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Wireless Industry Standards Overview

Wireless Industry Standards &


WLAN Management:
What You Need to Know

© 2006, AirWave Wireless, Inc. All rights reserved. Page 1 of 8


Wireless Industry Standards Overview

Standard Summary WLAN Management Implications


802.11a 802.11a uses the less-crowded 5GHz spectrum rather WLAN management solutions must support dual
than the 2.4GHz spectrum used by 802.11b and radio wireless access points and make it easy
Current Status 802.11g. 802.11a delivers faster throughput, with for the Help Desk to determine which radio each
Ratified theoretical maximum data rates of 54 Mbit/second and user is connected to.
‘real world’ data rates of 20+ Mbit/second. Because
Products now Visualization and planning tools must display
there are more channels available in the 5GHz
available and monitor information on coverage in both the
spectrum, 802.11a wireless LANs typically experience
less interference from overlapping channel assignments 2.4GHz and 5 GHz spectrum.
Requirements
and other devices. Management tools must understand the 5 GHz
Requires new AP frequency restrictions in Europe
However, signals at 5GHz don’t always travel through
hardware
some materials as well as 2.4GHz signals, so the overall Management tools must be able to configure
Requires new AP
coverage footprint of an 802.11a radio may be smaller 11a spectrum for specific use – per radio
firmware
than a comparable 802.11b/g device. configuration capabilities like voice only.
Requires client
Unfortunately, 802.11a is not backward compatible with
device update
802.11b/g – so a user with an 802.11b-enabled laptop
cannot connect to an 802.11a wireless access point.
Since the majority of Wi-Fi-enabled devices today use
802.11b/g, few organizations have networks that are
purely 802.11a. Instead, most organizations using
802.11a today utilize dual radio wireless access points
with both an 802.11a radio and an 802.11b/g radio or tri-
mode radios (802.11a/b/g) to ensure that all devices can
connect to the Wi-Fi network.
802.11b The first shipping update to the protocol for Wi-Fi Channel assignments and RF transmission power
products, operating in the 2.4 GHz spectrum, 802.11b need to be adjusted to avoid interference as
Current Status increased the maximum speed from 2 Mbit/second to 11 wireless network utilization grows.
Ratified Mbit/second. 802.11b radios typically provide an indoor
coverage radius of 90-175 feet, depending on the Management solutions must provide automated
Products now optimization algorithms to control RF settings to
environment. Virtually all wireless devices today support
available eliminate repetitive manual configuration changes.
802.11b.
Requirements Most organizations use only three of the 14 available Where multiple hardware vendors’ products are in
channels (channels 1, 6, and 11 in the US regulatory use, multi-vendor management is essential to
Requires new AP
domain), because channels must be spaced at least 5 ensure optimization across all platforms sharing
hardware
apart to minimize overlap (to reduce RF interference).. the airspace.
Requires new AP
firmware With only three channels available, it is particularly Management systems must monitor user signal
Requires client important to optimize channel assignments to avoid quality and network performance to help IT
device update interference when multiple access points are installed in diagnose RF interference when it occurs.
close proximity to one another. In addition, many other
non-Wi-Fi devices use the 2.4 GHz spectrum, which can Management systems must be able to support
create additional interference. 802.11 legacy clients that only support (long
preamble).

