The access points of a WiFi network are usually connected to the WiFi controller through Ethernet wiring. A wireless mesh eliminates the need for Ethernet wiring by connecting WiFi access points to the controller by radio. For more information about wireless mess configurations, see Wireless mesh configuration.
To set up a WiFi mesh connection, a minimum of three devices are required:
- A FortiGate as the AP Controller (AC)
- A FortiAP as the Mesh Root AP (MRAP)
- A FortiAP as a Mesh Leaf AP (MLAP).
These instructions assume that the Mesh Root AP (MRAP) is already being managed by the AC (see Configuring the FortiGate interface to manage FortiAP units and Discovering, authorizing, and deauthorizing FortiAP units).
To configure the AC:
- Go to WiFi and Switch Controller > SSIDs and create a mesh SSID.
- Go to WiFi and Switch Controller > Managed FortiAPs, edit the MRAP, and assign the mesh SSID to the MRAP, and wait for a connection.
To configure the MLAP:
- On the FortiAP, go to Connectivity.
- Set Uplink to Mesh or Ethernet with mesh backup support.
- Enter a mesh SSID and password.
Optionally, select Ethernet Bridge (see Main uplink).
This option is not available if Uplink is set to Ethernet with mesh backup support.
Once the MLAP has joined the AC, it can be managed in the same way as a wired AP.
A mesh SSID can also be assigned to an MLAP for other downstream MLAPs, creating a multi-hop WiFi mesh network. The maximum hop count has a default value of 4, and can be configured in the FAP console with the following commands:
cfg -a MESH_MAX_HOPS=n
When a mesh link is set as the main uplink of the MLAP, the Ethernet port on the MLAP can be set up as a bridge to the mesh link. This allows downstream wired devices to use the mesh link to connect to the network.
To enable a mesh Ethernet bridge, select Ethernet Bridge in the FortiAP Connectivity section in the GUI, or use the following console commands:
cfg -a MESH_ETH_BRIDGE=1
When a mesh link is set to be the backup link for an Ethernet connection, the mesh link will not be established unless the Ethernet connection goes offline. When a mesh link is in this mode, the Ethernet port cannot be used as a bridge to the mesh link.