Cisco 5520 Wireless Controller Data Sheet

Data Sheet

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Updated:February 2, 2021

Bias-Free Language

The documentation set for this product strives to use bias-free language. For the purposes of this documentation set, bias-free is defined as language that does not imply discrimination based on age, disability, gender, racial identity, ethnic identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and intersectionality. Exceptions may be present in the documentation due to language that is hardcoded in the user interfaces of the product software, language used based on RFP documentation, or language that is used by a referenced third-party product. Learn more about how Cisco is using Inclusive Language.

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Updated:February 2, 2021


Optimized for 802.11ac Wave 2 performance, the intent-driven Cisco DNA ready Cisco® 5520 Wireless Controller is a highly scalable, service-rich, resilient, and flexible platform that enables next-generation wireless networks for medium-sized to large enterprise campus and branch deployments.

As of January 2021, the Cisco 5520 Wireless Controller has been transitioned to End-of-Sale status and will be available for purchase until January 2022. We strongly recommend migrating to the next Cisco product: the Catalyst 9800 controllers. The migration process is easy, as there are many Cisco wireless controller options that can fit your needs. These products can be found on the Cisco Catalyst 9800 web page. End of support for the Cisco 5520 Wireless Controller is January 31, 2027.

Product overview

The Cisco 5520 Wireless Controller provides centralized control, management, and troubleshooting for high-scale deployments in service provider and large campus deployments. It offers flexibility to support multiple deployment modes in the same controller: for example, centralized mode for campus, Cisco FlexConnect mode for lean branches managed over the WAN, and mesh (bridge) mode for deployments where full Ethernet cabling is unavailable. As a component of the Cisco Unified Wireless Network, this controller provides real-time communications between Cisco Aironet® access points and Cisco Catalyst® access points, the Cisco Prime® Infrastructure, and the Cisco Mobility Services Engine, and is interoperable with other Cisco controllers.

The Cisco Digital Network Architecture (Cisco DNA) is an open and extensible, software-driven architecture that accelerates and simplifies your enterprise network operations. The programmable architecture frees your IT staff from time-consuming, repetitive network configuration tasks so they can focus instead on innovation that positively transforms your business. SD-Access, as part of Cisco DNA, enables policy-based automation from edge to cloud with foundational capabilities. Cisco DNA Assurance, also part of Cisco DNA, provides a single source to monitor, modify, and manage your network and application data.


Figure 1.         

Cisco 5520 Wireless Controller

Features and benefits

The Cisco 5520 Wireless Controller, optimized for 802.11ac Wave 2 performance, high scale, and enhanced system uptime, supports:

     Intent-driven programmability and streaming telemetry.

     Subsecond access point and client failover for uninterrupted application availability.

     Extraordinary visibility into application traffic, using Cisco Application Visibility and Control (AVC), the technology that includes the Network-Based Application Recognition 2 (NBAR2) engine, Cisco's Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) capability. This allows to mark, prioritize, and block to conserve network bandwidth and enhance security. Customers can optionally export the flows to Cisco Prime Infrastructure or a third-party NetFlow collector.

     Embedded wireless Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) policy classification engine that allows classification of client devices and application of user group policies.

     Deployment of guest access and Bonjour and Chromecast services in centralized deployments.

     Software-defined segmentation with Cisco TrustSec® technology, reducing Access Control List (ACL) maintenance, complexity, and overhead.

     Integrated Cisco CleanAir® technology, providing the industry’s only self-healing and self-optimizing wireless network.

     Simplified GUI wizard for quick setup and intuitive dashboards for monitoring and troubleshooting.

     Cisco DNA and SD-Access Wireless, as well as Cisco DNA Assurance.

Table 1.        Features and benefits



Cisco DNA SD-Access Wireless

SD-Access Wireless is Cisco’s next-generation architecture for enterprise networks. It is the industry’s first policy-based automation from the edge to the cloud. It enables network access in minutes for any user or device to any application without compromising on security. 

SD-Access Wireless enables policy-based automation for wired and wireless, automated provisioning of wired and wireless networks, group-based policy for users and connected devices, and a distributed wireless data plane for campus deployments. In addition, all clients roams are treated as Layer 2 roams across the network for distributed traffic.

