Cisco Catalyst 9130 AX WiFi 6 High Performance Access Point

Last updated on July 9th, 2021

Cisco 9130AX series access points with WiFi 6 and tri-radio options that are suitable for highly dense enterprise business and public WiFi deployments are discussed in this article.

Cisco Systems

Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO) is a global leader in wired and wireless networking products and was founded in 1984 in San Francisco, USA. Cisco is the current market leader in the Enterprise WLAN market with about 44.4% revenue share in 1st quarter of 2021 as per IDC Worldwide Quarterly Wireless LAN Tracker 1Q21.

In this post we will look at Cisco’s flagship Catalyst 9130 AX series WiFi 6 access points that are targeted at very dense enterprise sites, conference halls, stadiums etc that require stability and stellar performance.

Cisco 9130AX Catalyst WiFi 6 Access Point

Cisco states that “Cisco Catalyst 9130AX Series Access Points provide a seamless experience anywhere for everyone, with high scaling and unmatched performance in diverse network deployments.” With 8×8 single and dual 5 GHz capable radios, the company is targeting Cisco 9130 AX series access points at very dense WLAN deployments. The customers can expect stability, security and next-gen network management features from this access point.

Cisco 9130AX access points come with both internal (Cisco 9130AXI) and external antenna( Cisco 9130AXE) options.

Cisco 9130AX Highlights

  • High Efficiency WiFi 6 Standard (802.11ax)
  • Cisco RF ASIC (Cisco DNA Radio)
  • Flexible Radio Assignment For Tri-radio mode (Dual 5 GHz+2.4 GHz)
  • Smart Antenna Connector (DART-8)
  • Apple iOS Fast Lane
  • Embedded Wireless Controller (EWC)
  • Cisco DNA support
  • BLE 5.0 support for IoT
  • WPA3 security standard

>Related Post< Cisco 9115AX WiFi-6 High Performance AP

Description of Feature Highlights

Cisco 9130AX AP comes with WiFi 6

WiFi 6 or 802.11ax is a “High Efficiency” standard intended to improve the efficiency of WiFi and make it more reliable and stable for WiFi communications. Our in-depth article on the top exciting WiFi 6 features can be referred for further understanding of 802.11ax WiFi 6 technology. Cisco 9130AX is Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6™ and can also extend support to client stations using previous legacy standards.


Cisco 9130AX access point features Uplink/Downlink Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA), a technology borrowed from the mobile phone industry. OFDMA vastly improves upon the existing OFDM technology used in WiFi APs. It allows multiple clients to share WiFi channels. This feature can relieve congestion in dense usage areas as 802.11 ax stations need not wait to get access to a full channel and instead share the channel with others and get things done.

OFDMA can make the whole WLAN efficient as client devices with smaller loads that form the bulk of wireless communications can quickly transmit data. Though this feature can only be fully utilized in an environment having only 802.11ax clients, legacy clients can also experience an upside as the air will clear out quickly due to efficient communications happening in 802.11ax ecosystem.


8×8 uplink and downlink MU-MIMO with eight spatial streams helps the AP to communicate with multiple clients simultaneously. This helps the stations to get quick access to the Access Point, thereby increasing the number of clients that can be served by the AP. This feature generally improves airtime efficiency and speed for all the clients.

1024 QAM

This Cisco WiFi 6 AP can support 1024 QAM, that means faster data communications than currently possible. But to achieve such speeds, noise free environments will be needed along with closer ranges between access points and clients. Such requirements make it practically impossible to achieve the stated speeds in crowded environments that need constant wireless spectrum management.

BSS Coloring

This Cisco 9130AX AP supports BSS Coloring feature of the WiFi 6 standard. BSS Coloring feature has been carried forward from the 802.11ah “Wi-Fi HaLow” standard and it identifies each access point in a WLAN with a unique identifier called ‘color’. This helps client stations to safely ignore communications in neighboring access points with a different color and below a threshold power level, and continue their transmissions. This speeds up communications as clients need not stop data transfers to access points due to transmissions happening else where in the WLAN network in the same channel. This greatly helps to overcome limitations posed on wireless communications by existing co-channel interference safe guards.

