Look guys... this problem is really simple. There is no need for a packet capture to know what caused it.
Excessive traffic on each channel with no separation or control of the network.
Carving out a channel for Apple only would not have worked since the MiFi devices were causing the problems and were out of the control of Apple.
The jamming idea would have worked, but highly illegal and would have caused more press problems than the actual problem.
Thinking about it, here is what I think would have worked. Set up an AP for Steve's iPhone only. Use an unusually high gain (for indoor use) directional antenna. Put it on an overlapping channel. Yes... you heard me right. Put it on channel 3 or 9. Why would I say such a thing? Because in this case, you don't want Steve's device to arbitrate with everyone else. You are going to cause them interference, but because of the high gain antenna and close proximity from AP to iPhone will do a great job of increasing the SINR of the offending devices on other channels.
Could any vendor's product have solved this? Maybe. Let's review some potential candidates.
- Cisco - No way to deal with this (aside from my directional antenna idea)
- Aruba - No way to deal with this (aside from my directional antenna idea)
- Meru - The advantage that they would have had is that they can control arbitration nicely. They could have given Steve's iPhone a low CW value and used CTS frames to squash everyone else. Would it have worked? Not sure without testing in the real environment, but has a good shot at it.
- Xirrus - I think a Xirrus array could have worked for this. Effectively they are highly directional antennas in an array. Given Steve's location, a Xirrus array between him and the crowd would have been good. In effect, he would have gotten his own dedicated high gain antenna / radio. The iPhone would have still had issues arbitrating for upstream data, but my off channel idea may have worked in conjunction with a Xirrus array.
- Ruckus - My statements for Ruckus will be quite similar to that of Xirrus. Same AP placement. Ruckus effectively has a directional antenna, but since it listens omni-directionally it could encounter contention issues with all of the Mi-Fi devices.
Here is my final breakdown. Remember, we are trying to solve Steve's problem, not cover the entire building. Providing reliable service for that building and number of devices could be accomplished by many vendors, albeit with different implementations.
So, what should have been done to solve Steve's problem? If you needed one enterprise class AP to solve [u]his[/u] problem, a Xirrus array would have been the best single product. Downside is price. But, if Steve had been told that is would cost $10,000 (not saying that Xirrus would cost that much) he would have done it in an instant.
If you want his problem solved on the cheap, an off the shelf AP with a high gain antenna as I described before would have worked for < $150.
Sorry for the long post.
P.S. I work for Ruckus, but I've mentioned other vendors in a positive light which is a bit unusual. I'm ok with that because we respect other innovative technology, but please do not quote portions of this post out of context without prior permission. Thanks!