CTS 107: What’s The Purpose of Cisco CleanAir

Are you fully utilizing CleanAir to it’s maximum capability? We dive into the intricacies of Cisco CleanAir.

This episode is sponsored by Metageek

Sponsored by Metageek

Cisco CleanAir

Download your free CleanAir Reference Sheet PDF

The earliest Cisco WLC version where Cisco CleanAir was released dates back to the 7.0 days. Sometime around the year 2010. Cisco CleanAir is always on within an AP, granted if it is Enabled in the WLC. There is a Spectrum Analysis Engine (SaGE) chip built into the AP. This is important to know because it doesn’t prevent the AP from serving clients. SaGE works alongside the Wi-Fi chip. There is no affect to client throughput or traffic.

To enhance Cisco RRM’s features, CleanAir plays a critical role in allowing RRM to change channels if persistent interference is detected. CleanAir will field the appropriate algorithms to help the WLC make changes to improve an environment.

Cisco CleanAir produces two important elements:

  • Interference Device Report
  • Air Quality Index

The Interference Device Report (IDR) provides information on detected interference. It will provide a class type, what band the interference was detected on and on what channel(s), the severity of the interference, it’s duty cycle, and the interference signature.

The Air Quality Index (AQI) provides a quality score, from 0 – 100%, with 100% being good. The index will display total channel power, total channel duty cycle, the power of the interferer and total interference duty cycle.

A benefit of using Cisco CleanAir is having the ability to troubleshoot the shared spectrum remotely and without any additional hardware. A CleanAir supported access point can be utilized for this purpose. Some things to keep in mind when using your CleanAir access point for troubleshooting interference:

There are three modes:

  • Local – The AP will continue to serve clients on its operating channel. But any spectrum monitoring is performed on that channel only.
  • Monitor – The AP doesn’t server any clients but provides full time scanning.
  • Spectrum Expert Connect – This is a dedicated spectrum sensor and doesn’t serve any clients.

In times when the best response is to use technical support hands to troubleshoot the issue, having a method of automatically mitigating an interference issue can be highly beneficial. It can cut time to resolution down and react faster than a support team that is reactionary.

What we’d like to see from CleanAir is the ability to tell an administrator whether any action needs to be performed. While interference and air quality is determined on any given channel, does it even matter? Are any users impacted negatively? A smarter system would be able to detect interference and provide exactly which users are having issues directly related to this interferer and what kind of impact that is. And a step further would be to automatically adjust the system to fix the problem.

We’ve included some images of Cisco CleanAir in action from within Spectrum Expert and Metageek Chanalyzer.

Links and Resources and News

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About the Author
Rowell, CWNE #210, is a network engineer in Higher-Ed. He enjoys working with wireless networking technologies and loves to share and engage with the community. You can connect with him on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

4 comments on CTS 107: What’s The Purpose of Cisco CleanAir

  1. Tim Gorter says:

    Wifi setup within a Satellite earth station. task of isolating satellite transmit equipment and defining areas where wifi simply will not work!

  2. Terri Haviland says:

    This week it has been Gym Sound Systems. Soundcraft Ui16, using 802.11g on channel 9.

    1. Rowell says:

      I’ve had an A/V system completely trash the 2.4 band. Not fun for the devices that were 2.4 only on that same floor :/

      I feel your pain!

  3. Sean Keller says:

    I unfortunately don’t have any real world application yet. Still reading and learning the craft. Looking to expand my horizons as a current Network Technician.

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