3/12/14: Ch-ch-ch-changes

Welcome to this week’s W to the 4th. There are some pretty exciting evolutions afoot worth mentioning, and our wireless SU world will no doubt be impacted. Read on, my homies.

As rocker David Bowie sang on his classic hit “Changes”:

I still don’t know what I was waiting for
And my time was running wild
A million dead-end streets
Every time I thought I’d got it made
It seemed the taste 
was not so sweet

Poor, frustrated David. Back in 1971, he had no way of knowing that thirty-three years later the taste of wireless would indeed be sooooo sweet, and getting sweeter all the time. We’ve certainly had a great run with WLAN at SU for better than a decade, from 802.11b all the way through today- when within a few weeks we’ll have users attaching to 802.11ac access points.

This is all well and good, but it’s also just the natural evolution of WLAN. Let’s talk about some of the tasty, sweet, not so obvious stuff going on now that will bring huge positive changes to the Wi-FI environment.

  • Lightning-fast smart phone chips are here. (Note- Broadcom has adopted an idiotic habit of referring to 802.11ac as “5G”. When you read anything to do with WLAN that mentions 5G, it’s really 802.11ac.) Broadcom has announced 2×2 chips for smartphones that will help speed the adoption of 11ac, and also make clients very happy with their performance on well-designed 11ac networks. Note the included FM tuner chip- this is it’s own story.
  • Apple Is Changing The Way AppleTV’s Work. SU is among the many WLAN environments stymied by the way Apple implements products and services based on the Bonjour protocol. It works great at home, but not so much on the business WLAN. This has gotten so frustrating that SU took the lead on petitioning Apple to make it better, and now they have. And… IT’S ALREADY WORKING ON CAMPUS!!

From Brian Tibbens:

Dear Lee,

I just wanted to drop you a quick note to let you know that the Apple TV update appears to have resolved all of the hurdles we were seeing with getting these devices to connect to the campus network (ethernet) and connecting to the device from other networks (AOX).  I’ve been testing the update since yesterday and everything appears to be functioning as it should be.  I’ll be putting it through its paces over the next week to ensure it works under heavier loads, but so far so good.

  • Our controller code saga is winding down. By this week’s end, the controllers will be ready to support the new 802.11ac APs, and things will start happening on the install front. Again, this is huge.
  • There are a number of cool tools coming out that make testing the actual user experience on Wi-Fi easier, more formalized, and repeatable. One such tool is Streetwise from Epitiro, and I am testing another now from Fluke Networks that may end up being of great interest to ITS Networking- more to follow.

Sweet indeed, says I. 

And that’s it for another Wednesday’s Wireless of Words of Wisdom!

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