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iPhone 4 keynote plagued by high-tech Wi-Fi meltdown

post #1 of 94
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An abundance of Wi-Fi hotspots inside the Moscone Center on Monday caused technical difficulties for Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs, which resulted in some frustration for the showman, renowned for his usually polished presentations.

Jobs' keynote in San Francisco, Calif., came to a halt while he was attempting to show off the new, 326-pixel-per-inch display of the iPhone 4. As part of the presentation, Jobs attempted to go to the website of The New York Times to compare text readability, but the site wouldn't load.

"You know, you could help me out if you're on Wi-Fi, if you could just get off, I'd appreciate it," he said to laughter from the audience. "We're having a little problem here."

Unable to access any Web content, Jobs then pulled up photos on the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS side-by-side to show off the screen improvements. But the chief executive was unsatisfied by the demonstration, which he felt did not adequately show off the new display.

Issues continued throughout the presentation, and Jobs revealed that there were 570 Wi-Fi base stations within the auditorium. Wi-Fi pollution occurs when there are too many wireless networks in an area, and the overlapping channels can cause slower speeds or dropped connections.

Jobs asked those in the audience liveblogging the event to turn off their base stations and put down their notebooks, though many refused.

"Wait, Steve is really asking everyone to stop liveblogging?" Ryan Block of gdgt wrote. "They're serious!"



"If you want to see the demos, there's no way to do it," Jobs said. "Set them on the floor."

Clayton Morris of Fox News, appearing live on the TWiT network after the keynote, said Apple employees began to come around the auditorium to ask people in attendance to turn off their devices.

"Yes, we're still here," Block wrote at the time in his liveblog of the event. "Sorry Steve."

Later in the presentation, Jobs was showing off the multitasking capabilities within iOS 4. As he streamed music and checked e-mail, he noted that he would "find out" if people in the audience had turned off their Wi-Fi devices. When the connection was successful, it earned cheers from the audience.

For his trademark "one more thing" at the end of the keynote, Jobs unveiled FaceTime, a new video chat service available over Wi-Fi for iPhone 4 owners. There, too, the connection stuttered, which inspired Jobs to complain about MiFi portable hotspots within the Moscone Center and note that the video chat "never" freezes up.

"I'm doing OK, except for these guys who aren't turning their Wi-Fi off," Jobs told designer Jony Ive through FaceTime. The irritated executive also remarked that Star Trek-style communicators, previously a creation of science fiction writers, are "real now, especially when people turn off their Wi-Fi."
post #2 of 94
Which demonstrates that there is nothing like a wire. Long live EtherNet.
post #3 of 94
Surprised they didn't get their own dedicated wifi connection for the demo rather than relying on the centres internet.

Love the new iPhone updates, just a shame that no other product lines were shown some love, 27" Cinema display, Apple TV, Mac Pro etc etc.
iPad, Macbook Pro, iPhone, heck I even have iLife! :-)
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iPad, Macbook Pro, iPhone, heck I even have iLife! :-)
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post #4 of 94
He shoulda pulled out his Verizon iPhone and tried again.
post #5 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by saarek View Post

Surprised they didn't get their own dedicated wifi connection for the demo rather than relying on the centres internet.

Love the new iPhone updates, just a shame that no other product lines were shown some love, 27" Cinema display, Apple TV, Mac Pro etc etc.

Did you not read the article? They had their own dedicated wifi connection. When you have 570 other networks operating in the same room it uses up all the available spectrum and leads to problems.
"Slow vehicle speeds with frequent stops would signal traffic congestion, for instance."

uh... it could also signal that my Mom is at the wheel...
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"Slow vehicle speeds with frequent stops would signal traffic congestion, for instance."

uh... it could also signal that my Mom is at the wheel...
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post #6 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by saarek View Post

Surprised they didn't get their own dedicated wifi connection for the demo rather than relying on the centres internet.

