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How does CAPWAP work when an LAP and WLC are not on the same subnet?

Reading various Cisco documentation and Vinay Sharma’s document ("AP fails to join controller" - Lightweight Access Point (LAP) fails to join Wireless LAN controller (WLC, I understand:


“When the LAP powers up, it sends out a DHCP request, with the hope that a DHCP server will provide an IP address. After the LAP gets an IP address from the DHCP server, the LAP broadcasts a Layer 3 LWAPP discovery message on to its local subnet. Because the WLC is also on the same subnet, the WLC receives the LWAPP discovery request from the LAP and responds with a Layer 3 LWAPP discovery response.”



  1. What happens if the LAP and the WLC are not on the same subnet?  By default, a router/layer 3 device will STOP all broadcast. 
  2. How does CAPWAP/LWAPP get around this?  In our network, no LAP is on the same subnet as the WLC.  So I am not sure how they are working. 


Thank you


T.J. Reed

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