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Big, Bigger, And Then Texas Stadium

It’s been a most interesting week in my wireless corner of the universe. A number of very cool things happened, but I’d have to say that for me, the meeting of the week award goes to a wireless deployment site visit at Cowboy Stadium with an all access pass.

The scale and scope of that building is beyond hyperbole. There simply is no single word to describe the Cowboy Stadium. It turns out that $1.3 billion buys an awful lot of steel, glass, concrete, and electrical infrastructure. For the Super Bowl there next week, you’ll be spending approx $23K per seat near the 50 yard line at the lower level. A measly $3K each will get you one of the highest seats in the house- and believe me, they’re way, way up there. Think of watching a sporting event from the roof of a 20 story building a block away- literally.

It’s a structure that rivals anything I’m aware of that mankind has built in terms of scale. Math, engineering, tools, design knowledge, and maintenance resources seem almost infinite now. The Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt pales in comparison as the Cowboy stadium has about 6X the square footage. Mind you, to the best of my knowledge, Jerry Jones wasn’t restricted to papyrus, hand calculations, and rudimentary tools, so the ancient Egyptians are still able to amaze us- 4,600 years later.

One thing I’m fairly certain of is that the Egyptians didn’t install wireless. A good thing too, because the complexity of installing over 900 access points would impress even the best of their engineers. It’s pretty daunting today; there are, on average, 40 AP’s for every 100 feet of walkway inside the perimeter of the Cowboy Stadium. Each technician verifying and fine tuning the design walked dozens of miles to ensure every AP would properly service the local clients. Just for kicks, I took an RF measurement at dead center on the playing field- it came in at around -70 dBm. This would rank as another one of those “that really shouldn’t work that well here” experiences I’ve had in nearly every deployment I’ve attended around the world.

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Wi-Fi ‘CleanAir’ Coming to Defense Industry in 2011

A key segment in the Public Sector wireless market to keep an eye on in 2011 is the U.S. DoD and Global Defense industry which is in the early stages of a major transformation around secure mobile communications and next-gen wireless LANs.  One such transformation is the U.S. Department of Navy’s transition from NMCI to Next Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN) which supports over 700,000 users in over 3000 locations and includes requirements for 802.11a/g/n for voice and data support.

The ramp of WLAN technology into large Military installations (Air, Land, and Sea) and Defense operations is being driven by the obvious benefits associated with secure 802.11n networking along with critical WLAN functionality such as purpose-built Spectrum Intelligence for Wi-Fi communications (i.e. Cisco CleanAir). For the Defense industry, Cisco CleanAir changes the game for wireless in a big way as it delivers on the promise to run mission critical communications over the unlicensed (and sometimes messy…) RF spectrum of Wi-Fi. But there is a catch…without the required product approvals and security certifications, Defense agencies are limited in what they are allowed to deploy…but that’s soon to change in 2011–more on this later.

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Cisco Extends Wireless Security Beyond PCI Compliance – Protecting Your Wireless Retail Transactions

Ever wonder who might be trying to access your credit card information when you make a wireless transaction at a gas station kiosk, buy a beer at a baseball game from your seat, or return a rental car right at the parking lot?

Cisco does, and knows how retailers are increasingly using wireless technology to conduct point-of-sale transactions in many of your favorite stores. In fact, more than 33% of retailers that responded to an InsightExpress survey (commissioned by Cisco), today use wireless to transmit cardholder data, while more than 35% of financial institutions reported doing so in the same survey. To help these retailers address wireless security concerns, Cisco is announcing significant improvements to its wireless network solutions that allow retailers to secure their wireless networks from attacks and improve security where point-of-sale data is transmitted wirelessly.

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It’s hard to believe that a dusty prairie dog like myself worked in aerospace. How that led to my career in wireless is a story for another time. Did a bunch of stuff on weapons platforms like the B1, ICBM’s for submarines, other interesting things, and then astrophysics platforms for NASA. Huge fun, amazing people, and in general a marvelous experience.

Speed is a critical element in those fields of endeavor. On military platforms it’s often about vmax or maximum velocity; in astrophysics it’s much more about optimal velocity. Too many stories to tell but one of my favorite is when an astrophysicist and myself once stood on the ladder of an F-16 chatting with the pilot who was still in the cockpit. I mentioned that I heard his aircraft could achieve a certain speed. He looked at me, grinned and said, “While I can’t tell you how fast it’ll go, it’s pretty dang quick.” He then put his finger on on the air speed indicator. The number he showed me was much faster than what you read in various publications. It was at that point I realized getting somewhere more quickly than the enemy believes enables you to surprise them.
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Ubiquity and Integrity – The Salt of Mobile Business

Often when you mention pillars of salt, people think of the story of Lot’s wife, but there are positive connotations of this expression also. Salt is a staple of life in part because it helps the body turn food into living tissue as well as playing a key role in transmitting nerve pulses. The human body cannot produce salt; it has to come from a source outside the body.

Ubiquity in mobility, like salt, is really quite important. The value of a network is proportional to how well, and how often, end points are connected. The number of end points successfully connected is one metric of a useful network. The number of locations from which a client can connect to other clients is very much a measure of network value. One of the greatest shifts we’ve seen in the mobility market over the last few years is that from islands of connectivity like conference rooms, bullpens and so forth, to truly ubiquitous connectivity. For example, a smart phone allows us to connect effectively from most places we are physically located. I probably set a personal record in 2010 for how many WebEx meetings I had in my car; very cool and for me, highly productive

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