I think it was more due to wifi pollution - too many hotspots in the same area competing for limited RF spectrum.
post #7 of 94
second that.
post #8 of 94
\\Steve Jobs' inability to make the iPhone 4 work on the Wi-Fi network at MacWorld should come as no surprise. Trade shows are demanding network environments, typified by a high density of client devices concentrated in small areas, and high throughput requirements especially when video is being services. Consumer-class Wi-Fi networking gear- including AirPort Extremes - are not appropriate for these environments. Trade shows demand enterprise-class networks that include features like airtime fairness (prevents slower 802.11b devices from limiting network access by 802.11n devices such as iPhone 4), load-balancing (to ensure that no single access point is overwhelmed), band steering (to force high-speed 802.11n devices to operate in the faster 5GHz band instead of the congested 2.4GHz band), and overlapping access point coverage (so there's no chance of a single point of failure). Streaming video is particularly challenging for Wi-Fi networks, and requires that the network be aware that video traffic is present and then provision quality of service mechanisms to ensure reliable delivery. If you want bulletproof performance, you need enterprise-class gear.
post #9 of 94
Like really, is it SO hard to just disable your connection for a few minutes while he shows off some websites? FFS people.

I'm not like some dork who was hallway monitor in school or something, but if Steve motherf**king Jobs tells you to take a break from live blogging so he can show off a feature of the latest iphone, YOU TAKE A BREAK.

It's like when you're at the movies and they have that big 90 second long reminder to turn off cell phones, then halfway through someone's phone starts going off. They think it's their world and we're just living in it... "Sure Jobs just politely asked for everyone to turn off wifi for a few minutes, but that doesn't mean ME."
post #10 of 94
Ah well, Apple did not adequately plan for THAT inevitable risk/issue...

Shows some of the problems with wireless in great population density.
post #11 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

The irritated executive also remarked that Star Trek-style communicators, previously a creation of science fiction writers, are "real now"

Somebody really should buy a license from Paramount to make and sell hardshell cases for the iPhone that look just like oversized communicators, complete with an app providing authentic sounds and a flip-up mesh screen protector. And while they're at it, how about an iPad case that looks like an oversized version of the original tricorders, with a narrow leather shoulder strap.
post #12 of 94
It would have been funny if he'd just turned off all the wifi spots except his own special presentation one.
post #13 of 94
I vote for Gizmodo using an RF jammer. It wouldn't be the first time they did a "prank" at a convention.
Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
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Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
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post #14 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by chronster View Post

Like really, is it SO hard to just disable your connection for a few minutes while he shows off some websites? FFS people.

I'm not like some dork who was hallway monitor in school or something, but if Steve motherf**king Jobs tells you to take a break from live blogging so he can show off a feature of the latest iphone, YOU TAKE A BREAK.

It's like when you're at the movies and they have that big 90 second long reminder to turn off cell phones, then halfway through someone's phone starts going off. They think it's their world and we're just living in it... "Sure Jobs just politely asked for everyone to turn off wifi for a few minutes, but that doesn't mean ME."

This is a classic example of basic human behavior. Game theory at work. If everyone has to give up something so that everyone will benefit, chances are nothing will happen since nobody wants to be the only person giving the thing up. See "the prisoner's dilemma," etc.
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Please don't be insane.
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post #15 of 94
I read Google had this problem when introducing Google IO, Andy Ihnatko was poking fun at Google for their problems dealing with the crowd's WiFi devices.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mtennefoss View Post

\\Steve Jobs' inability to make the iPhone 4 work on the Wi-Fi network at MacWorld should come as no surprise. Trade shows are demanding network environments, typified by a high density of client devices concentrated in small areas, and high throughput requirements especially when video is being services. Consumer-class Wi-Fi networking gear- including AirPort Extremes - are not appropriate for these environments. Trade shows demand enterprise-class networks that include features like airtime fairness (prevents slower 802.11b devices from limiting network access by 802.11n devices such as iPhone 4), load-balancing (to ensure that no single access point is overwhelmed), band steering (to force high-speed 802.11n devices to operate in the faster 5GHz band instead of the congested 2.4GHz band), and overlapping access point coverage (so there's no chance of a single point of failure). Streaming video is particularly challenging for Wi-Fi networks, and requires that the network be aware that video traffic is present and then provision quality of service mechanisms to ensure reliable delivery. If you want bulletproof performance, you need enterprise-class gear.