Target Wake Time

Target Wake Time is another feature inspired from the 802.11ah IoT standard. This feature helps the access point to wake up clients based on a pre-negotiated time interval to receive data. The clients can sleep during other times, helping them to save battery. This feature can greatly help customers choosing this access point for IoT applications.

Cisco 9130AX with Cisco RF ASIC

Cisco 9130AX series access points have a dedicated RF ASIC (Application Specific Integrated Circuit) chipset (Cisco DNA Radio) for RF analytics. The chipset is made up of one ASIC and one RFIC chip. This chipset has its own dedicated antenna.

Along with CleanAir, this RF ASIC is useful for a variety of specialized operations like multi-band spectrum analysis (16 simultaneous interference pulse detection) through SAgE (Spectrum Analysis Engine) , dual DFS filtering for improved accuracy, zero-wait DFS, high accuracy client location detection, rogue detection and mitigation (WIDS/WIPS) and off-channel RRM.

Since RF analysis is decoupled from the client serving systems of the access point, the AP performance is not compromised. This can vastly improve the throughput, security and overall user experience in a WLAN.

Flexible Radio Assignment with Tri-radio mode

The Flexible Radio Assignment (FRA) software feature in 9130AX can intelligently switch the wireless radio features. It can automatically operate the radios in the following modes as per need noticed in a WLAN.

  • 2.4 GHz(4×4) + 5 GHz client serving radios(8×8) : Default mode
  • 5 GHz(4×4) + 5 GHz(4×4) client serving radios (Dual 5 GHz) + 2.4 GHz(4×4) : Tri-radio mode

Dual 5 GHz creates macro and micro cells, while 2.4 GHz is also active.

The access points can be enabled to automatically detect requirements like sudden increase of user density. Once detected, it can temporarily switch the access points to tri-radio mode to serve more clients. After the density gets normalized, the access points will return to default mode. The 2.4 GHz operations will not be disturbed during this process and it will continue to operate.

This feature can help resolve bandwidth issues faced by users when they quickly congregate for any meetings. Usually, in such a scenario the IT admin may have to intervene to handle abnormal loads on some access points. But with FRA feature, the access points can handle such situations themselves, thus relieving the IT team from unexpected configuration work.

Smart Antenna Connector

Cisco 9130AXE can be connected to external antennas only through a Smart Antenna Connector Port (DART-8) available on the side of the AP. Omni-directional or directional antennas can be connected to the AP to extend WLAN coverage to different areas in a site. Older antenna types using RP-TNC or N-connectors can be connected using adapters.

Acceltex Dart-8 Antenna
Acceltex Dart-8 Antenna for 9130E. Image as seen on

The above 8-element Acceltex Omni antenna can be connected to Cisco 9130 AXE Dart-8 smart antenna connector port for external antenna connectivity requirement.

>Related Post< Top WiFi 6 Outdoor Access Point Models 2021

Apple iOS Fast Lane

The Apple iOS Fast Lane feature, developed from the partnership between Cisco and Apple, helps iOS 10+ applications get priority in WiFi communications. This provides better service levels to end users having Apple iOS products. Fast Lane can help organizations using Cisco 9130AX to provide better WiFi connectivity to customers using Apple devices and delight them. Apple devices can also experience better roaming on Cisco WLANs where the collaboration is applicable.

Embedded Wireless Controller (EWC)

Cisco 9130AX access points have the option of Embedded Wireless Controller (EWC) feature. Cisco has embedded Cisco 9800 controller software to simplify management of access points while retaining highest levels of security, performance and controls. Cisco claims that EWC embedded APs can help “simplify complexity, optimize IT, and reduce operational costs by leveraging intelligence, automation, and human expertise that no other vendor can deliver”. Upto 100 access points and upto 2000 clients can be managed with EWC, where primary and backup controllers can also be configured for resiliency purpose. EWC can work together with Cisco DNA to offer additional features for customers. Cisco DNA license needs to be purchased for multi-site management requirement.

Cisco 9130AX supports Cisco DNA

Cisco 9130AX access points support Cisco Digital Network Architecture (DNA). Cisco DNA automates manual tasks and provides a centralized view of the network for enhanced management and security. “Cisco DNA automation capabilities transform previously manual on-boarding, configuration, provisioning, and software management processes”. Cisco DNA capable access points like 9130AX can be on-boarded, managed, monitored and its various tasks automated through a centralized dashboard.