Learn more at

Cisco DNA Analytics and Assurance

Cisco DNA Analytics and Assurance offers comprehensive network visibility. It collects data from users, devices, and applications to proactively identify problems. Network analytics and automation help IT quickly resolve issues, so you can increase availability and deliver a better user experience.

Learn more at

Scalability and performance

Optimized to enable 802.11ac Wave 2 next-generation networks, supporting:

  20-Gbps throughput
  1500 access points
  20,000 clients
  4096 VLANs

RF management

  Proactively identifies and mitigates signal interference for better performance
  Provides both real-time and historical information about RF interference affecting network performance across controllers, through systemwide integration with Cisco CleanAir technology

Multimode with indoor, outdoor mesh access points

  Versatile controller with support for centralized, distributed, and mesh deployments to be used at different places in the network, offering maximum flexibility for medium-sized campus, enterprise, and branch networks
  Centralized control, management, and client troubleshooting
  Seamless client access in the event of a WAN link failure (local data switching)
  Highly secure guest access
  Efficient access point upgrade that optimizes the WAN link utilization for downloading access point images
  Cisco OfficeExtend technology that supports corporate wireless service for mobile and remote workers with secure wired tunnels to indoor Cisco Aironet access points supporting OfficeExtend mode

Comprehensive end-to-end security

  Offers Control and Provisioning of Wireless Access Points (CAPWAP)-compliant Datagram Transport Layer Security (DTLS) encryption on the control plane between access points and controllers across remote WAN links
  Management frame protection detects malicious users and alerts network administrators
  Rogue detection for Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance
  Rogue access point detection and detection of denial-of-service attacks

End-to-end voice

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

Fault tolerance and high availability

  Subsecond access point and client failover for uninterrupted application availability
  Redundant 1 Gigabit Ethernet or 10 Gigabit Ethernet connectivity
  Solid-state device-based storage - no moving parts
  Optional redundant, hot-swappable power supply with no incremental system downtime
  Enhanced system uptime with fast system restarts

Cisco 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

WLAN express setup

  Simplified GUI wizard for quick setup and intuitive dashboards for monitoring and troubleshooting

High-performance video

  Cisco VideoStream technology optimizes the delivery of video applications across the WLAN

Mobility, security, and management for IPv6 and dual-stack clients

  Highly secure, reliable wireless connectivity and consistent end-user experience
  Increased network availability through proactive blocking of known threat s
  Equips administrators for IPv6 planning, troubleshooting, and client traceability from Cisco Prime Infrastructure

Environmentally responsible

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

Perpetual licensing

The Cisco 5520 Wireless Controller provides right-to-use (with General Terms) license enablement for faster time to deployment, with flexibility to add additional access points (up to 1500 access points) as business needs grow.

   Additional access point capacity licenses can be added over time.

   Right-to-use licensing (with General Terms acceptance) for faster and easier license enablement.

Starting with the 8.2 release, the Cisco 5520 Wireless Controller also provides an option to enable licensing using Cisco Smart Software Licensing, designed for easy monitoring and consumption of licenses.

   Manage license deployments with real-time visibility to ownership and consumption.

   Pools license entitlements in a single account. Licenses can be moved freely through the network–wherever they are needed.

Cisco does not allow porting of non-Cisco ONE perpetual AP licenses (like former Base capacity or capacity upgrade “Adder” licenses) from any older Cisco Wireless Controllers (eg. Cisco 2504, 4400, 5508, 7510, 8510 Wireless controllers) to Cisco 3504, 5520, and 8540 Wireless controller.

Cisco does allow porting of perpetual AP licenses between Cisco 3504, 5520 and 8540 Wireless Controllers.

Term-based licensing

With the Cisco DNA architecture, we are also introducing term-based software packages: Cisco DNA Essentials, Cisco DNA Advantage, and Cisco DNA Premier. In addition to on-box capabilities, the Cisco DNA packages unlock additional functionality in Cisco DNA Center, enabling controller-based software-defined automation in your network.

License consumption is further simplified with the following three package combinations. Cisco Embedded Support is included in all the three packages.

Essentials: Term-based (3, 5, or 7 years per access point) Cisco DNA Essentials package, term-based access point license, and term-based Cisco Prime Lifecycle and Assurance infrastructure licenses.