It's not just client devices here, it looks like the MiFi has gotten very popular with the crowd that would go to a dev conference. How well is that enterprise-class gear going to work when there are 500+ consumer grade portable access points in the mix too? That has to be an immense amount of EM pollution to deal with when the standard only allows for using a sliver of an RF band.

It looks like Apple isn't supporting 5GHz band with their iPhone 4 WiFi.
post #16 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by mtennefoss View Post

If you want bulletproof performance, you need enterprise-class gear.

You sound like a skilled wireless technician and I agree with everything you say, but...

Even with a properly designed and implemented wireless network in place, nothing can save you from interference.

Let's say they had a Cisco wireless-controller-based network in place. Even then, you can only have three non-overlapping channels in the 2.4GHz band and 19 in 5.2GHz band. So, you could have a total of 22 access points in that room without any problem.

It's quite obvious that the number of access points in the room was far beyond that and co-channel interference was killing the networks. (EDIT: clarifying, the excess AP's were stuff like MiFi and ad-hoc networks operated by atendees.)

Since the bandwidth is shared between devices connected to the same access point, most of the people (if not everybody) in there would be at the very basic rate: 1 megabit.

Like one of the first posters said, long live wired Ethernet (Wi-Fi is Ethernet too), at least for the fixed stations.


Cheers,
Flavio
post #17 of 94
In my experience, this won't be an issue for the next presentation. Expect to see that mobile devices and MiFi will not be welcome in the auditorium. And can you blame Steve? It must have been frustrating when he couldn't demo a feature because who knows how many bloggers are providing feeds. My suggestion - much like the White House press corp, these sites need to proactively team together and approach Apple - offer a solution where 1 or 2 folks provide the feed for all.

Or, Apple could provide their own feed!!! <--- novel idea, eh?
post #18 of 94
It's Apple's own fault there's so much wireless traffic in the room. Cut out all of the live blogger's feeds to the outside world and all will be well again. And that can be done by WEBCASTING the keynotes like they used to.

We all want to know what's going on, so If Apple lets us in via a webcast, we have no need for the live bloggers.
post #19 of 94
Couldn't they just have used an enhanced MicroCell which would have isolated them from complete reliance on WiFi? That could have given them reliable, several megabits per second downloads, fast enough for most of the demos. I guess one of the problems with AT&T's MicroCell is that the upload speeds are limited (in software) to something like 56Kbps, although I've seen test results up to 2Mbps for downloads.
post #20 of 94
Thou shalt turn off thy motherfucking wifi. Thus spake the prophet.
post #21 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

It looks like Apple isn't supporting 5GHz band with their iPhone 4 WiFi.

Pretty much: "802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi (802.11n 2.4GHz only)"

http://www.apple.com/iphone/specs.html
post #22 of 94
I can think of two potential solutions to this in the future:

1) Use a local Bluetooth transmitter for network access (although that might suffer the same interference issues.)

2) Hack the demo units to get their network access from the same cable bundle that is providing the video-out feed.
post #23 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dlux View Post

I can think of two potential solutions to this in the future:

1) Use a local Bluetooth transmitter for network access (although that might suffer the same interference issues.)

2) Hack the demo units to get their network access from the same cable bundle that is providing the video-out feed.

EMP the room before Steve walks in.
post #24 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dlux View Post

Pretty much: "802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi (802.11n 2.4GHz only)"

http://www.apple.com/iphone/specs.html

That's pretty lame, since 5GHz operation is one of the main benefits of 802.11n (eliminates interference from the 2.4GHz bands, etc.). The iPad's 802.11n supports 5GHz operation so this appears to be one difference between the WiFi in the iPhone and the iPad.
post #25 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dlux View Post

I can think of two potential solutions to this in the future:

1) Use a local Bluetooth transmitter for network access (although that might suffer the same interference issues.)...

MicroCell would be faster than Bluetooth and gets around the interference problems in the 2.4GHz band.
post #26 of 94
So far, the last two products; iPad and iPhone 4 have demonstrated problems with wi-fi. What is Apple doing new that it didn't do before with wi-fi?
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In a world of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.
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post #27 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by wattsup View Post

That's pretty lame, since 5GHz operation is one of the main benefits of 802.11n (eliminates interference from the 2.4GHz bands, etc.). The iPad's 802.11n supports 5GHz operation so this appears to be one difference between the WiFi in the iPhone and the iPad.

