Cisco CleanAir IDs Wi-Fi Interference

CleanAir technology identifies the Wi-Fi interference challenges that haunt many wireless networks, company says.

W. David Gardner, Contributor

April 27, 2010

2 Min Read

Cisco moved to beef up performance of its mobile networks Tuesday, announcing a brace of new products and network and support services that are aimed at eliminating interference through a proprietary application-specific integrated circuit and new system-level intelligence.

The effort, part of Cisco's Borderless Networks architecture, uses new Cisco Aironet 3500 Series Access Points with the firm's CleanAir technology, which addresses the interference challenges that haunt so many wireless networks.

The CleanAir ASIC technology can detect more than 20 unique interference sources ranging from cordless phones and wireless video cameras to Bluetooth devices and microwave ovens without interrupting networks' ongoing client traffic. The new effort is the latest in Cisco's long-running campaign to strengthen enterprise and consumer networks as interference threats grow with the proliferation of new waves of wireless devices.

"The dramatic influx of mobile devices onto corporate networks, the explosive use of multimedia and video, and the growing demand from users to be mobile have all resulted in the enterprise's need to make wireless networks a mission-critical part of its communications infrastructure," said Cisco's Ray Smets in a statement. "Like the wired network, wireless networks must evolve to address these challenges." Smets is VP and general manager for the Cisco wireless networking business unit.

The CleanAir ASIC is key to the new CleanAir technology, because it eschews software-based solutions and brings interference correlation across multiple access points to prevent duplicate events from the same interference sources.

Cisco said the CleanAir technology can solve interference problems in minutes and even in seconds over the hours that often were required to solve similar problems in the past. "By accurately locating interference sources visually represented on a floor plan," Cisco said, "CleanAir lets businesses rapidly identify and remove interference sources."

Along with the CleanAir Technology announcement, Cisco noted that it will deliver enhancements to existing products and services. For instance, its 802.11n Aironet 1260 Series Access Points is being expanded along with an increase in the scale of the Cisco 5500 Wireless Controller to 500 access points from its previous maximum of 250 access points.

Cisco indicated that its CleanAir Technology campaign was influenced by a survey it took of 600 U.S. companies that revealed an underlying dichotomy -- 78% of the companies considered their networks to be mission-critical, yet wireless interference was identified as a top cause of wireless performance issues.

The Aironet 3500 and 1260 Series will be available beginning next month.

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