What effect does BroadCast SSID have on the client experience?

Clients are pre-configured with one "Preferred network".

Roaming? Initial association timing?

Certain services (e.g. AV) look for the server before user logs in. The service is failing to connect to server; yet, computer auth is occuring at some point. Is there an association delay if the SSID is not broadcast?

This is using a Cisco LWAPP setup. WLC 4402 x 2 WCS Windows XP SP3 clients [WPA2] [Auth( 802.1X)] PEAP


Clients actually find your wireless network instead of having to enter the name manually.

  • Clients are pre-configured with one "Preferred network". Is there an issue roaming if the "roamed to" AP is not broadcasting SSID? – Justin Jul 7 '09 at 18:19
  • Well, I seem to remember Windows periodically running around and checking whether it's in range of their preferred network by just sending out a kind of "hello" with said SSID. Even if this is the case, there would be a noticable delay until Windows tries again to find the network as compared to being externally notified the network is there. Besides, if it's properly secured, you don't need to worry about broadcasting the SSID anyway in most cases. – towo Jul 7 '09 at 23:29

Broadcasting the SSID is most useful at initial connection time. If the users can see "Your Company's Network" they will know which one to attach to and feel confident it is the one they want. If you don't broadcast the SSID, discovery of the network is not as straightforward and will likely cause confusion.


The client will experience great joy in knowing that they're connecting to the correct network. It benefits them by:

  • not joining an unknown network, or
  • one with a similar name, or
  • joining a honeypot network
  • having to remember every single SSID wherever they go

Your questions on roaming and timing... can you elaborate?

  • If the next WAP is not broadcasting the SSID will the client de-assoc from the 1st WAP... then look for the next creating a gap in connectivity? Does roam occur faster if the client can "hear" the next WAP? My question may revolve around fast roaming or fast reconnect? – Justin Jul 7 '09 at 18:17

Also, from what I remember, unless you deliberately configure the network on the client, Windows XP SP3 and Vista will not find it. I was having issues with Vista not connecting even when I was configuring the network manually, so I had to enable broadcast. I never did figure out a suitable fix.

  • 1
    XP SP3 has an option "Connect even if this network is not broadcasting" (currently checked for our clients) Uncertain as to the Vista perspective. – Justin Jul 7 '09 at 19:48

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