Cisco Now Offers Cardboard Nesting Wireless Access Points

The Stupid Shipping Gang strikes again! Their visit to Cisco led to a lovely set of matryoshka wireless access points being shipped to an unsuspecting university in Oregon. Reader Eliot had the confusing experience of opening these packages, and took pictures of the process and the mind-boggling pile of waste it left behind.

I work as an IT employee for the University I also attend. The campus has been deploying wireless access points to most of its buildings over the last few years, and one task I’ve had during my attendance is to install the APs in the buildings. This of course involves un-boxing each of over 250 AP units so far (we’re a small school but damn if we aren’t still paying through the nose for this equipment). Attached are pictures of everything I am about to describe.

Just today I unboxed 27 AP units. No big deal at first glance, they are shipped 5 to a box from Cisco, fairly innocuous looking. However, inside the 1 large box are 5 smaller boxes, 1 per AP unit. Inside the top of each box is a removable cardboard insert, in which there are 2 paper pamphlets and 2 paper booklets, as well as the AP unit with a sticker on it, in its own bag. Flip a cardboard flap to reveal the bottom of the box containing 3 more bags; bag 1 has the AC brick with a twisty tie, bag 2 bag has the power cord with another twisty tie, and bag 3 has 3 smaller bags in it. Inside bag 3A there are 2 smaller packets. Packet 3Ai has 2 plastic drywall sockets and packet 3Aii has 2 screws for the sockets. Bag 3B has 3 more bags in it. Bag 3Bi has a flush mounting bracket and a silica package. Bag 3Bii has a raised mounting bracket and another silica package. Bag 3Biii has 5 tiny screws of which we use 4 just because we can, but could easily get away with using only 2. Going back to the third of the inner bags, there are again 3 more bags. Bag 3Ci has a large mounting plate and yet another silica package. Bag 3Cii has a lockable insert plate and Bag 3Ciii has A SINGLE TINY SCREW of which I have yet to determine its purpose.

All told that is 8 screws, 2 plastic things, 3 silica packets, 2 twisty ties, 4 fabricated metal things, 4 items of paper, 1 sticker, lots of cardboard, the actual AP unit, and FIFTEEN BAGS of varying sizes. Keep in mind we can only get Cisco support if we exclusively use their products (which we do) so we don’t even use the power bricks or cords because the Cisco switches support Power over Ethernet. So of that entire list of contents, we only need to use the AP unit, 3 pieces of metal, and 2 screws. We then also have to purchase the necessary ethernet cables of varying lengths (all of which come in individual bags with individual twisty ties) and tiny padlocks for each AP unit (fortunately they come in bulk).

The last 2 pictures are of the amount of trash that comes from JUST 27 AP units, as I mentioned we have deployed over 250 to date. Fortunately my school has a fairly robust recycling program (I’m in Oregon after all) so the only actual trash are the silica packets. I shudder to actually imagine the amount of trash that would come from a similar deployment at a school 10 times our size, in a city that perhaps doesn’t emphasize recycling as much (of which I’m sure there are at least 50 if not 100 in the nation).

For a while I wasn’t sure of Cisco’s reputation after they bought the Linksys name, but while they do make solid enterprise products (if not vastly overpriced), I wish they would be a little more conscious of their environmental impact. Each of the bags I came across is labeled with the country of origin. 1 screw was from Hong Kong, the metal plates were from China, the AP was I believe made in Singapore and some other parts were from Korea. Now consider how much waste that is creating at those variety of factories around Asia…

Anyways, just trying to make people aware and if nothing else laugh at the ridiculousness of the unboxing I did today! Enjoy!

The packaging for just a few access points is enough to build a totally awesome fort, with a soft plastic bag nest inside.