WiFi iOS and OSX Specifications and Cisco Best Practice References

Blog posts are a tool I use to help record information for my own use as well as sharing with my colleagues in the WiFi Space. This blog might not be super interesting.

Client devices are often times difficult to determine WiFi capabilities. I have used the FCC website to research devices. Located HERE. Mike Albano’s website is also very helpful. Located HERE.

Apple has partnered with Cisco and more documentation is being released concerning client behavior and specifications for WiFi.

Reference Links:

https://help.apple.com/deployment/ios/#/iorf0c4eb390

https://help.apple.com/deployment/macos/#/ior1faf9de44

 

Wi-Fi specifications for iOS devices

iOS model Wi-Fi standards

Wi-Fi specifications for iOS devices are detailed in the table that follows. The specifications are:

  • 11 compatibility and frequency band: 802.11ac, 802.11n, 802.11a, 802.11b/g and 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz.
  • Maximum transmit rate: The highest rate at which a client can transmit data over Wi-Fi.
  • Channel width: The maximum channel width. Beginning with 802.11n, channels can be combined to create a wider channel that allows for more data to be transmitted during a single transmission. With 802.11n, two 20 MHz channels can be combined to create a 40 MHz channel. With 802.11ac, four 20 MHz channels can be combined to create an 80 MHz channel.
  • MCS index: The Modulation and Coding Scheme (MCS) index defines the maximum transmission rate at which 802.11ac/n devices can communicate. 802.11ac uses Very High Throughput (VHT) and 802.11n uses High Throughput (HT).
  • Spatial streams: Each radio can send a specific number of independent data streams, called spatial streams, at the same time, which can increase overall throughput.
Model 802.11 compatibility Maximum transmit rate Channel width MCS index Spatial streams
10.5-inch iPad Pro

12.9-inch iPad Pro

iPad(5th generation)

iPad mini 4

iPhone 7 Plus

iPhone 7

9.7‑inch iPad Pro

12.9‑inch iPad Pro

iPad Air 2

iPhone 6s Plus

iPhone 6s

ac @ 5 GHz 866 Mbps 80 MHz 9 (VHT) 2
iPad Pro

iPad Air 2

iPhone SE

iPhone 6s Plus

iPhone 6s

a/n @ 5 GHz

b/g/n @ 2.4 GHz

300 Mbps 40 MHz 15 (HT) 2
iPad mini 4 ac @ 5 GHz 866 Mbps 80 MHz 9 (VHT) 2
iPad mini 4 a/n @ 5 GHz

b/g/n @ 2.4 GHz

300 Mbps 40 MHz 15 (HT) 2
iPad mini 3 a/n @ 5 GHz

b/g/n @ 2.4 GHz

300 Mbps 40 MHz 15 (HT) 2
iPhone 6 Plus

iPhone 6

iPod touch 6th generation

ac @ 5 GHz 433 Mbps 80 MHz 9 (VHT) 1
iPhone SE

iPhone 6 Plus

iPhone 6

iPod touch 6th generation

a/n @ 5 GHz

b/g/n @ 2.4 GHz

150 Mbps 40 MHz 7 (HT) 1
iPhone 5s

iPhone 5c

iPhone 5

a/n @ 5 GHz

b/g/n @ 2.4 GHz

150 Mbps 40 MHz 7 (HT) 1
iPhone 4s

iPhone 4

n/g/b @ 2.4 GHz 65 Mbps 20 MHz 7 (HT) 1
iPad Air

iPad mini 2

a/n @ 5 GHz

b/g/n @ 2.4 GHz

300 Mbps 40 MHz 15 (HT) 2
iPad 4th generation

iPad mini

a/n @ 5 GHz

b/g/n @ 2.4 GHz

150 Mbps 40 MHz 7 (HT) 1
iPad 1st, 2nd, and 3rd generation a/n @ 5 GHz

b/g/n @ 2.4 GHz

65 Mbps 20 MHz 7 (HT) 1
iPod touch 5th generation a/n @ 5 GHz

b/g/n @ 2.4 GHz

150 Mbps 40 MHz 7 (HT) 1
iPod touch 4th generation b/g/n @ 2.4 GHz 65 Mbps 20 MHz 7 (HT) 1

 

Wi-Fi specifications for Mac computers

Wi-Fi specifications for Mac computers are detailed in the table that follows. The specifications are:

  • 11 compatibility and frequency band: 802.11ac, 802.11n, 802.11a, 802.11b/g and 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz.
  • Maximum transmit rate: The highest rate at which a client can transmit data over Wi-Fi.
  • Channel width: The maximum channel width. Beginning with 802.11n, channels can be combined to create a wider channel that allows for more data to be transmitted during a single transmission. With 802.11n, two 20 MHz channels can be combined to create a 40 MHz channel. With 802.11ac, four 20 MHz channels can be combined to create an 80 MHz channel.
  • MCS index: The Modulation and Coding Scheme (MCS) index defines the maximum transmission rate at which 802.11ac/n devices can communicate. 802.11ac uses Very High Throughput (VHT) and 802.11n uses High Throughput (HT).
  • Spatial streams: Each radio can send a specific number of independent data streams, called spatial streams, at the same time, which can increase overall throughput.

