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Behind the WiFi Network @ Mobile World Congress 2014: Setting the Stage

Every year a new attendance record is set at Mobile World Congress by networkers participating from over 200 countries across the globe. This grand attendance of industry-defining vendors, technology enthusiasts and exhibitors triggers an explosive growth in the number of Wi-Fi capable devices being brought to the event. For MWC 2014, Cisco partnered with Fira Gran Via and GSMA to pull off one of the most successful high density Wi-Fi network deployments in the history of global tech events. This blog kicks off a series to provide a glimpse of behind the network, into the design stages, and the course of actions undertaken to implement a robust high density wireless network which served more than 22,000 concurrently connected unique devices and a total of 80,880 devices throughout the event. Full details in whitepaper here.

Setting the Scene

Divided into eight massive exhibition halls, Fira Gran Via covers around 3 million square feet (280,000 square meters) of area which also includes outdoor areas, restaurants, conference rooms, network lounges and a continuous elevated walkway flowing through the entire venue. Higher the environmental complexity, the more fun and challenging it is to achieve the right wireless design for a pervasive network that meets all the needs.

An aerial view of Mobile World Congress 2014 arena at Fira Gran Via, Barcelona

An aerial view of Mobile World Congress 2014 arena at Fira Gran Via, Barcelona

Generally, the physical design of large convention and exhibition halls bear an impish knack of unfavorable conditions for a ubiquitous high density Wi-Fi network, owing mostly to the lofty ceiling heights and construction components. Read More »

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The Network After 25 Years of Cisco Live!

#clus1A lot can change in 25 years. At the first Cisco Live (then known as Networkers conferences) in 1989, 200 geeks gathered for the inaugural event. Fast forward to three weeks ago, when we welcomed a whopping 25,000 attendees into the arms of our namesake, beautiful San Francisco.

We heard there was some interest in how the network performed at the show, so I wanted to share some of the interesting statistics about the network at Cisco Live! I shudder at the thought of the ancient network from 25 years ago. So here we go:

Wi-Fi Client Devices

This year we saw 30,705 unique devices, with 7000 in the theater for John Chambers’ keynote.

# of Unique Clients

# of Sessions

# of Unique Users

# of Unique APs

Avg Users per AP

30705

1396239

30705

859

33.64

Max. Concurrent Connected Wi-Fi Devices

There was a peak of 14216 concurrently connected device at SF this year.

clients2 Read More »

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HDX Blog Series #3: 802.11ac Beamforming At Its Best: ClientLink 3.0

Editor’s Note: This is the second of a four-part deep dive series into High Density Experience (HDX), Cisco’s latest solution suite designed for high density environments and next-generation wireless technologies. For more on Cisco HDX, visit www.cisco.com/go/80211ac.  Read part 1 here. Read part 2 here.

The 802.11ac wireless networking standard is the most recent introduction by the IEEE (now ratified), and is rapidly becoming more accepted and reliable industry standard. The good news is that the client and vendor adoption rate for 802.11ac is growing at a much higher pace as compared to when 802.11n was introduced back in 2009. There has been an accelerated growth seen with the mobile and laptop devices entering the wireless market embedded with an 802.11ac WiFi chipset. Unlike in the past, laptop, smartphone and tablet manufacturers are now acknowledging the fact that staying up to date with the latest Wi-Fi standards is as important for the bandwidth hungry users as having a better camera or a higher resolution display.

With the launch of the new 802.11ac AP 3700, Cisco introduces the Cisco HDX (High Density Experience) Technology. Cisco HDX is a suite of solutions aimed towards augmenting the higher performance, more speed and better client connectivity that 802.11ac standard delivers today.

ClientLink 3.0 features as an integral part of Cisco HDX technology designed to resolve the complexities that comes along with the new BYOD trend driving the high proliferation of 802.11ac capable devices.

So what is ClientLink 3.0 technology and how does it work?

ClientLink 3.0 is a Cisco patented 802.11ac/n/a/g beamforming technology Read More »

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HDX Blog Series #2: Scaling with Turbo Performance

Editor’s Note: This is the second of a four-part deep dive series into High Density Experience (HDX), Cisco’s latest solution suite designed for high density environments and next-generation wireless technologies. For more on Cisco HDX, visit www.cisco.com/go/80211ac.  Read part 1 here

With any new technology comes a new set of obstacles to overcome.  802.11ac is no exception.  Last week we talked about CleanAir for 802.11ac and why spectrum intelligence still matters. Another challenge is scalability. In this post I will give you some details on new HDX feature, Turbo Performance, which allows the AP 3700 overcome common scaling issues to scale amazingly well.

What’s Different with 802.11ac?

802.11ac means higher data rates, which means more packets per second (PPS).  There are three reasons for more PPS with 11ac: wider channels, increased modulation and increased aggregation.  Channel width doubled to 80 MHz, modulation increased from 64 QAM to 256 QAM, and aggregation increased from 64k to 1MB!

With 802.11n, an AP might have had to push 30,000 1500 byte packets per second through the APs data plane. Today with 802.11ac that could now be 75,000+ PPS.  More PPS means more load on the APs CPU, so to really keep up with the demands of 802.11ac, we needed to go back to the drawing board.   Read More »

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6 Tips for High Density Network Design

The guys from No Strings Attached Show just published their podcast we sponsored featuring Jim Florwick yesterday and already the verdict is in: Jim Florwick is awesome.

For those of you who haven’t had the chance to download the podcast yet (What are you waiting for?! Download  podcast) or you have a few extra minutes to scan a short blog to decide whether or not you want to download the podcast, I asked Jim what his key takeaways are when it comes to high density design.

Here are Jim Florwick’s 6 tips for HD network design (for the REAL meat, tune into the podcast):

  1. High density client environments are quite common with today’s users being very connected – today’s users are always connected.  With planning, this can be managed quite successfully.  Understand the limitations, be aware of how legacy requirements will affect the outcome, and set expectations accordingly. Efficiency is key and removing some of the blockers (legacy) first is essential.
  2. 802.11ac represents another quantum leap forward in technology and will eventually allow a much richer user experience.   It is a transition that must be managed and balanced against your current mission requirements.  Evaluate channel/bandwidth requirements carefully.  Monitor the mix of client devices operating in your environment and update frequently. Read More »

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