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Minimize of Time-outs During Association Disclosure Number: IPCOM000030914D
Original Publication Date: 2004-Sep-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2004-Sep-01
Document File: 2 page(s) / 8K

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Any wireless user has familiarly with the frustration of with attempting to log onto a network. Frequently the experience is very fast, however there are times where the logon takes seconds or minutes. The slow response times can have down stream effects, given Microsoft fast boot/resume requirements, it is very possible that the system will have booted and launched applications before the network association has occurred. In these situations, the user may experience a wide variety of error messages from the various applications. As wireless becomes pervasive and used by novice users will undoubtedly result in increase in help center calls. In this article we eliminate a major source of variability in the wireless client authentication time.

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Minimize of Time -outs During Association

The reasons for the variability in the authentication time in a wireless network are fundamentally different than in a wired network.

In wired network, there is a one to one connection between the client and the switch. This allows the client to quickly establish link and then start the authentication protocol. For Ethernet and Fast Ethernet, the time period is specified in the 802.3 specification. The guarantee of a fast link ensures that the client has "physical access" to the network and allows authentication process to begin.

However the wireless network is very different, since it's a shared medium. In the wireless world, the analog to a link to a hub is association to an access point. The association to the access point is not governed by any specification and can range from less than second to indefinite in the case of no access point. Novice users typically understand the case no wireless support in the vicinity, since the client utility reports no or low signal strength. The more challenging case is when the client reports a strong signal strength, however there is a slow or lack of association.

This problem is exasperate in certain settings such as class rooms, where a large number of students are instructed to "turn on" laptops. In this case, several hundred students may be competing for 1 or 2 access points. The link/association to access point is serial process given the shared medium; users may experience large variability in delays as they are waiting in the queue. Furthermore, users in surrounding offices of classrooms will also experience delays, but will not have knowledge of the mass turn on. In some cases, the clients will abort the association and turn off the radio as power saving method.

The client needs the ability to distinguish between a broadcast storm (point in the network being overwhelmed), access point not responding, stuck in association queue, or incompatible protocols. The invention provides a method to solution this by monitoring all activities on the channels supported by the protocol. This will allow the client to determine the reason for the slow association time and either take corrective action or at a minimum inform the user of the issue.

The client driver and utility is modified to support the universal monitor and association problem determination mode (UMAPDM). The changes are required to allow the client temporarily operate in various modes to obtain critical information concerning the natu...