Peek-a-boo, I See You

This Cisco 3702i was spotted peeking out from behind the curtain in a conference room at a hotel.

Peek-a-boo

What’s odd to me is that the whole conference level was already blanketed in WiFi. Why the lone AP casually left on the floor? Also, does anyone else immediately wonder what they would get access to if they plugged their own equipment into a public network port like this?

I didn’t notice the label on the AP until zooming in on the photo (the original, multi-megapixel photo).

MacTAVISH!!!

MacTAVISH. The name of the AP? A nod to a decently famous pro hockey player? A reference to living dangerously? (I’ll leave the last one as an exercise to the reader).

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!

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.

San Diego Airport (SAN)

Ok, more sightings at an airport! Similar to Calgary International (YYC), San Diego International (SAN) has APs mounted right outside the terminal along the arrivals/departures road. SAN is using Cisco 1552s.

San Diego International

I’m sure the metal-wrapped cement column does wonders for the signal in the Taxi line. Also not sure why these APs are carrying the SSID for the conference room?

SAN SSIDs

What was cool though was in the rental center garage, there were APs everywhere.

SAN Rental Car Garage

Those look like Cisco 2700e APs to me mounted inside a nifty enclosure with a glass/plastic door. With some blinky rope lighting, those things could almost pass as a Flux Capacitor. In a testament to how awesome San Diego’s weather is, they’re using an indoor AP in an unheated, open air garage. Jealous. 😎

I’m not familiar with the type of antenna mounted to the underside of the enclosure (the white rectangle), however it looks like it could be a Cisco AIR-ANT2451V-R which is a dual-band, omnidirectional ceiling mounted antenna. What’s most interesting to me is that most of the APs in the garage were showing a green LED indicating no devices were associated. Doing passive scanning only perhaps? Unfortunately I forgot to get a list of SSIDs being broadcast. 😣

Here are two more at the exit gate. I wonder if their being mounted directly over the attendant stations is significant? The AP on the right is the only one I saw with a blue LED (clients are associated).

SAN Rental Car Garage

Outdoor at Calgary International (YYC)

Calgary International Airport (YYC) has completely transformed their Wi-Fi service is the last couple of years. They switched from their prior vendor to a 100% Cisco solution all while greatly increasing the quality of the network and expanding the network’s footprint so they can provide high quality connectivity in areas of the airport they couldn’t before.

First off, when you get dropped off at the airport, as soon as you step out of the car you’re within the Wi-Fi coverage area. This is thanks to the APs and antennas that are mounted curb-side on the departures level (and arrivals too, actually).

YYC Curb-Side AP/Antenna

The white cylinder is a dual-band omnidirectional antenna and inside the gray enclosure is the access point. The departure and arrival roads are lined with multiple boxes like this (and that’s true alongside both the international and domestic terminals).

Since this post is just about the outdoor part of the network, I’m going to skip what’s inside the terminal buildings and jump all the way to the opposite side of the building, the side that faces the apron.

YYC PBB Antennas

In this photo, I’m pointing out the locations of the omni antennas that sit on the Passenger Boarding Bridges (PBBs). These antennas are meant to provide good coverage on the apron for things like bag tag scanners being used by the bag handlers loading and unloading luggage to/from the plane as well as the plane itself so that the plane can receive updated content for the in-flight entertainment system. Near the base of each mast that holds the antenna is an enclosure that houses the AP.

YYC PBB Antennas

Each PBB has a pair of APs+antennas: one topside and one underneath. It’s really hard to make out the mast and antenna on the bottom of the PBBs in this photo, but the topside ones are visible and marked with the arrows. This photo is of some PBBs on the international terminal building but the same design is used on the domestic side too.

YYC PBB Antennas