The WiFi Impact of Apple’s WWDC Announcements

One June 10th, Apple announced its iOS 7 and OS X Mavericks platforms. For organizations with BYOD and mobility programs—or even those that don’t, but still see plenty of device traffic on the network—the forthcoming operating systems have some new bells and whistles that will undoubtedly affect corporate, school and enterprise networks.

So what can you expect, and what might you need to prepare for? Here’s a rundown of the network implications that the known new operating system features carry with them:

Automatic downloads: Both iOS 7 and OS X Mavericks have variations of this new feature. On iPhones and iPads, Apple is now allowing apps in the background to download and update content. On the laptop and desktop operating system, having automatic updates enabled will allow Mac App Store updates to be automatically installed in the background. While these features will be little-noticed by the user, you can bet networks will notice the increased activity and load (consider the network performance impact when a single, automatic push means 100s or 1000s of devices will be simultaneously updating!)

iTunes Radio: Sure, there’s already Pandora and other “music discovery” services. But now anyone with an Apple device has out-of-the-box access to one with a brand they likely already identify with. More devices streaming means more bandwidth being consumed over the wire and wirelessly.

802.11ac: The next-generation MacBook Air will be equipped with the latest Wi-Fi protocol, 802.11ac. This will enable faster wireless speeds, but will continue to push organizations and schools to support advancing consumer wireless technology with their network infrastructures. Wave 1 of the 802.11ac technology supports up to 3x the bandwidth of the current 802.11n, so upgrading your WLAN to 802.11ac should be planned carefully, as it will open up the bandwidth floodgates to devices that support the increased throughput.

AirDrop: AirDrop is Apple’s peer-to-peer file-sharing service that was previously only available on its desktops and laptops. With iOS 7, that will no longer be the case as AirDrop comes to iPhones and iPads, too. File sharing on AirDrop occurs via the Wi-Fi network and will consume bandwidth whether it’s basic photo sharing or large file transferring that is happening over the network.

HotSpot 2.0: As cellular data plans become more constrained, users are continually looking for ways to connect to Wi-Fi networks to save on data consumption and charges. With HotSpot 2.0 for iOS 7, iPhone and iPad users will be able to automatically and securely roam from cellular to HotSpot 2.0-compliant networks.

Upon Apple’s announcements on the 10th, it is clear that the changes coming to their devices are not just cosmetic. New features will likely have a significant impact on networks and mobility/BYOD programs that must be planned for carefully sooner, rather than later.


Source: Xirrus Blog

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