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Cisco Wireless enabling location bonjour services at Vanderbilt

Has your wireless network help you identify the closest Printer to you? That’s exactly the kind of problems Cisco wireless is helping solve at Vanderbilt University.

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Located in the heart of Nashville, TN, the Vanderbilt campus consists of Vanderbilt University (VU) and Vanderbilt University Medical center (VUMC).

Cisco Wireless at Vanderbilt serves about 33,000 users (12,500 students and 20,500 staff) everyday from the University and medical center. Vanderbilt spans across 324 buildings, which includes 35 medical centers.

One of the key elements about the wireless network at Vanderbilt is the requirement to support stringent standards to serve as a Medical Grade Network (MGN).

At a Glance:

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What is 802.11r? Why is this Important?

In this short series of blogs, we’re spending some time looking at the lesser known but undeservedly underappreciated amendments to 802.11 and the features/benefits they provide.

The first blog explained the basics of 802.11k “WLAN Radio Measurements” and specifically zoomed in on the Neighbor Request/Report.

This blog will focus on the 802.11r amendment.

Fast BSS Transition (802.11r)

Fast BSS Transition (often abbreviated to Fast Transition or FT) describes mechanisms by which a mobile device can reestablish existing security and/or QoS parameters prior to reassociating to a new AP. These mechanisms are referred to as “fast” because they seek to significantly reduce the length of time that connectivity is interrupted between a mobile device and Wi-Fi infrastructure when that mobile device is connecting to a new AP. Please note that the process of disconnecting from one AP and connecting to another AP is formally designated as a “BSS transition”. Therefore, the protocols established by FT apply to mobile device transitions between APs only within the same mobility domain and within the same ESS (ESS transition is out of scope for FT). Since both reassociation and reauthentication are time critical processes, removing time consuming message exchanges between the mobile device and the infrastructure help reduce interruption to high value services (e.g., voice and/or video) when transitioning from one AP to another especially in a strongly secure WLAN (i.e, one using 802.1x and EAP methods for authentication).

Because Fast BSS Transition reestablishes existing parameters, the protocols require that information be exchanged during the initial association (or at a subsequent reassociation) between the mobile device (formally referred to as the FT Originator (FTO)) and an AP. The initial exchange is referred to as the FT initial mobility domain association. Subsequent reassociations to APs within the same mobility domain are expected to utilize the FT protocols.

Two basic FT protocols are described:

  1. FT Protocol. This protocol is performed when a mobile devices transitions from one AP to another AP but does not require a resource request prior to its transition. The AP selected by the mobile device for reassociation is referred to as the “target AP”.
  2. FT Resource Request Protocol. This protocol is performed when a mobile device requires a resource request prior to its transition.

For a mobile device to transition from the AP it is currently associated with to a target AP, the FT protocol message exchanges are performed using one of two methods:

  1. Over-the-Air. The mobile device communicates directly with the target AP using IEEE 802.11 authentication with the FT authentication algorithm.
  2. Over-the-DS. The mobile device communicates with the target AP via the current AP. Communications between the mobile device and the target AP are encapsulated within FT Action frames between the mobile device and the current AP. Communications between the current AP and the target AP, occurs via a different encapsulation method. The current AP converts between the two encapsulation methods.

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Over the Air message exchange (excerpted from IEEE 802.11-2012)

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Over the DS message exchange (excerpted from IEEE 802.11-2012) Read More »

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Creating a new guest Wi-Fi experience with CMX Connect

Guest Wi-Fi has become a must-have, not a nice-to-have requirement for our customers.  Today, let’s talk about building customer engagement through guest Wi-Fi and how CMX Connect creates a new guest Wi-Fi experience. We also have a special offer to share if you’re interested in trying out CMX (Connected Mobile Experiences) Connect.

Offering Guest Wi-Fi is a No-Brainer

Have you ever found yourself constantly checking emails on your phone, whether you are in the supermarket, a sport stadium or your doctor’s office? We live in a connected world so when people lose their Internet connectivity, they feel as uncomfortable as if they are walking in the dark. According to a Cisco report [1], one in every three college students and young professionals believes the Internet is as important as air, water, food, and shelter. At college games, fans often leave at half time if they cannot connect to the Internet to post photos or tweet comments [2]. Offering guest Wi-Fi has become a must, not an option, for most of our customers across all verticals such as retail, healthcare, sports and entertainments, and education.

