Apple WWDC keynote Wi-Fi fail: Glenn Fleishman explains what happened

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Wireless technology writer Glenn Fleishman has a good, technically precise, but very readable (for non-engineers) explanation of exactly what went wrong with the wireless internet connectivity in the room during Steve Jobs' keynote yesterday at Apple's World Wide Developer Conference.

Our Dean Putney and Rob Beschizza were live-photoblogging the event, and as they reported, that connectivity problem caused conspicuous glitches during Mr. Jobs' on-stage presentation.

Apple apparently did offer a public Wi-Fi network at the WWDC launch, according to media and attendees I've polled. And those who tried it said that network did work initially. But with so much media in the audience, and the history of conference/event Wi-Fi networks having glitches at peak times--with many people liveblogging and uploading photos from the event--those who had MiFis chose to use those instead.

Wi-Fi can cope with a lot of so-called interference, but the protocol wasn't designed to handle hundreds of overlapping networks in a small space. (Interference is really the limits of a radio to distinguish signals out of noise, not a physical property of radio waves.)

Five Hundred Wi-Fi Networks Walk into a Bar (Future Tense)

Photo: Dean Putney