Claims that Apple’s new iPhone was responsible for causing networking problems with Duke University’s Wi-Fi network, have been dismissed after it emerged that a faulty router from Cisco was the culprit.
Back on Friday 13 July, IT staff at Duke University publicly blamed Apple’s newly-released iPhone as the source of problems with the university’s Wi-Fi network. Specifically, Duke staff blamed the iPhone as the source of intermittent floods of Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) requests, after technical staff identified two iPhone’s devices trying to connect to the network.
The University said the two Apple iPhones were attempting to connect via the iPhone’s built in wireless LAN adapter to Duke’s campus-wide network. But the ARP floods, up to 18,000 requests per second, knocked as many as 30 access points offline, sometimes for as long as 10 to 15 minutes.
The story generated huge interest worldwide, especially as there were no other reports of the iPhone causing similar problems with other Wi-Fi hotspots.
Early last week, Kevin Miller, assistant director, communications infrastructure, with Duke’s Office of Information Technology, was certain that Cisco was not to blame, after he stated that he had his doubts that the problem was connected to Cisco “in any way, shape or form.”
However, just days later, it became increasingly clear that Miller and the university were wrong, and on 20 July, Duke admitted that the iPhone was not to blame after all, but it was a more humble router from Cisco that was at fault.
“Cisco worked closely with Duke and Apple to identify the source of this problem, which was caused by a Cisco-based network issue,” said Tracy Futhey, the university's chief information officer, in a statement.
“Cisco has provided a fix that has been applied to Duke's network and there have been no recurrences of the problem since,” she added. “Earlier reports that this was a problem with the iPhone in particular have proved to be inaccurate”.
There is a certain irony here, as Cisco and Apple were forced to work together to investigate this problem after the huge wave of publicity it generated. The two companies were previously at loggerheads over the use of the name iPhone, which Cisco claimed as its own trademark.
The duo settled their differences in February this year, and Cisco dropped its infringement lawsuit.