© 2006, AirWave Wireless, Inc. All rights reserved. Page 2 of 8


Wireless Industry Standards Overview

Standard Summary WLAN Management Implications


802.11g 802.11g was a protocol update using the same 2.4Ghz 802.11g uses the same spectrum as 802.11b, so it
spectrum as 802.11b adding support for higher speeds is susceptible to the same issues surrounding RF
Current Status (up to a maximum of 54Mbits/second) like 802.11a. interference (see discussion above).
Ratified Unlike 802.11a, 802.11g is backward-compatible with
802.11b devices. This has made it an extremely popular
Products now
choice for enterprises, most of which still have a
available
significant number of clients with single-mode 802.11b-
enabled client devices. However, the presence of any
Requirements
802.11b devices (whether they are a part of your
Requires new AP network or not) will reduce the throughput of the
hardware 802.11g network.
Requires new AP
firmware
Requires client
device update
802.11e: 802.11e is a newly-ratified standard that allows network Each of the WMM traffic ‘buckets’ (voice, video,
Quality of administrators to differentiate and prioritize classes of best effort, background) will need to be monitored
Service traffic. This will allow the Wi-Fi network infrastructure to individually to ensure quality of service – enabling
(WMM) deliver acceptable performance for a broader range of you to see how much traffic is flowing in each
applications and to support a larger number of category and how much ‘headroom’ you have on
simultaneous users. your network.
Current Status
Ratified Typically, organizations will use 802.11e to give priority Your management solution will need to display the
to voice and video traffic, since those applications are type of traffic client is generating, along with other
Products now highly delay-sensitive and can quickly become unusable appropriate metrics for each class.
available if data transmission is interrupted. When voice and data
traffic are given priority, ordinary data traffic will typically Today, most customers with wireless voice use
Requirements be given a lower ‘best effort’ priority. multiple VLANs/SSIDs with proprietary voice
Requires new AP prioritization schemes. Your management solution
802.11e is thus most immediately important to will need to allow you to test an 802.11e or WMM
hardware
organizations that will be using wireless Voice Over IP scheme on a segment of your network and then
Requires new AP applications.
firmware migrate efficiently to the rest of the WLAN when
successful.
Requires client
device update WMM is a subset of 802.11e. Management systems will need to incorporate
network latency metrics along with 802.11e
support to provide end-to-end voice quality
metrics.
Management systems must provide detailed
historical trend reports to enable you to track
network usage for capacity planning.
Management systems must provide automated,
efficient RF spectrum management to ensure that
signal quality is adequate for voice and video
applications.

© 2006, AirWave Wireless, Inc. All rights reserved. Page 3 of 8


Wireless Industry Standards Overview

Standard Summary WLAN Management Implications


802.11i: There have been several security ‘standards’ and most Your management solution should support group-
Security are still in active use in many enterprises. based management to allow you to implement new
security policies on segments of your network, as
Plus: appropriate.
WPA (WiFi Alliance) WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy)
Management solutions must support multiple
WPA2 (WiFi Alliance) The original Wi-Fi security standard for authenticating
VLANs and SSIDs for organizations that will
and encrypting traffic between client devices and access
operate multiple security policies simultaneously.
Current Status points. WEP, relies on a single shared key for all users.
Ratified WEP has been shown to have numerous design and Management solutions should provide full
implementation flaws and is not very difficult to crack. inventory reports listing all access points and
Products now However, for some organizations with numerous legacy infrastructure devices, indicating which product
available client devices, WPA and WPA2 may not be supportable and firmware versions are in place. With this
and WEP is still used. information, you can verify which devices are
Requirements capable of supporting the new security schemes.
Requires new AP
WPA Migrating to WPA/WPA2 requires massive
hardware
firmware (or hardware) updates in most
Requires new A Wi-Fi industry standard that ‘repaired’ WEP through
organizations. Management solutions must
AP firmware improved use of the RC4 cipher (TKIP), message
automate firmware management and distribution.
integrity checks, and more effective key management
Requires client
(via RADIUS/802.1x). WPA requires that both client
device update
devices and wireless infrastructure be WPA-compliant. If WEP continues to be used:
The need to ensure client compatibility has slowed WPA
roll-outs, and many organizations implement WPA only Your management solution should be able to
on certain VLANs that are used by compliant client rotate keys frequently, across your entire network.
devices. Your management solution should be able to
generate random keys for additional security.
802.11i (WPA2)
New standard for ‘enhanced security’ that replaces prior
encryption algorithms with the stronger AES (Advanced
Encryption Standard). WPA2 typically requires updated
WLAN hardware and client devices, which has slowed
adoption rates.

Because of the rapid evolution of technology and the


challenges of implementing new standards across all
client devices and infrastructure, many large enterprises
have multiple security policies in place simultaneously.

