Beam me up, Scotty!

What better way to spend a 38 degree (Celsius, or 100F) Brisbane summer day than to relax in the air conditioning and enjoy a Star Trek marathon?

Or, I could put my wireless nerd hat on and satisfy my curiosity as to whether my AP (Cisco Meraki MR33) and computer (Surface Pro 2017) were utilising beamforming.

The CWNP courseware does a great job of explaining and analysing beamforming, however I came across a great chapter in the book “802.11ac: A Survival Guide – Wi-Fi at Gigabit and Beyond” by Matthew Gast which goes into greater detail.  I’m not going to digest and translate the entire chapter here (though I highly recommend reading it), though I will provide a brief overview and I am going to illustrate how I confirmed if my stations were beamforming or not.

Continue reading

Re-blog: Start the New Year With a Six-Pack of WLAN-Related Blogs You May Not Know About

Awesome start to the New Year being mentioned in Lee’s post, along with some other great blogs!

wirednot

Man, there are soooo many smart people out there doing wireless networking. I’m guessing that if you’re reading this, you have no trouble bubbling up at least a few names of people who are seen and heard often in the WLAN community. Maybe they are very active on social media, or frequently present at conferences, or have a podcast that you enjoy. We’re fortunate in this realm to be in the company of awesome folks that are happy to share of their knowledge and of their opinions/philosophies on matters that matter to us.

As 2018 kicks in, I’d like to direct your attention towards a half-dozen blogs that might not currently be on your radars. I’ve come to know of these from different circumstances for each, but have found value in all of them.

View original post 174 more words

Wi-Fi Monitoring & Assurance with NetBeez

Opportunity

I see a growing demand for Wi-Fi performance analytics (location, content, and experience analytics are a separate discussion piece) and assurance to form more robust and accountable service level agreements with wireless service providers.  Customers want to know if their network is performing properly, and the wireless network is no exception.

While wireless engineers can perform surveys to check coverage and interference, and perform packet analysis in various locations to assess operations and the user experience, and monitor network management system logs and reports; it is expensive to send engineers onsite at the hint of any wireless issue (and as we know, more often than not it can be an issue with the client device as opposed to the wireless network; or an issue further down the line in the wired network infrastructure), and it is difficult to replicate issues and correlate them to certain points in time.

I also see a strong use-case for post-implementation performance baseline establishment.  Performing post-implementation wireless surveys, end-user acceptance testing, throughput and packet analysis, and application tests are all necessary components of verifying if a wireless network is operating as per design.  However it would be great if there was a way to perform longer-term testing of the network to establish normal and expected operating conditions over say a two week period, perhaps pre and post-go live. Continue reading

Wi-Fi Calling

Wi-Fi Calling is a carrier-offload feature which enables compatible mobile phones to make and receive cellular phone calls in poor coverage areas over a supported Wi-Fi connection.

A growing number of carriers and devices now support Wi-Fi Calling and I think it is a great feature when implemented properly, as I will discuss in this post.  Consideration is needed for a good experience with this feature especially as it is increasingly available in enterprise wireless networks, it is not as simple as being enabled at both the carrier and device ends.

Recently a customer reported issues with Wi-Fi Calling dropouts on their network after updating their firewall configuration to allow the service.  It turned out while the network supported the transport of Wi-Fi Calling packets, the wireless network was not designed to support Voice-over-Wi-Fi (VoWi-Fi)!

So I will provide some details around what is needed to ensure a good Wi-Fi Calling experience with reference to some WLAN vendor documentation and packet captures. Continue reading

Apple iCloud Keychain

I was playing around with my wireless networks at home and ‘forgot’ my main SSID on my iPhone.

I knew that iCloud Keychain would add and synchronise new wireless networks and PSKs across devices, but I didn’t realise it would also remove them across devices!  Suddenly my MacBook Air dropped off the network and I had to re-associate and enter the PSK again!

Good to know when troubleshooting wireless issues with Apple users.

https://support.apple.com/en-au/HT204085

Casual Wi-Fi Analysis

I’m sure I am not alone with my fellow Wi-Fi professionals in that when at a public venue I like to scope out for wireless access points; assess the installation location, positioning, and quality; and also do a quick connectivity and usability test.  Sometimes I might go as far to run a quick scan in the iPhone AirPort Utility to see signal strengths and channels in use.

