More on the Protocol Issue

10:00 AM -- In case you’re following the did-they-do-it quasi Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) vs Meru Networks Inc. issue, Network Computing has posted commentary from both Cisco and Meru on this matter. Cisco never directly accuses Meru of inflating the frame duration value, but the implication is there. (See Futzing the Protocol.) Meru categorically denies any bad behavior. I spoke to both Bob O’Hara and Vaduvur Bharghavan on the phone. I have known both of these gentlemen for a long time and they both have my utmost respect. Both defend their positions well, albeit with just a wee bit of marketing spin. So how are we to get to the bottom of this? What are we to conclude?

There’s only one way -- an independent analysis of the packet-trace information collected by Network Computing. The original article -- pulled for a time from the NC website, is back. Have a look if you’ve not already.

In general, I’ve found that enterprise types are more interested in results than in underlying architectural issues, and this is as it should be. We buy performance, not implementation. But if the results are being manipulated via means beyond the standard, everyone deserves to know. Again, as I noted before, this may not be a major issue as coexistence in enterprise systems isn’t as important as in residential and public-access settings. And Meru still absolutely deserves the benefit of the doubt until and unless we have conclusive proof. At this point, though, independent analysis is the only way to settle this issue once and for all. Any of you university types want to take this on?

— Craig Mathias is Principal Analyst at the Farpoint Group , an advisory firm specializing in wireless communications and mobile computing. Special to Unstrung

lrmobile_rusty 12/5/2012 | 3:33:02 AM
re: More on the Protocol Issue I've had a look at these Meru vs. Cisco packet captures. You could argue that they are circumventing the 802.11 standard, but it could also be argued that they are staying within the 802.11 standard and exploiting a loophole that makes their networks more efficient than everyone elses.

Really, this whole thing is much ado about nothing in my opinion. The only way this alleged violation could affect nearby networks is if you are constantly streaming heavy downlink traffic on a Meru network that is on the same channel as a nearby non-Meru network. That would mean pulling an FTP, downloading a large file over a LAN, etc. For 99.9% of WLAN use in the real world, the only thing this alleged violation is doing is making Meru networks more efficient by eliminating arbitration between data frames for bursts of downlink traffic.
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