© 2006, AirWave Wireless, Inc. All rights reserved. Page 4 of 8


Wireless Industry Standards Overview

Standard Summary WLAN Management Implications


802.11k: 802.11k provides a standard statistical measurement Management solutions need to be designed to
Radio Resource framework to properly monitor wireless LANs. This request and gather the newly available client
Management framework provides a mechanism for communication information without overloading the network with
between wireless access points and clients which management traffic.
Current Status enables RF and other data to be gathered from client
devices to evaluate the quality of their connection and Management solutions will need to be able to
Ratified incorporate data from the new “Peer Statistics
Products now make better roaming and spectrum management
decisions. Table” to gain true insight into the RF environment
available in which the client is located.

Requirements Network management solutions should utilize the


While the 802.11k standard has not yet been fully new interference measurements in order to
Requires new ratified, some devices currently support a ‘pre-standard’
AP hardware dynamically tune the network infrastructure to
subset of the features in the proposed standard. deliver optimal performance (i.e., detecting new
Requires new AP sources of interference and changing RF settings
firmware to mitigate their impact). The volume of RF data
NOTE: 802.11k provides a mechanism for monitoring
Requires client wireless client devices, not for configuration of clients. that will be available dictates that this analysis
device update 802.11v builds on 802.11k to make it possible to must be automated.
configure clients and APs based on this information. New location services will enable more accurate
client and RFID tracking using RF data from client
devices and access points. Management solutions
must provide visualization tools that leverage and
present this data.
Management solutions should be able to utilize
new neighbor reports and channel load reports to
assist in load balancing and WLAN optimization.
802.11k will require firmware and/or hardware
upgrades. Effective management solutions will
provide appropriate inventory reports and will
automate the firmware upgrade process.

802.11n The 802.11n standard provides enhancements for Management solutions must be designed with the
higher throughput (100-600+ Mbits/second). 802.11n flexibility to support 802.11n (when ratified) in
Current Status will be based on MIMO/OFDM and will be backwards- addition to previously ratified standards.
Ratified compatible to support 802.11a and 802.11g client
Products now devices. 802.11n will be particularly useful where With bandwidth-intensive services like video,
available bandwidth-intensive services, like video, must be throughput must be monitored closely to ensure
delivered. acceptable performance. Management solutions
Requirements must provide both real-time and historical trending
data.
Requires new AP Caution: The 802.11n standard has not yet been ratified
hardware Management solutions must know which devices
and “pre-n” products may not be upgradeable. support the new standard for planning purposes.
Requires new AP
firmware
Requires client
device update

© 2006, AirWave Wireless, Inc. All rights reserved. Page 5 of 8


Wireless Industry Standards Overview

Standard Summary WLAN Management Implications


802.11p: 802.11p is designed to enable operation of wireless Management solutions should eventually be able
“WAVE” LAN stations in motor vehicles in a highway to track and locate clients traveling at a high rate of
environment. The communications provided by speed.
Current Status “Wireless Access in Vehicular Environments” (WAVE)
will generally occur over distances up to 1,000 m Management solutions will need to be able to
Ratified
(between roadside stations or between high-speed visualize outdoor RF environments.
Products now
available vehicles) and at highly variable speeds. Additional
performance requirements are needed to address the
Requirements motion-related effects (see 20.3.10.6).
Requires new AP
hardware
Requires new AP
firmware
Requires client
device update

802.11r: 802.11r is defined to minimize the transition time when Management solution must help IT understand
“Fast Roaming/ roaming between wireless access points to maintain which devices (both client devices and wireless
Fast Handoff” seamless connectivity for the user. Client devices are access points) on their networks are capable of
‘pre-authenticated’ to neighboring access points to supporting this standard.
Current Status which they might roam in order to minimize transition
time. ‘Pre-authentication’ may be accomplished over the Management solution will need to configure the
Ratified wireless access points to support fast roaming,
Products now air or across the wired network via 802.11r’s neighbor
report. integrating the authentication servers.
available
Management solutions will need to monitor the
Requirements entire authentication process to ensure fast
This is especially important for wireless VOIP and other roaming, gathering data from APs, clients, and
Requires new AP applications where latency is critical to performance.
hardware authentication servers. When failures occur, the
802.11r is designed to allow clients to maintain their management system must help the IT staff
Requires new AP security and QoS connection status on the new access analyze where the failure occurred.
firmware point. The overall changes to the protocol will not
introduce any new security vulnerabilities beyond the Wireless management solutions must be able to
Requires client
current 802.11 standard and its amendments. It create a list of ‘neighboring’ access points in order
device update
preserves the behavior of legacy infrastructure and to configure and populate proper roaming targets
devices. per cell.

