Cisco Spectrum Expert

Unanswered Question
Jul 6th, 2010

I've been using Airmagnet Spectrum Analyzer, it's been giving me some issues. Been looking at Cisco Spectrum Expert and Airmagnet Spectrum Analyzer XT. Just like to know some folks opinions on one or the other. If one may be a little better or have an upside over the other one.



I have this problem too.
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Overall Rating: 4.5 (2 ratings)
Leo Laohoo Tue, 07/06/2010 - 15:23

Cisco Spectrum Expert, unfortunately, won't be releasing any new products.  This is because of the dying gasps of the decline of PCMCIA card slots.  Airmagnet XT has recognized this so you'll be able to use their proprietary antennae via USB.  This is why Airmagnet (now owned by Fluke since 2009) gets updated/upgraded regularly.

But don't worry, the business unit for the Spectrum Expert has "rolled in" this product into the new CleanAir Technology.  Cisco's newest AP, the 3500, now boast a built-in spectrum analyzer and all you need is a WLC running 7.X and off you go!

Hope this helps.  Please don't forget to rate useful posts. 

brock0150 Wed, 07/07/2010 - 06:01

Thanks. You pretty much reassured what I thought.

Version 7, it hasn't been out long enough for me to make that jumb. But when I do make the move, I could only hope that the folks with the deep pockets would allow me to purchase the 3500s.

Thanks again.


Leo Laohoo Wed, 07/07/2010 - 15:07

Just to sweeten the deal, Cisco has a "cashback" for every old AP, switch, router.  So if you want to purchase, say, 5 WAPs, (if memory servers me correctly), Cisco will discount US$50 per unit if you hand them back 5 old APs from any manufacturers (running or not).

Thanks for the ratings.

jiflorwi Wed, 07/21/2010 - 10:35

Let me correct one statement in here.  I can't officially talk about roadmap

items - however the Cisco Spectrum Expert product is not dead - or being replaced by CleanAir and the 3500 series AP's.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Having reviewed - and also owning an AirMagnet Spectrum XT I can say that it is a pretty neat tool and not bad for a first generation specan card.  Cognio and Cisco lead the way on this - and they did a pretty good job of replicating the hardware.  What makes Spectrum Expert and CleanAir useful however is being able to fully evaluate what device is causing the issue.  And to do this you have to be able to not only identify a device - but accurately isolate it's power and duty cycle.

Power and classification are there in the AirMagnet product.  However they are not able to develop a duty cycle for a given classification event.  So while you might accurately see that you have several cordless phones - each of these devices has a duty cycle that is interfereing with the spectrum.  And - that duty cycle knowledge is what allows you to prioritize your troubleshooting.

I have used these tools for years now - and I can tell you for certain not all interference is created equally.  In fact - most devices that you will see are not terribly over taxing in a wi-fi environment.  Identifying the culprit comes down to seeing how persistant one of them is compared to another.  The higher the duty cycle - the less airtime left over and the more frequent the interruptins and recovery for wi-fi.

They do show you a swept view of the spectrum duty cycle - however this is of the full spectrum and does not allow you to isolate a single transmitter.

Leo Laohoo Sun, 07/25/2010 - 15:46

Thanks for setting the records straight.  Greatly appreciated it.

imuratov Fri, 07/23/2010 - 08:26

Spoke to couple of guys at Cisco Live 2010 and they did let me know that there will be a new version of Cisco Spectrum Expert coming out shortly and a new version Spectrum Expert software 4.0 shortly. Not quite sure what type of card it will be.

brock0150 Mon, 08/02/2010 - 05:19

Did they give any indication as to when the newer version would be released?

imuratov Mon, 08/02/2010 - 08:38

Not sure when, but they told me that the 4.0 software will not be compatible with my

current Cognio wireless card that i bought from Airmagnet.

Leo Laohoo Mon, 08/30/2010 - 15:36

Dude, you are getting a +5 from me!

A Note on Spectrum Connect. At the present time - you can only connect a single Spectrum Expert session to one or the other radio on the AP. ...
Posted At: 08-12-10
By: Jim Florwick

greenphp1 Wed, 09/22/2010 - 15:22

Does anyone know where we can get the /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} Spectrum Expert Connection (version 4)? Is it available for free and do not  required any additional spectrum PCMCIA card?


J_Vansen_S Sun, 10/31/2010 - 00:54

Does anyone know where we can get the Spectrum Expert Connection (version 4)? Is it available for free and do not  required any additional spectrum PCMCIA card?

Hi i am also looking for the same answer; if it is available for free and does not require any card. Just the software & a laptop, connecting to the CleanAir AP.

PLease kindy advise

brock0150 Mon, 11/15/2010 - 07:51

I've been using the 3500s a lot. really like them. Wish they would release the SE connect software, but at least it's on the way. But I still need a spectrum analyzer card/software for a laptop. Have a few instances where I need to roam outside of buildings and in areas were there are few WAPs.

Is there a card/software(Cisco or noncisco) that can basically do what the 3500s can do? Mainly show how much of the duty cycle an individual interfer is taking, allowing me to not waist time tracking less critical interferers?  With my old spectrum analyzer it just gave an overview of the whole duty cycle but nothing specific. If only Cisco could take chipset in the 3500s and put it in a USB adapter, that would be awesome.



emresumengen Mon, 02/21/2011 - 15:31

Hello brock0150,

Actually Cisco Spectrum Expert was first of all a local (as in local-to-pc-card) solution that had two components: software and pcmcia card (with either internal or external antenna).

You should check if you haven't already.

And here's the ordering guide for Spectrum Expert:




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