Cisco 5500 Series Wireless Controllers

Cisco 5500 Series Wireless Controllers Data Sheet

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The Cisco® 5500 Series Wireless Controller, shown in Figure 1, is a highly scalable and flexible platform that enables systemwide services for mission-critical wireless networking in medium-sized to large enterprises and campus environments. Designed for 802.11ac and 802.11n performance and maximum scalability, the 5500 Series offers enhanced uptime with:

   RF visibility and protection

   The ability to simultaneously manage up to 500 access points

   Superior performance for reliable streaming video and toll- quality voice

   Sub-second stateful failover of all access points and clients from the primary to standby controller

Figure 1.      Cisco 5500 Series Wireless LAN Controller Text Box: Maximum Performance and Scalability
●	Support for up to 500 access points and 7000 clients
●	802.11ac and 802.11n optimized for up to nine times the performance of 802.11a/g networks
●	Enhanced uptime with the ability to simultaneously configure and manage 500 access points per controller
Improved Mobility and Services
●	Larger mobility domain for more simultaneous client associations
●	Faster radio resource management (RRM) updates for uninterrupted network access when roaming
●	Intelligent RF control plane for self-configuration, self-healing, and self-optimization
●	Efficient roaming improves application performance such as toll quality, voice, and consistent streaming of video and data backup
Licensing Flexibility and Investment Protection
●	Additional access point capacity licenses may be added over time
Cisco OfficeExtend Solution
●	Secure, simple, cost-effective mobile teleworker solution
●	Up to 500 remote access points per controller
●	Supports Cisco® Unified IP Phones for reduced cell phone charges
Comprehensive Wired/Wireless Security
●	Full Control and Provisioning of Wireless Access Points (CAPWAP) access-point-to-controller encryption
●	Supports rogue access point detection and denial-of-service attacks
●	Management frame protection detects malicious users and alerts network administrators
Enterprise Wireless Mesh
●	Dynamic wireless mesh networks support indoor and outdoor connectivity for areas that are difficult to wire
Environmentally Responsible
●	Support for adaptive power management to turn off access point radios during off-peak hours to reduce power consumption
●	OfficeExtend solution reduces costs and supports green best practices by reducing commuting time and saving on gas, vehicle mileage, and insurance costs


Optimized for high-performance wireless networking, the Cisco 5500 Series Controller offers improved mobility and prepares the business for the next wave of mobile devices and applications. The 5500 Series supports a higher density of clients and delivers more efficient roaming, with at least nine times the throughput of existing 802.11a/g networks.

The 5500 Series automates wireless configuration and management functions and allows network managers to have the visibility and control needed to cost-effectively manage, secure, and optimize the performance of their wireless networks. With integrated Cisco CleanAir®technology, the 5500 Series protects 802.11n performance by providing cross-network access to real-time and historic RF interference information for quick troubleshooting and resolution.

The Cisco 5508 Wireless Controller supports Cisco Application Visibility and Control(AVC), the technology that includes the Network-Based Application Recognition 2 (NBAR-2) engine, Cisco’s deep packet inspection (DPI) capability. The NBAR-2 engine can classify applications, applies quality of service (QoS) setting to either drop or mark the traffic, and prioritizes business-critical applications in the network. Cisco AVC uses NetFlow Version 9 to export the flows to Cisco Prime Infrastructure or a third-party NetFlow Collector. The 5508 also supports Bonjour Services Directory to enable Bonjour Services to be advertised and utilized in a separate Layer 3 network. Wireless Policy engine is a wireless profiler and policy feature on the Cisco 5500 Series Wireless Controller that enables profiling of wireless devices and enforcement of policies such as VLAN assignment, QoS, ACL and time-of-day-based access.

As a component of the Cisco Unified Wireless Network, this controller provides real-time communications between Cisco Aironet® access points, the Cisco Wireless Control System (WCS), and the Cisco Mobility Services Engine to deliver centralized security policies, wireless intrusion prevention system (IPS) capabilities, award-winning RF management, and QoS.

