In Australia, Toyota LandCruisers Form a New Kind of Network

1Australia is a different kind of place. I’ve never actually been there, but I know people who have. And as a ham radio operator, I’ve listened in on school taught via HF and once talked to a gent in Alice Springs. Take the cheesiness of Crocodile Dundee out of the equation, and Australia still captures our fascination as more of a “last frontier” than even my former home of Alaska. I recently got wind of a profoundly cool technology that is uniquely Australian, designed to help solve challenges that are unique to The Land Down Under.

First, the buildup. 

  • The Australian Outback is vast, and harsh. The term “Outback” covers most of Australia, and simply corresponds to sparsely populated areas where services can be scarce at best, and frequently non-existent.
  • Over 65% of Australia has no mobile signal coverage.
  • At the same time, there are a lot of Toyota LandCruisers in Australia. Like half a million of them. And they are common in Australia’s remote reaches.

This is where it gets cool.

How do you create a network where all conventional wisdom on the topic of networking is generally invalidated by environmental conditions and lack of civilization? That question may have been answered by a company called Saatchi & Saatchi in partnership with The School of Computer Science at Flinder’s University (efforts led by Dr. Paul Gardner-Stephan), and Toyota.

Here’s a hint… store and forward. And another… LandCruisers ARE the network.

How it works.

Each LandCruiser gets one of these installed.

0

I’m told by program insiders “The device has been engineered using a clever mix of WI-FI, UHF and Delay Tolerant Networking (DTN) technology, an area that lots of people are looking into – including NASA for interplanetary communications, to turn vehicles into communications hotspots each with up to a 25km range.”

Hence, Australia’s new LandCruiser Emergency Network.

Here’s a quick promo video that is worth watching.  And Wired magazine just did their own coverage on this very cool solution.

Now you know!

2

The Wirednot Memo to PR/Marketers

I’m pretty sensitive to the premise that all people have value, and everyone has their job to do. I also know that there are some jobs I couldn’t do well, and I respect people who can fill those roles. I’m no better than anyone else under the sun, and what I’m about to rant about.. well, it isn’t personal- it’s just business. I interact with a lot of marketing folks and PR types, and I’m really thankful (generally) for the information sharing that they do in the technology markets. At the same time, there are certain habits/tactics/styles/approaches that absolutely turn me off. Please- if you want to interact with me in any of my professional roles, then don’t use these methods to engage.

Calls to My Desk Phone. When I’m at work, I’m pretty darn busy. There is zero room or patience for phone calls that come out of the blue. Cold calls for me are irritating enough, but it gets worse. Often these are fishing expeditions; using my extension as a pivot point to find out who in the organization is actually responsible for some specific technology. Let me save you the trouble: I’m not telling, and any and all phone calls will be met (initially) with a polite “no thank you”.

Announcements That Joe Blow Changed Positions or Companies. There is not an exec out there that I could give two figs about when they change positions. If they change companies, get promoted, whatever- I don’t care, and don’t want to “know more about this exciting development”. No ego-stroking for me, and I don’t believe my readers care in the least.

Company X Did Something, Do You Want to Hear What Guy From Company Y Thinks About It? Um… no.

The Follow-Up to Emails I Didn’t Respond to. “Lee, I wanted to follow up on my earlier email… the one that you didn’t answer. Will you reply now? Or now? Or… NOW?”

No. No. And no.

The Follow-Up to “My Colleague’s” Email. “Lee, I notice that you didn’t reply to that other person’s email. So maybe if I hound you on the same topic, you’ll reply.”

Nope. Please don’t do this. Now I’m irritated by you AND your colleague.

Naming Your Time As Your First Interaction With Me. “Sure, I don’t know you but this thing is so compelling I want to talk to you today. Is 1 PM good? Or Wednesday at 2?” Actually, no time is good because you lost me.

Telling Me My Response is RequiredWhether it’s for a survey or a sales pitch, don’t nobody own Wirednot. My response isn’t required, because your idea of a requirement and mine are very different.

Contextless Performance Claims.  If you come to me with claims of whatever you’re marketing being 10X better or 50X faster or whatever, you’ll find zero interest. These are over-generalized gimmicky statements without context, and they are off-putting.

The “Would You Like to Review This Product?” Pitch- With No Follow Up. So, you’ve asked me if I’d like to review some gadget. I say yes, I would. Then you don’t reply. Six months later, new gadget, same pitch, same cycle of not responding. Two strikes and you’re in my junk mail.

