Thursday, August 26, 2010

Clean Air, Green Atmosphere to Sell More

In the name of “save planet”, “green atmosphere”, “green energy” slogans which are very subtle issues and should be continued for betterment of all living creature, I somehow sense companies making all efforts to increase their sales revenues. Being a wireless guy, I would provide at least one example to prove my nous.

Have you heard about “Clean Air Technology” announced by Cisco systems? If not, you may get yourself familiar to this new technology here.

The technology has been introduced to detect RF interference faced by wireless devices from Cordless phone, Microwave, Wireless Camera, Bluetooth devices etc. Cisco has designed an AP which contains a dedicated radio to detect interference in both 2.4 and 5 GHz bands. Additionally, it can also be used to do spectrum analysis.

In the next few paragraphs, we will analyze whether presence of a dedicated radio which comes at an additional cost and powered all the time is justified or not and does it really solve a problem. Does the RF interference problem clean air technology intend to solve real?

Rebuttal # 1: AP detects RF interference experienced by clients

In a typical WLAN deployment, one can imagine one AP serving several clients simultaneously. These clients could be spatially distributed around Access Point. In such scenario, it’s not necessary that RF interference experienced by a client is equally experienced by an AP. In fact it might also possible that AP never experiences RF interference while clients do.

Rebuttal #2: AP detects microwave, cordless phone and wireless camera

Microwave causes problem with 2.4GHz wireless communication. Normally, the location of this interfering device is known and if it cannot be re-located (e.g. Microwave operating in the neighbourhood, unlikely to cause interference but considering here for completeness) then a careful deployment of dual band AP near pantry area can solve the problem.
Even if we believe cordless phone causes degradation of wireless network throughput, do we really need high end AP to detect it and that too all over? It can be banned by enforcing right policy.

Wireless camera causes jamming on a channel. Again, problem arising from wireless camera can be solved by the use of dual band AP.

Rebuttal #3: Clean Air Technology equals Green Atmosphere

A dedicated radio powered al l the time just to detect sporadic interference doesn’t qualify to be green technology. What’s the use of a dedicated RF interference detection radio after you clean your air? Just think!


Instead of having a dedicated radio, present in all APs and powered all the time to detect RF interference, ideally such intelligence should be present in APs and clients. Some WLAN vendors are already making progress in this direction and adding RF interference detection capabilities in APs and clients. In long term wireless monitoring systems can also play important role by providing RF interference detection intelligence along with high value security solution.

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