MacBook Pro computers

Model 802.11 compatibility Maximum transmit rate Channel width MCS index Spatial streams
13″, Late 2016, Four Thunderbolt 3 ports, with Touch Bar ac @ 5 GHz 1300 Mbps 80 MHz 9 (VHT) 3
13″, Late 2016, Four Thunderbolt 3 ports, with Touch Bar a/n @ 5 GHz

b/g/n @ 2.4 GHz

450 Mbps 40 MHz 23 (HT) 3
15″, Late 2016 ac @ 5 GHz 1300 Mbps 80 MHz 9 (VHT) 3
15″, Late 2016 a/n @ 5 GHz

b/g/n @ 2.4 GHz

450 Mbps 40 MHz 23 (HT) 3
13″, Late 2016, Two Thunderbolt 3 ports ac @ 5 GHz 1300 Mbps 80 MHz 9 (VHT) 3
13″, Late 2016, Two Thunderbolt 3 ports a/n @ 5 GHz

b/g/n @ 2.4 GHz

450 Mbps 40 MHz 23 (HT) 3
Retina, 15″, Mid 2015 ac @ 5 GHz 1300 Mbps 80 MHz 9 (VHT) 3
Retina, 15″, Mid 2015 a/n @ 5 GHz

b/g/n @ 2.4 GHz

450 Mbps 40 MHz 23 (HT) 3
Retina, 13″, Early 2015 ac @ 5 GHz 1300 Mbps 80 MHz 9 (VHT) 3
Retina, 13″, Early 2015 a/n @ 5 GHz

b/g/n @ 2.4 GHz

450 Mbps 40 MHz 23 (HT) 3
Retina, 15″, Mid 2014 ac @ 5 GHz 1300 Mbps 80 MHz 9 (VHT) 3
Retina, 15″, Mid 2014 a/n @ 5 GHz

b/g/n @ 2.4 GHz

450 Mbps 40 MHz 23 (HT) 3
Retina, 13″, Mid 2014 ac @ 5 GHz 1300 Mbps 80 MHz 9 (VHT) 3
Retina, 13″, Mid 2014 a/n @ 5 GHz

b/g/n @ 2.4 GHz

450 Mbps 40 MHz 23 (HT) 3
Retina, 15″, Late 2013 ac @ 5 GHz 1300 Mbps 80 MHz 9 (VHT) 3
Retina, 15″, Late 2013 a/n @ 5 GHz

b/g/n @ 2.4 GHz

450 Mbps 40 MHz 23 (HT) 3
Retina, 13″, Late 2013 ac @ 5 GHz 1300 Mbps 80 MHz 9 (VHT) 3
Retina, 13″, Late 2013 a/n @ 5 GHz

b/g/n @ 2.4 GHz

450 Mbps 40 MHz 23 (HT) 3
Retina, 15″, Early 2013

Retina, 13″, Early 2013

a/n @ 5 GHz

b/g/n @ 2.4 GHz

450 Mbps 40 MHz 23 (HT) 3
Retina, 15″, Mid 2012

Retina, 13″, Late 2012

a/n @ 5 GHz

b/g/n @ 2.4 GHz

450 Mbps 40 MHz 23 (HT) 3
15″, Mid 2012

13″, Mid 2012

a/n @ 5 GHz

b/g/n @ 2.4 GHz

450 Mbps 40 MHz 23 (HT) 3

MacBook Air computers

Model 802.11 compatibility Maximum transmit rate Channel width MCS index Spatial streams
13″, Early 2015 ac @ 5 GHz 866 Mbps 80 MHz 9 (VHT) 2
13″, Early 2015 a/n @ 5 GHz