Botching My Name. “Dear Badman”. “Dear FirstName”. “Dear <Potential customer first name>”. “Dear Mary”.  Oh dear. Just go away. Enjoy wallowing in my junk email folder.

Threatening to Cut Me Off- Follow Through, Already! “This MAY be the last email you get from us if you don’t respond to our marketing…” I’ve been naughty and need to be punished. Stop sending me these emails, and teach me my lesson already, I beg of you.

And there you have it. I don’t claim to speak for all busy networking professionals and analyst/writers, just me. These are the PR and marketing techniques that shut me right down, and completely kill my interest in ever learning more from the those on the sending end.

For those reading, am I off-base here? And are there other examples that rub you the wrong way?

At Least 18% of All Vehicles With Wi-Fi Are Integrated (Maybe)

When you read this blog, you get value. As the Chief Data Scientist for Wirednot LLC, I crunch numbers and I draw conclusions so you don’t have to. I’ll pie you up a chart so fine you’ll wonder what happened… but that’s besides the point. I’m here today to declare that minimally 18% of all vehicles on the road with a Wi-Fi signal might be equipped with in-built WLAN capabilities. And I stand behind behind that uncertain claim with conviction, I tellya.

The Methodology

Find yourself a busy two lane road, like Route 5 in Elbridge, NY.
route 5

Build yourself a business alongside that busy two-lane road, maybe something like this one. When you do the networking for that business, pay attention to what you see in the Air Marshal dashboard in it’s Meraki wireless system.

AirMarshal

The Findings

Seeing that this fairly isolated establishment (no neighbors) “saw”over 1,000 outside SSIDs in a week, I was struck by how many were OBVIOUSLY automobiles and likely built-in. I went through, and counted applied an advanced algorithm to arrive at around 180 of these being safe bets as automobile-mounted Wi-Fi.

That’s 18%, where I come from, baby.

Now the Fudge Factor

In reality, at least twice of the guaranteed-auto SSIDs looked like they were “likely” car-mounted Wi-Fi, as opposed to Mi-Fi or personal hotspots not mounted in the vehicle. We’ll take half of that additional 18%, or 9%, and add it the original 18% to speculate that in reality, like 27% of all vehicles that passed the Bailiwick Cafe and Market in the last week were equipped with on-board Wi-Fi.

Disclaimer

Of course, I could be wrong. And, I’m not really a Chief Data Scientist. But these two facts aside, feel free to use this analysis any way you’d like.

(Edited after Shay pointed out a phrasing deficiency.) 

 

Mobility Field Day: Glimpsing a Complex Wi-Fi Future

          Take me home mamma, and put me to bed. I have seen enough to know that
I have seen too much.
                      (Announcer in “League of Their Own”)

Depending on where you are on your WLAN career arc, what I’m about to say may or may not make you a bit uncomfortable. That’s not my goal, but there are some complicated times a-coming, my friends. I’m writing this just a few days after I wrapped up participating in Mobility Field Day 1, and you can’t help but leave the typical wireless Field Day  event feeling like you’ve looked directly into the future of the WLAN industry a bit.

I’ve been known to throw out lofty observations like “Wireless Is So Not About Wireless Networking Anymore.” Then there was my white-hot Napkin Drawing. Even when I’m in the thick of doing wireless, I can’t help but zoom out to 10,000 feet and try to see the Big Picture of Wi-Fi. That big picture has certainly changed since the early days of 802.11, and you could say that my journey is really just riding the evolution of wireless networking such as it is. What I saw at Mobility Field Day is more evolution, and a few years from now we’ll look back at and think “yeah, that was cool… but not SO BIG of a deal in retrospect.”

