University suspects iPhones behind WLAN issues

Reports suggest the iPhone's Wi-Fi adapter could be to blame for problems with the wireless infrastructure at a US university

Network administrators at an American university report having encountered problems, such as fluctuating signals, with the introduction of iPhones onto the campus. 

According to Network World, Apple's heavily hyped handset has been playing havoc with the wireless infrastructure at Duke University in North Carolina by flooding access points (APs) with as many as 18,000 MAC address requests per second.

"It's a pretty big annoyance right now, with 20-30 access points signalling they're down, and then coming back up a few minutes later," said assistant IT director Kevin Miller, who expressed concerns over an increase in such incidents when students return to the campus next month. The current problems are based on just 150 registered iPhones on campus.

According to the reports, the periodical surge in address requests forces affected APs out of service for 10-15 minutes. Initial investigation has shown the requests to be for invalid router addresses, suggesting that the iPhone's Wi-Fi software stack is repeatedly trying to connect to its user's home network.

Although Duke University's wireless LAN is based on Cisco thin APs and controllers, Miller maintained that he did "not believe it's a Cisco problem in any way, shape or form". He also stated that he had, as of Monday, heard nothing back from Apple regarding the problem.

The consumer-focused iPhone handset has only been on sale for a few weeks, but some business software manufacturers are already promoting their products as being iPhone compatible. Analyst firm Gartner has warned against the use of iPhones in business, however, based on the fact that the handset is not proven as an enterprise-friendly device.

Some possible security flaws in the device have already become apparent, the most recent being a possible bug in the handset's web-dialler feature which could open iPhones up to malicious exploitation. The iPhone is expected to be launched in the UK later this year, although the operator which will carry the product has not yet been announced. Apple was unavailable for comment at the time of writing.


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