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The Foundation for a Business Relevant Network

With the growing influx of new mobile devices, connected things, bandwidth intensive applications and more data, the network is more relevant to business success than ever before.  Back in June of 2012, Cisco saw that we needed to move away from multiple network systems loosely linked together to an agile and simple infrastructure, streamlined policy and centralized management would be needed to support new business demands. We called it Cisco Unified Access and we aligned the solution to three pillars: One Network, One Policy and One Management.

For the last few years, we have focused on delivering new products and functionality under this Unified Access model. Below is a timeline of products released as part of the Unified Access framework. Cisco lead the way in delivering gigabit 802.11ac Wi-Fi., converged wireless control in access switches and through the acquisition of Meraki – a complete cloud-managed network solution.

foundation

The timeline above doesn’t represent every feature and function we have delivered, but it shows Cisco’s commitment to this Unified Access model, both from a cloud-managed and on-premise solution perspective.

Today, Cisco is announcing a number of new products and new functionality to existing products that will help mobilize the workforce, secure the business and increase IT agility. The announcement includes the following: Read More »

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White Paper: RX-SOP 101

Just released yesterday: Cisco Wireless Release 8.0 includes a feature called Receiver Start of Packet (RX-SOP), which you can think of as putting earmuffs on the access point.  It’s not a new feature, as it has been used in stadiums and other high density deployments to great success for several years.  WLC 8.0 adds GUI configuration support with a low, medium, and high setting.

RX-SOP is meant for dense deployments, where channel reuse is a concern.  It’s a way to shrink cell sizes, but be careful: too much SOP and you can shrink your cells to the point where clients are no long able to connect.

Check out this whitepaper from the guys at the No Strings Attached Show.  It provides detailed configuration guidance as well real-world data--even the actual config.

For those of you interested in the nitty-gritty of how RX-SOP works, we had one of our RF Technical Leaders, John Blosco, go in-depth at Wireless Field Day 7.  If you missed it, here’s the video:


For more on WLC 8.0, read the product bulletin here.

 

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Behind the Network @ Mobile World Congress 2014: Hotspot 2.0

Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2014 was the largest mobile industry exhibition in the world, where over 1800 companies showcased and launched their latest products and services. This event was visited by over 85,000 attendees from over 200 countries around the world, to learn, network, inspire and innovate. Providing them seamless and robust data network was the first priority. GSMA , Fira de Gran Via and Cisco took this challenge to provide them next generation Wi-Fi experience with seamless connectivity and onboarding using Hotspot 2.0 service on the top of baseline free Wi-Fi service.

Hassle and risk are the two key factors involved in connecting free public Wi-Fi. When you are traveling in the different countries, you get off the plane and turn on your cell phone… and within few seconds you get connected to the cellular network. There is no need to search for a suitable network manually (hoping it’s not rigged by a hacker), then enter long password or credit card details to pay for the service. But unfortunately connecting to Wi-Fi is not that simple. Hotspot 2.0 Service addresses these problems by automatic network discovery and selection, seamless network access and secured authentication for the Passpoint certified devices.

mwc1Fira Gran Via, Barcelona, the venue of MWC 2014 is a massive 280,000 meters2 (Three Million Square Feet) facility with 8 grand exhibition halls, conference rooms, multiple outdoor areas and restaurants. Read More »

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Behind the WiFi Network @ Mobile World Congress 2014: Site Surveys

In my last blog I discussed setting the stage in preparation for the Wi-Fi network for Mobile World Congress 2014 which supported more than 80k devices over a span of 4 days. Today I’ll talk about one of the many site surveys we conducted at the Fira Gran Via to ensure the success of our high density network.  Full details in the white paper here.

High Density Wi-Fi deployments and site surveys go hand in hand. Pre-installation and post-installation site surveys account for the most effective way to identify the contours of your RF coverage and eliminate potential multipath distortions, hidden nodes, and other coverage issues. Special attention was given to the large keynote auditorium halls in order to keep a check on the additional RF coverage needs to accommodate the high density of users packed in a very close range.

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View of inside the Hall-4 Keynote Auditorium (23000 sq ft) before the Facebook keynote session

Site Survey analysis used to measure the RF coverage in Hall-4 keynote auditorium

Site Survey analysis used to measure the RF coverage in Hall-4 keynote auditorium

The Hall-4 auditorium was one example of such a high density area with the 2000 person capacity area had a peak connection of 1924 concurrently connected Wi-Fi devices distributed across 16 Cisco APs while the Facebook keynote was in progress, with a max load of 530 Mbps of internet traffic. To avoid an RF overlap, the ceiling mounted APs above the auditoriums were converted to monitor mode. Using the final pre-keynote site survey data, the RF profile for the Hall-4 auditorium was tweaked, and RRM automatically optimized the coverage to the desired degree by adjusting the Tx power levels. Read More »

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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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