Yet, in the here and now, things that are coming our way ARE big deals. They are still new, unfamiliar, thrilling, cool, and need to be learned and assimilated into our daily Wi-Fi Pro mindsets. Here’s a few “Wow Topics” that jumped out at me during MFD:

  • Ventev’s Street Furniture Wi-Fi As demands for wireless networking become more pervasive far and wide, the question of “so, how do we put it THERE?” gets asked a lot. Ventev has a really interesting line of outdoor antenna solutions coming out later in the year, as shown in the linked video.
  • Nyansa’s Voyance cloud-enabled analytics. The intro and overview to this fascinating and innovative approach to analytics, support and Wi-Fi troubleshooting is here. The demonstration and accompanying discussion is here. Watch for more coverage of this interesting startup, and it stands to reason that others are likely to follow the example of cloud-enabled multi-site data correlation as Nyansa’s baby gets exposure and customers.
  • Cisco Connected Mobile Experience (CMX) Cloud version. There is just sooooo much to CMX and so many different applications. I love that some of the complexity is moving to the cloud (please, God- let Prime Infrastructure go there too, soon). Video is here.  Cisco also wowed with a presentation on Flexible Intelligent RadiosWatch this video, and you’ll agree that things are getting pretty complicated in WLAN land.

Also in the bucket labeled Really Cool, and Quite Different: had a great session with Google on their OnHub approach to consumer Wi-Fi (it would also be at home on Star Trek), and Aruba Networks’ Chuck Lukaszewski talked more on 802.11ax- which may well be the most disruptive and complex standard of our careers (for many of us) when it gets here.

It was an exciting week, and I’ve just tipped the iceberg here. And like I said… these discussions show just how exciting the short future is in many directions for our Wi-Fi world.

Click the logo for all the Mobility Field Day 1 goodness.

MFD-Logo-150x150

A Little Point-to-Point Bridge Saves The Day

Last weekend I was trying to finish up an IP CCTV project at one of my favorite customer sites. Here, an electrician was supposed to run the UTP and I would terminate and test it before I connected cameras. It should have been a straight-forward endeavor, but it got weird. I blame my own lack of attention to detail in telling the electrician EXACTLY where one wire needed to go. Because I didn’t, he put it someplace that was easy for him, but impractical for the application. The camera would somehow have to see around a substantial corner if I mounted it where the wire landed.

Allow me to leverage my Enormous iPad Pro and $700 pencil to make a simple site drawing:

Do you see the problem? There was really no practical way to get the UTP extended to where it needed to be, which would be right about where the outlet is drawn (about 10 meters away). Hmm. I had a good station cable that happened to be in the wrong place, and I had an electrical outlet under an overhang where I needed the camera to go. My wheels started to turn…

Are you starting to smell what’s cooking here? Let’s add a couple of things to that world-class drawing.image

By golly- that just might work.

Being a well-connected Man of Action, I happened to have a couple of 5 GHz Cambium ePMP 1000 in my bag of tricks. Sure, some might say the bridge link I was about to build– spanning all of around 30 feet– borders on overkill for this application. But you do what you gotta do, and I don’t really like wireless cameras. But I do like good point-to-point links for wired cameras.

The Cambiums are an elegant, cost-effective way to do links this short as well as miles longer if things line up right for you.  I updated the firmware on the bridges, gave them the simple config they needed to take their place on my network, and made sure the channel in use wouldn’t conflict with the business WLAN in place.

After a quick trip to Lowes, I was fairly pleased with my solution.

IMG_6751

IMG_6752

That 8″ square electrical box houses the power injectors for both the camera and the bridge, It will probably get painted along with the box the camera is mounted on to better blend in with the white of the overhang, and the owner blessed this unconventional setup as the camera is really important to them.

So how does it work? Though there is still a bit of camera alignment to be done, it’s a pretty good view from the camera.  This particular view is from a remote viewing app, but at the DVR the image is crystal clear and never stutters or drops. After a few days of testing, this link performs as well as a patch cable.

image.png

Like I said… sometimes you do what you have to do.

One in one hundred and fifty three quintillion.

An excellent take on RRM, from a fellow professional whose opinion I trust and value. Have a read.

SC-WiFi

RRM – a common term for Radio Resource Management – or the set of algorithms that set the channel and power level of your Access Points in an automated fashion. You’ve heard it all before, “RRM is broken, RRM picked the wrong channel, RRM hates me, RRM isn’t right for my network”. The reality is that RRM:

  • Isn’t dumb
  • Doesn’t hate you
  • Doesn’t love you
  • Doesn’t feel anything for that matter

As it turns out, RRM isn’t even smart. It has no feelings, passion, hate, love, real, imagined, or otherwise. In fact, RRM is just a series of algorithms that are built to do one thing – whatever you tell it to. RRM is a framework, meant to be built, adjusted, tweaked, and tuned. To be fair, there are two major topics that tend to give RRM a bad name and they are:

1) Every vendor implements RRM differently. This…

View original post 782 more words

Extreme Networks Makes the Case for 802.11ac Wave 2

With Wi-Fi technology constantly improving, it’s easy to stop paying attention to what incredible things are really happening for WLAN users. And incredible things are happening. With the arrival of 802.11ac’s Wave 2, we see new wheels put into motion for wireless users, and paths that the wireless industry had started down being turned into legitimate highways. 802.11ac Wave 2 is big news, and businesses are benefiting from its transformative nature, as over-viewed in a new eBook published by Extreme Networks.

