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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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Cisco First Publicly Announced Commercial Enterprise-class AP to Attain Wi-Fi Alliance 802.11ac Certification

Yesterday the Wi-Fi Alliance (WFA) launched their new certification program for 802.11ac Wi-Fi  to ensure that the devices have been tested to interoperate with other 802.11ac products and older Wi-Fi products. As a part of the launch, the WFA also announced a list of the first published 11ac certified products, which included the Cisco Aironet 3600 Series Access Point and the Cisco Aironet Access Point Module for 802.11ac.

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wificertThis makes us not only the first shipping Enterprise-class 802.11ac solution, but also the  first commercial 11ac access point with a published certification!

Why is this important? For those of you unfamiliar with the WFA, certification is important for ensuring interoperability with future 802.11ac enabled products. With the expected rapid adoption of 802.11ac clients in the form of laptops, tablets and smartphones, interoperability of all these devices can be ensured through WFA certification. Read More »

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Get your Wi-Fi network ready for Windows 8

October 12, 2012 at 5:00 am PST

Microsoft will launch Windows 8 in late October. Along with a slew of other features, it will be among the first to support the 802.11w standard to protect Management Frames for client devices on Wi-Fi networks.

Customers running old Cisco unified releases (between 4.2 to 7.2) in local, Flex or mesh mode will run into an interoperability bug (CSCua29504, to be exact) that prevents 802.11w enabled clients from connecting to a Cisco WLAN with Management Frame Protection (MFP) enabled. This bug does not affect customers running autonomous access point deployments or customers running Cisco unified releases older than 4.2.

What are the possible solutions for you?

1. Please upgrade your production environment to one of the following releases, which will interoperate with Windows 8.

  • 7.3.101.0
  • 7.2.111.3
  • 7.0.235.3

2. Roll back to pre-windows 8 drivers as identified in the Microsoft Knowledge Base article.
3. Fall back to TKIP
4. Sign up for a beta release for Cisco’s upcoming feature release 7.4 (beta available now!) that supports the 802.11w feature in local mode.

What is 802.11w ?

Read More »

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From Paris with Roaming 2.0 at the Wireless Broadband Alliance

Contributed By Lisa Garza, Cisco Service Provider Marketing, Mobility Solutions

Paris WBAOn the edge of Paris this week, a group of Wi-Fi experts gathered for a historic occasion - one they’ll be able to tell their grandchildren about.

It was the 19th Roundtable Conference of the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA).

The occasion was the launch of the Next Generation Hotspot trials.  These trials will set the stage for the future of Wi-Fi, establishing it as a robust, secure technology that will augment and complement 3G and 4G networks for years to come.

Next Generation Hotspot is based on the concept that Wi-Fi networks should be as safe and easy to access as cellular networks.  Some of the base specifications for network discovery (IEEE 802.11u), authentication (IEEE 802.1x), and security (IEEE 802.11i) were well underway.  The cellular example of using SIM cards for user identification and using roaming hubs for inter-carrier negotiation and billing were then applied and the Wi-Fi Alliance (WFA) specification for Hotspot 2.0 was a result.

The trials also represent a historic cooperation between the WBA, WFA, and GSMA.  The WFA will hold a series of test events that will allow vendors to test and certify against the specification, and the WBA will carry out the trials in operator networks.  Twenty-seven operators, vendors and roaming hubs have signed up for the trials. The trial results will be provided to the GSMA for harmonization with 3GPP standards.

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Bringing the Cellular Roaming Experience to Wi-Fi

Today marked an exciting milestone in the continuing convergence of Wireless LAN (Wi-Fi) and cellular technologies as the Wireless Broadband Association (WBA) and the Wi-Fi Alliance (WFA) co-announced  that the industry’s first HotSpot 2.0 (HS 2.0) trials are scheduled for later this summer and the HS2.0 certification test beds will be available in mid 2012.  HS 2.0  is an industry initiative to develop standards-based interoperable Wi-Fi authentication and handoff.  In a nutshell, this enables a seamless handoff between cellular and Wi-Fi networks that allows mobile handset users to roam between the two networks without the need for additional authentication — much as you experience roaming between cellular networks while using your cell phone.

Industry organizations and standards bodies working on the HS 2.0 initiative include the WFA, focused on interoperability; the WBA, the industry group organizing the field trials; and the Global System for Mobile Communications Alliance (GSMA) that ensures the HotSpot 2.0 spec is aligned with the 3GPP framework.

Cisco is a strong supporter of the HS 2.0 initiative and is participating in the upcoming trials with its SP Wi-Fi Carrier Solution.  I will continue to provide updates as we move forward with this timely and critical initiative. In the meantime, take a look at this white paper, “The Future of Hotspots: Making Wi-Fi as Secure and Easy to Use as Cellular,”  which explains the technology behind HotSpot 2.0. 

Sarita Kincaid
skincaid@cisco.com
Twitter: @saritakAR

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