Software Licensing Flexibility

Base access point licensing offers flexibility to add up to 500 additional access points as business needs grow. The licensing structure supports a variety of business mobility needs as part of the basic feature set, including the Cisco OfficeExtend solution for secure, mobile teleworking and Cisco Enterprise Wireless Mesh, which allows access points to dynamically establish wireless connections in locations where it may be difficult or impossible to physically connect to the wired network.

Table 1 lists the features of the Cisco 5500 Series Wireless LAN Controllers.

Table 1.       Cisco 5500 Series Wireless LAN Controller Features




  Supports 12, 25, 50,100, 250, or 500 access points for business-critical wireless services at locations of all sizes

High Performance

  Wired speed, nonblocking performance for 802.11n and optimized for 802.11ac networks

RF Management

  Provides both real-time and historical information about RF interference impacting network performance across controllers, via systemwide Cisco CleanAir technology integration


  Supports corporate wireless service for mobile and remote workers with secure wired tunnels to the Cisco Aironet® 1130 or 1140 Series Access Points
  Extends the corporate network to remote locations with minimal setup and maintenance requirements (zero-touch deployment)
  Improves productivity and collaboration at remote site locations
  Separate SSID tunnels allow both corporate and personal Internet access
  Reduced CO2 emissions from decrease in commuting
  Higher employee job satisfaction from ability to work at home
  Improves business resiliency by providing continuous, secure connectivity in the event of disasters, pandemics, or inclement weather

Comprehensive End-to-End Security

  Offers control and provisioning of wireless access points (CAPWAP)-compliant DTLS encryption to help ensure full-line-rate encryption between access points and controllers across remote WAN/LAN links

Enterprise Wireless Mesh

  Allows access points to dynamically establish wireless connections without the need for a physical connection to the wired network
  Available on select Cisco Aironet access points, Enterprise Wireless Mesh is ideal for warehouses, manufacturing floors, shopping centers and any other location where extending a wired connection may prove difficult or aesthetically unappealing

High Performance Video

  Integrates Cisco VideoStream technology as part of the medianet framework to optimize the delivery of video applications across the WLAN

End-to-End Voice

  SupportsUnified Communications for improved collaboration through messaging, presence, and conferencing
  Supports allCisco Unified IP Phones for cost-effective, real-time voice services

High Availability

  An optional redundant power supply that helps to ensure maximum availability

Environmentally Responsible

  Organizations may choose to turn off access point radios to reduce power consumption during off peak hours

Mobility, Security and Management for IPv6 & Dual-Stack Clients

  Secure, reliable wireless connectivity and consistent end-user experience
  Increased network availability through proactive blocking of known threats
  Equips administrators for IPv6 troubleshooting, planning, and client traceability from a common wired and wireless management system

Table 2 lists the product specifications for Cisco 5500 Series Wireless Controllers.

Table 2.       Product Specifications for Cisco 5500 Series Wireless Controllers




IEEE 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11d, WMM/802.11e, 802.11h, 802.11k, 802.11n, 802.11r, 802.11u, 802.11w, 802.11ac.


IEEE 802.3 10BASE-T, IEEE 802.3u 100BASE-TX specification, 1000BASE-T. 1000BASE-SX, 1000-BASE-LH, IEEE 802.1Q Vtagging, and IEEE 802.1AX Link Aggregation.

Data Request For Comments (RFC)

  RFC 768 UDP
  RFC 791 IP
  RFC 2460 IPv6 (pass through Bridging mode only)
  RFC 792 ICMP
  RFC 793 TCP
  RFC 826 ARP
  RFC 1122 Requirements for Internet Hosts
  RFC 1519 CIDR
  RFC 1542 BOOTP
  RFC 2131 DHCP
  RFC 5415 CAPWAP Protocol Specification
  RFC 5416 CAPWAP Binding for 802.11

