Cisco Blogs

Popcorn and the New Collaboration Effect

April 17, 2009 - 2 Comments

Every couple of quarters the Cisco mobility marketing team gets together to reflect on what went well and to plan for the rest of the year. This year, we met at a colleague’s home and brought in those who were not in California over WebEx. To provide an audio connection to WebEx, we turned to a Cisco Unified Wireless IP Phone 7925G connected back to the corporate office using Cisco Virtual Office. The 7925G worked remarkably well as a conference speaker phone, delivering crystal clear audio. But when a team member from Ohio was delivering her presentation, inexplicably, we noticed intermittent issues with the audio quality. We tried looking at the phone to determine what had changed; it said: “Leaving Service Area.” “Why would it say Leaving Service Area?” we wondered. We hadn’t moved the phone and it seemed unlikely that something had changed with either the Internet connection or the access point we were using. Suddenly, we had an epiphany: Hunger had gotten the best of one of the team members and they had decided to make popcorn. The microwave was interrupting our Wi-Fi signal and our 7925G was set to use only the 2.4GHz spectrum. We’ve all heard about the effects that interference can have on your Wi-Fi network. Let’s face it, the 2.4GHz spectrum is pretty well congested with cordless phones, Bluetooth(R) devices, microwaves and, of course, Wi-Fi infrastructure. Understanding how your spectrum operates is critical and products like Cisco Spectrum Expert can help immensely in this regard. It’s also worth considering configuring your voice clients to prefer the 5GHz spectrum which has less sources of interference that can cause issues. That way, when your employees get hungry, they won’t drop calls.

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  1. Hi Jeff,Sorry for the late reply to your question. To answer it, there are many instances where Wi-Fi networks have scaled to support many mission critical applications including voice. The take-home message here is to be looking toward less crowded spectrum, like that in the 5GHz band, to power Wi-Fi deployments. Cisco offers the dual-band infrastructure and our client partners offer the client chipsets to make this possible.

  2. Doesn’t this just get worse and worse and worse? Seems like you either pay a cost tax upfront with licensed spectrum, or you pay a tax that scales poorly over time / density.