You do realize the battery in the iPad is considerably larger than the iPhone, right? if it's "pretty lame" of Apple to exclude it then which low-power, mobile WiFi chip should Apple have used? I have to think that Apple not using any WiFi with 5GHz means that there isn't one that meets their needs.

The Droid Incredible and EVO 4G both recently came out and I dont' think either of them offer 802.11n in the 2.4GHz or 5GHz spectrums. That begs the questions: What phones do have 802.11n? Are they in both bands?
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post #28 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by wattsup View Post

MicroCell would be faster than Bluetooth and gets around the interference problems in the 2.4GHz band.

First, it would have to be configured to only work with certain phones, I don't remember if it allowed you to set a white list and deny everyone else. Second, they would have to rig the FaceTime program to work over a cellular connection. There may still be interference issues too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dlux View Post

I can think of two potential solutions to this in the future:

1) Use a local Bluetooth transmitter for network access (although that might suffer the same interference issues.)

Yes, it will probably suffer the same issues. Bluetooth uses the same 2.4GHz band as regular grade WiFi.

Quote:
2) Hack the demo units to get their network access from the same cable bundle that is providing the video-out feed.

I thought they were doing that all along with past presentations, this shows it wasn't. I can imagine that they will probably do that next time.
post #29 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by mbsmd View Post

He shoulda pulled out his Verizon iPhone and tried again.

You never want to put the stock Honda rims on your Porsche, no matter how long the factory delay for the original parts is. It's not only a performance issue, but tacky to boot. Now I'm sure Hondas are fine cars for those looking for a low monthly payment, however the expectation that you can get fine precision engineered sports car parts for the low ball rate is totally unrealistic.

Verizon screwed up by not going with the iPhone before AT&T, not Apple's problem that they sell cheap monkey garbage for smartphones. It's a corporate taste and foresight issue, they don't have the palette for performance vs. cost.

If my biggest problem was AT&T as a partner, life would be pretty sweet. I've had tremendous customer service from them

post #30 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr Millmoss View Post

This is a classic example of basic human behavior. Game theory at work. If everyone has to give up something so that everyone will benefit, chances are nothing will happen since nobody wants to be the only person giving the thing up. See "the prisoner's dilemma," etc.

Good one! Also, explained by the 'Tragedy of the Commons'.

This is a good example for those on this forum who think that bandwidth is free and elastic, and that companies like ATT should only charge a fixed amount for 'unlimited.'
post #31 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by liney View Post

It's Apple's own fault there's so much wireless traffic in the room. Cut out all of the live blogger's feeds to the outside world and all will be well again. And that can be done by WEBCASTING the keynotes like they used to.

We all want to know what's going on, so If Apple lets us in via a webcast, we have no need for the live bloggers.

Excellent post!
post #32 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

You do realize the battery in the iPad is considerably larger than the iPhone, right? if it's "pretty lame" of Apple to exclude it then which low-power, mobile WiFi chip should Apple have used? I have to think that Apple not using any WiFi with 5GHz means that there isn't one that meets their needs...

They probably could have used the same chip as in the iPad. It might have impacted battery life but why not offer that option if you really need 5GHz operation. In fact, the problem they had today at WWDC is precisely why you want support for 5GHz. As a case in point, I have an iPad and I've found that just about the only reason why you'd ever want to use 802.11n is for its 5GHz band (because there appears to be no speed benefit on the iPad when using 802.11n).

Anyway, it may not be a battery concern, it could be the antennas, or just lack of space within the iPhone 4 design.
post #33 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by wattsup

MicroCell would be faster than Bluetooth and gets around the interference problems in the 2.4GHz band.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

First, it would have to be configured to only work with certain phones, I don't remember if it allowed you to set a white list and deny everyone else. Second, they would have to rig the FaceTime program to work over a cellular connection. There may still be interference issues too...