Security Standards

  IEEE 802.11i (WPA2, RSN)
  RFC 1321 MD5 Message-Digest Algorithm
  RFC 1851 The ESP Triple DES Transform
  RFC 2104 HMAC: Keyed Hashing for Message Authentication
  RFC 2246 TLS Protocol Version 1.0
  RFC 2401 Security Architecture for the Internet Protocol
  RFC 2403 HMAC-MD5-96 within ESP and AH
  RFC 2404 HMAC-SHA-1-96 within ESP and AH
  RFC 2405 ESP DES-CBC Cipher Algorithm with Explicit IV
  RFC 2406 IPsec
  RFC 2407 Interpretation for ISAKMP
  RFC 2409 IKE
  RFC 2451 ESP CBC-Mode Cipher Algorithms
  RFC 3280 Internet X.509 PKI Certificate and CRL Profile
  RFC 3602 The AES-CBC Cipher Algorithm and Its Use with IPsec
  RFC 3686 Using AES Counter Mode with IPsec ESP
  RFC 4347 Datagram Transport Layer Security
  RFC 4346 TLS Protocol Version 1.1


  WEP and TKIP-MIC: RC4 40, 104 and 128 bits (both static and shared keys)
  SSL and TLS: RC4 128-bit and RSA 1024- and 2048-bit

Authentication, Authorization, and Accounting (AAA)

  IEEE 802.1X
  RFC 2548 Microsoft Vendor-Specific RADIUS Attributes
  RFC 2865 RADIUS Authentication
  RFC 2866 RADIUS Accounting
  RFC 2867 RADIUS Tunnel Accounting
  RFC 2869 RADIUS Extensions
  RFC 3576 Dynamic Authorization Extensions to RADIUS
  RFC 3579 RADIUS Support for EAP
  RFC 3580 IEEE 802.1X RADIUS Guidelines
  RFC 3748 Extensible Authentication Protocol
  Web-based authentication
  TACACS support for management users


  SNMP v1, v2c, v3
  RFC 854 Telnet
  RFC 1155 Management Information for TCP/IP-Based Internets
  RFC 1156 MIB
  RFC 1157 SNMP
  RFC 1350 TFTP
  RFC 1643 Ethernet MIB
  RFC 2030 SNTP
  RFC 2616 HTTP
  RFC 2665 Ethernet-Like Interface types MIB
  RFC 2674 Definitions of Managed Objects for Bridges with Traffic Classes, Multicast Filtering, and Virtual Extensions
  RFC 2863 Interfaces Group MIB
  RFC 3164 Syslog
  RFC 3414 User-Based Security Model (USM) for SNMPv3
  RFC 3418 MIB for SNMP
  RFC 3636 Definitions of Managed Objects for IEEE 802.3 MAUs
  Cisco private MIBs

Management Interfaces

  Web-based: HTTP/HTTPS
  Command-line interface: Telnet, Secure Shell (SSH) Protocol, serial port
  Cisco Wireless Control System (WCS)

Interfaces and Indicators

  Uplink: 8 (5508) 1000BaseT, 1000Base-SX and 1000Base-LH transceiver slots
  Small Form-Factor Pluggable (SFP) options (only Cisco SFPs supported): GLC-T, GLC-SX-MM, GLC-LH-SM
  LED indicators: link
  Service Port: 10/100/1000 Mbps Ethernet (RJ45).
  Service Port: 10/100/1000 Mbps Ethernet (RJ45) For High Availability for future use
  LED indicators: link
  Utility Port: 10/100/1000 Mbps Ethernet (RJ45)
  LED indicators: link
  Expansion Slots: 1 (5508)
  Console Port: RS232 (DB-9 male/RJ-45 connector included), mini-USB
  Other Indicators: Sys, ACT, Power Supply 1, Power Supply 2

Physical and Environmental

  Dimensions (WxDxH): 17.30 x 21.20 x 1.75 in. (440 x 539 x 44.5 mm)
  Weight: 20 lbs (9.1 kg) with 2 power supplies
  Temperature: Operating temperature: 32 to 104°F (0 to 40°C); Storage temperature: -13 to 158°F (‑25 to 70°C)
  Humidity: Operating humidity: 10 95%, noncondensing. Storage humidity: up to 95%
  Input power: 100 to 240 VAC; 50/60 Hz; 1.05 A at 110 VAC, 115W Maximum; 0.523 A at 220 VAC, 115W Maximum; Test Conditions: Redundant Power Supplies, 40C, Full Traffic.
  Heat Dissipation: 392 Btu/hour at 110/220 VAC Maximum

Regulatory Compliance

CE Mark


  UL 60950-1:2003
  EN 60950:2000
  EMI and susceptibility (Class A)
  U.S.: FCC Part 15.107 and 15.109
  Canada: ICES-003
  Japan: VCCI
  Europe: EN 55022, EN 55024

Tables 3 and Table 4 list the ordering and accessories information for Cisco 5500 Series Wireless Controllers.

