Duke exonerates Apple iPhone, Cisco-based network issue at fault

After blaming Apple’s iPhone for disrupting portions of their Wi-Fi network, Duke University’s Office of Information Technology has issued a statement totally exonerating Apple’s iPhone:

By now many of you have read news accounts around iPhones and Duke’s wireless network. Some of the reports incorrectly made it sound as if our entire wireless network had collapsed. Others made it sound as if the iPhone could not work correctly on our wireless network. Still others seem to imply that Duke’s network was deficient in some way because the problem had not been encountered more broadly. The reality is that a particular set of conditions made the Duke wireless network experience some minor and temporary disruptions in service. Those conditions involve our deployment of a very large Cisco-based wireless network that supports multiple network protocols.

Cisco worked closely with Duke and Apple to identify the source of this problem, which was caused by a Cisco-based network issue. Cisco has provided a fix that has been applied to Duke’s network and there have been no recurrences of the problem since. We are working diligently to fully characterize the issue and will have additional information as soon as possible. Earlier reports that this was a problem with the iPhone in particular have proved to be inaccurate.

In closing, I extend my gratitude to the very strong technical staff within OIT that was able to identify this situation, working shoulder-to-shoulder with technical staff from two of our long-time partners, Cisco and Apple. Meanwhile, our Duke community should feel confident that both the Duke wireless network is fully functional, and the iPhone is fully operable within our environment.

Duke’s Statement (same as above) is here.

On Monday, Kevin Miller, Duke’s Office of Information Technology’s Assistant Director of IT Communications Infrastructure squarely blamed Apple’s iPhone for Duke’s networking problems, telling Network World, “My concern is how many students will be coming back in August with iPhones? It’s a pretty big annoyance, right now, with 20-30 access points signaling they’re down, and then coming back up a few minutes later. But in late August, this would be devastating… It may have something to do with the iPhone losing connectivity and then trying to reconnect in a new location… I don’t believe it’s a Cisco problem in any way, shape, or form.”

Moral of the story: In any way, shape, or form, STFU until you know WTF you’re talking about.

So, does Duke University owe Apple recompense for hundreds of damaging articles that blamed Apple’s iPhone for Duke’s Cisco problem?

A smattering of samples:
• “A single iPhone is enough to bring down a Wi-Fi network, according to staff at Duke University in North Carolina.” – vnunet.com, July 19, 2007
• “A single iPhone was powerful enough to cause the problem, and there are 100 to 150 of them registered on the network, Bill Cannon, a Duke technology spokesman, said.” – The Associated Press, July 20, 2007 (syndicated to hundreds of media outlets)
• ” One of the big selling points of Apple’s iPhone is the ability to connect to the Internet via Wi-Fi, but I.T. pros at Duke University might say otherwise. The iPhones on campus are flooding the school’s wireless LAN with as many as 18,000 access requests per second, temporarily knocking out access points for 10 to 15 minutes at a time, according to Kevin Miller, Duke’s assistant director of communications infrastructure.” – Sci Tech Today, July 18, 2007

Seems like it’d be an easy case for Apple to win if they wish to pursue it.

Contact info:
• Dr. Richard H. Brodhead, Duke University President: 919 684-2424, president@duke.edu
• Tracy Futhey, VP for Information Technology and CIO: 919 684-5300, cio-office@duke.edu
• Bob Johnson, Director Communications Infrastructure Services (CIS): 919 668-1762, robert.l.johnson@duke.edu
• Kevin Miller, Assistant Director of IT Communications Infrastructure: 919 668- 6484, kevin.miller@duke.edu


  1. Oh boy.
    I was hoping it was a ZUNE that brought Duke down, but it looks like the iPhone is free to roam again.

    IT Tools.

    MDN: “sales” as in “sales of CISCO just plummetted, as are Duke IT enrollments”

  2. Typical biased opinion by a Duke IT person blaming the iPhone just because it was something new rather than looking at the whole situation. Not a very good way to analyze for failures if you just asume as he did. And he did make an ass out of himself in the end when the problem was squarely a CISCO problem and had nothing to do with the iPhone.

  3. Apparently rushing to judgment – whether it be regarding the Duke Lacrosse team or the Apple iPhone – is becoming standard procedure at Duke.

    Geez, one or two iPhones are bringing down the entire Duke network. But it’s not happening anywhere else. Think maybe it could be something other than the iPhone? Maybe something specific to your network instead?

    Nah! That’s crazy talk.

  4. You, sir, are a big moron. Next time you feel a need to talk all big-headed about a technical issue please refrain and talk about your GI Joe action figures instead. Get a job at Mc Donalds ‘cuz I want your job and feel more capable of being a benefit to Duke University than you will ever be you sweaty stoked pig!

    If we lived in Turkey I’d stab you in the mouth.

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