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Is Cisco’s Mobility Express right for you?

Jan 10, 20183 mins
Cisco SystemsMobileNetworking

Cisco has staked a claim in the wireless infrastructure space with its Mobility Express, designed to easily set up WLANs. Learn what it is and whether it’s right for you.

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One of the hottest topics on the minds of our customers for 2018 continues to be their wireless infrastructure. As WLAN 802.11ac wave 2 devices becoming mainstream, Cisco has placed a stake in the ground claiming to be the “value leader.”

Cisco’s solution to accomplish this is Mobility Express, designed to help companies easily set up wireless LAN (WLAN) networks. What exactly is Mobility Express? And is it right for you?

What is Mobility Express?

Mobility Express is the ability to use an access point (AP) as a controller. That means a lightweight network without a controller box. Instead one of the APs on the network acts as the controller. Here is how Cisco describes it:

“Mobility Express integrates wireless LAN (WLAN) controller functions into the Cisco Aironet  3800, 2800, 1850, 1830, 1815, 1560 and 1540 Series Access Points. As such, Mobility Express is the latest in a series of Cisco efforts to turn WLAN controllers into a software function that any network component can host. Cisco controller capabilities also can be housed in standalone appliances (Cisco Wireless LAN Controllers, or WLCs), Cisco switches, Cisco routers, a private cloud, and a public cloud.”

Which APs can do Mobility Express?

The below table lists which APs are supported:

cisco aironet table 1

Which APs can be controlled by a Mobility Express AP?

The following APs can be controlled by a Mobility Express AP:

cisco aironet table 2

Can the Cisco Aironet 3800, 2800, 1850, 1830, 1815, 1560 and 1540 access points function as WLAN controllers and access points at the same time?

Yes, they can function concurrently as an access point servicing clients, while also hosting the Mobility Express controller function.

What are the management options for Mobility Express?

Mobility Express can be managed by:

  • Cisco Mobility Express Web User Interface
  • Cisco Wireless mobile application (available at the Apple App Store and Google Play Store free of charge)
  • Cisco Prime Infrastructure, Release 3.0.1 or newer
  • Cisco command-line interface (CLI) through console cable, SSH, or Telnet

How many APs can be controlled at a time in Mobility Express?

It depends on the AP that is acting as a controller. It used to cut off at 25. Newer code changed that.

cisco mobility express scale limits

Limits to Master AP

If there are more than 50 access points in a Mobility Express network, the Master AP (running the WLAN controller function) can service a maximum of 20 clients. This limit applies only to Master AP and not any other access point in the Mobility Express network.

Features not supported by Mobility Express

One final bit of customer feedback: When I asked about the downside of going this route, I was pointed to a list of features not supported. And with the help from our product engineer team, I narrowed it down to six (may, or may not be relevant, depending on requirements):

  • Mesh mode
  • Workgroup Bridge (WGB) mode
  • Integrated BLE
  • Basic spectrum analysis
  • Cisco CleanAir
  • Cisco Wireless ClientLink 3.0

For more information, visit the Cisco Mobility Express Solution FAQ website.


Frank Kobuszewski is vice president of the technology solutions group at CXtec. Being in the remarketing industry since 1988 and with the company since 1994has led him to serve on several technical committees including as a representative on the Anti-Counterfeit Committee for the Association of Service and Computer Dealers International and the North American Association of Telecommunications Dealers (AscdiNatd).

Frank has participated on podcasts and has been quoted in several industry trade publications and papers, the most recent being Gartner’s August 2017 network transceivers research paper, entitled “How to Avoid the Biggest Rip-Off in Networking.”

Frank is an experienced speaker and has presented at technology conferences across North America on strategies for maximizing IT budgets and asset recovery best practices, including at CAUCUS (Association of Technology Acquisition Professionals) and the annual NY Tech Summit. Most recently, he spoke at the Gartner IT Financial, Procurement and Asset Management Summit.

Frank received the “40 Under Forty” award from the Central New York Business Journal in 2000 for his business accomplishments and community involvement.

Follow Frank on Twitter and look for his posts on LinkedIn.