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Wi-Fi routers able to manage bandwidth by app are offered

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The latest wi-fi routers know which applications are asking for wireless connectivity and can prioritise those that matter while still letting data trickle to those which don't.

The technique, which maker Aruba calls "AppRF", looks at the packets to work out what each wi-fi client is doing, allowing the enterprise to decide which applications get priority access - so the busy BOFH can throttle the executives' video conferencing while ensuring his Call Of Duty pings remain low. Encrypted comms, such as MS Lync, are fingerprinted and so can be equally controlled even if the content of each packet is obscured.

Aruba reckons really-profligate apps, such as Apple's AirPlay and AirPrint, are already being blocked by enterprise admins to "save their wireless networks from collapse", and AppRF can't help in that case, but for other wireless uses the ability to throttle rather than block is valuable. The platform comes ready to recognise the hundred or so most popular apps, but will identify, and ask for advice on, new apps (or destinations) as they start to load the network.

A good example, offered by Aruba, is Dropbox, which will grab all the bandwidth it can unless the default preferences are altered, which they aren't. Aruba's kit can slow down file transfers like Dropbox while keeping the Skype connections live, unless its the CEO's Dropbox in which case the proles can suffer for the benefit of the management.

Wi-fi has become a good deal more discerning in the last few years, and the kind of deep-packet inspection being offered by Aruba will surely be common practice before long, and with wi-fi becoming the default networking technology better traffic management can't come soon enough.

Aruba added that its technology will "make you look like a rock star", though the company was careful not to specify which rock star. ®

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