Table 3.       Ordering Information for Cisco 5500 Series Wireless Controllers

Part Number

Product Name

Cisco SMARTnet® Service 8x5xNBD


5500 Series Wireless Controller for up to 12 Cisco access points



5500 Series Wireless Controller for up to 25 Cisco access points



5500 Series Wireless Controller for up to 50 Cisco access points



5500 Series Wireless Controller for up to 100 Cisco access points



5500 Series Wireless Controller for up to 250 Cisco access points



5500 Series Wireless Controller for up to 500 Cisco access points



2 Pack 5500 Series Wireless Controller for up to 500 Cisco access points each (1000 access points total)



Cisco 5508 Series Wireless Controller for High Availability


Table 4.       Accessories for Cisco 5500 Series Wireless Controllers

Part Number

Product Name


5500 Series Wireless Controller Redundant AC Power Supply


5500 Series Wireless Controller Fan Tray


5500 Series Wireless Controller Spare mounting kit

Additive Capacity Upgrade Licenses

Tables 5 and 6 list additive capacity upgrade licenses for the Cisco 5500 Series.

Table 5.       Ordering Information for Cisco 5500 Series Wireless Controllers Additive Capacity Licenses (e-Delivery Product Authorization Keys [PAKs])


Part Number

Product Description

Cisco SMARTnet Service 8x5xNBD



Primary upgrade SKU: Pick any number or combination of the following options under this SKU to upgrade one or many controllers under one product authorization key



5 AP Adder License for the 5508 Controller (eDelivery)



25 AP Adder License for the 5508 Controller (eDelivery)



50 AP Adder License for the 5508 Controller (eDelivery)



100 AP Adder License for the 5508 Controller (eDelivery)



250 AP Adder License for the 5508 Controller (eDelivery)


Table 6.       Ordering Information for Cisco 5500 Series Wireless Controllers Additive Capacity Licenses (Paper PAKs)


Part Number

Product Description

Cisco SMARTnet Service 8x5xNBD

Paper License


Primary upgrade SKU: Pick any number or combination of the following options under this SKU, to upgrade one or many controllers under one product authorization key.



5 AP Adder License for the 5508 Controller



25 AP Adder License for the 5508 Controller



50 AP Adder License for the 5508 Controller



100 AP Adder License for the 5508 Controller



250 AP Adder License for the 5508 Controller


The additive capacity licenses allow for the increase in access point capacity supported by the controller up to a maximum of 500 access points. As an example, if a controller was initially ordered with support for 250 access points, that capacity could be later increased to up to 500 access points by purchasing a 250-access-point additive capacity license (1x-LIC-CT5508-250A).

A certificate with a PAK is required to add additional access point capacity on the Cisco 5500 Series Wireless Controller.

The certificate may be expedited via email. If a paper certificate is required for customs, it should be ordered to ship via U.S. mail. Each additive capacity license and PAK must be registered prior to installation.

Ordering and installing the Cisco 5500 Series Wireless Controller additive capacity licenses is a three-step process:

1.     Select the correct SKU for email or paper delivery.

2.     Register the PAK certificate (see Registering PAK Certificate).

3.     Install the license on the Cisco 5500 Series Wireless Controller (see Installing License).

Please review the Cisco Wireless LAN Controller Configuration Guide, Release 6.0 or later, for detailed ordering, registration, and installation information for the 5500 Series additive capacity licenses.

Electronic delivery of the same PAKs is available by ordering the e-License SKUs as listed in Table 5. If a paper certificate is required, please use the SKUs listed in Table 6.

