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Winning Back the Weather Radio Channels Adds Capacity to 5GHz Wi-Fi Spectrum

In my last blog on 5 GHz spectrum, I discussed the recent FCC ruling that permitted outdoor access points to use the U-NII 1 band (5150-5250 MHz).

But the story doesn’t  stop there. As mentioned last time, there are significant technical challenges to using the 5 GHz band. It is not cleared spectrum. It contains incumbent uses that are important for national security and public safety. Therefore, it is imperative that Wi-Fi not create harmful interference to these incumbent systems. Cisco will not settle for less.

On the topic of interference, a particularly interesting component of the same  FCC ruling that opened the U-NII1 band for outdoor AP’s is that it also re-opened the Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (TDWR) band (channels 120, 124, 128) with new test requirements for DFS protection. Hold on, let’s backtrack a bit before diving into what this means:

What is TDWR?

In brief, Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (TDWR) “is a Doppler weather radar system used primarily for the detection of hazardous wind shear conditions, precipitation, and winds aloft on and near major airports situated in climates with great exposure to thunderstorms in the United States.” TDWR uses the frequency band from 5600-5650 MHz which is why wireless network equipment needs to be proven to “do no harm” to TDWR. If you’re curious for more information on TDWR, then please click here and/or here.

A Brief History

Many of you reading this will recall that the FCC closed the use of the TDWR band several years ago as the result of numerous reports of wireless equipment creating interference with TDWR. Read More »

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Wi-Fi Roaming 101

Wi-Fi roaming is often a tumultuous subject.  The crux of the issue is, with Wi-Fi the roaming decision is left to the client.

In the recent years, there have been great strides in improving Wi-Fi roaming with the creation of standards-based roaming technologies.  Cisco first pioneered fast roaming many years ago with CCKM (Cisco Centralized Key Management), which was the foundation for 802.11r.  11r which was ratified by the IEEE in 2008, allows for fast roaming, even on a secure 802.1X SSID.  With 802.11r it is possible to roam without disruption during a voice or video call.

While client support of 802.11r is largely lacking in the laptop space,  there is large support in the smartphone realm.  Apple iOS devices have supported 11r since iOS 6 (http://support.apple.com/kb/HT5535).  The recent Samsung smartphones, such as the Galaxy S4, S5, and Note 3, also support 11r.

Note: Some non-802.11r clients can react adversely when connected to an 11r WLAN.  The current recommendation from Cisco is to have a separate WLAN for 802.11r clients.

802.11k is another amendment from the IEEE that helps to improve roaming.  802.11k provides a whole slew of information to the client, which allows the client to understand the RF environment and make an informed roaming decision.  This information can include channel load and AP neighbor lists.

11r and 11k help, however, that does not mean the infrastructure is irrelevant in the roaming picture.  With the help of a model train, we did some testing to figure out just how much impact the infrastructure could have.  We compared Cisco to one of our competitors, whom we will call Vendor A.

This video summarizes the results and shows the train in action, or continue reading for more details:
Read More »

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Wi-Fi & Taxes: Digging into the 802.11b Penalty

It’s that time of year again in the US – Tax Time!  That time of year where we review the previous year’s bounty, calculate what’s due, and re-evaluate our strategies to see if we can keep more of what we worked for.  Things change; rules, the economy, time to retirement, and before you know it you find yourself working through alternatives and making some new decisions.

Anyway, as I was working through the schedules and rule sheets, my mind wandered and I started to think about Wi-Fi and the taxes associated with it.  In my day job, I often play the role of forensic accountant.  Like a tax accountant, I’m always looking for a way to get more or understand why there isn’t more already.  So along those lines, lets talk about a little known tax that you may well be paying needlessly.  I’m talking of course about the dreaded 802.11b Penalty.

Wi-Fi protocols like 802.11b are referenced by standards committees for the workgroup that develops them.  In the 2.4 GHz spectrum, there is 802.11b, 802.11g, and 802.11n.  Back in 1997, 802.11b  was the first modern Wi-Fi protocol ratified by the IEEE and it allowed transmissions of 11 Mbps, a major jump forward from the previous 2 Mbps  that was possible with the original 802.11 standard.

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After 802.11b came 802.11a, and then 802.11g.  Both of these protocols where a radical departure from the simplistic 802.11b structure and employed Orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM) modulation (now standard in every 802.11 protocol created since then).  OFDM allowed for Read More »

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And the winners are… Cisco Recognizes Global Award Winners at Cisco Partner Summit 2014

At Cisco, we’re fully committed to our partners’ success. That’s why we feel it’s important to recognize our top-performing partners for their outstanding achievements.

Last evening during a Global awards reception held at Cisco Partner Summit, taking place this week in Las Vegas, we had the distinguished privilege of honoring our top global partners for their best-in-class performance.  Sixteen global partners were selected for their exemplary performance across several categories.

Winners of the 2014 Cisco Partner Summit Global awards are:

  • Global Learning Partner of the Year — NIL Data Communications
  • Geo Region Partner of the Year – Nexus
  • SP Architecture Partner of the Year — ECCOM Network System Co. Ltd.
  • APJC Partner of the Year — Logicalis
  • Solution Innovation Partner of the Year — Step Logic
  • EMEAR Global Partner of the Year — BT Group
  • EMEAR Global Commercial Partner of the Year — Kelway UK Ltd.
  • Services Partner of the Year — Dimension Data Asia Pacific
  • Cloud Provider Partner of the Year — Telstra Corporation
  • Architectural Excellence – Collaboration — Presidio
  • Enterprise Partner of the Year — World Wide Technology, Inc.
  • Global Cloud Builder of the Year — ePlus
  • Cisco Capital of the Year — Dimension Data
  • Architectural Excellence -- Data Center — CDW
  • Architectural Excellence -- Enterprise Networks — Insight
  • Distributor Partner of the Year — Tech Data

On behalf of Cisco, we thank you for your continued partnership and applaud you on your success. Congratulations again to all the winners!

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Cisco Partner Ecosystem

The Internet of Everything (IoE) is expected to create $19 trillion in value over the next 10 years. It’s also creating unprecedented opportunities for our partners to help customers unlock the massive potential this major market phenomenon is bringing to bear.

In order to help our partners seize these opportunities and embrace related market transitions like cloud, Cisco is announcing today, at Cisco Partner Summit 2014, the evolution of our partner program into the Cisco Partner Ecosystem. The Cisco Partner Ecosystem, which includes our existing channel program and our services program, is designed to attract a much broader set of partners, like Independent Software Vendors (ISVs), technology and Internet of Things partners as well as consulting firms.

These partners will provide solutions that address changing market conditions, enable flexible consumption models and help customers achieve desired business outcomes.

Read More »

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