IoT Capabilities

This Cisco AP has a dedicated on-board radio to support BLE 5.0 stations for IoT . This eliminates the need to deploy additional infrastructure for certain IoT services. It can be useful in environments where IoT needs to be implemented in a cost effective way. The AP also provides container support for IoT applications.

WPA3 security

WPA3 is the latest security standard approved by WiFi Alliance for keeping WiFi communications secure. WPA3 tackles the shortcomings of its predecessor WPA2 in encrypting data transfers and has been in use since 2018. WPA3 was a major update to WiFi security after 14 years since WPA2 was launched in 2004.

Cisco Catalyst 9130AX Features Summary

PropertyCisco 9130 AXI/AXE
Radio Hardware1x 5 GHz Radio (8x8:8)
1x 2.4 GHz Radio (4x4:4)
1x 2.4 GHz 802.15.4 IoT Radio
1x RF ASIC Radio
Wireless FeatureConcurrent Dual Band (2.4 GHz/ 8x8 5 GHz),
Flexible Radio Assignment (FRA) : Dual 5 GHz + 2.4 GHz Tri-radio mode (4x4 5 GHz / 4x4 5 GHz / 4x4 2.4 GHz)
IoT SupportBLE, Zigbee, Thread and other multi-protocol 802.15.4 devices support, Container support for IoT applications
Data SpeedUpto 5.38 Gbps (8x8 80 MHz or Dual 4x4 80+80 MHz on 5GHz and 4x4 20 MHz on 2.4)
Resource UtilizationOFDMA(Uplink/Downlink), MU-MIMO (Uplink/Downlink)
User ExperienceBSS Coloring, iOS Fast Lane, Wi-Fi Agile Multiband™, WMM®
Interference HandlingCisco RF ASIC, Cisco CleanAir, DFS Detection, Transmit Beamforming
SecurityWIPS, Cisco Trust Anchor Technology, WPA3, WPA2, Wi-Fi Enhanced Open™
AP Management"Embedded Wireless Controller (EWC), Virtual Wireless Controller, Hardware controllers Catalyst 9800, 3504, 5520, 8540, Cisco DNA Support with Intelligent Capture,"
Ethernet Ports1x 5 GHz Ethernet Port - IEEE 802.3az
Other Ports1xRJ45 Console Port, 1xUSB 2.0 Port at 4.5W
Antenna9130AXI - Internal,
9130AXE - External -
External Smart Antenna Connector with 8x8 and 2 x (4x4) splitting options
Power-up Options802.3at(PoE+)/ 802.3bt : Fully functional AP ;
802.3af(PoE) - 1x1 Radios, 1GbE Port, No USB
Max Power ConsumptionFully functional w/USB - 30.5W

Green Features (Energy Saving)Target Wake Time (TWT), WMM® - Power Save
Certified Wi-Fi StandardsWi-Fi CERTIFIED 6™
Safety ComplianceUL 2043, UL/EN/IEC/AS/NZS/CAN/CSA-C22.2 No. 60950-1
Manufacturer QuoteCisco Catalyst 9130AX Series Access Points provide a seamless experience anywhere for everyone, with high scaling and unmatched performance in diverse network deployments.

>Related Post< Best WiFi 6 Access Points For Enterprise WLAN – Comparison Table


Cisco 9130AX WiFi 6 AP has many standards-based & proprietary features that will be appealing to high density enterprise applications and dense public WiFi deployments. WiFi 6 technology, Cisco RF ASIC, Cisco DNA support, Flexible Radio assignment, Smart Antenna Connector, IoT support, WPA3 authentication, EWC, Apple iOS fast lane etc makes this an excellent option for Enterprises looking to upgrade to the bleeding edge of WiFi communications.


Note: All Product/Company/Standards/Bodies names are trademarks™ or registered® trademarks of their respective owners. Product related images may have been sourced from vendor websites or other public sources for descriptive purposes. Usage of them in the articles does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by vendors.The product features mentioned in this article are not exhaustive or final. For a full list of current capabilities, kindly contact the vendor or its local representative in your region.