CCIE Wireless · CCIEW Written

CCIEW – 1.1 Describe WLAN organizations and regulations

This one is a nice light starter and anyone who has taken a couple of wireless exams in the past decade should have heard of all of the following albeit it may not be memorised!

My CWNA Chapter 1-4 review should have mentioned most of these but I clearly didn’t deem it necessary! Fortunately the CWSP Chapter 1 review brings up a few:

Standards Organisations

ISO – International Standards Organisation  – created the OSI model used worldwide

IEEE  – Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers – Not just a wireless organisation. They create standards companies like Cisco, Broadcom and Intel will design their equipment around. For example, 802.1X is an IEEE standard.

IETF 
– Internet Engineering Task Force – They create Internet standards. Important but not brought up as much with wireless things.

Wi-Fi Alliance – Responsible for performing certification testing for interoperability. They basically compliment the IEEE by ensuring the vendors mentioned above conform to particular guidelines/programs and can work together. You’ll often see the Wi-Fi alliance logo on the boxes when you go to buy a Wireless NIC or Router.

wifi_alliance_logo.jpg
Wi-Fi Alliance Logo

These programs are extremely important and really do ensure that wireless networks work properly. Some examples are:

WPA2 Security – Security standardisation.
WMM Power Save (WMM-PS) – Helps devices maximise the power efficiency whilst on the wireless to conserve battery.

We’ll need to mention a few more here to complete the list:

FCC – Federal Communications Comission – Although this is US specific their standards are often used in other countries and they have come up in questions for me before… I think!

ETSI – European Telecommunications Stnadards Institute – The European version of the FCC

WLANA – WLAN Association – Quoting the Quick reference guide – “Educates and Raises consumer awareness regarding WLANs”. I haven’t seen these guys come up in a question before but you never know.

CCX – Cisco Compatible Extensions – This specification allows chipset vendors to be compliant with Cisco proprietary protocols and as it is something created by Cisco you can be damned sure it will turn up in the exam!

I find it quite hard to find information on CCX in general, e.g. which chipsets are compliant or what devices are etc. Looking at the Cisco website there is a partnership page with some vague information and there are other blogs mentioning the program and providing links which may be legacy.. basically it can be a bit confusing.

Some features of CCX include improved analytics between the controller and client (great for troubleshooting) and improved fast roaming via CCKM (Cisco Centralized Key Management) which is not as important these days due to the 8011.r and 802.11k amendments being ratified. If you have a greenfield deployment then of course looking to implement only Cisco equipment and CCX chipset vendors would be great but realistically your wireless networks will be utilised by hundreds of different vendors, chipsets and drivers so unless you do have very specific requirements (e.g. a voice deployment) you’ll need to plan for all scenarios.

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