What is CCX and why should you care?

Early on in the history of wifi Cisco created some proprietary extensions called CCX (Cisco Compatible Extensions). These are now an open standard that a lot of network card manufacturers implement. If you’re bringing your own laptop to the event you should make sure you have CCX-4 compliant drivers, here’s why …

Cisco Compatible Extensions are a set of additions to the 802.11 wireless standards that cover a myriad of topics as discussed here:

http://www.cisco.com/web/partners/pr46/pr147/program_additional_information_new_release_features.html

an incomplete list of compatible devices is here:

http://www.cisco.com/web/partners/pr46/pr147/partners_pgm_partners_0900aecd800a7907.html

Some of these are esoteric and a lot revolve around security, VOIP, and so on. The one feature we’re all interested in here is AP-assisted roaming.

AP-assisted roaming is a mechanism whereby the access point can provide intelligent advice to clients when they roam between access points. In the context of the overall wireless network in the venue, this means that the centralised wireless controller will be able to bump you off a busy access point/radio and on to one that is less congested, ensuring smoother operation for users of the wireless network.

Without CCX drivers, you may roam from a busy access point to a more congested one!

In testing the first view Mininote 2140s, Jorke found that the native driver in Windows 7 and also the driver downloadable from hp.com were not CCX compliant – however the Windows XP driver was! Jeffa is working with the guys at HP (or “I’ll place a call to Huston” as he likes to say :)) to get access to native CCX compliant drivers for the 2140s to be loaded into the base image … if not we might have to put on the XP version!

Bottom line: CCX will give you a better wireless experience and will help us even out the distribution of users across the access points. Make sure you bring compliant drivers on your lappy!