Seamless Roaming with Android Pixel phones - does it work?

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Seamless Roaming with Android Pixel phones - does it work?

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Seamless Roaming with Android Pixel phones - does it work?
Seamless Roaming with Android Pixel phones - does it work?
2023-02-21 00:31:07 - last edited 2023-02-25 22:18:03
Model: EAP615-Wall   EAP610  
Hardware Version:
Firmware Version: EAP615 = 1.1.3, EAP610 = 1.0.2

Hi, I have two EAP615s and one EAP610 configured with a single SSID on 5GHz using 80Mhz channels. I'm running Omada software 5.7.4 on a Linux server that is permantly powered/active. I've enabled fast roaming, AI roaming and dual 11K reporting as well as 802.11r (though the last two should be irrelevant as the SSID is only 5G and  I'm using WPA3-PSK).

 

I have various devices: Windows 11 PCs, Linux PCs, Fire tablets, and three different Pixel phones - 4a5G, 6a and 6. Everything roams to varying degress, except the Pixel phones, which will hold on to a -80 dBm signal when a -40 dBm signal is available.

 

Google is a terrible company for consumer support and cannot/will not confirm whether they support 11k/v on their phones, and their support communities are well meaning, but directed me to reddit reports to validate functionality - where there are one or two claims of 6/6Pro and 7/7Pro supporting 11k/v. Nothing against reddit, but it's concerning that the company behind the product, and their own support community have nothing on these common features. Given my Pixel 6 won't roam I'm skeptical of the accuracy of the reddit reports - unless there is something specific I'm missing in my setup.

 

I've taken beacon traces of the APs (wireshark on Linux and analiti on Android), and they are definitely beaconing 11k/v - so nothing is obviously missing.

 

I was wondering if anyone has had any success with these phones, and if so, if they have any pointers for me to try and get these devices to roam.

 

Thanks in advance for any help

 

Alan

 

PS In case anyone was interested, Windows 11 roams faster than I can move between APs and provides a perfect experience, Linux is a bit lumpy (with IWD) but gets there, and the Amazon Fire tablets seem to roam adequately. It's just the mobile devices that aren't mobile...

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#1
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Re:Seamless Roaming with Android Pixel phones - does it work?-Solution
2023-02-24 00:16:38 - last edited 2023-02-25 22:18:03

Although Google hasn't published specifics on 802.11k/v/r etc. for the Pixels, the consensus is that they support the same fast roaming technologies as newer iPhones and Samsung Galaxy devices. Roaming will depend on how much overlap there is between your EAPs. I spread my EAP's out so they're basically placed evenly on each floor. There is some overlap with signal, but once I go from one side of the house to the other, the Pixel 6 Pro generally roams. It doesn't always happen instantly, sometimes you need to actually use data on it and give it a minute or so.

 

My Layout (2nd grade drawing style, NOT to scale) looks essentially as pictured below. 2 EAP670s ceiling-mounted on the 2nd floor, I have an EAP610-Outdoor sitting just outside the house outside the 1st floor, and one in my basement, ceiling-mounted, which is near a bunch of Wifi devices just above it and several below in the basement (outlets, etc.). 

 

I'm using a software-based Omada controller, 5.9.9, on a Windows 11 mini-PC. The controller shouldn't make much of a difference, though it's best to use the latest controller supported by your devices. 

Hybrid OPNsense/Omada EAP Cat6 backhaul 4 x EAP670 1 x EAP610-Outdoor Omada Controller v5.14.0.10 Win 11 Router: OPNsense Intel N5105 quad-core I226V 2.5Gbe w/16GB RAM Dual WAN Fios/Spectrum 1Gbps
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Re:Seamless Roaming with Android Pixel phones - does it work?
2023-02-21 06:31:08

  @am4c130d A few things to try, use the combo WPA2 and WPA3 mode for the SSID, in case the Pixel just doesn't like WPA3 transitions.  If you have 11r turned on, try turning it off, it's known to cause issues on phones when using WPA3.  And as a last resort, you could turn on "Force-Disassociation", I have it on for the little IoT devices that like to to stick to the first AP they see after a reboot, even if it's a poopy connection.

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Re:Seamless Roaming with Android Pixel phones - does it work?
2023-02-21 17:37:02

  @JoeSea thanks.

 

I've disabled 11r. There is only one WPA Personal option since the last server upgrade - WPA2-PSK/WPA3-SAE/AES which is the one you are suggesting, so that was good. I won't be able to test for a few days, but will do so and report back.

 

I don't really want to use Force Disassocitation to fix the phones - especially as I'm trying to get them to roam seamlessly. When I tried it in the past, it gave other devices problems - ones who are fixed and working fine at a lower RSSI levels due to physical location.

 

Thanks again.

