Seamless transfer access points

I’m looking for a wireless access point that will do seamless transfer without spending the money on a controller or being cloud managed. Anybody know of one?

I was looking at the Netgear WAC730, but it looks like seamless transfer doesn’t work with their “Ensemble mode” and is only supported via cloud managed or controller managed. The controller cost an additional $800+ and doesn’t seem worth it for 2 APs.

I looked at the Ubiquiti AP-AC-PRO, but I don’t really want cloud managed and some of the reviews I’ve seen said you couldn’t setup the access point without agreeing to their data collection.

I’m looking at changing to pfsense for the firewall. Could pfsense manage the APs for seamless transfer? I’m guessing no, but I’m pretty new to pfsense.

I may end up just setting 2 APs with the same SSID & authentication but different channels and dealing with the connection hop issues.

More usage details:

Home use application, house and workshop.
Workshop is metal sided and it really cuts the house Wifi out.
House is currently on an ageing Zyxel USG20W wireless-n router.
Cat6 run buried in conduit to workshop.
Workshop had a really old linksys router running as an access point, but it died this week.

Main reason for wanting seamless transfer: I would like video calls to not stutter when moving from one location to the other.

A newer access point may be able to cover both if they have a lot better range (maybe attach external antennas to the WAC730?), but I’m not confident due to walls, metal siding, etc. So I’d like the new access point to be capable of seamless transfer if possible.

Mesh networking usually requires higher end equipment.

What’s your budget?

There was an update to the 802.11ac standard called 802.11s which would allow some ac devices to transfer clients seamlessly. Your client has to be ac though.

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How high end are we talking?

Budget? $400 would be on the high side. $800 up would probably be a non-starter. In between is kinda grey, if there is a compelling reason for the cost…

I’ve seen “mesh” refer to wireless communication between APs. I’m just looking for 2 APs that work together, any communication would be over wired. Its unlikely the APs would talk to eachother reliably over wireless or I wouldn’t really need 2.

Then you want mesh

the APs should communicate with eachother to make it work. What kind of capability will the client have?

I’d have to look at all the devices. Off the top of my head…

Devices that stay in 1 area (shop or house), probably 11n 2.4GHz (IoT, laptop)

Devices that move and I want to transfer seamlessly: 11ac 2.4/5 (smart phones)

I have these at my house

They can be configured to an AP only mode and work fairly well.

If you want seamless then you want mesh. Theres a few ways to tacle mesh. Communication can be over ethernet or wifi but the communication between access points has to take place no matter what.

Ubiquiti also has some mesh products if you wanted to go more enterprise. UniFi APs can be used in conjunction with a pfsense router. The enterprise side can mesh devices which dont really support it, while the home gamer stuff mainly only works well with AC devices. N can work too but i’ve had hit or miss experiences with that. Some devices also tend to hold on to the AP for longer than they should.

Those tp links are nice but the ubiquiti is a safe bet… of course that safe bet is probably pushing your $400 budget depending on what you use for a router.

Ethernet backhaul - that’s what I was looking for!

Looks like I’ve got some reading to do. I’d also like to isolate the IoT devices probably via vlan.

From what I’m seeing you can do that with the TP links.

Back to reading…

I only use the ones I linked as APs and then I have a separate linksys wrt1900acs that does vlans if I want it to. Theres a ton of ways to skin this cat.

Seamless client transfer works without mesh, see 802.11r.

On devices that support 802.11r, which is becoming more common.
There are a couple other standards for client device supporting seamless transfer (802.11k and v?).

I found this:

You can install the unifi controller software on your pfsense box and use the unifi software to control the ubiquiti access points. I tried playing with it in a VM last night. Got pfsense and the unifi controller software installed, but I haven’t been able to access the web configuration - I’ll work on it more tonight.

Openwrt will easily do 802.11r these days.

That’s what I was just reading. and they are adding 802.11k and v support. There is even a guy that wrote a script to read the device’s signal strength and suggest it to roam when the signal got low. I’m going to try playing with openwrt now.

I got pfsense running with the unifi controller, it was a dependency issue. The install script is outdated for the newer version of pfsense. The main thing that concerns me with that solution is their terms of service for the unifi system.

EDIT: Here is the thread on the openwrt forums that has some info on the 11k and v support:

It obviously requires client support of the protocol, but it allows for a more seamless transition where the support is available.
From what I gather, even on a high end enterprise solution a client without k,v,or r support will have a delay while it re-establishes connection when the wireless network controller decides it needs to hop APs.