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Get Your WLAN Ready for Google Android L and Apple iOS 8

This fall your wireless networks will experience many devices upgrading to the new Android 5.0(L-release) and Apple iOS 8 releases (cue: IT managers groan). There have now been many blogs attempting to capture the enhancements expected with these releases. Today I am going to focus on describing how Android L and iOS 8 may affect customers deploying Cisco enterprise grade Wi-Fi networks based upon our research and testing of the Apple seed. Our verdict: Carry on with business as usual.

Here are four features we predict will have the most impact your networks:

1. Chromecast and Google Cast Enhancements (Android L)

Rishi Chandra, the Director of Chromecast Product Management announced that, starting with the Android L release, users have the ability to cast to your neighboring devices such as a TV without having to connect to your Wi-Fi network. In the demo, a phone used the cellular connection to connect to chromecast through the cloud. A variety of techniques are used to authenticate the users in the same room OR use a pin-code as an alternative. Users can Google Cast an ecosystem of applications or even their own applications over any Android or iOS device as well as Cloud based apps on Chrome.

Predicted Impact: Given that this feature works transparently to the Wi-Fi, it is expected that there is no impact on the WLAN in your classrooms or dorm rooms or auditoriums where this will most likely be used.

2. Peer-to-peer AirPlay discovery and playback (iOS 8)

Starting with the iOS 7.1 release, AirPlay devices will discover an AppleTV via the bluetooth network. Users could also secure their AppleTV via a 4 digit pin-code. With the iOS 8 release, Airplay devices can also mirror their content via Airdrop. This feature offers an alternative method for customers to discover and mirroring of Bonjour traffic without accessing the corporate Wi-Fi network.

Predicted Impact: Again this feature operates transparent to the Wi-Fi and therefore customers using this feature should not see any impact on the WLAN. Cisco wireless customers also have the ability to use the Service Discovery Gateway on Cisco IOS based switches, routers or wireless LAN controllers or the Bonjour Services Directory on AireOS controllers. Read More »

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Apple iOS 8 and MAC Randomization: What It means for Cisco’s Connected Mobile Experiences (CMX) Solution

As you may have read, Apple’s iOS 8 will come with some changes to the way MAC addresses are exposed in Wi-Fi probe requests. Apple’s intent was to provide an additional layer of privacy for consumers and target those companies that offer analytics without providing any value to the end consumer. We’ve been getting some questions about what this means and how it impacts our Connected Mobile Experiences (CMX)  solution, so we wanted to clear this up for our customers.

What does this mean for you? 

First and foremost, Cisco has always been dedicated to privacy for our customers and their end-users. There are four aspects of privacy that are built into our CMX solution:

1. Anonymous Aggregate Information: All analytics are based on aggregate, anonymized location data.

2. Permission-based: Users have to opt-in to join a Wi-Fi network or download an app

3. MAC Address Hash: Users’ MAC addresses can be hashed before exposing to 3rd party apps

4. Opt Out: End-users are always presented with the option to opt out of location-based services

The true value of CMX analytics for organizations is in aggregate location data to be used for business analysis to improve the customer experience for end-users. Providing customers with high performing Wi-Fi not only keeps always-on mobile users happy and opens the doors to delighting customers with more personalized experiences, but also helps provide more granularity to those aggregate trends to feed back into the experience creation machine. Win-win.

What does this mean for our CMX value proposition? Read More »

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Englewood Cliffs Public Schools System Rolls Out Converged Access

Englewood Cliffs public schools system, based in Bergen County, New Jersey offers classes to children from K-8 grades. The school system consists of two schools, the North Cliff school serving grades from K-2 and the Upper school serving grades from 3-8. The school system utilizes cutting-edge technology to assist learning from the classrooms equipped with technology, the 1 to 1 computer tablet initiative to the 6th, 7th and 8th graders to upgrading to the best-in-class wired and wireless infrastructure needed to support the advanced technologies.


At a Glance:

Located in: Bergen County, New Jersey

Number of students: 478

Number of teachers: 39

Access-Points: Thirty three units of 3602i with the 802.11ac module and two units of 3602e

Switch and Controller: Ten units of 3850 Series switch, that offers 40 Gig of line-rate performance even with imix traffic. Wireless LAN controller functionality is run within the switch itself. The switches are deployed in stacks of two and the rest are single switches. The wireless controller functionality is operating on the main stack in each school MDF. Operating in the latest release IOS-XE 3.3.3 Read More »

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Statement of Patrick S. Finn on the FCC’s Order to Modernize and Reform the E-Rate Program

“The FCC, under the leadership of Chairman Tom Wheeler, has taken a vital first step toward E-rate modernization and reform today.”

It’s critical that we modernize and reform the E-Rate program to connect all classrooms across the country to high-speed wireless broadband within five years.  Today’s order, which provides an additional $2 billion toward Wi-Fi networking in classrooms over the next two funding years, represents a significant down payment on this goal.  Importantly, the FCC is prioritizing connectivity for students and teachers in the classroom via Wi-Fi for the next two years, with the intention of continuing that funding into the future. It will also help connect rural schools, while mitigating bureaucracy and red tape that impact the ability to quickly deploy the technology schools and libraries need.

To compete and succeed in the global marketplace, our students and teachers need to have access to the world’s libraries, scientific discoveries, and innovative educational tools at their fingertips.  That’s where E-rate comes in. E-rate is the foundation for Internet access in public schools and libraries across America. Read More »

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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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