Writing for Network World, John Cox claims that the built-in 802.11b/g adapters on several iPhones periodically flood sections of the Durham, N.C. institution's pervasive wireless LAN with MAC address requests, temporarily knocking out anywhere from a dozen to 30 wireless access points at a time.
"Misbehaving iPhones" are reportedly flooding the access points with up to 18,000 address requests per second, or nearly 10Mbps of bandwidth. As a result, the access points show up as "out of service" for 10-15 minutes at a time, in which there's no way to communicate with them, said Kevin Miller, assistant director, communications infrastructure, with Dukes Office of Information Technology.
Because of the time of year for us, its not a severe problem, Miller said. But from late August through May, our wireless net is critical. My concern is how many students will be coming back in August with iPhones?"
Duke's network team is reported to have identified the Apple handsets as the cause of the issue after capturing wireless traffic for analysis. Cox said the requests are for what is, at least for Dukes network, an invalid router address. However, the source of the bad router addresses have not yet been isolated.
"Devices use the Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) to request the MAC address of the destination node, for which it already has the IP address," he wrote. "When it doesnt get an answer, the iPhone just keeps asking."
Duke's IT department is said to have filed a help desk ticket with Apple over the matter but so far communication with iPhone maker has been "one-way," Cox added.
While Apple is reported to have "escalated" the university's help request, it hadn't yet provided anything substantive as of Monday afternoon.