Advantage: Term-based (3, 5, or 7 years per access point) Cisco DNA Advantage package. It also includes everything in the Cisco DNA Essentials package.

Cisco DNA Premier: Term-based (3, 5, or 7 years per access point) Cisco DNA Advantage package (includes Cisco DNA Essentials package), Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE) Base, ISE Plus and Cisco Connected Mobile Experiences (CMX) Base.

You can continue to deploy your network using perpetual licensing or the new term-based packages. The term-based licensing provides you with the additional benefit of using the same Cisco DNA license on any Cisco WLAN controllers and with any Aironet access point.

Product specifications

Table 2.           Product specifications




IEEE 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11d, WMM/802.11e, 802.11h, 802.11n, 802.11k, 802.11r, 802.11u, 802.11w, 802.11ac Wave1 and Wave2, Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax)


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

Data Request For Comments (RFC)

  RFC 768 UDP
  RFC 791 IP
  RFC 2460 IPv6
  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

  Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA)
  IEEE 802.11i (WPA2, RSN)
  RFC 1321 MD5 Message-Digest Algorithm
  RFC 1851 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 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 4347 Datagram Transport Layer Security
  RFC 5246 TLS Protocol Version 1.2


  Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) and Temporal Key Integrity Protocol-Message Integrity Check (TKIP-MIC): RC4 40, 104 and 128 bits (both static and shared keys)
  Advanced Encryption Standard (AES): Cipher Block Chaining (CBC), Counter with CBC-MAC (CCM), Counter with Cipher Block Chaining Message Authentication Code Protocol (CCMP)
  Data Encryption Standard (DES): DES-CBC, 3DES
  Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS): RC4 128-bit and RSA 1024- and 2048-bit
  802.1AE MACsec encryption

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 5176 Dynamic Authorization Extensions to RADIUS
  RFC 3579 RADIUS Support for EAP
  RFC 3580 IEEE 802.1X RADIUS Guidelines
  RFC 3748 Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP)
  Web-based authentication
  TACACS support for management users


  Simple Network Management Protocol (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 Prime Infrastructure

Interfaces and indicators

  2 x 10 Gigabit Ethernet interfaces or 2 x 1 Gigabit Ethernet interfaces
  Small Form-Factor Pluggable Plus (SFP+) options (only Cisco SFP+s supported), including S-Class Optics
  Small Form-Factor Pluggable (SFP) options (only Cisco SFPs supported), including
S-Class Optics
  1 x service port: 1 Gigabit Ethernet port (RJ-45)
  1 x redundancy port: 1 Gigabit Ethernet port (RJ-45)
  1 x Cisco Integrated Management Controller port: 10/100/1000 Ethernet (RJ-45)
  1 x console port: Serial port (RJ-45)
  LED indicators: Network Link, Diagnostics

Physical dimensions

  Dimensions (WxDxH): 18.98 x 30.98 x 1.70 in. (48.2 x 78.7 x 4.32 cm) including handles
  Weight: 30 lb (13.6 kg) with 1 power supply

Environmental conditions

Air temperature:

  Appliance operating: 41° to 104°F (5° to 40°C), derate the maximum temperature by 1.0°C per every 1000 ft. (305m) of altitude above sea level
  Appliance nonoperating: -40° to 149°F (-40° to 65°C)


  Appliance operating: 10% to 90%; noncondensing at 82°F (28°C)
  Appliance nonoperating: 5% to 93% at 82°F (28°C)


  Appliance operating: 0 to 3000m (0 to 10,000 ft.)
  Appliance nonoperating: 0 to 12,192m (0 to 40,000 ft.)

Electrical input:

  AC input frequency range: 47 to 63 Hz
  Input voltage range:
   Minimum: 90 VAC
   Maximum: 264 VAC
   Maximum Power 190W
  Input kilovolt-amperes (kVA), approximately:
   Minimum: 0.090 kVA
   Maximum: 0.700 kVA
  Heat dissipation: 650 BTU/hr
  Sound power level measure:
   A-weighted per ISO 7779 LpAm (dBA), operation at 77°F (25°C): 49.3

Regulatory compliance

CE Markings per directives 2004/108/EC and 2006/95/EC


  UL 60950-1 Second Edition
  CAN/CSA-C22.2 No. 60950-1 Second Edition
  EN 60950-1 Second Edition
  IEC 60950-1 Second Edition
  AS/NZS 60950-1
  GB4943 2001

EMC - Emissions:

  47CFR Part 15 (CFR 47) Class A
  AS/NZS CISPR22 Class A
  EN55022 Class A
  ICES003 Class A VCCI Class A
  EN61000-3-2 EN61000-3-3 KN22 Class A
  CNS13438 Class A

EMC - Immunity:


Warranty information

Find warranty information on at the Product Warranties page.