© 2006, AirWave Wireless, Inc. All rights reserved. Page 6 of 8


Wireless Industry Standards Overview

Standard Summary WLAN Management Implications


802.11s: The 802.11s standard is designed to enable self- Management solutions will need to monitor the
Mesh organizing infrastructure network “meshes”, primarily for QoS of the network backhaul
Networking outdoor networks. This has the potential to reduce
backhaul requirements and installation costs, Management solutions will need to graphically
accelerating the adoption of large municipal networks. render large outdoor RF environments and
Current Status dynamic meshes
Ratified The extent to which 802.11s is adopted will depend on
Products now the willingness of the hardware vendors to shift from Remote provisioning and configuration of outdoor
available proprietary protocols. devices will be critical for cost-effective operation
of mesh networks.
Requirements
Requires new AP
hardware
Requires new AP
firmware
Requires client
device update

802.11u: The 802.11u standard is intended to address handoff Network management systems will need to
“Wireless between 802.11 networks and non-802.11 networks understand the roaming from network to network
Interworking (i.e., cellular). as well as from AP to AP.
with External Management solutions will need to track and
Networks” The ratification of this standard is expected to display what types of clients are roaming onto the
dramatically accelerate the adoption and deployment of WLAN and what types of services they are
Current Status wireless voice applications because it will let mobile consuming (voice, data, and video).
Ratified workers carry a single phone. Management solution must be able to dynamically
Products now adapt to clients on the network according to what
available types of services they are demanding.
Requirements Management solution should be able to provide
QoS reports for the various network operations
? Requires new AP leveraging the access point.
hardware
Requires new
AP firmware
? Requires client
device update

© 2006, AirWave Wireless, Inc. All rights reserved. Page 7 of 8


Wireless Industry Standards Overview

Standard Summary WLAN Management Implications


802.11v: The 802.11v standard would enable centralized Wireless management systems would be able to
management (monitoring and configuring) of wireless centrally configure client device security settings to
Current Status client devices (stations) through a Layer 2 mechanism. comply with policies.
Ratified
Products now Management solutions would be able to manage
available While 802.11k is designed to retrieve information from firmware distribution to client devices as well as to
client devices, it does not provide the ability to configure the Wi-Fi infrastructure.
Requirements the device itself. 802.11v would create an “Access Point Management solutions would be able to perform
Management Information Base” (AP MIB) to be used for
? Requires new AP remote configuration of client devices for:
event correlation and diagnostics on client-related
hardware issues and automatically implement corrective
Requires new AP – RF Management actions by changing network and/or client settings.
firmware – Dynamic channel selection Management solution should be able to configure
clients and wireless access points for more
Requires client
– Access Point Coordination effective power-saving to enhance the
device update
performance of small form factor 802.11 devices
– Spectrum Coexistence (like phones and palm tops).
– Load Balancing With configuration control over client devices,
– Network Controlled handoffs with client management solutions will be able to prevent
participate clients from associating to unauthorized rogue
access points.
– Location based management
– Updating FW on clients
– Client diagnostics
– MIB Interface to enable centralized control
– Rogue/Fake APs/SSIDs
802.11w: 802.11w is intended to provide mechanisms to protect Management solution must help IT understand
Protected 802.11 management frames (including action which devices support this standard (clients and
Management management frames, deauthentication and APs) and implement the appropriate settings on
Frames disassociation frames). It is needed in order to address those that do.
security gaps (especially in disassociation and
deauthentication) and could help prevent some (but not
Current Status
all) denial of service attacks.
Ratified
Products now
available

Requirements
Requires new AP
hardware
Requires new AP
firmware
Requires client
device update

© 2006, AirWave Wireless, Inc. All rights reserved. Page 8 of 8