tec Tip Videos

Understand the Shift to -B Domain Cisco Wireless Access Points

This video discusses how the FCC regulation FCC14-30A1 has impacted the shift to -B domain Cisco wireless switches.

It highlights the changes and how they could impact your wireless infrastructure:

  • Several new frequencies (UNII Band 1 5150-5250 MHz) and channels now allowed for outdoor use
  • That same UNII 1 Band now increased to 1W of power (with restrictions on outdoor use)
  • Terminal Doppler Bands now available with new DFS requirements (DFS lets wireless exist around emergency/military radio without interfering)
  • New power and emission requirements for the UNII 3 Band (5.725-5.85 GHz)

Transcription

Today we're talking about the -B domain. In particular, the FCC regulation that was introduced to us last year, June 2, 2016. By now, I'm sure many of you are already familiar with it. It's probably bitten you in one way or another. Either affected your personal network or something that you've had a question on. And hopefully we can clear the air a little bit today.

Like I mentioned, FCC regulation. This is the actual one you can look up: FCC14-30A1 where it will actually spell out everything that's contained within the regulation and the restrictions or decisions that were made based on those regulations and what the FCC wanted to do to change things.

Cisco was then forced, based on this regulation, to shift from -A to -B, as we know. So what is the deal with - B? What does it mean? What does it mean to our networks? To us? To the performance?

Well, we're going to cover some of that today. I have these laid out. There's four major ways in which -B changes the game. The first being the UNII1 band is adding four channels. Okay, simple enough. But opening up some expandability. UNII1 band is also increasing its power output by one watt. That's indoor, outdoor and point-to-point communications.

In addition, Terminal Doppler bands, they're adding three channels. So for all of these things have been additions or increases, but in the UNII3 band there's a whole bunch of extra requirements. I encourage you to look up and see what all of those are.

In many cases as things were added and changed or power was increased, there are also restrictions or requirements that are tacked on depending on how you may be using the hardware, or whether or not you're using it outside. Again a lot of what was changed from the -A domain to the -B domain as far as the US is concerned, and I do want to point out that this -B domain is a US only thing, all of those changes really affect the 5 gigahertz radio.

So what does this mean for us? Well, simply there's a couple of things that we need to be aware of. So if we're going to make the transition from -A to -B, or start purchasing -A or -B access points, what kind of effect is that going to have on us?

One of the major things we need to be aware of is the new controller IOS requirements for the -B domain. What Cisco did is, they didn't just give us one version of software. They didn't just say, "Hey 8.3.X is going to be the new requirement." They gave it to us in several flavors. And I have them cited here, at least as a starting point. 8.0.132, 8.2.110, and 8.3.102. Those were the starting software revisions that we would be looking at.

Today, there are higher versions of these trains already available that you can move to. Where they've either tweaked things or added on some stuff, but I wanted to give you the starting points as a minimum that you needed to have to be able to utilize the -B domain APs.

Loss of compatibility is another major thing to keep an eye on. What I mean by that is, as you up your software levels in your controller, you may have other -A domain APs that are in your network that will no longer work with that software revision. Maybe that software's too high for the AP. While most of the -N access points are good to go, I would say things that are less than that, maybe like the 1230 ones, 1242s, be careful when you start moving up your software, so that you don't knock those APs off of compatibility.

-B and -A APs can coexist, which is good. That's good news, right? So if you do currently have an -A access point network, you can continue to use it, which follows into this last point. There's no forced upgrade. These go hand in hand. You can still use -A domain. There's no restriction for doing that. You just can't buy -A domain APs brand new.

So having these guys coexist is fine. As you start acquiring the -B domain access points you can mix those in if you wish. Or you can just start swapping those out as required.

Hopefully this answers your questions and gives you an idea of some of the things, maybe the pitfalls that we have to watch out for. As always, feel free to give us a call if you need any other information.