Becoming a Wireless Super Hero – Part 1

In the first part of this multi-part blog, we will explore what it takes to be a Wireless Super Hero.

My family and I went to see Justice League over the holiday weekend and with all the super hero movies and TV shows over the last few years it got me to thinking, What is needed to become a Wireless Super Hero?

Growing up I was always more of a DC fan than Marvel and specifically I loved Batman and the Flash. They were the ones that had the smarts and other than the ability to run really fast, no actual powers. Batman being my absolute favorite (until Ben Affleck came along) has his wits, tools and Sidekick (see what I did there?). Over the next few blog posts we will explore how to become the World’s Greatest Wireless Detective and what would someone need to build a Wireless Bat Utility Belt and BatCave.

Meanwhile back at the Hall of JusticeSuperfriends-Justice-League-Hall-of-Justice

The first step in becoming the World’s Greatest Wireless Detective is what all super heroes have to start with, training. It doesn’t have to be crazy League of Shadows level training, but understanding of the basic concepts of wireless is a must for anyone trying to get their feet under them in an industry that at one point seemed to be all black magic and smoke and mirrors. In our next post we will start looking at the tools you need to hit the street and start getting hands-on in the fight against bad Wi-Fi.

When I first started in wireless about 18 years ago, the only training you could find was specific to manufacturers prior to the being any wireless standards or organizations. Each manufacturer used proprietary configurations. The designs were more or less the same when doing 900 MHz, then 2.4 came along and things got wild. We had Telxon doing DSSS and Symbol with their Spring radios and FHSS. To get the needed knowledge you would have to attend courses for each manufacturer to under the proper design configurations. Standards organizations finally came about and we finally were able to get training around actual wireless concepts it was still somewhat vendor dependent and most times you trained in whatever you were selling or supporting at the time.

We now have so many great options for vendor-neutral training that gets into the heart of Wi-Fi and the technology with the CWNP program. I had heard about it for years and had looked at the CWNA book multiple times and kept saying I would do it and then would always get sidetracked chasing squirrels. I finally sat down a few months ago and went through it and wished I had done it years ago. It helped to clear up some misunderstandings I had made in my own head for years and gave some good insight into why we do the things we do in wireless which helps me to communicate that back to my customers as well when they ask, instead of the old “That’s how we do wireless.”

The vendor-specific training seems to be going in the same direction over the last few years. The last couple I have done are of course specific to their technology, but they are also trying to add more of the overall concepts and under the sheets knowledge of wireless that engineers should have. Anyone can hang an AP. What makes an engineer good is when they can see why connectivity is lacking or throughput is choking and understand the concepts and reasons behind those issues and how to properly conduct a predictive survey then understand the results of validation testing and make the appropriate changes.

Becoming a Wireless Super Hero – Part 2 will be coming soon where we will discuss the wonderful toys to add to our utility belts.

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