iPhone off the hook

iPhone off the hook

Summary: Duke university has announced that the problem with iPhones interoperating on their wireless Cisco network has been solved. The problem was "caused by a Cisco-based network issue", says the university, and since Cisco provided a fix it has not reoccurred. Earlier reports that this was a problem with the iPhone have "proved to be inaccurate." What's interesting about all this is how the mainstream press jumped all over the problem. It probably doesn't hurt that, aside from the social networks themselves, Apple is one of the favorite subjects at popular sites like Digg and Slashdot where Apple fans and detractors often "duke it out".

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Duke university has announced that the problem with iPhones interoperating on their wireless Cisco network has been solved, and that it wasn't an iPhone problem after all. A note from Tracy Futhey, Duke’s chief information officer states:

By now many of you have read news accounts around iPhones and Duke’s wireless network. Some of the reports incorrectly made it sound as if our entire wireless network had collapsed. Others made it sound as if the iPhone could not work correctly on our wireless network. Still others seem to imply that Duke’s network was deficient in some way because the problem had not been encountered more broadly. The reality is that a particular set of conditions made the Duke wireless network experience some minor and temporary disruptions in service. Those conditions involve our deployment of a very large Cisco-based wireless network that supports multiple network protocols.

Cisco worked closely with Duke and Apple to identify the source of this problem, which was caused by a Cisco-based network issue. Cisco has provided a fix that has been applied to Duke's network and there have been no recurrences of the problem since. We are working diligently to fully characterize the issue and will have additional information as soon as possible. Earlier reports that this was a problem with the iPhone in particular have proved to be inaccurate.

When the problem first surfaced, Duke technicians blamed the iPhone as the source of a flood of ARP messages that overloaded parts of the network. Now it sounds like either a firmware problem in the Cisco routers, or a mis-configuration that had previously gone unnoticed.

What's interesting about all this is how the mainstream press jumped all over the problem. Fox, CBS, ABC, the Associated Press, and others all ran stories on the incident. Perhaps it's because of the irony of Cisco and Apple equipment not working well together after the iPhone trademark fight. But I suspect it's Apple's "unblemished" image (or, as some critics call it, their "reality distortion field") that makes them a frequent target.

It probably doesn't hurt that, aside from the social networks themselves, Apple is one of the favorite subjects at popular sites like Digg and Slashdot where Apple fans and detractors often "duke it out".

Topics: iPhone, Cisco, Mobility, Networking, Wi-Fi

Ed Burnette

About Ed Burnette

Ed Burnette is a software industry veteran with more than 25 years of experience as a programmer, author, and speaker. He has written numerous technical articles and books, most recently "Hello, Android: Introducing Google's Mobile Development Platform" from the Pragmatic Programmers.

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16 comments
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  • Pretty funny,

    you pointing fingers at "how the mainstream press jumped all over the problem.
    Fox, CBS, ABC, the Associated Press, and others all ran stories on the incident."

    Check out this headline from just 3 days ago:

    "Apple iPhone KO?s Cisco network at Duke"

    Recognize it?
    msalzberg
    • Thanks

      I'm flattered to be in such distinguished company. :)
      Ed Burnette
      • But how do you think...

        their behaviour is any different from yours? You also jumped all over it.
        msalzberg
        • You can't really blame Ed

          Networks, I guess, is his beat and exciting stories don't come along everyday.
          Here you had the most exciting digital device of the past 2 decades being accused
          of bringing down a major universitie's wireless network! Now that's exciting! It was
          the Miller guy at Duke that provided all the quotable dirt. Ya gotta print it.

          Although, Ed is probably disappointed that the iPhone wasn't the culprit. He was
          telling me in the talkback to his original story that he was, "beginning to hear
          rumors of other campuses affected." Wow! Networks at the mercy of the nefarious
          iPhone everywhere--that would have been sensational!

          I'm just glad there is talkbacks so that some level headedness can be injected
          back into the hyberbole. It made for a great mystery, for a little while.

          People really just want to talk about iPhone but don't want to be seen as fanboys. I
          saw this funny post over at Slashdot:

          Everyone is a winner
          (Score:3, Funny)
          by BillGatesLoveChild (1046184) ? on Saturday July 21, @07:45AM (#19937575)

          Cool. Cisco screws up, iPhone gets blamed, but nobody minds, because iPhones
          are so cool.

          Boss: "Did you get those reports done?"
          Underling: "Sorry Boss, I Couldn't. iPhone Congestion."
          Boss: "iPhone? ... (smiles) iPhones are cool aren't they!"
          Underling: "They sure are boss!"

          Boss wanders off feeling good.
          Underling returns to screwing around with his iPhone.

          ------

          Oh well, back to the grind.
          Len Rooney
          • Good points

            except for the part about iPhone being [i]the most exciting digital device of the past 2 decades[/i].
            John Zern
          • Other networks

            Regarding that talkback, I tracked down the people who wrote the 2 posts about the iPhone messing up other networks and they turned out to be false alarms so I didn't print them.
            Ed Burnette
      • I was wondering...

        why exactly someone would do press for a network problem at one university? Seems
        kind of laughable when you think about it. I work at a large corporation. Every so
        often we have network issues. No one is out doing press conferences. Why did Miller?
        He acted like a major grid went down in the country & the whole midwest region was
        out...down. I have to admit it was pretty entertaining to watch all the "professionals"
        & MS water boys fall all over themselves to place blame in the wrong spot. I think
        maybe you belong in that category.
        SquishyParts
  • Will the ABMers finally acknowledge that...

    ...just because something is written in the mainstream press and by bloggers doesn't automatically make it true? If you're wondering why I ask for supporting details this is why.

    Somehow I don't think they will.
    ye
  • Everyone

    wants to see the best looking guy in school with three different girls on his arm catch leprosy. The guys want it because they're full of envy. Half the girls want it because they're not the one on his arm, the other half want it because they think he's a pig for having three girls on his arm.
    frgough
  • ZDNet, FIX YOUR LINKS!!!

    .
    No_Ax_to_Grind
    • No joke. I expected....

      an article by George, not more garbage about how the iPhone is the best thing since anything else.
      Hallowed are the Ori
      • Where TECHNOLOGY meets business????

        Hmmm, real technology experts at worh huh?
        No_Ax_to_Grind
    • LINKS problems

      I have also had problems in the past with links here. It turns out more often than not that corrupted cookies are the culprit. Try flushing yer CACHE, login again, then try the links.
      dr_who9
      • Nope....

        And if you hover over the link, it actually shows that you're going to come to this page. Cookies don't have anything to do with it... half-a**ed QC does.
        Hallowed are the Ori
    • Which links?

      I double checked the links in the article and didn't see any that are broken, where'd you find one?
      Ed Burnette
  • Cisco on Duke and iPhone

    We (Cisco) posted on this issue on our blog this morning...full post can be read here:
    http://blogs.cisco.com/news/2007/07/cisco_duke_university_and_appl.html
    JohnEarnhardt