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Showing posts from 2018

Roam, If You Want to (As Long as Your Channels Are 20 Mhz Wide)

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Editor's note: In the original publication of this article, the relationship between Wi-Fi channel width and SNR was described imprecisely.  While the point of the article was correct -- that wider channel widths increase the likelihood of Wi-Fi frame failures for mobile client devices -- the mistakes have been corrected.  Thank you to Adrian Granados.

Ahh, roaming. Few things capture the spirit of freedom like the ability to Roam wherever you want to go.



Wi-Fi has its own brand of roaming, and there is one aspect of Wi-Fi roaming that often gets overlooked: 40 MHz and 80 MHz wide channels can make Wi-Fi users feel like they've been bounced from the Love Shack.
Much has been written and spoken about the pros and cons of the three Wi-Fi channel widths: 20 MHz, 40 MHz, and 80 MHz.

20 MHz wide channels allow for the highest number of APs to be deployed -- nice for ultra high-density Wi-Fi -- because each AP takes up less of Wi-Fi's scarce frequency space.  In North America, up…

The Unknown Unknowns of Wi-Fi

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"There are known knowns; things that we know we know. There are known unknowns; that is to say there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns -- the ones we don't know we don't know. And if one looks throughout [history], it is the latter category that tends to be the [most problematic]." -Donald Rumsfeld, former United States Secretary of Defense

For those of us who follow United States politics, the above quote is a famous one.  And for those of us who work in Wi-Fi, being aware of Unknown Unknowns can make the difference between good Wi-Fi and bad.

What are the Known Knowns of Wi-Fi? 

AP status (up or down).  AP channel.  Number of associated client devices.  Data statistics.  We can gather these pieces of information from WLAN controllers or wireless management systems.
And what are Known Unknowns? 

For one, we know that we don't know precisely which nearby APs and client devices are causing CCI.  We know that nearby APs and clients …

Why Are You Speeding Up My Wi-Fi Calling, Apple? (It Might Make Things Worse)

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It's summer in Los Angeles, which can only mean one thing: Sequels!

As movie fans indulge in a third 'Avengers', a fifth 'Jurassic Park', and what feels like a seven hundreth 'Star Wars', this here blog is providing a sequel to a probably-long-forgotten Sniff Wi-Fi post called 'Why Are You Slowing Down My Wi-Fi, Apple?'

Turn down the lights, pop some popcorn, and enjoy the twists and turns of this harrowing look into Wi-Fi Calling on iPhones.

Several months ago, this blog highlighted the Wi-Fi behavior of the iPhone X using OmniPeek.  Truth be told, that post was a little bit like the latest 'Spider-Man' sequel: attention-grabbing title, some interesting content, but ultimately nothing consequential.  And just as movie fans knew that Michael Keaton's flying bird character wasn't going to beat the lead superhero,  a lot of Wi-Fi folks already knew that Apple iOS devices use Protection (called a "TXOP" in the blog post; Devin A…

Why I Disabled Low Data Rates This One Time

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After eight and a half years, one hundred forty posts, and a shade under one-and-a-half million page views, it is clear to me that one topic causes more controversy than any other on this here Sniff Wi-Fi blog: disabling low OFDM rates (such as 6 & 9 Mbps).

Wi-Fi vendors tell you to do it.

CWNP trainers tell you to do it.

Other bloggers tell you to do it.

I (and a very, very small group of other hardcore Wi-Fi professionals) tell younot todo it.

But this blog post isn't about re-litigating that controversial issue (for the most part).   This blog post is about telling you why I **did** disable the 6 & 9 Mbps data rates on a recent Wi-Fi optimization project.

Given the subject matter of this blog post, I feel compelled to begin with some shameless self-promotion: if you have a problematic Wi-Fi deployment (or if you're in the "design" phase and you want to avoid having a problematic Wi-Fi deployment, or if you would like training on how to avoid having a problemati…

Not Wi-Fi, But... How To Tell If Your Email Has Been Hacked (It Probably Hasn't)

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A friend of mine recently posted a message on Twitter telling people that his email had been hacked.  

I told him that his email had most likely NOT been hacked, and it took all of thirty seconds to figure that out.  

A lot of people believe that their email has been hacked when they receive messages like this:

From: A Friend
To: Me
Subject: Has your email been hacked?

Body: [Forwarded message from "You" that you didn't actually send.]

When someone receives an email from "You" that you didn't send, it could mean that your email is hacked, but it probably doesn't.

Here's how to check:

Ask your friend to click or tap on Your Name (the "From" in the email).

If your real email address shows up, then the email was sent from your real email account.  That means your email has been hacked.

If an email address that is NOT yours shows up when your friend clicks/taps on Your Name (in the "From" field of the email), then the email was sent from …

Surveying Without Site Survey Software (My Aborted Ten Talk)

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At the 2018 Wireless LAN Professional Conference (WLPC), I was scheduled to give a ten-minute "Ten Talk" on Wi-Fi surveying without using site survey software.  I aborted that talk at the last minute in favor of a talk on Ghost Frames.  