Guest Wi-Fi is an opportunity to engage and delight your visitors

So you’ve decided to offer guest Wi-Fi at your venue, but how do you make the most of it from a business standpoint? According to a Hotels.com 2013 survey, the first thing hotel guests try is the quality of guest Wi-Fi, before the quality breakfast or even the comfortable bed [3]. So guest Wi-Fi is a perfect opportunity for you to engage your visitors and increase customer satisfaction and loyalty. With a seamless one-click mobile-first onboarding experience, visitors can check-in on your business Facebook page, or provide email information for future promotional campaign. Since you also know the context and location of your visitors, you can offer personalized and relevant information to visitors. For example, first-time parents connect to the hospital’s guest Wi-Fi in the Maternity ward can be served a video on changing a newborn’s diaper .

CMX Connect is built to address these use cases

We have made significant improvements in the CMX 10.1 release and will continue to partner with our customers in this journey. So how does CMX Connect help you improve your business?

  1. We have a modern and intuitive user interface so IT managers can work with the marketing team to create guest portals, collect visitors’ information, and customize promotional offers by location. You don’t need a user guide or need to write any code to create guest portals. Figure 1 shows an example of the simplicity in building a portal page. Figure 2 provides examples of guest portals built by our tool.

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Figure 1. Example of the portal builder tool.

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Figure 2. Example of custom guest portals Read More »

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Cisco Wireless enables RSL Care customers to stay connected indoors and outdoors

RSL Care is one of Australia’s largest providers of retirement living, community care and aged care services with more than 28 communities throughout Queensland and New South Wales. This not-for-profit organization offers high quality Homecare, Retirement Living and Residential Aged Care services. In the words of the award-winning CEO of RSL Care: “We are focusing on guiding our customers to make the most out of life through wellbeing and independence”.

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We talked to Ian Youngson, the Manager of IS Operations, to understand the wireless deployments at RSL Care. The business outcomes that the wireless deployment enables are support for a voice-over-Wi-Fi for the nurses, the ability to provide guest access to residents and visitors, as well as support for mobile devices carried by the staff and doctors.

At a Glance: Read More »

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Why the 802.11k and Neighbor Report are Important?

A lot of air time (pun intended) has been provided for the PHYsical layer amendments to the 802.11 standard. These would include 802.11n, 802.11ac, 802.11ad, and others. These amendments tend to get a lot of publicity because they have increased the speed/throughput of 802.11 over the years (from 1-2 Mbps in 1997 for the original 802.11 spec to “gigabit” in 2013 with the 11ac and 11ad amendments).

But what about those amendments that simply aren’t as “sexy” and provide only MAC layer enhancements? Aren’t these important too?

The answer is YES and in this short series of blogs, we’ll spend some time looking at the lesser known but undeservedly underappreciated amendments to 802.11, especially 802.11k, 802.11r, and 802.11v and the features/benefits they provide.

This first blog will explain the basics of 802.11k “WLAN Radio Measurements” and will specifically zoom in on the Neighbor Request/Report.

Wireless LAN Radio Measurements (802.11k)

Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) Radio Measurements can enable any device, AP or client, with the capability to better understand the environment in which it is operating. A variety of requests can be generated for which the device receiving a request can respond with a report.

As one example, an AP could ask a client “how well are you hearing me?” using a Link Measurement request. The client would respond with a Link Measurement report (conversely, a client could ask an AP “how well are you hearing me?”).

Since the ability to measure and collect information is provided, a device submitting a request can make a better informed decision as to its “next steps” in adapting to/compensating for the dynamics of the WLAN environment.

Information obtained from a measurement and/or report can be made available to upper layers of the measuring and/or requesting device where it may be used for a range of applications. Such applications may be engaged in attempting to preserve the QoE (Quality of Experience) for the end user.

As one example, in order to preserve the QoE for applications such as VoIP and video streaming, WLAN Radio Measurements may be used by client device to collect information from the AP prior to that client device disassociating from one AP and reassociating to a new AP. This can dramatically speed up reconnecting from one AP to another AP in the same WLAN.

802.11k describes the following measurements: Read More »

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