftp://AIR-AP3800-K9-ME-8-3-102-0.tar

    After the reboot the AP changed to ME Capable:


    It seems everything is ok:

    Enabling Controller Provisioning
    Configuring management interface
    Enabling mgmt via wireless
    Enabling Provisioning SSID
    SSID: CiscoAirProvision, Admin Status: 1, Interface Name: management, 802.11 Auth: WPA2-PSK, Wi-Fi Protected Access : Enabled

    (Cisco Controller)

    Cisco Aironet 3800 Series Mobility Express
    Welcome to the Cisco Wizard Configuration Tool
    Use the ‘-‘ character to backup

    Would you like to terminate autoinstall? [yes]:

    But I there isn’t any CiscoAirProvision SSID propagated….
    Any thoughts?


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