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The Future of Wireless: Times are Changing Before Our Eyes

We live in amazing times, ask anyone who ever had to look up a phone number in a phone book. In the past this was the only way you could find the number to your favorite restaurant if you wanted to make a reservation. Today, all we need to do is reach into our pocket or purse and grab our mobile device, open an application and in a few seconds (not minutes) we have the phone number. Not only that, but we can see the menu and make a reservation right from the device. Over time we have become dependent on carrying the world (both personal and professional) in our pocket. With mobility, we are always on, always connected: nothing—whether it’s your team’s latest score or that email from a vendor you need to send to your boss—is more than a quick search away.

What once seemed unfathomable, this way of always being connected is now commonplace. However, as the application developers sit and think of the next killer app, the IT team has to make sure the network can not only support this new app, but also assure the performance meets the higher and higher demands of new apps. This requires the network to be more application-aware. And the reality is that more applications that require higher network performance are coming at a faster rate. Add to it new devices that use these applications are becoming accessible to everyone. On top of that, the people that use these applications and devices are becoming more demanding in terms of reliability and experience. So what is an IT person to do?

“We were ahead of the times,” says Joseph Tufano, VP and CIO of St. John’s University. “But times have changed. You see it everywhere: for example, if you go to a basketball game on campus, and there’s a timeout, everybody is using their mobile devices.”

IT is always working to increase the wireless performance of the network. However, as more bandwidth becomes available, users increase their usage and consume that bandwidth. Read More »

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Bring Out Yer Dead: 5 Steps to Eliminate 802.11b From Your Networks

Now that US tax day is over, we in the wireless field can get back to focusing on P1: optimizing and maintaining network performance. Keeping your network in good shape is like gardening: if you don’t pull out the weeds, it’ll never look as good as it could. My friend Jim Florwick detailed the gory bits of the 802.11b penalty with its awful lag in efficiency and absolute waste of spectrum. I write today to help give you the steps to act on Jim’s order to stop the madness.

I liken this process to a memorable scene from Monty Python: You must “Bring out yer dead.” However much the first standard insists it’s still alive, let’s all be honest with ourselves: 802.11b is dead.

In memoriam of the first amendment to the IEEE 802.11 wireless networking standard hailing all the way since 1999, 802.11b was superseded by 802.11a and g in 2003 which are much more efficient.  802.11n was available in draft form in 2007 and was ratified in 2009 while 802.11ac was ratified last September. A few years from now we should be planning the wake for 802.11a and 802.11g as well.

Now is the right time to bury 802.11b and reduce the drag on your network. Let’s be real: there is a reason cyclists are not allowed on the freeway, and an 802.11b device will slow everyone down. Here are 5 easy steps for eradicating your network of 802.11b and getting on your way towards higher speed wireless:

STEP    1.         Identify any 802.11b devices on your network

All of the latest Wi-Fi connecting devices are 802.11a/b/g/n capable. So how do you hunt down the 802.11b-only devices? You’ll be looking for older laptop and mobile clients (mostly before the year 2005).

Cisco Prime Infrastructure makes this easy for you with a report on clients by protocol. It will look like this:

prime1 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.

tax1

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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Increasing Demand for Higher Location Data Resolution

Cisco has been playing a critical part for retail, healthcare, hospitality and transportation organizations to gain an understanding of how end-users move throughout an organization’s physical location. This is done through our Cisco Connected Mobile Experiences (CMX) solution.

With all the valuable information CMX provides, the demand for even more accurate data has been growing. Location accuracy has been a hot developing field and, as I mentioned in announcing our Best of Interop Finalist status in the wireless category last week, Cisco’s taken the lead in redefining how this location-based data is acquired.

In the past many solutions have relied on the probing performed by the mobile device to acquire location-based data.  In recent months this approach has shown diminishing returns. The underlying issue is that this data is reliant on how frequently the mobile device probes an access point. A couple issues that arise include:

-       Mobile device manufacturers are reducing the frequency of device probing to conserve battery. This reduces the number of data points collected and impacts the accuracy of the data

-       Different manufacturers probe the access point with varying frequency so some devices deliver more accurate information than others skewing the location analytics data.

At Cisco’s annual Partner Summit event we are revealing some key areas of focus for the upcoming Cisco v8.0 release. Although the list is not inclusive of all new functionality, I would like to highlight some steps we are taking to bring CMX to meet the ever-evolving demand for location-based data.

Step 1: Increasing Data Resolution Read More »

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Cisco Mobility Services Engine with Enhanced Wi-Fi Location Accuracy and Analytics: Best of Interop 2014 Finalist

Cisco has been placing a lot of emphasis on delivering solutions that provide insights and understanding on how customers, patients, visitors and communities interact with their physical environments. Mobility and leveraging mobile devices in the environment has revealed itself as a very powerful way to gather critical business intelligence. This business intelligence is highly impacted by the resolution of the location-data and the demand to improve resolution and accuracy is increasing quickly.  Apparently, this has not been missed by UBM. This year Cisco is honored to be selected as a Best of Interop Finalist for the Wireless award category for our innovations in improving location data resolution calculations.

best of interop 2014

It’s an honor to be recognized for our innovation and technological advancements in wireless, and we wanted to share a bit more about our submission with you.

What are Location Data Resolution Calculations?

Many systems acquire location analytics by relying solely on the probing that occurs from a mobile device to an access point. Unfortunately, this approach is delivering diminishing returns. It puts location analytics at the mercy of the mobile device vendors. What I mean by this is that as mobile device manufacturers look to improve mobile devices in regards to OS, drivers and battery life they are reducing the frequency of the probing from the mobile device. In addition, different mobile device manufacturer use different probing intervals. The need to do this makes sense from the mobile device manufacturer perspective, but it has an impact on the accuracy of the data acquired when representing movement of end users in the physical environment. If a user is recognized when they walk in the environment and then is identified a minute later, there is a lot of movement that can occur in that time.  But the analytics only sees two data points and draws a straight line. Not a very accurate representation.

Cisco is leveraging what we know best, the network, to supplement the device probing. Bringing in network data allows us to gather higher data resolution regarding mobile device movement, equating to a more accurate representations of end user movement in the environment.

Why is This Important? Read More »

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