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Re:Seamless Roaming with Android Pixel phones - does it work?
2023-02-22 15:17:38

  @am4c130d 

 

Fast Transition protocol just doesn't play happy 100% of the time.  Thats across all vendors and brands.  Sometimes you gotta shut it off and go the old fashion route... Mini Rssi. 

 

I would make sure you have good signal between the APs.  

 

Then I would enable mini Rssi on both bands and both APs.  -73 is a good start.  This will force the client to roam on their own. 

 

But you gotta make sure you have enough signal between APs, overlapping Signal.  

 

 

 

 

I can not teach anyone anything - I can only make them think - Socrates
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Re:Seamless Roaming with Android Pixel phones - does it work?
2023-02-22 19:36:12

  @KimcheeGUN thanks for the advice re roaming. In the case of Pixel phones, any seamless roaming was the goal - currently it's 0%, they never ever roam of their own volition. But as virtually all other devices on my network do, no need to abandon 11k/v yet.

 

A forced disassocation with a raised RSSI does overcome the phone's desire to never changed AP, but the same configuration causes problems for other devices on my network, so it's not really desirable. It would be good enough if there were no consequences.

 

I'm comfortable that the radio power settings are OK on the APs: nearly all parts of the coverage area "measure" (using apps on Android) as better than -75 dBm, and the main parts typically can see one AP better than -65 dBm. There are nearly no areas where two APs can be seen with greater than -65dBm at the same time.

 

I'm concluding that the Pixel phones don't support 802.11k/v, and I either accept that, workaround it, or replace them. To the last point, what mobile phones/devices have other users had success with seamlessly roaming on a TP Link Omada network?

 

I appreciate your response, thanks.

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Re:Seamless Roaming with Android Pixel phones - does it work?
2023-02-23 21:00:03 - last edited 2023-02-23 21:41:25

I personally use a Google Pixel 6 pro, but also have a couple of Samsung Galaxies (an older S3 + a S7) and an iPhone 12 Pro Max on my Omada Wifi network. The phones seem to roam better than most other devices, because most of them are rather modern and support more modern 802.11 standards. With older phones, you may have more of a challenge getting them to roam to the EAP offering the best signal. My own Google Pixel Pro 6 seems to roam quite well on my Wifi network, and I haven't experienced any issues...if I bring the device from one floor to another, it almost always roams to the EAP that is installed on that floor.

 

For my setup (all EAPs are connected via 1000Mbps cat6 back-haul), I have Fast Roaming + AI Roaming enabled, but do not force disassociate or set any RSSI thresholds because as others have mentioned, it can cause problems with some IoT devices. Some IoT devices, for example, won't re-join a wifi network automatically when they're forcefully disconnected. Enabling OFDMA and setting the Tx power to the highest setting also helps in general, though there are some cases when it may not. I would also recommend setting up AI WLAN Optimization, and running a channel optimization biweekly or monthly. This can help those "sticky" IoT devices re-join the Wifi network and attach to EAP's offering stronger signal, sometimes correcting those devices that have stayed latched on with RSSI values below -70. On 2.4Ghz, you can get away with RSSI values weaker than -70, 5Ghz you'll see substantial packet loss with a RSSI below -70. On the upside, most devices compatible with the 5Ghz band support modern roaming standards as well as OFDMA.

Hybrid OPNsense/Omada EAP Cat6 backhaul 4 x EAP670 1 x EAP610-Outdoor Omada Controller v5.14.0.10 Win 11 Router: OPNsense Intel N5105 quad-core I226V 2.5Gbe w/16GB RAM Dual WAN Fios/Spectrum 1Gbps
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Re:Seamless Roaming with Android Pixel phones - does it work?
2023-02-23 23:37:32

  @Shoresy thanks for the reply.

 

Hmm, I wonder where I am going wrong - Pixel 6 is same vintage as your 6 Pro and Pixel 6a is newer, unless roaming is a Pro only capability which doesn't seem logical. Apple and Samsung are both very open about their support for 11k/v/r which is encouraging - I just don't use either product.

 

The only real deployment differences are the EAPs we're using and my controller is on Linux (I just upgraded to 5.8.4). AI WLAN Optimization hadn't worked with 5.7.4 - but it just ran successfully with 5.8.4 and is now set to run weekly. It may help.

 

Thanks for sharing your experiences as well, it all helps.

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Re:Seamless Roaming with Android Pixel phones - does it work?-Solution
2023-02-24 00:16:38 - last edited 2023-02-25 22:18:03

Although Google hasn't published specifics on 802.11k/v/r etc. for the Pixels, the consensus is that they support the same fast roaming technologies as newer iPhones and Samsung Galaxy devices. Roaming will depend on how much overlap there is between your EAPs. I spread my EAP's out so they're basically placed evenly on each floor. There is some overlap with signal, but once I go from one side of the house to the other, the Pixel 6 Pro generally roams. It doesn't always happen instantly, sometimes you need to actually use data on it and give it a minute or so.