It seems that after the problems that occurred at Google's I/O conference that the people in charge of Apple's WWDC should have been prepared for this issue. MicroCell would have been a good fallback and there is no reason why they couldn't have altered the FaceTime software so that it worked over 3G.

In any case, AT&T's standard MicroCell wouldn't have the bandwidth for bi-directional FaceTime (upstream would have been too slow) but that would have only affected the other side of the video conversation (the video stream going to the phone at WWDC should have been just fine).
post #34 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by liney View Post

It's Apple's own fault there's so much wireless traffic in the room. Cut out all of the live blogger's feeds to the outside world and all will be well again. And that can be done by WEBCASTING the keynotes like they used to.

We all want to know what's going on, so If Apple lets us in via a webcast, we have no need for the live bloggers.

I've got agree with this -- it's so damn simple. Livecast the thing and we won't have to sit through liveblogs:

**There's a dude with a Dell notebook, OMG**
**John Mayer is playing over the speaker system -- I wonder what Mayer is doing right now**
**Steve is taking the stage -- lots of applause**
**Steve just cracked a joke about Android -- more applause**

GAHHHH!!!!!!

If it was livecasted, bloggers wouldn't need to jam the Wi-Fi channels -- they'd still be able to get us their hands-on reports after the keynote though.
post #35 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by liney View Post

It's Apple's own fault there's so much wireless traffic in the room. Cut out all of the live blogger's feeds to the outside world and all will be well again. And that can be done by WEBCASTING the keynotes like they used to.

We all want to know what's going on, so If Apple lets us in via a webcast, we have no need for the live bloggers.

I think you misunderstand the means of sending the feeds out. They aren't using Apple's access points or the convention center's, many of the people carried their own pocket cellular devices that are WiFi access points, one report gives Apple reps saying there were 570 access points in the auditorium. You would have to block everyone's cellular connection, you would have to modify the room to do that. And even without an outside connection, I don't know if the MiFi-like devices know to turn off the access point if there is no outside connection.
post #36 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by joe in miami View Post

So far, the last two products; iPad and iPhone 4 have demonstrated problems with wi-fi. What is Apple doing new that it didn't do before with wi-fi?

Nothing... today's problem has more to do with the sudden explosion of popularity of these "personal base stations". And I don't think webcasting the keynote would necessarily quell the use of them -- all the media people present want to get their own words out there. The real answer is to upgrade the Wi-Fi equipment at Moscone, and ban the use of these personal base stations.
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post #37 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

...one report gives Apple reps saying there were 570 access points in the auditorium. You would have to block everyone's cellular connection, you would have to modify the room to do that. And even without an outside connection, I don't know if the MiFi-like devices know to turn off the access point if there is no outside connection.

I'm pretty sure there weren't 570 "access points" (meaning MiFi-like devices) they probably meant to say 570 active WiFi devices.

In the U.S. it is against the law to block cellular network devices:

http://answers.google.com/answers/th...id/413500.html

However, it is apparently legal to shield a room from cellular access but as you noted that would require modification of the entire WWDC conference room -- not something that Apple or the city of S.F. would likely be willing to attempt.
post #38 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kolchak View Post

Somebody really should buy a license from Paramount to make and sell hardshell cases for the iPhone that look just like oversized communicators, complete with an app providing authentic sounds and a flip-up mesh screen protector. And while they're at it, how about an iPad case that looks like an oversized version of the original tricorders, with a narrow leather shoulder strap.

I am sure they will when they get the, 'beam me up Scotty thing working.'
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post #39 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by mbsmd View Post

I think it was more due to wifi pollution - too many hotspots in the same area competing for limited RF spectrum.

With all Apple's experience in WiFi they should have configured their own Secure WiFi hotspot with a private unique frequency at the top of the band band and hard wired to the backbone and they would have had the bandwidth almost to themselves
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post #40 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by wattsup View Post

I'm pretty sure there weren't 570 "access points" (meaning MiFi-like devices) they probably meant to say 570 active WiFi devices.

I see what you mean, but the article says base stations and hot spots several times. 570 WiFi clients would be a very low-ball figure for a room of maybe 5000 attendees. Hopefully a video posting of the presentation will clear it up, though they might cut all that out.
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