Discover how to install a Mesh network if you use the operator’s router

Many fiber optic operators in Spain make it quite difficult to be able to change the router for their own, in fact, the operator that makes this task easier is Movistar, since we can access the ONT key data to authenticate against the OLT, so we can put an ONT purchased by us (and that is compatible). If you cannot change the operator’s router, you will be able to install a high-performance WiFi Mesh network without problems, since with some adjustments we will be able to add Mesh functionality to the current local network. Today at RedesZone we explain what you should do.

All WiFi Mesh systems come with several pieces of equipment that act as the main router of the network, and later the different nodes that act as WiFi extenders. The main router will act as a router, that is, we will have NAT, QoS, DHCP server, parental control and the rest of related services, since we will have a router with all the usual options. If we connect this equipment in router mode to our operator’s router, we will have double NAT and two separate networks, the network generated by the operator’s router and the one created by the Wi-Fi Mesh system router. In these cases, the best thing you can do is configure the WiFi Mesh system in AP mode and disable the WiFi of the operator’s router.

Configure the WiFi Mesh system in AP mode

All manufacturers such as ASUS, D-Link or AVM among others, allow us to configure their routers in a “transparent” way, that is, in WiFi access point mode. In this configuration mode we will not have NAT, QoS or DHCP server, we will only have at our disposal all the Ethernet ports of the equipment as well as a high performance Mesh WiFi network. In this mode, the Mesh router will simply act as a WiFi access point, where we can connect the rest of the Mesh nodes to form the mesh network and not have problems with double NAT. Depending on the router manufacturer, we have it available under various names, for example, ASUS calls it WiFi access point mode, and manufacturer D-Link calls it “bridge mode”. Below, you can see a screenshot of the configuration menu of a WiFi mesh from the manufacturer:

This is the best way to configure a Mesh network if you want to keep the operator’s router, in addition, activating the AP mode will automatically deactivate the DHCP server and the rest of the services that are not necessary. What we are going to have in this configuration mode is the following:

  • Simultaneous dual band WiFi, with the possibility of configuring the SSID, password, channels, etc. That is, we can configure everything wirelessly without problems.
  • We can set the ethernet backhaulin this way, we can interconnect the different nodes via Ethernet network cable and have the maximum possible performance.
  • Web access to the Mesh network configuration at all times, the private IP address will be the one provided by the operator’s main router.

Our recommendation is that, before configuring AP mode or bridge mode on the router, you configure the rest of the Mesh nodes with the main Mesh router, that is, make sure that they are forming the mesh network correctly. In addition, we will also get a firmware update notice for all nodes. Once configured and updated to the latest version, you can now change the operating mode without problems.

Settings on the operator’s router

The operator’s router also needs a very important configuration: disable the router’s WiFi network. To do this we have to get into the operator’s router and proceed to turn off the wireless network, of the two frequency bands, both 2.4GHz and 5GHz. We must bear in mind that the wireless network generated by the operator’s router does not have Mesh functions, that is, we do not have WiFi roaming between nodes or band-steering to move from one band to another dynamically.

Another aspect that you could look at in the operator’s router is in the DHCP server clients, to quickly locate the private IP address of the connected Mesh router, surely several IP addresses will appear, one IP for each mesh node connected to the network meshed. But only one of these IPs is the node that acts as the main node and the one that allows access to the firmware of the equipment to make the configurations that we want.

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