After the WLPC, Matthew Norwood told me on Twitter that he was looking forward to the talk about surveying without using site survey software.  I don't want to disappoint Matthew, or anyone else who was looking forward to that scheduled Ten Talk.  Here, then, is a YouTube version of the aborted talk on Wi-Fi surveying without using site survey software:


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Twitter: @Ben_SniffWiFi
ben at sniffwifi dot com

The Wi-Fi Stand Stands Up

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The recently completed Wireless LAN Professionals Conference (WLPC) was nice enough to gift attendees a Wi-Fi Stand.  The product is a clever one, but as a person who believes in measuring Wi-Fi propagation accurately when surveying, I was concerned.  When I tested it, my results showed that my concerns appear to be unfounded.

The Wi-Fi stand is an apparatus that screws in to the top of a tripod to make a vertical, rectangular structure that allows enterprise APs to be hung upside down from standard ceiling mounts.  If that is a little bit hard to visualize, here's my best shot at describing it:


The graphic on the left is what the Wi-Fi Stand looks like and the graphic on the right is how the Wi-Fi Stand looks on top of a tripod.

I am a big believer in designing & surveying Wi-Fi using real, production devices, and a longstanding problem with that has been temporarily mounting APs for the design/survey.  I've tried zip ties, and velcro.  I've gone with makeshift wooden…

Optimizing Wi-Fi for High Occupancy Spaces

If I sound a little bit surly today, it's because I spent last night watching this:



For those who don't follow basketball, that's the brilliant Nikola Jokic (likely named in honor of wireless pioneer Nikola Tesla!) dissecting my beloved Milwaukee Bucks.

If the result of the game -- the Bucks losing by 11 points in Milwaukee -- didn't make me surly on its own, my Wi-Fi experience yesterday surely didn't help.  The Wi-Fi in the Southwest Airlines terminal at LAX was slow and unstable, and the Wi-Fi at the aforementioned game (held at the 18,717 capacity Bradley Center) was mostly unusable in the seating bowl.  But what good does it do to stay surly?  Instead, I'll offer some tips on getting Wi-Fi working at high occupancy spaces.

High occupancy Wi-Fi is a sensitive issue for me for two reasons: 1) I'm sick of fixing high occupancy deployments, and 2) As a frequenter of high occupancy areas, I'm sick of bad Wi-Fi in those areas.

The trouble is that many of t…

We Need Wi-Fikileaks

Device vendor secrecy makes Wi-Fi worse for users.

"Wi-Fi is all about the users."  It's my Pinned Tweet and my professional operating philosophy.  I don't care about AP vendor preference or network management or heatmaps or anything else that doesn't improve the user experience.  I want every device for every user to work everywhere at all times, period.  That's the goal.

It is frustrating to me, therefore, that Wi-Fi device makers are so tight with their information. 

I've gotten a lot of blowback for my writing and Tweeting about what a mistake it is to set the Minimum Basic Rate (MBR) above 6 Mbps.  Most of it is balderdash from BS artists and other people who don't know Wi-Fi.  A not insignificant amount, however, is from people who know Wi-Fi, at least to some degree.  And the common refrain from those people can be summarized thusly: "Wi-Fi devices use more than just RSSI to determine when to roam." 

Maybe things have changed, and now…

Using OmniPeek To Learn About the iPhone X

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One of my favorite things to do is teach Wi-Fi, and one of my favorite tools for teaching is Savvius OmniPeek.  The good folks at Savvius were nice enough to provide OmniPeek for the Wi-Fi classes I oversee at Global Knowledge, and so I want to offer a taste of how OmniPeek can be used to learn about Wi-Fi device behavior, specifically with the iPhone X.

Savvius OmniPeek is what I call a hardcore protocol analyzer.  The "hardcore" adjective comes from the fact that OmniPeek encourages the user to view frame (aka "packet") traces.  Non-hardcore protocol analyzers focus on providing statistics and graphs.  I am a big fan of all types of protocol analyzers, but the beauty of OmniPeek is that it offers options for viewing statistics and graphs, while making its frame traces simple to navigate.

One of the things I like using OmniPeek for when teaching is illustrating the different ways that Wi-Fi devices and APs use the 802.11 standard.  An example is what happens when …

WPA3 Adds Four Security Enhancements, One of Which Matters

The Wi-Fi Alliance announced its next security enhancement today, called WPA3.  The press release touts "four new capabilities", but only one of the four affects practical Wi-Fi security.

As they are occasionally wont to do, the Wi-Fi Alliance announced a new certification today via a press release featuring an artisnal blend of normal words and corporate gobbledygook.  For those who speak fluent corporate gobbledygook, here are the four enhancements of WPA3:
Robust protections even when users choose passwords that fall short of typical complexity recommendations.Simplify the process of configuring security for devices that have limited or no display interface.Strengthen user privacy in open networks through individualized data encryption.A 192-bit security suite, aligned with the Commercial National Security Algorithm (CNSA) Suite from the Committee on National Security Systems to forther protect Wi-Fi networks with higher security requirements such as government, defense, a…