N+I: Noise Report
LAS VEGAS -- The show floor at this year's Networld+Interop exhibition may be spookily quiet, but the air between the booths is filled with noise.
Radio noise, that is. As predicted, 802.11 is everywhere at the trade fair this year, and that means interference is also all around, providing a foretaste of what a world full of 802.11 could really be like (see N+I: Congestion Problems?).
Trapeze Networks Inc. is in the thick of it, running a private 802.11a (54-Mbit/s over 5GHz) network in one of the central exhibition halls. "I ran Netstumbler [a cult network sniffing application] and there must be 45 access points out there," Brian Bailey, a product marketing type for the startup, told Unstrung. "And they're all committing every kind of sin." Sadly -- despite the fact that this is Vegas -- Bailey only means that the access points are using overlapping radio channels and performing all kinds of other heinous deeds that make RF engineers (but few others) go weak at the knees.
Normally, running a 5GHz 802.11a hotspot takes an access point out of the crowded 2.4GHz band inhabited by the much more popular 802.11b standard. However, "there's quite a bit of a stuff running here," Bailey notes. He says Trapeze did some "sneaky stuff" with its switch to ensure the network ran smoothly, but your Unstrung correspondent couldn't access the members-only Trapeze network to see whether their efforts were successful (see Trapeze's High Wireless Act for more on Trapeze's technology).
In fact, a lot of the WLAN equipment vendors have rented nearby hotel suites to talk to the press and run demos. Of course, this is partly because of economic necessity -- it's cheaper to rent a room than a big booth at the show.
However, as Blaine Kohl, VP of marketing at Bandspeed Inc. observes (from the comfort of an airconditioned suite overlooking the Nevada desert): "Its difficult to do any kind of meaningful demonstration [of this technology] down there." (See Startups Add to Switch Mix for more on Bandspeed.) — Dan Jones, Senior Editor, Unstrung