Two Seasons One Router

It’s really snowy in parts of British Columbia, Canada right now. The trees are covered in a brilliant blanket of white snow. And so are the Cisco industrial WiFi routers that dot this part of the province 🙂

This particular router is one that I drive past a few times a year in different seasons. Right now it’s -20C (-4F) and there’s snow everywhere.

(That big pole on the back side of the router is just a mounting pole, not an antenna)

And a couple years ago when I stopped the take a picture it was August and could easily have been 30C (86F).

This kit is a Cisco 1240 Connected Grid Router. It looks like an outdoor access point, but it’s actually a full router in an IP67 rated enclosure that supports WiFi and cellular connectivity.

It’s cool to see this equipment operating in both extremes.

Only in Canada

Thanks to Colin for this one 🙂

At a hockey arena in Edmonton, they installed a Cisco AP over the ice, presumably to try and maximize coverage across the whole arena. That makes sense… until you think about the age range of the players.

If you look closely, you can see black smudges on the AP where kids where shooting hockey pucks up at the AP. And it looks like even with the cover over it, the kids are still keen to try and knock it down. 😁🏒

 

LAX

Man, LAX is pretty gnarly. Between taking photos of planes and APs, it's amazing I didn't miss a flight. First off, pretty obvious–at least in Terminal 2– that they're an all-Cisco shop. No shortage of 3702i APs anywhere.

Curiously, they also had a healthy amount of 3802e APs ("e" denotes a model with external antennas).

I'd love to know why they mixed models like this. They even had the two models fairly well intermixed; a specific model was not just in a specific area. I saw a few of the 3802e units with the LED lit green (meaning no stations were associated) which made me wonder if they were dedicated monitor APs, but then there were units like the one above with their LED lit blue (indicating at least one station associated).

As for the external antennas, at least the one above is nice and symmetrical. If not ideal from an RF perspective, at least it's purrrrdy. Then I saw this guy.

I can imagine the conversation that lead to this installation:

👨Which way do we orient the antennas?
👷…‍
👨Do they go horizontal? Vertical? In between?
👷Hold my coffee

On the outdoor front, LAX had what appeared to be Cisco 1572 APs mounted on all the jet bridges (again, I was only in Terminal 2).

Lots to see at LAX!

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston had Wi-Fi all over the place (at least down town, in the market/tourist-y district). They appeared to be using Meraki MR74 or MR84 APs for their city/open Wi-Fi.

Waterfront Park, Charleston, SC
Waterfront Park, Charleston, SC
Waterfront Park, Charleston, SC
Waterfront Park, Charleston, SC

The city’s Wi-Fi network was open for anyone to use (I think? I don’t recall if there was a captive portal). Only real complaint is the side of the broadcast domain 😉.

Charleston, SC, free Wi-Fi

Apart from the city’s Wi-Fi, I noticed that the city and/or police appeared to be using Ubiquity to service cameras around the downtown area.

Charleston, SC

Resort at Panama City Beach Florida

Jekyll Island sits on the US east coast in the state of Georgia and has a few beaches that face the Pacific Ocean. On one such beach the hotel/resort had installed Wi-Fi.

Update Jan 5 2018: Oops. One of my travel mates pointed out that this was actually at a resort in Panama City Beach, Florida. I got my locations mixed up.

I don’t recognize the equipment, but a good use of outdoor APs given the exposure to sand and water. I’m also assuming that we’re looking at a panel antenna on the front of the AP which indicates some thought and engineering went into this deployment. Very cool, considering this is a hotel network after all.

One thing I noticed though is that their cabling is the weak link: they’ve installed RJ45 jacks right next to the APs which are certainly not protected against the elements.

Curious why they wouldn’t have extended the home run all the way into the gland on the AP so there were no connectors exposed to the elements.

Vancouver International (YVR)

Ok, last of the airport posts for this week. This time, Vancouver International (YVR). Similar to SAN, YVR has Cisco APs providing Wi-Fi coverage in the rental car garage.

YVR Rental Car Garage

Unlike SAN, YVR went with the ruggedized Cisco 1532i AP which can operate in below-freezing temperatures.

What I like most about YVR’s network is their extensive use of the Cisco Hyperlocation Antenna. The 32-element antenna array wraps around the AP and plugs in on the bottom of the AP into the module slot. The antenna uses a bunch of RF magic (which I have seen explained multiple times but continually forget) to precisely determine the location of a Wi-Fi/Bluetooth device with an accuracy of 1 meter (give or take).

Hyberlocation at YVR
Hyberlocation at YVR

An airport like YVR could use this kind of location data to feed an analytics engine (like Cisco CMX) to determine how long it takes passengers to move around the terminal or to clear a security checkpoint.

Chicago O’Hare Airport

Continuing on with this mini series on Wi-Fi at airports, here’s a couple of shots from O’Hare (ORD). ORD seems to be in the middle of either an evaluation/bake-off or a transition between vendors because I saw a healthy amount of Aruba and Cisco in the terminal (I don’t remember which terminal this was in).

Aruba at ORD

This looks like an Aruba AP-228 which, if I’ve identified this correctly, does make some sense because I spotted this unit in the jet bridge getting onto the plane and if you’ve ever walked on/off a plane somewhere in Canada in the dead of winter, you KNOW those things do not have very good temperature control. The marketing literature says this guy is nicely suited for indoor locations that have little/no temperature control such as warehouses and stadiums.

On the Cisco side we’ve got 3702i APs (left-most arrow).

Cisco at ORD

Those saucer-looking thingies were antennas for the distributed antenna system (DAS). One was labeled AT&T and the other wasn’t readable.

It’s interesting that both the Aruba and Cisco APs appear to be the same generation (802.11ac Wave 1) which gives some credibility to the idea of an ongoing evaluation or bake-off between the vendors.