Meraki – RF Falsehoods?

I’ve dabbled with Meraki over the years, but I’ve been working almost exclusively with their wireless gear for the past 6 months. It’s safe to say I’ve become very familiar with the Dashboard and everything it has to offer. While some may argue that Meraki is or is not ‘enterprise worthy’ (no comment), overall it is a product that I enjoy working with for its simplicity, but also have come to occasionally want to shake my fist at for its lack of fine tuning that I’m accustom to with Cisco controllers.

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Recently I stumbled across something I found when looking at the RF reporting feature, that made me curious enough to investigate and search for clues.  ❤

I was looking at the RF Spectrum tab that provides a quick % utilization of the 2.4GHz and 5GHz radios per every 10 access points in list format (I’m working with the MR32 model in this post). I noticed AP063 was showing unusually high channel utilization operating on Channel 1, which was odd since there are other access points nearby on Channel 1 (don’t ask, long story) that were not showing any utilization near those numbers.

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Clicking on AP063 I can see further details as to what the issue is. At first glance, all seems fine.

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But here it is again, 70+% channel utilization.

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Something was up and I was determined to get to the bottom of it. Here is a quick picture of the current environment. I don’t have the access points broadcasting yet, and there isn’t a soul in sight for miles around us. Channel 1 at least is clean as a whistle.

1

AP063 happens to be about 30 feet in the air, so I decided to get on a scissor lift and use Chanalyzer with CleanAir to see what is going on.

I certainly don’t see any issues with Channel 1, do you?

2

I thought maybe I’m missing something, so I pulled out my handy dandy NetScout G2 notebook to get a second opinion, but it also shows nothing wrong, standing 2 feet away from the AP063 in question.

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I just discovered today that Meraki updated some of the UI features (although I stumbled across this myself, and did not see any ‘notice’ about it). The nice new update separates 802.11 and non-802.11 interference/utilization which is nice. But it still shows that it has tons of non-802.11 interference. Hmm….

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Conclusion? – This AP063 was one of a handful that were showing similar readings, high channel utilization in an environment with in reality, very little. I’ve never really come to depend on the utilization report from the MR product line, but given this recent finding I’m even less likely to depend on it for any accurate information. Its a ‘nice’ bonus to see, but if the data is invalid, it doesn’t really serve much purpose for me.

To be fair it could have just been a bad batch of AP’s with faulty hardware. Who knows.

Thoughts?

-Nolan

 

One thought on “Meraki – RF Falsehoods?

  1. Looking at some of the MR34’s same thing seeing lot of non 802.11 interference showing up. I am about to turn up few MR72’s over the weekend and I know there isn’t much around that area so will see how much of non 802.11 shows up. Honestly more I’m working with Meraki Wireless more I am not liking it as compared to Aruba, Cisco. Pretty dashboard is useless if it can’t help me control my wireless and troubleshoot clients.

    Like

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