PAK Certificate Registration

Customers are required to register a PAK certificate for all upgrade licenses for the Cisco 5500 Series Wireless Controllers. Customer email address and host name are required to register the PAK certificate at:

Installing License on Cisco WCS Server

Follow these steps to install a license file. If you need additional help, contact Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC) at 800 553-2447 or

1.     Install Cisco WCS software if not already completed.

2.     Save the license file (.lic) to a temporary directory on your hard drive. (You will receive an email from Cisco with an attached license file)

3.     Open a supported version of the Internet Explorer browser.

4.     In the location or address field, enter the following URL, replacing IP address with the IP address or host name of the Cisco WCS server: https: // <IP address>.

5.     Log in to the Cisco WCS server as system administrator. (Be aware that usernames and passwords are case-sensitive.)

6.     From the Help menu, select Licensing.

7.     On the Licensing page, from the Command menu, select Add License.

8.     On the Add License page, click Browse to navigate to the location where you saved the .lic file.

9.     Click Download. The Cisco WCS server imports the license.

Table 7 shows the optional DTLS license for Cisco 5500 Series Wireless Controllers.

Datagram Transport Layer Security (DTLS) is required for all OfficeExtend deployments to encrypt the Data Plane traffic. Customers planning to install this device physically in Russia must order the controller with DTLS disabled and then obtain a physical PAK in order to enable a DTLS license and should not download the license from Please consult your local government regulations to ensure that Data DTLS encryption is permitted.

If a customer chooses SWC5500K9-60, SWC5500K9-70 or SWC5500K9-72, DTLS Data Encryption is enabled by default. When a customer orders the 5500 Series and chooses either SWC5500LPE-K9-70 or SWC5500LPE-K9-72 in the Optional Licenses tab, data DTLS Encryption is disabled.

The DTLS Paper PAK license is designated for customers who purchase a controller with DTLS disabled due to import restrictions but get permission to add DTLS support after initial purchase. This optional DTLS license is required for Cisco OfficeExtend deployment.

Table 7.       Optional Licensing for Cisco 5500 Series Wireless Controllers (PAKs)

Part Number



5508 Wireless Controller DTLS License (Paper PAK)


Cisco 5508 Controller DTLS License (electronic Certificate)

Other customers can simply use the procedure outlined below in order to download the DTLS license from

To obtain a data DTLS license, follow these steps:

Step 1.    Browse to

Step 2.    On the Product License Registration page, choose Licenses Not Requiring a PAK

Step 3.    Choose Cisco Wireless Controllers DTLS License under Wireless

Step 4.    Complete the remaining steps to generate the license file. The license will be provided online or via email

Step 5.    Copy the license file to your TFTP server

Step 6.    Install the license by browsing to the WLC Web Administration Page:

Management --> Software Activation --> Commands --> Action: Install License

Step 7.    Browse to: Cisco 5508 Wireless Controller Software Download Page

Step 8.    Choose the release that corresponds to the SW running on your WLC

Step 9.    Choose the NON LDPE software release: AIR-CT5500-K9-X-X-XX.aes

Step 10.   Complete the remaining steps to download the software

Service and Support

Realize the full business value of your wireless network and mobility services investments faster with intelligent, customized services from Cisco and our partners. Backed by deep networking expertise and a broad ecosystem of partners, Cisco professional and technical services enable you to successfully plan, build, and run your network as a powerful business platform. Our services can help you successfully deploy the Cisco 5500 Series Wireless Controller and integrate mobility solutions effectively to lower the total cost of ownership and secure your wireless network.

To learn more about Cisco Wireless LAN service offers, visit:


The Cisco 5500 Series Wireless Controller is designed for 802.11n performance and offers maximum scalability for enterprise and service provider wireless deployments. It simplifies deployment and operation of wireless networks, helping to ensure smooth performance, enhance security, and maximize network availability. The Cisco 5500 Series Wireless Controller manages all the Cisco access points within campus environments and branch locations, eliminating complexity and providing network administrators with visibility and control of their wireless LANs.

For More Information

For more information about Cisco wireless controllers, contact your local account representative or visit:

For more information about the Cisco Unified Wireless Network framework, visit: