Steve Jobs WiFi troubles, could they have been avoided?

Steve Jobs WiFi troubles, could they have been avoided?

Summary: The WiFi glitches that prevented Steve Jobs from accessing the Web at WWDC could have been prevented. Here's how.

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During Monday's WWDC keynote Steve Jobs suffered through a number of WiFi glitches that prevented him from accessing a number of Web sites.

The problems begin at about 39:50 into the keynote (video), when Jobs tries to connect to the New York Times Web site from the iPhone. Jobs gives an audible sniff of disgust (40:03) when the page doesn't load, saying "our networks in here are always unpredictable, so... no idea what we're going to find," then "they are slow today."

40:20 "you know you can help me out if you're on WiFi, if you'd just get off... I'd appreciate it" (laughs). Then he finally gave up, saying "I have a problem and I'm not going to be able to show you much today." He then punted to show photos from the camera roll – which doesn't require a network connection.

Glenn Fleishman posits that it was the overwhelming number of portable WiFi access points (like the MiFi) competing for airspace that caused the problems. According to InfoWorld’s consultation with an Apple engineer at the event, over 500 networks were in operation at the same time.

An Apple engineer later told me there were 527 Wi-Fi hotspots set up in the room, most of which were MiFi devices, which connect to the Internet via 3G and set up a local Wi-Fi network so that laptops and mobile devices can access the Internet through them. More than 1,100 devices were connected to those and other local Wi-Fi networks set up by attendees, he said.

I spoke with executives at AirTight Networks (disclosure: I consult for AirTight), a wireless intrusion protection system provider, this morning about Jobs' troubles and they confirmed that the WiFi congestion issue is well known and that 500+ competing WiFi networks could easily have caused the type of problems that Jobs experienced on stage. Even worse, just one malicious user could have easily launched a DDOS attack targeting Apple's WiFi network, bringing it down. They went on to say that their WiFi sensors could have warned Apple engineers in advance about the proliferation of rogue AP's allowing them to make adjustments as necessary.

But at what price? Should Apple be able to own the airspace during its keynote addresses and shut down rogue access points? I think that with the right notification they could because WWDC is, after all, a private, invitation-only event.

However, the journalist in me (not to mention my editors) would be furious if I wasn't able to get a reliable connection to upload blow-by-blow accounts and photos from the event. Apple could easily quell the need to liveblog the event (and the proliferation of rogues) by simply providing live audio and video streams via the Internet.

What's your take? Will/should Apple patrol the airwaves during its next live event?

Topics: Mobility, Networking, Wi-Fi

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  • RE: Steve Jobs WiFi troubles, could they have been avoided?

    I'd be curious to hear if anyone in the audience experienced similar issues. Seems like enough journalists were there to be able to report any issues.
    brble
    • <a href="http://www.tran33m.com/vb/f82.html">iphone</a>

      @brble I don't know why Apple being such a forward thinking company doesn't just broadcast the thing live on the net anyway. That would avoid all of this crazyness. Developers would still come to the event for the rest of the panels etc.
      frank dib
      • <a href="http://www.tran33m.com/vb/f81.html">blackberry</a>

        @frank dib 527 base stations operating at a power rate of about 100 milliwatts, isn't that a bit dangerous? The cumulative power would be 52 Watts worth of microwave power (for reference: a typical microwave operates at 700 Watts). On a typical place over there, the power would be around 20 Watts. I think that's a lot.
        frank dib
      • RE: Steve Jobs WiFi troubles, could they have been avoided?

        released just a couple months later in June/July, since that?s been Apple?s pattern for the past four
        Linux Love
      • RE: Steve Jobs WiFi troubles, could they have been avoided?

        years. In retrospect, the launch of the white iPhone in April along with the launch of the Verizon
        Linux Love
      • RE: Steve Jobs WiFi troubles, could they have been avoided?

        iPhone in January should have been clear signs that pattern wasn?t going to continue this year.
        Linux Love
      • RE: Steve Jobs WiFi troubles, could they have been avoided?

        current expectation is thatthe next iPhone will arrive this fall, potentially sporting Verizon LTE 4G connectivity.
        Linux Love
      • RE: Steve Jobs WiFi troubles, could they have been avoided?

