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11n Primer
About Me
• Steve Discher
• College Station, Texas USA
About Me
• Operate a Wireless ISP with about 400
subscribers, sell space in a 15,000 sq-ft
Tier IV Data Center
• Supply bandwidth to other WISP’s with
about 1,200 subscribers
• MikroTik Instructor, consultant,
• Provide updated information about this
exciting new wireless protocol
• Explain some of the special settings in
RouterOS related to N
• Report on a real world test of an 802.11N
802.11n Primer

• The 802.11n standard promises to extend

today’s most popular WLAN standard by
significantly increasing reach, reliability, and
• The 802.11n amendment includes many
enhancements that improve WLAN range,
reliability, and throughput.
Protocol Enhancements
• Physical Layer (PHY): advanced signal
processing and modulation techniques have been
added to exploit multiple antennas and wider
• Media Access Layer (MAC): protocol extensions
make more efficient use of available bandwidth
• High throughput (FT): Together these two
enhancements can boost data rates up to 600
802.11n Enhancements
1. Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO)*
2. Spatial Multiplexing (SM)
3. Space-Time Block Coding (STBC)
4. Transmit Beamforming (TxBF)
5. 40 MHz Channel Bandwidth*
6. Modulation and coding schemes*
7. MAC layer overhead reduction*
8. High Throughput (HT) mode*
*RouterOS Supported
MIMO – Multiple Input Multiple Output

• Behind most 802.11n enhancements lies the ability

to receive and/or transmit simultaneously through
multiple antennas.
• 802.11n defines many "M x N" antenna
configurations, ranging from "1 x 1" to "4 x 4". This
refers to the number of transmit (M) and receive
(N) antennas – for example, an AP with two
transmit and three receive antennas is a "2 x 3"
MIMO device
MIMO – Multiple Input Multiple Output

• In general, the more antennas an 802.11n device

uses simultaneously, the higher its maximum data
rate. However, multiple antennas do not by
themselves increase data rate or range. Those
improvements come from how the MIMO device
actually uses its multiple antennas – that is, the
advanced signal processing techniques introduced
by 802.11n.
Spatial Multiplexing (SM)
• Subdivides an outgoing signal stream into multiple pieces,
transmitted through different antennas. Because each
transmission propagates along a different path, those
pieces – called spatial streams – arrive with different
strengths and delays.
• Provided the individual streams arrive at the receiver with
sufficiently distinct spatial signatures, an SM enabled
receiver is able to reassemble them back into the original
signal stream.
• Multiplexing two spatial streams onto a single channel
(radio frequency) effectively doubles capacity and thus
maximizes data rate.
• All 802.11n APs must implement at least two spatial
streams, up to a maximum of four. 802.11n stations can
implement as few as one spatial stream.
Space-Time Block Coding (STBC)
• Sends an outgoing signal stream redundantly, using up to
four differently-coded spatial streams, each transmitted
through a different antenna. By comparing arriving spatial
streams, the receiver has a better chance of accurately
determining the original signal stream in the presence of RF
interference and distortion. That is, STBC improves
reliability by reducing the error rate experienced at a given
Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR).
• This optional 802.11n feature may be combined with SM,
but can only be used when the number of transmit antennas
exceeds the number of receive antennas.
Transmit Beamforming (TxBF)

• Steers an outgoing signal stream towards

the intended receiver by concentrating
transmitted RF energy in a given direction.
• This optional 802.11n feature is not yet
widely implemented.
40 MHz Channel Bandwidth
• Another optional 802.11n feature that only benefits
new devices are 40 MHz channels that use twice
as much bandwidth to double throughput. 802.11
a/b/g (with exception of “a” turbo) use 20 MHz
Modulating and Coding Schemes

• Because 802.11n defines 77 possible

permutations of the factors that determine
data rate, a clear and efficient way is needed
to communicate them.
• The 802.11n standard defines Modulation
and Coding Scheme (MCS) – a simple
integer assigned to every permutation of
modulation, coding rate, guard interval,
channel width, and number of spatial
Modulating and Coding Schemes
How data is sent, Binary Guard interval, time
Phase Shift (old) Keying or between transmitted
Quadrature Amplitude symbols (800ns legacy,
Modulation (new) 400ns new). SGI = 11%
increase in speed
MxN (Tx) x (Rx)
Unequal Modulation
• Refers to using a different modulation type and
coding rate on each spatial stream. MCS values 0
through 31 define the same modulation and coding
will be used on all streams, while MCS values 32
through 77 describe mixed combinations that can
be used to modulate two to four streams.
• For example, MCS 33 refers to using 16-QAM on
spatial stream #1 and QPSK on stream #2, while
MCS 77 refers to using 64-QAM on streams #1-3
with 16-QAM on stream #4.
MAC Layer Overhead Reduction
• The PHY enhancements described thus far increase
maximum PHY data rate, but would make very inefficient
use of the airwaves without the following MAC layer
enhancements also utilized by 802.11n:
• Block Acknowledgement reduces the number of ACKs
that a receiver must send to a transmitter to confirm frame
• Frame Aggregation increases the payload that can be
conveyed by each 802.11 frame, reducing MAC layer
overhead from a whopping 83 % to as little as 58 % (using
A-MSDU) and 14 % (when using A-MPDU).
MAC Layer Overhead Reduction

• MAC Service Data Unit Aggregation (A-MSDU)

groups logical link control packets (MSDUs) with
the same 802.11e Quality of Service, independent
of source or destination. The resulting MAC frame
contains one MAC header, followed by up to 7935
MSDU bytes.
• MAC Protocol Data Unit Aggregation (A-MPDU)
occurs later, after MAC headers are added to each
MSDU. Complete MAC frames (MPDUs) are then
grouped into PHY payloads up to 65535 bytes.
High Throughput (HT) Mode
• There are three 802.11n operating modes:
HT, Non-HT, and HT Mixed.
• High Throughput (HT) mode – also known
as Greenfield mode – assumes that there
are no nearby legacy stations using the
same frequency band.
Non-HT (Legacy) Mode
• An 802.11n AP using Non-HT mode sends
all frames in the old 802.11a/g format so that
legacy stations can understand them. That
AP must use 20 MHz channels and none of
the new HT features described herein.
• All products must support this mode to
ensure backward compatibility, but an
802.11n AP using Non-HT delivers no better
performance than 802.11a/g.
HT Mixed Mode
• The mandatory HT Mixed mode will be the most
common 802.11n AP operating mode for the next
year or so. In this mode, HT enhancements can be
used simultaneously with HT Protection
mechanisms that permit communication with
legacy stations.
• HT Mixed mode provides backwards compatibility,
but 802.11n devices pay significant throughput
penalties as compared to Greenfield mode
MikroTik 802.11n Specific Settings

• Two tabs are available in Winbox if the

wireless card supports the “n” standard:
– HT
MikroTik 802.11n HT Tab
MIMO – How many antennas are
used. For R52N 2x2 MIMO (0,1)

Frame aggregation: maximum

AMSDU that the device is allow to
prepare when negotiated (0-8192)
and maximum frame size (0-8192)

Long for legacy support 800 ns,

any for 800 or 400 ns support

For 40 MHz channels, locate

second 20 MHz above or below
control channel (either)

Defines which priority traffic

should frame aggregation should
be performed on (any or none)
MikroTik 802.11n HT MCS Tab
Page settings enabled by setting

•Modulation coding rate,

at least 0-15 required for

•MCS higher than MCS

15 requires more than 2
streams, R52N only has
two antenna connectors.

•See the chart on Slide

MikroTik 802.11n Setup

• RouterOS Version 4 required for N support

• Download version 4
• Upgrade the router
• Update license
MikroTik 802.11n License Update
Field Testing

1. Smallest possible package
2. Highest throughput
3. Ease of installation
4. Single card
5. Economical
Field Testing

• RouterBoard 433AH
• MikroTik R52n card
• Poynting WLAN-A0043 5 GHz dual polarity
antenna (18-20 dBi)
• Pair of RB1000’s to generate and measure
throughput using Mikrotik bandwidth test
Field Testing
Field Testing

• Configuration Transparent WDS Bridge

from the manual, connection tracking off
• Defaults +
– Wireless Band – 5GHz-only-N
– HT – 0,1 on chains, Tx & Rx
– HT Guard Interval – any
– HT Extension Channel – above
– HT AMPDU Priorities, checked 0-7
Field Testing

• Trial 1
– Downtown Bryan (Varisco Bldg.) to Galleria
Building (4 miles)
• Transparent bridged link using WDS
• Poor result, little or no adjacent channel space
• Performance was equal to 802.11a
Field Testing

• Trial 2
– Galleria Building to Chrystal Park Plaza
Building(4 miles)
• Transparent bridged link using WDS
• Poor result, little or no adjacent channel space
• Performance was equal to 802.11a
Field Testing

• Trial 3
– Coulter Airfield (1.1 mile shot )
• Chose due to ease of access
• Tested from ground level to avoid interference
• Runway provided longest possible line of sight in
the area at ground level
Dual NStreme Setup

• Setup 1
• Dual Nstreme
– Slave two wireless interfaces
– One transmits, one receives
– Full duplex link with benefits of Nstreme
• Hardware
– 2 ea RB600
– 4 ea R52N
– 8 ea 19 db panel antennas
Field Testing
Field Testing
Tx Antenna

Tx Antenna


Rx Antenna

Rx Antenna
Field Testing

Dual Nstreme Demo

OSPF Setup

• Setup 2
• OSPF, no Nstreme
– No bridging, route between AP-Client
» Could be configured with EOIP for a bridged link
» Could be configured with single Nstreme for increase
– Full duplex link with failover capability
– Wireless AP/Client reference:
– OSPF reference:
OSPF Setup
Tx Rx

Rx Tx

AP Client
• Standard OSPF setup
– Make the OSPF interfaces “static” (standard distance is 110)
– Add additional cost to the Rx interfaces, thereby causing the
outbound traffic to go out the Tx interface
– Result, full duplex with failover
OSPF Setup

OSPF Full Duplex Demo

Common Errors/Problems
• Poor throughput
– Check for interference (CCQ)
– Check for adjacent channel space for 40 MHz operation
– Change to above/below for second channel
• Start simple
– Start with simple AP / Client link
– Start with one chain
– Add nstreme
– Add dual nstreme or ospf setup
• Antenna design is key to diversity/MIMO
– Try spacing of about 2-3 feet between antennas, opposite polarities
between Tx and Rx
• Return wireless settings to defaults
– Rebuild config in stages so you can step backward

• Dual polarity antennas may not offer sufficient

spatial diversity for 802.11n MIMO
• Begin simple, add complexity as the link
• Multiple ways of achieving high throughput and
full duplex
• Additional improvements or other configurations
are possible including, single Nstreme with
OSPF, interface bonding, etc.
• “802.11n Primer” by AirMagnet, August 5, 2008
• “Mikrotik Wiki”
• Poynting Antennas
• MikroTik Manual
Contact Me

Steve Discher
Certified MikroTik Trainer
MikroTik Consultant
(888)-859-3237 ph