Interop's 'dirty air' makes a perfect testing ground for Fluke's wireless EtherScope

If the air around your WiFi network is really dirty -- in other words, your WiFi net is having problems but you don't know why -- then maybe you could benefit from one of Fluke Network's mobile products which have matured to the point that they analyze the air just as well as they analyze your hard-wiring (where Fluke made its name).

If the air around your WiFi network is really dirty -- in other words, your WiFi net is having problems but you don't know why -- then maybe you could benefit from one of Fluke Network's mobile products which have matured to the point that they analyze the air just as well as they analyze your hard-wiring (where Fluke made its name).

If there's one place that such dirty air is likely to exist, that place is unquestionably going to be Interop where there are hundreds of access points competing for a limited amount of airspace and all sorts of other wireless signals just waiting to foul things up. To prove that Fluke's EtherScope was up to the task of at least identifying some of the potential problems, I roped one of the company's salespeople -- Dan Krych -- into an interview to give us a demonstration of how it works.

Sure enough, the Etherscope picked up on the more than 400 802.11 b/g and "a" access points that were within range of Fluke's booth. As you can see in the video, it was also able to graph signal strength for each channel as well as the noise that could result in interference. Such noise could come from other wireless emissions that are a direct (or nearby) hit on the frequencies that WiFi relies on; devices such as microwave ovens, cordless phones, or Bluetooth devices. The EtherScope can show you on a graph whether, on a channel by channel basis, the noise is overwhelming your WiFi signal. Higher up in its product line, Fluke has another product that will tell you what exactly the source or sources of the noise are (eg: a microwave).

The $10,000 EtherScope, which is mobile because of its rechargeable battery, can work in wired or wireless modes and will be upgradeable to 802.11n (11a, b, and g are all supported). For a good look at it, check out the video above.

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