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> Chapter 8 - Deploying Wireless Networks > Access point deployment > Preventing IP fragmentation of packets in CAPWAP tunnels

Preventing IP fragmentation of packets in CAPWAP tunnels

A common problem with controller-based WiFi networks is reduced performance due to IP fragmentation of the packets in the CAPWAP tunnel.

Fragmentation can occur because of CAPWAP tunnel overhead increasing packet size. If the original wireless client packets are close to the maximum transmission unit (MTU) size for the network (usually 1500 bytes for Ethernet networks unless jumbo frames are used) the resulting CAPWAP packets may be larger than the MTU, causing the packets to be fragmented. Fragmenting packets can result in data loss, jitter, and decreased throughput.

The FortiOS/FortiAP solution to this problem is to cause wireless clients to send smaller packets to FortiAP devices, resulting in 1500-byte CAPWAP packets and no fragmentation. The following options configure CAPWAP IP fragmentation control:

config wireless-controller wtp-profile

edit new-wtp

set ip-fragment-preventing tcp-mss-adjust icmp-unreachable

set tun-mtu-uplink {0 | 576 | 1500}

set tun-mtu-downlink {0 | 576 | 1500}



By default, tcp-mss-adjust and icmp-unreachable are not enabled, and tun-mtu-uplink and tun-mtu-downlink are set to 0.

To set tun-mtu-uplink and tun-mtu-downlink, use the default TCP MTU value of 1500. This default configuration prevents packet fragmentation because the FortiAP unit limits the size of TCP packets received from wireless clients so the packets don’t have to be fragmented before CAPWAP encapsulation.

The tcp-mss-adjust option causes the FortiAP unit to limit the maximum segment size (MSS) of TCP packets sent by wireless clients. The FortiAP does this by adding a reduced MSS value to the SYN packets sent by the FortiAP unit when negotiating with a wireless client to establish a session. This results in the wireless client sending packets that are smaller than the tun-mtu-uplink setting, so that when the CAPWAP headers are added, the CAPWAP packets have an MTU that matches the tun-mtu-uplink size.

The icmp-unreachable option affects all traffic (UDP and TCP) between wireless clients and the FortiAP unit. This option causes the FortiAP unit to drop packets that have the "Don't Fragment" bit set in their IP header and that are large enough to cause fragmentation and then send an ICMP packet -- type 3 "ICMP Destination unreachable" with code 4 "Fragmentation Needed and Don't Fragment was Set" back to the wireless controller. This should cause the wireless client to send smaller TCP and UDP packets.