b/g/n @ 2.4 GHz

300 Mbps 40 MHz 15 (HT) 2
11″, Early 2015 ac @ 5 GHz 866 Mbps 80 MHz 9 (VHT) 2
11″, Early 2015 a/n @ 5 GHz

b/g/n @ 2.4 GHz

300 Mbps 40 MHz 15 (HT) 2
13″, Early 2014 ac @ 5 GHz 866 Mbps 80 MHz 9 (VHT) 2
13″, Early 2014 a/n @ 5 GHz

b/g/n @ 2.4 GHz

300 Mbps 40 MHz 15 (HT) 2
11″, Early 2014 ac @ 5 GHz 866 Mbps 80 MHz 9 (VHT) 2
11″, Early 2014 a/n @ 5 GHz

b/g/n @ 2.4 GHz

300 Mbps 40 MHz 15 (HT) 2
13″, Mid 2013 ac @ 5 GHz 866 Mbps 80 MHz 9 (VHT) 2
13″, Mid 2013 a/n @ 5 GHz

b/g/n @ 2.4 GHz

300 Mbps 40 MHz 15 (HT) 2
11″, Mid 2013 ac @ 5 GHz 866 Mbps 80 MHz 9 (VHT) 2
11″, Mid 2013 a/n @ 5 GHz

b/g/n @ 2.4 GHz

300 Mbps 40 MHz 15 (HT) 2
13″, Mid 2012

11″, Mid 2012

a/n @ 5 GHz

b/g/n @ 2.4 GHz

300 Mbps 40 MHz 15 (HT) 2
13″, Mid 2011

11″, Mid 2011

a/n @ 5 GHz

b/g/n @ 2.4 GHz

300 Mbps 40 MHz 15 (HT) 2
13″, Late 2010

11″, Late 2010

a/n @ 5 GHz

b/g/n @ 2.4 GHz

300 Mbps 40 MHz 15 (HT) 2

MacBook computers

Model 802.11 compatibility Maximum transmit rate Channel width MCS index Spatial streams
Retina, 12″, Early 2015 ac @ 5 GHz 866 Mbps 80 MHz 9 (VHT) 2
Retina, 12″, Early 2015 a/n @ 5 GHz

b/g/n @ 2.4 GHz

300 Mbps 40 MHz 15 (HT) 2

 

Roam

iOS 10 and Cisco wireless controller releases include support for two wireless network improvements, Adaptive 802.11r and QoS Fast lane. Any device running iOS 10 or later supports QoS Fast lane.

Wi-Fi optimization

iOS devices and Cisco networks recognize each other, allowing the device and network to use the latest Wi-Fi technologies to optimize the experience. Both roaming and device battery life have been improved with features like:

  • 11k to deliver the list of neighboring access points
  • 11r (Adaptive 802.11r) to help iOS devices quickly and securely roam between access points on the same network
  • 11u to enable easy and secure Wi-Fi service discovery and connection
  • 11v to help identify the optimal wireless access points for roaming

See the table below for a list of devices and their supported 802.1X protocols.

802.11k

802.11k allows your iOS device to quickly identify nearby access points (APs) that are available for roaming. When the signal strength of the current AP weakens and your device needs to roam to a new AP, it will already know which AP is the best to connect with.

802.11r

802.11r streamlines the authentication process using a feature called Fast BSS Transition (FT) when your iOS device roams from one AP to another on the same network. FT allows iOS devices to associate with APs more quickly. Depending on your Wi-Fi hardware vendor, FT can work with both preshared key (PSK) and 802.1X authentication methods.

Adaptive 802.11r

Adaptive 802.11r allows you to set up a network without explicitly enabling Fast Transition. This configuration still grants the option of FT to devices running iOS 10 or later. Supported devices running iOS 10 or later and Cisco APs mutually signal that adaptive 802.11r is supported by the network and that FT can be used. Legacy wireless clients that don’t support 802.11r can still join the same network but won’t benefit from faster FT roaming.

802.11v

802.11v provides additional information about nearby APs that could be optimal candidates to join. When iOS decides it needs to roam, the BSS transition data (supplied by the network) helps iOS quickly decide which APs are best for roaming.

QoS prioritization of apps

Various standards exist (802.1p, DSCP, 802.11e/WMM) to help network devices agree on how different types of traffic are marked to ensure higher priority. QoS Fast lane greatly simplifies this agreement process between wireless client, wireless network, and wired network so that application packet congestion is minimized and time-sensitive traffic (like voice or video) is delivered on time. Organizations can then install on iOS devices a configuration profile that allows only specific business apps to get priority. The Cisco network looks for these markings and provides the correlated service level.

Roaming optimization support

The table below shows which iOS devices can support 802.11k, 802.11r, and 802.11v. Even if an iOS device doesn’t support 802.11r, iOS 5.1 or later supports pairwise master key identifier (PMKID) caching, which can be used with some Cisco equipment to improve roaming between APs. Additional SSIDs might be necessary to support both FT–capable iOS devices and PMKID–caching iOS devices. Also, sticky key caching (SKC) is a form of PMKID caching that optimizes roaming back to previously associated access points. SKC isn’t equivalent to, or compatible with, opportunistic key caching (OKC).

iOS device Adaptive 802.11r 802.11k/r 802.11v iOS 6 or later supported methods
iPad Pro or later, iPhone 6s or later, iPhone SE Yes Yes Yes FT, PMKID caching
iPad Pro, iPhone 5c/5s or later, iPad Air or later, iPad mini 2 or later No Yes Yes FT, PMKID caching
iPhone 4s or later, iPad 3rd generation or later, iPad mini or later, iPod touch 5th generation or later No Yes No FT, PMKID caching
iPhone 4 or earlier, iPad 2nd generation or earlier, iPod touch 4th generation or earlier No No No PMKID caching

Note: Unless you are running Cisco’s AireOS 8.3 or later on your wireless controller, you need to explicitly enable 802.11k, 802.11r (FT), and 802.11v functionality on your network.

 

Best Practices for WiFi:

Enterprise_Best_Practices_for_iOS_devices_and_Mac_computers_on_Cisco_Wireless_LAN

 


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