As a wireless architect who builds WLAN environments of all sizes, I see first-hand how modern Wi-Fi enables new workflows and allows businesses to re-invent their processes as wired Ethernet gets pushed increasingly to the margins. Wireless connectivity has become the access method of choice for a huge swath of the business world, and Wave 2 is very persuasive to those who haven’t cut the cord yet. As highlighted by Extreme, it’s not just about signal coverage- or even speed- any more with enterprise Wi-Fi. Wave 2 also brings impressive capacity that further makes the case that businesses truly can run their operations over well-designed wireless networks, while enjoying the benefits of portability and mobility. With data rates topping 1.7 Gbps in ideal conditions, wireless traffic is forwarded with great efficiency in Wave 2 environments.

Extreme’s eBook makes the point that Wave 2 delivers a number of new or improved technologies, and these get even legacy client devices on and off the network quicker. Wi-Fi is still a shared medium, but that notion is getting blurred a bit with Wave 2, for everyone’s benefit. Multi-User MIMO (MU-MIMO) is rightfully getting its share of media coverage, as for the first time we have the capability for a single access point to service multiple clients simultaneously. Like with Wave 2’s impressive top-end for data rates, there are many factors that have to line up for MU-MIMO to live up to its capabilities at any given instant. But even though it may not be leveraged for every client and every transmitted frame given the variability of wireless, there’s no disputing the aggregate performance gains to be had by MU-MIMO. It really is exciting stuff, even to those of us who have seen it all when it comes to WI-Fi.

As businesses of all types consider whether Wave 2 is worth upgrading to, Extreme makes some good points. With more delivered network performance per AP, even for older non-802.11ac client devices, properly designed Wave 2 environments can significantly up the return on investment for the same spend as 11ac Wave 1 or 11n, if you negotiate your discounts right. If you’re sitting on an 11a/g or even early 11n network, making the jump to Wave 2 may be easy if your cabling plant and switches are up to date. Even if they’re not, it’s not uncommon to find that when planning for a new high-end wireless network, you can decrease your wired Ethernet expenditures as you make the jump. Everyone has their own OpEx/CapEx/TCO paradigm to define and muddle through, but Extreme gives pretty good food for thought in their eBook as you wrestle with your own situation.

Yes, Wave 2 has a business story to tell. Efficiency, performance, more-for-the-money, and so on- yes, those are all valid and noteworthy. But the Wave 2 story is also exciting at the user level. BYOD is an established fact of life, and in reality it’s more like Bring Your Own Many Devices for most of us. Our users have a slew of devices of various types and purpose, and 11ac Wave 2 helps with the overall Quality of Experience. Better cells are a tremendous asset to the end user, especially when those cells can self-leverage their best qualities for different device types.

Just remember that Wave 2 isn’t a design, or a deployment scenario. It’s a really awesome technology to be used to solve business problems and to facilitate business operations. As Extreme points out, Wave 2 is part of a bigger technology evolution story that features not just better Wi-Fi, but also switching developed just for 11ac, new analytics capabilities, improved security options, the Internet of Things, and (depending on your needs) impressive SDN and cloud tie-ins. Nothing under the network sun evolves in a vacuum, and Wave 2 fits very well with other advanced enterprise developments. Whether it makes sense for you to consider the move to Wave 2 is ultimately your call (and you’ll like get there at some point anyway). Extreme’s eBook on 802.11ac Wave 2 is an easy read, and does a pretty good job of telling the story of Wave 2 from a few different important angles.


 

FTC-required disclosure: I was compensated to review and comment on the 802.11ac Wave 2 eBook referenced in this blog, by PR company Racepoint Global. I have no direct business relationship with Extreme Networks, and in no way claim to be an Extreme Networks customer or representative of Extreme Networks.