The Cisco 5520 Wireless Controller is backed by a warranty that includes:

     3 years parts coverage.

     10-day Advance Replacement (AR): Cisco or its service center will use commercially reasonable efforts to ship a replacement within ten (10) working days after receipt of the RMA request. Actual delivery times might vary depending on customer location.

This warranty also includes a 90-day software warranty on media and ongoing downloads of BIOS, firmware, and drivers.

Ordering information

For ordering details, please consult the part numbers in Table 3.To place an order, visit the Cisco How to Buy homepage. To download software, visit the Cisco Software Center.

Table 3.        Ordering information

Product name

Part number

Services 8x5xNBD

Cisco 5520 Wireless Controller



Cisco 5520 Wireless Controller supporting 50 access points



Perpetual licenses

Cisco 5520 Wireless Controller upgrade SKU



Cisco 5520 Wireless Controller 1 access point adder license



Cisco 5520 Wireless Controller DTLS license



Term-based licenses

Cisco DNA Essentials 3-, 5-, or 7-year term license per year per access point for wireless


Embedded Support included

Cisco DNA Advantage 3-, 5-, or 7-year term license per year per access point for wireless


Embedded Support included

Cisco DNA Premier 3-, 5-, or 7-year term license per year per access point for wireless


Embedded Support included


Spare power supply



Spare SSD for Cisco Wireless Controller 5520 and 8540



Spare fan - Cisco 5520 Wireless Controller



Rail mounting kit



Cisco ONE Software

Cisco ONE Software offers a valuable and flexible way to buy software for the access domain. At each stage in the product lifecycle, Cisco ONE Software helps make buying, managing, and upgrading your network and infrastructure software easier. Cisco ONE Software provides:

     Flexible licensing models to smoothly distribute customers’ software spending over time

     Investment protection for software purchases through software services–enabled license portability

     Access to updates, upgrades, and new technology from Cisco through Cisco® Software Support Services (SWSS)

Cisco ONE for Wireless, available for the Cisco 5520 Wireless Controller, is a complete software solution that helps you deliver and manage business-class wireless connectivity for all your employees and customers. It helps unlock the business potential in your wireless network while providing all the capabilities required to deploy, manage, and track wireless performance and activity. Cisco ONE for Access Wireless is available in subscription and perpetual offers for broad deployment flexibility in branch and campus environments: Cisco ONE for Advantage, Foundation for Wireless, Advanced Mobility Services, and Cloud Mobility Services are the four offers currently available in Cisco ONE for Access Wireless.

For ordering information for Cisco ONE Software for Wireless go to

Cisco Services

Get ready for your next-generation wireless network with our Assessment Services. They help you reduce deployment cost and adoption delays by identifying investment requirements. Our services also make it easier for your operations team to support new solutions that are being introduced.

Lower support cost for your business with Cisco Smart Net Total Care Service by reducing downtime with flexible hardware coverage, anytime access to Cisco engineers, and an extensive range of resources, tools, and training.

Cisco Embedded Support for Cisco DNA term components

Cisco Embedded Support delivers the right support for Cisco software products and suites. It will keep your business applications performing as expected and protect your investment. Cisco Embedded Support for the Essentials and Advantage term components is included. Cisco Embedded Support provides access to Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC) support, major software updates, maintenance and minor software releases, and the Cisco Embedded Support site, for increased productivity with anytime access.

Learn more about Cisco Services for Enterprise Networks

Cisco Capital

Financing to help you achieve your objectives

Cisco Capital® can help you acquire the technology you need to achieve your objectives and stay competitive. We can help you reduce CapEx. Accelerate your growth. Optimize your investment dollars and ROI. Cisco Capital financing gives you flexibility in acquiring hardware, software, services, and complementary third-party equipment. And there’s just one predictable payment. Cisco Capital is available in more than 100 countries. Learn more.

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