Consolidated Platform Configuration Guide, Cisco IOS XE 3.3SE (Catalyst 3850 Switches)
Configuring DHCP for WLANs
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Configuring DHCP for WLANs

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Prerequisites for Configuring DHCP for WLANs

  • To be able to use the DHCP option 82, you must configure DHCP on Cisco IOS software. By default, DHCP option 82 is enabled for all clients. You can control the wireless client behavior using the WLAN suboptions.
  • It is recommended to enable dhcp snooping on the Switches irrespective of the DHCP address requirement being checked or unchecked on the WLAN. This avoids any client connectivity issues when DHCP snopping is not turned on. This example shows how to enable DHCP snooping on the Switches:
    Switch(config)# ip dhcp snooping 136, 139
    Switch(config)# ip dhcp snooping
    Switch(config)# ip dhcp snooping trust
    Switch(config)# ip dhcp snooping trust
Related Information

Restrictions for Configuring DHCP for WLANs

  • If you override the DHCP server in a WLAN, you must ensure that you configure the underlying Cisco IOS configuration to make sure that the DHCP server is reachable.
  • WLAN DHCP override works only if DHCP service is enabled on the switch. You can configure DHCP service in the following ways:
    • Configuring the DHCP pool on the switch.
    • Configuring a DHCP relay agent on the SVI. Note: the VLAN of the SVI must be mapped to the WLAN where DHCP override is configured.
Related Information

Information About the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol

You can configure WLANs to use the same or different Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) servers or no DHCP server. Two types of DHCP servers are available: internal and external.

Internal DHCP Servers

The switches contain an internal DHCP server. This server is typically used in branch offices that do not already have a DHCP server. The wireless network generally contains a maximum of 10 access points or fewer, with the access points on the same IP subnet as the switch. The internal server provides DHCP addresses to wireless clients, direct-connect access points, and DHCP requests that are relayed from access points. Only lightweight access points are supported. When you want to use the internal DHCP server, you must set the management interface IP address of the switch as the DHCP server IP address.

DHCP option 43 is not supported on the internal server. Therefore, the access point must use an alternative method to locate the management interface IP address of the switch, such as local subnet broadcast, Domain Name System (DNS), or priming.

An internal DHCP server pool only serves the wireless clients of that switch, not clients of other switches. Also, an internal DHCP server can serve only wireless clients, not wired clients.

When clients use the internal DHCP server of the switch, IP addresses are not preserved across reboots. As a result, multiple clients can be assigned with the same IP address. To resolve any IP address conflicts, clients must release their existing IP address and request a new one. Wired guest clients are always on a Layer 2 network connected to a local or foreign switch.


DHCPv6 is not supported in the internal DHCP servers.

External DHCP Servers

The operating system is designed to appear as a DHCP Relay to the network and as a DHCP server to clients with industry-standard external DHCP servers that support DHCP Relay, which means that each switch appears as a DHCP Relay agent to the DHCP server and as a DHCP server at the virtual IP address to wireless clients.

Because the switch captures the client IP address that is obtained from a DHCP server, it maintains the same IP address for that client during intra switch, inter switch, and inter-subnet client roaming.


External DHCP servers can support DHCPv6.

DHCP Assignments

You can configure DHCP on a per-interface or per-WLAN basis. We recommend that you use the primary DHCP server address that is assigned to a particular interface.

You can assign DHCP servers for individual interfaces. You can configure the management interface, AP-manager interface, and dynamic interface for a primary and secondary DHCP server, and you can configure the service-port interface to enable or disable DHCP servers. You can also define a DHCP server on a WLAN. In this case, the server overrides the DHCP server address on the interface assigned to the WLAN.

Security Considerations

For enhanced security, we recommend that you require all clients to obtain their IP addresses from a DHCP server. To enforce this requirement, you can configure all WLANs with a DHCP Addr. Assignment Required setting, which disallows client static IP addresses. If DHCP Addr. Assignment Required is selected, clients must obtain an IP address via DHCP. Any client with a static IP address is not allowed on the network. The switch monitors DHCP traffic because it acts as a DHCP proxy for the clients.


WLANs that support management over wireless must allow management (device-servicing) clients to obtain an IP address from a DHCP server.

If slightly less security is tolerable, you can create WLANs with DHCP Addr. Assignment Required disabled. Clients then have the option of using a static IP address or obtaining an IP address from a designated DHCP server.


DHCP Addr. Assignment Required is not supported for wired guest LANs.

You can create separate WLANs with DHCP Addr. Assignment Required configured as disabled. This is applicable only if DHCP proxy is enabled for the switch. You must not define the primary/secondary configuration DHCP server you should disable the DHCP proxy. These WLANs drop all DHCP requests and force clients to use a static IP address. These WLANs do not support management over wireless connections.

