Working with Virtual Access Point Wireless Interfaces

pfSense® software supports virtual wireless interfaces using Multi-BSS. These are known as Virtual Access Point or VAP interfaces, even if they are being used for client mode. VAPs allow multiple access points or clients to be run on the same wireless card, or to use a combination of access point and client mode. The most common use case is for multiple access points with different SSIDs each with unique security requirements. For example, one with no encryption but with captive portal and strict access rules and a separate network with encryption, authentication, and less strict access rules.

Even if a card does not support multiple VAP instances, the first entry must be created manually before it can be assigned.

Support for VAPs varies by card and driver, consult the information on driver support in Recommended Wireless Hardware to learn more. Odds are, however, if an Atheros wireless card is in use, it will work. While there is no theoretical limit to the number of VAPs a card may use, driver and hardware support varies, so the practical limit is four VAPs on ath(4) and eight on mwl(4).

All VAPs on a given card share some common settings, such as the channel, regulatory settings, antenna settings, and wireless standard. Other settings such as the mode, SSID, encryption settings and so on may vary between VAPs.

Creating and Managing Wireless Instances

To create a new wireless instance:

  • Navigate to Interfaces > Assignments on the Wireless tab.

  • Click fa-plus Add to create a new entry

  • Select the Parent Interface, for example ath0

  • Pick the Mode from one of Access Point, Infrastructure (BSS, client mode), or Ad-hoc (IBSS)

  • Enter a Description

  • Click Save

An example is shown in Figure Adding a Wireless Instance.


Adding a Wireless Instance

Once the entry has been saved it is then available for assignment under Interfaces > Assignments. From there, assign and then edit the settings like any other wireless interface.


The assigned interface must be configured to use the same mode specified when the VAP was created.