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UniFi - Setting Up UAPs in a Wireless Uplink Topology


Readers will learn how to wirelessly connect UniFi Access Points to the LAN topology via upstream wired access points using UniFi's proprietary method: Wireless Uplink. If you would like more information on the subject, see our UniFi- Feature Guide: Wireless Uplink article.

The wireless uplink feature is supported by all Gen2 and Gen3 devices (aside from the NanoHD). Gen1 UniFi AC devices do not support this feature. See our UniFi - Which hardware generation is my UniFi Access Point (UAP)? article to determine your device's generation.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Considerations for Wireless Uplink Topologies
  3. Steps: How to Set Up a Wireless Uplink
  4. Video Tutorial (v5)
  5. Related Articles


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The Wireless Uplink feature allows an access point with a wired data connection to act as a Base Station (Uplink AP) for up to four other access points on 5GHz (or 2.4GHz for some legacy APs), which can extend Wi-Fi coverage to inaccessible areas. It is important to remember that each wireless downlink reduces the available throughput for the uplink radio by 50%. Following this formula: 

Radio Throughput = Aggregate Bandwidth * [0.5 ^ (# of Wireless Downlinks)] 



Considerations for Wireless Uplink Topologies

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This section covers some other details to be considered. Uplinks will not work for any access point, and it is important to note that firmware and bands for both uplink and downlink devices will make a difference in whether the uplink is successful or not. The following table shows some scenarios where an uplink will work, and one where it will not. Please take a look:

Dual band wired AP to dual band wireless AP: will uplink on 5GHz.
Dual band wired AP to single band wireless AP: will uplink on the supported frequency of the single band model.
Single band wired AP to single band wireless AP: will uplink, as long as the same band is supported on both sides of the link.
Single band (2.4GHz only models) wired AP to dual band wireless AP will not be able to uplink. 

The Wireless Uplink feature introduces a new status in the UniFi Controller: "Isolated". When the access point (AP) is unable to reach the gateway, it goes into the Isolated state. In this state:

  • All servicing WLANs are disabled (if it cannot reach the gateway, wireless clients won't either).
  • The AP has a different LED pattern: a steady blue (when already managed) with occasional dims.
  • The AP will send out beacon over the air and can be found by nearby APs.
  • Only the wired APs under the same Controller can establish a downlink to this isolated AP.
  • By default, wired APs don't go off-channel to look for isolated APs. The "Find more" button in the properties panel of each device (under Configuration > Wireless Uplink) will trigger wired APs to do so. And after a wireless uplink is set up, the isolated AP will always find and follow the same channel used by its uplink AP.

Steps: How to Set Up a Wireless Uplink

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NOTE: Make sure you have upgraded the firmware on all devices before attempting an uplink. 

The wireless uplink is designed to be reliable rather than quick/dynamic. Please be patient for the isolated state change, the discovery, and the link setup. To enable wireless uplink follow these steps:

  1. Adopt all APs through wire first (using Ethernet cable). In other words, adopt both uplink and island APs in a wired state.
  2. Install the island AP in the intended location and connect its power. This means connect power injector POE port to the island AP, but leave power injector LAN port empty.
  3. After the island AP is visible on the UniFi Controller, wait until its state becomes "Heartbeat Missed" and then "Disconnected" or "Isolated" (takes about 6+ minutes). It will not serve any configured WLANs in this state.
  4. Make sure to have wireless uplink enabled in the Uplink Connectivity Monitor option under the Services section in Settings > Site.
  5. Click on the AP under the Devices tab to open the AP properties panel. And under Configuration > Wireless Uplink, select the uplink AP of your choice (click on Find more if no uplink AP is shown).
  6. The Controller establishes wireless uplink between the selected uplink AP and the island AP. The island AP is now wirelessly connected and serving.
User Tip: If you encounter issues, it might be that you need to avoid DFS (Dynamic Frequency Selection) for wireless uplinks to work. This might cause issues in some cases, but not all.

Video Tutorial

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Note that this video is for v5 of the UniFi Controller.


Related Articles

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 UniFi- Feature Guide: Wireless Uplink