Information About DHCP Option 82

DHCP option 82 provides additional security when DHCP is used to allocate network addresses. It enables the switch to act as a DHCP relay agent to prevent DHCP client requests from untrusted sources. You can configure the switch to add option 82 information to DHCP requests from clients before forwarding the requests to the DHCP server.

Figure 1. DHCP Option 82

The access point forwards all DHCP requests from a client to the switch. The switch adds the DHCP option 82 payload and forwards the request to the DHCP server. The payload can contain the MAC address or the MAC address and SSID of the access point, depending on how you configure this option.


Any DHCP packets that already include a relay agent option are dropped at the switch.

For DHCP option 82 to operate correctly, DHCP proxy must be enabled.

Configuring DHCP Scopes

Information About DHCP Scopes

Switches have built-in DHCP relay agents. However, when you desire network segments that do not have a separate DHCP server, the switches can have built-in DHCP scopes that assign IP addresses and subnet masks to wireless clients. Typically, one switch can have one or more DHCP scopes that each provide a range of IP addresses.

DHCP scopes are needed for internal DHCP to work. Once DHCP is defined on the switch, you can then point the primary DHCP server IP address on the management, AP-manager, and dynamic interfaces to the switch’s management interface.

How to Configure DHCP for WLANs

Configuring DHCP for WLANs (CLI)

Use this procedure to configure the following DHCP parameters on a WLAN:

  • DHCP Option 82 Payload
  • DHCP Required
  • DHCP Override
Before You Begin
  • You must have admin privileges for configuring the WLAN.
  • To configure the DHCP override, you must have the IP address of the DHCP server.

    1.    configure terminal

    2.    shutdown

    3.    wlan profile-name

    4.    ip dhcp opt82 {ascii | format {add-ssid | ap-ethmac} | rid}

    5.    ip dhcp required

    6.    ip dhcp server ip-address

    7.    no shutdown

    8.    end

    9.    show wlan wlan-name

      Command or Action Purpose
    Step 1 configure terminal

    Switch# configure terminal

    Enters global configuration mode.

    Step 2 shutdown

    Switch(config)# shutdown

    Shut down the WLAN.

    Step 3 wlan profile-name

    Switch# wlan test4

    Enters the WLAN configuration submode. The profile-name is the profile name of the configured WLAN.

    Step 4 ip dhcp opt82 {ascii | format {add-ssid | ap-ethmac} | rid}

    Switch(config)# ip dhcp opt82 format add-ssid

    Specifies the DHCP82 payload on the WLAN. The keyword and arguments are as follows:

    • ascii—Configures ASCII for DHCP Option 82. If this is not configured, the option 82 format is set to ASCII format.
    • format—Specifies the DHCP option 82 format. The following options are available:
      • add-ssid—Set RemoteID format that is the AP radio MAC address and SSID.
      • ap-ethmac—Set RemoteID format that is the AP Ethernet MAC address.

      If the format option is not configured, only the AP radio MAC address is used.

    • rid—Adds the Cisco 2 byte RID for DHCP option 82.
    Step 5 ip dhcp required

    Switch(config-wlan)# ip dhcp required

    Makes it mandatory for clients to get their IP address from the DHCP server. Static clients are not allowed.

    Step 6 ip dhcp server ip-address

    Switch(config-wlan)# ip dhcp server

    Defines a DHCP server on the WLAN that overrides the DHCP server address on the interface assigned to the WLAN.

    Step 7 no shutdown

    Switch(config-wlan)# no shutdown

    Restarts the WLAN.

    Step 8 end

    Switch(config)# end

    Returns to privileged EXEC mode. Alternatively, you can also press Ctrl-Z to exit global configuration mode.

    Step 9 show wlan wlan-name

    Switch(config-wlan)# show wlan test-wlan

    Verifies the DHCP configuration.

    Related Information

    Configuring DHCP Scopes (CLI)


      1.    configure terminal

      2.    ip dhcp pool pool-name

      3.    network network-name mask-address

      4.    dns-server hostname

      5.    end

        Command or Action Purpose
      Step 1 configure terminal

      Switch# configure terminal

      Enters global configuration mode.

      Step 2 ip dhcp pool pool-name

      Switch(config)#ip dhcp pool test-pool

      Configures the DHCP pool address.

      Step 3 network network-name mask-address


      Specifies the network number in dotted-decimal notation and the mask address.

      Step 4 dns-server hostname


      Specifies the DNS name server. You can specify an IP address or a hostname.

      Step 5 end

      Switch(config)# end

      Returns to privileged EXEC mode. Alternatively, you can also press Ctrl-Z to exit global configuration mode.


      Additional References

      Related Documents

      Related Topic Document Title
      System Management System Management Configuration Guide (Catalyst 3850 Switches)

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      Feature Information for DHCP for WLANs

      Feature Name Release Feature Information
      DHCP functionality for WLAN Cisco IOS XE 3.2SE

      This feature was introduced.