Cisco CleanAir can detect interference, report on the location and severity of the interference, and recommend different mitigation strategies. Two such mitigation strategies are persistent device avoidance and spectrum event-driven RRM.
Wi-Fi chip-based RF management systems share these characteristics:
- Any RF energy that cannot be identified as a Wi-Fi signal is reported as noise.
- Noise measurements that are used to assign a channel plan tend to be averaged over a period of time to avoid instability or rapid changes that can be disruptive to certain client devices.
- Averaging measurements reduces the resolution of the measurement. As such, a signal that disrupts clients might not look like it needs to be mitigated after averaging.
- All RF management systems available today are reactive in nature.
Cisco CleanAir is different and can positively identify not only the source of the noise but also its location and potential impact to a WLAN. Having this information allows you to consider the noise within the context of the network and make intelligent and, where possible, proactive decisions. For CleanAir, two types of interference events are common:
- Persistent interference
- Spontaneous interference
Persistent interference events are created by devices that are stationary in nature and have intermittent but largely repeatable patterns of interference. For example, consider the case of a microwave oven located in a break room. Such a device might be active for only 1 or 2 minutes at a time. When operating, however, it can be disruptive to the performance of the wireless network and associated clients. Using Cisco CleanAir, you can positively identify the device as a microwave oven rather than indiscriminate noise. You can also determine exactly which part of the band is affected by the device, and because you can locate it, you can understand which access points are most severely affected. You can then use this information to direct RRM in selecting a channel plan that avoids this source of interference for the access points within its range. Because this interference is not active for a large portion of the day, existing RF management applications might attempt to again change the channels of the affected access points. Persistent device avoidance is unique, however, in that it remains in effect as long as the source of interference is periodically detected to refresh the persistent status. The Cisco CleanAir system knows that the microwave oven exists and includes it in all future planning. If you move either the microwave oven or the surrounding access points, the algorithm updates RRM automatically.
Spectrum event-driven RRM can be triggered only by Cisco CleanAir-enabled access points in local mode.
Spontaneous interference is interference that appears suddenly on a network, perhaps jamming a channel or a range of channels completely. The Cisco CleanAir spectrum event-driven RRM feature allows you to set a threshold for air quality (AQ) that, if exceeded, triggers an immediate channel change for the affected access point. Most RF management systems can avoid interference, but this information takes time to propagate through the system. Cisco CleanAir relies on AQ measurements to continuously evaluate the spectrum and can trigger a move within 30 seconds. For example, if an access point detects interference from a video camera, it can recover by changing channels within 30 seconds of the camera becoming active. Cisco CleanAir also identifies and locates the source of interference so that more permanent mitigation of the device can be performed at a later time.
In the case of Bluetooth devices, Cisco CleanAir-enabled access points can detect and report interferences only if the devices are actively transmitting. Bluetooth devices have extensive power save modes. For example, interference can be detected when data or voice is being streamed between the connected devices.