What a week! With much excitement we announced the latest additions to our 802.11n Access Point Portfolio on Tuesday (among other things). But the biggest news is our integrated spectrum intelligence technology we call CleanAir – read our press release here – which also won the 2010 Best of Interop Award for Wireless and Mobility.
Judging from press coverage and the excitement that surrounded our demos at Interop of this groundbreaking technology, gives our marketing team a great sense of accomplishment, which has come at a price. Over the past couple of months, and while the team was pulling late hours to prepare for the launch one of my key stakeholders, my wife, was probably one of the few people not excited about this launch.
Questions like “When are you coming home?” dominated our day-time phone conversations, followed by confused night-time talks that sounded like “Clean Air…what?, when I tried to explain to her what the product does. But I don’t blame her, any time she uses the microwave oven in our house, or talks on the cordless phone she is not on her MacBook Pro surfing the Internet. Miraculously though, she works on her laptop consistently next to the wireless video baby monitor without noticeable interference.
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In a survey of over 600 Cisco customers, 78% said they consider all or part of their wireless network to be mission critical. Because wireless networks are commonly seen as critical to organizational success, users have come to expect the same quality of experience on the network whether individuals are working in a static location in the office or on the go. An architectural approach to infrastructure design can help make this possible.
Today at Interop and the Cisco Partner Summit, we announced new Borderless Mobility technologies and services that will enhance the ability of organizations to deliver the Borderless Mobility experience regardless of location or device.
Network services for high-performance wireless. In the same survey of Cisco customers, 54% indicated that RF interference causes wireless network performance problems. IT managers are having difficulty managing network performance in the context of interference caused by the unprecedented growth in Wi-Fi and non-Wi-Fi devices that share the unlicensed spectrum.
New Cisco CleanAir technology protects 802.11n network performance by creating a self-healing, self-optimizing wireless network that mitigates RF interference. Based on custom ASIC-level intelligence, CleanAir technology automates the detection of a broad range of interference sources, provides visual system-wide maps, and takes automatic action to make optimal corrections. CleanAir technology is enabled by the advanced circuit design of the Cisco Aironet 3500 Access Points, as well as Cisco wireless controllers, the Cisco Wireless Control System, and the Cisco 3300 Mobility Services Engine.
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Let’s talk about air quality. And I don’t mean smog. How clean is your Wi-Fi network from Radio Frequency (RF) interference?
Over 600 Cisco customers recently participated in our on-line survey about RF interference and Wi-Fi network usage. Industry representation ran the gamut from agriculture, to education, to arts, to manufacturing, to retail, to healthcare, and many others. Two of the most important findings were:
- 78% of companies now consider all or part of their wireless network to be mission critical.
- 54% of companies indicated that RF interference causes wireless network performance problems (and another 18% don’t know if RF interference is impacting their Wi-Fi network).
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In the last 10 years, Wi-Fi has become an expected and even beloved part of our lives. And arguably the most fundamental enabler that has allowed Wi-Fi to achieve this success is that it operates in the unlicensed band. This means that anyone can set up a network, without having to purchase spectrum.
At the same time, it’s worth remembering that the use of an unlicensed band is still an evolving paradigm. The following quote from the FCC Technical Advisory Committee dating all the way back to 2000 made the point fairly well:
“We are about to have an unplanned real-time experiment on the consequences of uncoordinated spectral sharing … using incompatible etiquette rules” — Federal Communications Commission, Technical Advisory Committee Meeting Report 12/00
Essentially, the government chose not to dictate how the unlicensed band should be used (other than some restrictions on maximum power output and signal spreading). In essence, they provided the resource, and left it to the industry to make it work.
So, it begs the question — ten years later, how do we seem to be doing?
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Within organizations of all stripes, we’re seeing fundamental transformations in how people connect on the network. Many have come to expect constant connectivity regardless of their location or device. Smartphones and other mobile devices that support sophisticated applications are becoming the norm. Video communications play an increasingly important role in our everyday use of the Internet, necessitating an enhancement of both wired and wireless networks to meet the challenge.
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