As unlicensed spectrum becomes clogged with a plethora of RF devices, including smartphones, Bluetooth devices, baby monitors, microwave ovens, wireless video cameras and cordless phones, enterprise IT specialists are having a difficult time creating reliable, mission-critical in-building WiFi networks because of the interference from the plethora of devices.
Hence, Cisco today introduced access points complete with AP intelligence to identify, classify, locate and mitigate around interfering signals. The new Aironet 3500 series of APs include a technology Cisco called CleanAir technology that consists of a CleanAir application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) in the access point with system-level intelligence to offer up detailed interference information.
"IT is struggling to make [WiFi] infrastructure mission-critical. Right now it's best effort," said Chris Kozup, senior manager, mobility solutions with Cisco, in an interview. "IT just doesn't have the expertise to make it mission critical ... What CleanAir allows network administrators to put on a magnifying glass and understand what is happening to the RF signal."
The technology has a number of implications, Kozup said. An intuitive air quality index, much like a pollution index, offers an assessment of the severity of the interference impacting an AP and has the ability to self-heal and self-optimize the network by changing resource management to improve reliability without IT intervention. In addition, security and network policy are enhanced because network managers can more easily find rogue devices--connected from both outside and inside the enterprise.
Cisco believes CleanAir technology is the foundation for enabling high-quality applications such as voice over WiFi, which is beginning to heat up in the enterprise as workers bring in their personal dual-mode smartphones and enterprises are becoming eager to retire their wired PBX equipment.
"We believe moving forward that this will become the foundation of any reliable network," Kozup said when asked about CleanAir technology's applicability to outdoor WiFi networks that may serve as data offload solutions for operators.
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