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Fast roaming with 802.11r

June 19, 2012 - 6 Comments

Imagine a time when the leading edge Wi-Fi was limited to deployment in select conference rooms; that was 10 years ago with 802.11b.  Then came the rapid adoption of laptops and the awe of laptops potentially outselling pcs; that was 7 years ago with 802.11a/g. It was at that time that Cisco innovated with a solution to stay connected when walking from one side of the building to another. The Cisco Centralized Key Management (CCKM), as a part of CCX, optimized employee connection and experience wherein the client does not need to undergo complete re-authentication when transitioning from one access point to the other.

Now we are in the midst of the BYOD (bring your own device) trend. Smartphones and tablets support are a necessity. For example, 55 million iPads sold in 18 months; more than ALL the Mac sales in 22 years (Apple, 2012). Voice-over wiFi was paramount to address (keyword = “was”). Cisco CCX advanced Voice-over-Wi-Fi hopped several steps ahead with power saving functionality through a packet buffering technology (UPSD), ensuring good MOS quality through Traffic Specifications based Call Admission Control and empowering the IT administrators to characterize and debug sessions through Voice Metrics. These technologies are tested and deployed in the market through deployments in healthcare and manufacturing customers.

These Cisco technology innovations are the foundation for the now ratified IEEE standards: 802.11r for fast roaming between access points, 802.11k for radio resource metrics and 802.11v around managing neighbor lists, beacon reports et. al. Now the WFA has announced WMM-AC and Voice Enterprise certification using these underlying technologies and standards. This should definitely help broader adoption of Voice-over Wi-Fi coupled with the recent wave of Wi-Fi enabled 802.11n based smart-phones and free applications such as SkypeTM or Google TalkTM.

Cisco continues to lead customer deployment through supporting the Wi-Fi alliance testbed, testing with various client vendors and shipping 802.11r solutions now!  Optimize the user mobile experience over wireless internet networks where the handshake with the new access point is done even before the client roams to the target access point. Pretty soon your wireless network will tell you where to go(At least which AP to roam to).

Apple’s IOS-6 now supports 802.11r and Neighbor Lists:

More innovations to come… Stay Tuned!

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  1. Are there (m)any 802.11r clients ? Ain’t PMK Caching good enough?

    • In the past several client vendors supported CCKM but some did not. Now that the standard has been ratified and WFA testing done, you will see several device vendors gravitate rapidly towards supporting 802.11r.

      • Standard has been ratified for couple of years now. I havent seen people really caring for TGr, since PKC is available as a easy solution. Why would people want to go to TGr ?

        • Hi,

          You are right about the fact that wireless infrastructure and client device vendors do not usually follow IEEE standards rapidly.
          Two factors really make me feel that 11r will be popular soon:
          1. Most vendors wait for Wi-Fi alliance to pick a suitable subset of the standard that has the most ROI. The WFA certification around Voice Enterprise readyness will help provide the appropriate push towards 11r.
          2. Some of the cool featurette’s within 11r such as pre-association with the neighboring Access Points will help as well.


  2. Very fascinated tech for wireless data improvement. I must say in future it might adopted with wireless services provider for cost cutting and off loading core network traffic. Architecture based detail will make a clear view. Market demands can hail to it. Keep it up CISCO.

    • Thank you Yasir, We are seeing significant interest in wireless today from all segments including Service Providers as you pointed out.
      We are planning to release more collaterals with the FCS and launch.
      Warm Regards,