 

My Layout (2nd grade drawing style, NOT to scale) looks essentially as pictured below. 2 EAP670s ceiling-mounted on the 2nd floor, I have an EAP610-Outdoor sitting just outside the house outside the 1st floor, and one in my basement, ceiling-mounted, which is near a bunch of Wifi devices just above it and several below in the basement (outlets, etc.). 

 

I'm using a software-based Omada controller, 5.9.9, on a Windows 11 mini-PC. The controller shouldn't make much of a difference, though it's best to use the latest controller supported by your devices. 

Hybrid OPNsense/Omada EAP Cat6 backhaul 4 x EAP670 1 x EAP610-Outdoor Omada Controller v5.14.0.10 Win 11 Router: OPNsense Intel N5105 quad-core I226V 2.5Gbe w/16GB RAM Dual WAN Fios/Spectrum 1Gbps
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Re:Seamless Roaming with Android Pixel phones - does it work?
2023-02-24 00:46:57 - last edited 2023-02-24 00:50:38

  @Shoresy understood and that is my frustration. I have no reason not to believe other people's experience with Pixel phones, other than when my own conflicts - and then checking my settings are correct is the logical thing to do.

 

In my network, my pixel 6a will remain connected to an AP with less than -80 dBm RSSI while it can see an RSSI of -40 dBm from an AP with same ESSID. These signal strengths were taken from the Android developer debug info from Settings -> Network & Internet -> Internet section on the Pixel 6a at the time. This is anti-roaming in my book and makes no sense. The Pixel is slowing down other devices at that stage. The Pixel 6a will stay at -80 dBm overnight, rather than roam to a stronger signal. The two APs were an EAP-615 Wall (the one the Pixel was connected to) and an EAP-610 v2 indoor AP (the one the Pixel was next to), both connected over wired/1G links to a TP-Link PoE switch and controlled by Omada SW configured for Fast Roaming and AI Roaming with 802.11 k/v in the beacons from both APs verified using Wireshark and Analiti.

 

Initially the APs were on full power, and as roaming wasn't happening, there was arguably too much coverage, so I turned the power down manually by 3-5 dB to create more reasonable coverage - the above scenario is with the TX power at 17 dBm on all the APs. When standing next to any AP, the RSSI is typcially -40 dBm and the other APs are typically around -80 dBm - but during the time to walk between APs, there are overlaps where two APs are at around -67 dBm, so there is/was good overlap.

 

Your comments re "doesn't happen instantly" and "sometimes takes data" may be the keys, as they are somewhat at odds with my expectations of 11k/v, but that may be the issue - my expectations could be wrong. Certainly, when I walked around with the Pixel 6a on top of an Windows 11 PC - the PC roamed instantly and as soon as there was a clear difference in the RSSIs - which is what I would expect. My Linux PC, which can hold on longer than I like, roams once the difference is obvious and takes a few seconds, but it is only seconds.

 

AI WLAN Optimization is now working/enabled, so I've reset all the APs to use Auto power - I'll let that run a few times and see what happens.

 

My network is almost yours, but inverted. I have each of the two 615-Wall APs at opposite ends of the first floor, one towards the front the towards the back, the 610 is on the second floor in the center of the house. Due to floors and walls, some of the second floor is better covered by the 615s, but in general, the best AP signal is on the floor the client it is on.

 

Appreciate you continuing to share your experiences, thank you.

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Re:Seamless Roaming with Android Pixel phones - does it work?
2023-02-25 22:17:22

  @Shoresy

 

I've been able to duplicate your experienced with Pixel 6a. On a Zoom call, the Pixel will roamed from one AP to another a couple of times, and did reasonably quickly. I didn't detect any drops in voice or video, so that meets my needs. Your explanation that data needed to be flowing was the key!

 

AI WLAN has turned the TX power up to max on my APs as well - so I rarely drop below -77 dBm now.

 

Thank you for providing the incremental insights, it certainly helped me reach a point where I am comfortable with how the Pixel is roaming over Wifi. Thank you!

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Re:Seamless Roaming with Android Pixel phones - does it work?
2023-02-25 23:02:27 - last edited 2023-02-25 23:12:53

No problem! Glad to read the roaming functionality is working for you, and you're seeing it in action.

 

I'll add that the reason roaming seems more "instant" when your Pixel is actively sending/receiving data is that the device puts Wifi in a sort of "sleep" state when it's not actively being used, so it won't actively search out and jump to different EAPs while in that "sleep state." This is to conserve battery life. Other battery-powered wireless devices will more or less do the same.

Hybrid OPNsense/Omada EAP Cat6 backhaul 4 x EAP670 1 x EAP610-Outdoor Omada Controller v5.14.0.10 Win 11 Router: OPNsense Intel N5105 quad-core I226V 2.5Gbe w/16GB RAM Dual WAN Fios/Spectrum 1Gbps
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