Recently I purchased a MacBook Air and have had a lot of fun using Wi-Fi Explorer.  I saw that Adrian had posted instructions on how to import AirPort Utility scans into Wi-Fi Explorer – this could be useful!

I visited a brewpub here in town the other day and found some horrible configuration on the 2.4GHz bands with channels other than 1/6/11 being used.  I ran a scan for a few minutes and emailed myself the results.  As you can see below the emailed results don’t display in easily readable manner.

airport utility.PNG

So when I got home I followed Adrian’s instructions here to paste the data into Wi-Fi Explorer, and it conveniently organised the scanned BSSIDs and RF information into the default columns presented in the UI.  I could now easily see the AP vendor as well as signal strengths and channels configured, much to my dismay.

wifi explorer

I will definitely be using this import functionality more frequently in future!

ANZ Wi-Fi Pros

I’ve been quiet with blog posts since returning from Wi-Fi Trek due to focusing on studying and passing the CWAP and CWSP exams, all done now! I passed CWDP at Wi-Fi Trek, so now I am preparing my CWNE application.

Whilst at Wi-Fi Trek Peter Mackenzie (@MackenzieWiFi) provided an overview of the WLAN Association (@WLANAssociation) and the goals of standardising best practices and assurance for Wi-Fi network delivery. 

Along with the great community spirit at the conference some of us from Oceania recognised we didn’t have much in the way of an established community Down Under; so @WiFiNZ@WazzFi , and I decided to start the ANZ Wi-Fi Pros (@ANZWiFi) Twitter page to share information, jobs, and events in our region.     

So if you’re a Kiwi or Aussie wireless professional interested in growing our community support in the region, please join us and follow the group!                                     

CWNP Wi-Fi Trek – Orlando!

CWNP Wi-Fi Trek conference kicks off today! Over 200 wireless professionals attending from around the world from various industries and backgrounds; from junior through to exec job roles, and zero to expertly certified.

The opening keynote was presented by Dr Kevin Snyder, a fantastic leadership and motivational speaker! A great way to set up for 3 days of technical presentations.

Thoroughly impressed with the setup here, and the resort is something else.

In addition to the fantastic training courses over the last 3 days (I attended CWAP run by guru Peter Mackenzie), it has been immensely valuable to network with other professionals in such a passionate area of the ICT industry; and I’ve still yet to meet so many more people!

Cisco Dynamic Channel Assignment (DCA) Intervals

Some of you may already be aware of this pain point running WLC code 8.2 or later; this is when Cisco introduced the Flexible Radio Assignment (FRA) feature.

If you’re running the default Dynamic Channel Assignment (DCA) interval, which is 10 minutes, you really should change it to suit your wireless network – there are wireless clients that do not behave well (i.e. lose connectivity) when experiencing a channel change, you especially don’t want this with Voice over Wi-Fi.  However if you’ve never changed the update interval, or need to change it after upgrading to 8.2 code, you will run into a supposed issue trying to set the update interval longer than one hour.

The reasoning for this is easy to miss in the above link: “Set the FRA run interval (Valid Choices 1-24 hours must meet or exceed DCA interval)”, especially if you have never deployed any FRA-capable APs and don’t have FRA enabled.

If you try to set the DCA interval above 1 hour in the GUI or CLI you will get the following error:

(WLC-P001) >config advanced 802.11a channel dca interval 24

DCA Interval cannot be greater than FRA Interval.

You might go to double-check that FRA isn’t enabled, but you have to set the FRA interval to greater than the DCA interval:

(WLC-P001) >config advanced fra interval 24

(WLC-P001) >config advanced 802.11a channel dca interval 24

(WLC-P001) >config advanced 802.11b channel dca interval 24

I’ve not had a chance to play around with FRA on 2800 or 3800 APs yet, however the crew over at the No Strings Attached show have produced a white paper based on some testing, and the Borderless CCIE blog gives a good summary of what it is here.

If you want to debug WLC dynamic channel assignment updates you can use the following command: debug airewave-director channel enable

I hope this saves some people some headaches!