        The change in release schedule has certainly given the white iPhone 4 a longer shelf life.
        Linux Love
      • RE: Steve Jobs WiFi troubles, could they have been avoided?

        significance of this product has nothing to do with the fact that it will likely be on the market for just
        Linux Love
      • RE: Steve Jobs WiFi troubles, could they have been avoided?

        5-6 months. It?s about the power of ?No.?
        Linux Love
      • RE: Steve Jobs WiFi troubles, could they have been avoided?

        This email promotion for the white iPhone 4 even has Apple poking fun at the delay. Photo credit: Apple
        Linux Love
      • RE: Steve Jobs WiFi troubles, could they have been avoided?

        because it wasn?t quite right and Apple felt that customers wouldn?t have been happy with it.
        Linux Love
    • RE: Steve Jobs WiFi troubles, could they have been avoided?

      @brble <br><br>If Apple already has their <a href="http://www.trsohbet.com">sohbet</a> iOS devices connected in order to <a href="http://www.trsohbet.com">chat</a> broadcast the screens during the demos, why not just use the <a href="http://www.trsohbet.com/portal">portal</a> 30 pin connector for internet access and <a href="http://www.forumuz.net">forum</a> forgo the issues of the spectrum being taken over by rogue APs - I'm sure Apple engineers could figure something out easily.
      cstrathmore
    • RE: Steve Jobs WiFi troubles, could they have been avoided?

      @brble <br><br>YES! because GOD FORBID apple come up with its' own freakin' print utility for it's toys <a href="http://www.arabaoyunlarimiz.gen.tr/macera-oyunlari/">macera oyunlari</a> <a href="http://www.arabaoyunlarimiz.gen.tr/mario-oyunlari/">mario oyunlari</a>
      RahinBen
    • RE: Steve Jobs WiFi troubles, could they have been avoided?

      @brble My guess is that as more and more people start using open source based development software stacks, the percentage contributing back will fall. Early adopters are enthusiastic and are more devoted to the cause. Many times the custom code that a programmer develops may designed specifically for their scenario. It takes time to document and deliver code that is consumable for the broader community. It's no surprise that the use of Windows as a desktop operating system is falling in popularity with this group. Linux has become a more viable option, and someone who believes in developing using a open source software stack is more likely to choose an open source desktop OS to work on
      Arabalar
    • RE: Steve Jobs WiFi troubles, could they have been avoided?

      @brble No surprises here. Network storage is such a key component of most cloud architectures that it can and does serve as a bellwether of cloud adoption. What has yet to be determined is the correlation between network storage growth and cloud growth on a revenue basis. Given the variability of usage on cloud platforms and the ratio of storage to computational usage, are cloud revenues growing at 50% Y/Y? It's hard to say, which begs the question whether or not we're seeing the beginnings of a storage bubble developing in advance of expected cloud computing demand. In any respect, thank you for sharing these great data points with us. I look forward to future insights from you.
      Arabalar
    • RE: Steve Jobs WiFi troubles, could they have been avoided?

      @brble That is really a big question. Google's servers are the heart of Google's business. And it has long been a FEATURE, a FEATURE, not a LOOPHOLE, that one could privately modify the GPL code they use to run their business. Of course web applications are obviously SaaS. But where does one draw the line between those applications and the servers that host them? For example, take an insurance company running open source on their back end servers. At some point they decide to put a customer facing front end on those servers so that customers can access their accounts over the Net. Does that suddenly make that whole kaboodle Saas? If so, I am not sure I am comfortable with AGPL. In fact, I am not sure I am comfortable with this concept anyway since it undercuts one of the few provisions that make GPL software highly attractive to businesses that are not engaged in reselling the software itself. It really compromises the spirit of the GPL in some ways.
      arabaoyunlari
  • Don't tell Google

    about that DDoS option...
    dunraven
  • RE: Steve Jobs WiFi troubles, could they have been avoided?

    All those MiFis probably don't use the 5mhz 802.11n band so why didn't Apple usurp that spectrum for demo use and leave the 2.4Mhz to the attendees.
    kennmsr
    • RE: Steve Jobs WiFi troubles, could they have been avoided?

      @kennmsr While the iPhone 4 does support 802.11n, it only does so in the 2.4 GHz band, not the 5 GHz band. It would be nice if the iPhone 4 did in fact support 5 GHz, but I guess the radio chipset isn't there yet.
      Bruce MacDonald