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Light Weight Access Point Protocol Explained

Lightweight Access Point Protocol or LWAPP is the name of a protocol that can control multiple Wi-Fi wireless access points at once. This can reduce the amount of time spent on configuring, monitoring or troubleshooting a large network. The system will also allow network administrators to closely analyze the network.

This system is installed in a central server that gathers data from RF devices from different brands and settings. The server can command a selected group of devices to apply given settings simultaneously.


LWAPP was proposed by Airespace, as a standard protocol to provide interoperability among any brand of access point. Airespace was purchased by Cisco Systems. Its purpose was to standardize "lightweight" access points with the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), but it was approved as a standard. Sponsored by Cisco Systems, the IETF approved it in RFC 5412.

Although this protocol has so far not been popular beyond the Airespace/Cisco product lines, the CAPWAP standard is based on LWAPP. Support for LWAPP is also found in analysis products from AirMagnet, who has recently implemented a software based on this protocol to analyze Cisco wireless products.

Still considered proprietary, LWAPP systems compete with other non-standard lightweight wireless mechanisms from companies like Meru Networks and Aruba Networks.

LWAPP Layer 2

Layer 2 LWAPP only requires a data link connection in order to transfer frames and layer 2 broadcasts. Even if IP connectivity is not established it will still operate at layer 2.

LWAPP Layer 3

IP Layer 3 (UDP 12222 and 12223) connectivity must be established to work with this form of the protocol. Broadcasts or DHCP option 43 can be used to prime the access-points of the network. The controller must be on the same subnet if DHCP is not configured to handle layer 3 LWAPP provisioning. Another option for directing an AP to the controller is by defining the controller on the DNS server of the network.

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