• I've seen many articles describing thin APs which are controlled by a wireless switch/controller. My question is: Is this wireless switch really wireless? In other words is it connected to the thin APs wirelessly or wired? Is it just called a wireless switch because it's controlling wireless devices?


  • No, the switch itself is not wireless.   It connects to its  AP's via some sort of physical (wired) connection.

    And yes it's called a wireless switch becasue it's controlling wireless AP's.    The switch and the AP's are  manufactured by the same company.  

    It seems to me that I've heard of companies selling controllers for multiple Mfg's AP's, but I am not sure of that.   I wouldn't expect especially good performance with such a configuration, although network administration might be a little easier.

  • By Tom Carpenter - edited: December 15, 2012

    Wlanman is correct. Today, wireless switches/controllers connect to APs using a wired connection, usually Ethernet. Now, mesh controllers, of course, may vary from that somewhat and future controllers or "managers" can use wireless communications to push configurations and pull statistics from the APs.

    Today, if it's called a wireless LAN controller or switch and is a dedicated piece of hardware or an expansion module, it is most likely connected to the AP through a wired connection.

    Frames Are Food,

  • Thank you both.

  • From my biased perspective, Xirrus has the closest thing to a wireless switch on the market.  Up to 16 integrated access points on one device with an embedded controller.


  • I supposed if each AP allowed only one client to associate you could get by with calling it a switch :)

    Frames Are Food,

  • It can certainly be configured to do so -- but that would be one expensive network! ;-)


  • I thought I would throw in my 2 cents. 

    We are seeing a convergence in the wireless network to break away from controllers. Companys like Aerohive and others <including cisco> are coming up with controller-less solutions. 
    The cisco controllers have a split mac architecture. This means some MAC is handle at the AP while other is handled at the AP. Controllers are the brains in the controller solution. 

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