Stories by Craig Mathias

  • AirMagnet breaks new ground in wireless spectrum analysis

    Everyone needs a Wi-Fi spectrum analyzer, but there are times when analyzing cellular spectrum is also essential. Fluke Networks' new AirMagnet Spectrum ES provides a broad range of capability at a very attractive price. Spectral analysis, a longstanding fixture in electronics and manufacturing test, and, more recently as a valuable tool for understanding coverage, interference, and other elements of Wi-Fi, is the art and science of extracting meaning and insight from wireless systems at Layer 1 -- radio waves.

  • Averail Access aces mobility management test

    Enterprise mobility management (EMM) can encompass a broad range of functions, from managing mobile devices, to applications, expenses, personnel, and policies. But perhaps the most important aspect is mobile information/data/content management, tracking the distribution and usage of sensitive organizational data, as well as ensuring appropriate security and policy compliance.

  • Three-stream Wi-Fi hits the mark

    The rapid adoption of 802.11n has become a significant milestone in the history of wireless LANs. The MIMO-based technologies used in most 802.11n systems provide enough throughput, reliability, and rate vs. range performance to effectively remove the last major barriers to the broad adoption of WLANs in the enterprise.

  • What you need to know about 802.11ac

    A question we're hearing with increasing frequency concerns the upcoming 802.11ac standard, which promises to do to 802.11n what .11n did to .11g. While the IEEE 802.11ac standard likely won't be completely finished before the end of 2013, and, while the Wi-Fi Alliance similarly has issued no interoperability criteria for 802.11ac, consumer-grade products claiming compliance with the aforementioned 802.11ac standard could be on store shelves as soon as the middle of 2012.

  • Tips for buying a three-stream access point

    The decision to buy a three-stream access point (or likely, a whole lot of these) in an enterprise environment is more complex than throughput alone. You need to begin with overall IT requirements, objectives, planning cycles, and operational strategies.

  • A note on nomenclature

    Wireless LAN devices (access points and clients) supporting (up to) three spatial streams are often denoted as "3x3" devices, referring to the minimal number of transmitters and receivers required to make this particular configuration of MIMO work. But there is so much variability in terminology here that a standard nomenclature is required.

  • Planning for wireless

    The pre-installation site survey has long been a core element of wireless-LAN deployments. The concept is simple: Set-up an access point, and, running a site-survey application on a mobile computer, walk around, noting signal strength in various locations in order to build a coverage map.

  • WLAN Management Takes Center Stage

    Aruba's announcement today that they are acquiring AirWave is of course interesting to anyone who follows the WLAN industry, but its significance extends far beyond WLANs alone. Management has traditionally been one of the less interesting aspects of networking, perhaps because so few people are actually involved in it on a day-to-day basis, and those folks tend to speak in obscure dialects and sit behind consoles in dimly lit rooms. But if the network is indeed the circulatory system of the enterprise, these guys are the ones who make sure the heart is within normal operating parameters, and all the arteries and veins are free of plaques and clots and otherwise working at peak efficiency. And, of course, these guys are only as good as the tools they build their solutions on. Management is to my way of thinking is in fact going to become the critical differentiator in networking (wireless and wired) as we move ahead. A solid management offering will be the part of a proposed solution that wins deals.

  • Why gateways are pivotal to the rest of the network

    A few weeks ago, I wrote a column about the impact of wireless LAN system architecture on performance and why the debate on this issue won't be settled any time soon. This week I want to look at the impact of system and solution architecture on the success of wireless wide-area networks (WWANs).

  • Infrared radiation: The other wireless technology

    Radio is cool and exciting because it allows us to send voice and broadband data through the air. Advances in radio technology have resulted in more throughput, greater reliability and better range. And we've made advances across the board, in basic technologies, radio chip architecture and fabrication, packaging, power consumption, antennas, protocols and software.