2019 Wireless LAN Professional Conference Overview

By February 27, 2019WiFi Monitoring

Last week I attended the Wireless LAN Professionals Conference for the third year in a row . It was great to be part of this conference for another year in a row – I left, feeling that I am part of a community that is growing and becoming stronger each year.

The participants cover the spectrum of rookies all the way to very experienced WiFi professionals. I consider myself part of the former and I try to learn from the latter. Apart from socializing and getting to know each other, the conference’s purpose is to share knowledge. It’s a mix of both brief as well as, more in-depth, technical talks from WiFi engineers. In addition there are a number of deep-dive sessions that really help you get your hands dirty with what fits your interest and needs.

In this post, I’d like to highlight few of the talks I especially enjoyed. To be honest, I missed most of the first day due to work that Ι had to do, but the following two days, were rewarding.

VR WiFi Design

One of the most impressive new technologies was the demo by iBWave. One of their most well known products is a WiFi design suite that helps to analyze and design WiFi installations. There are several products along those lines, typically giving you a 2D heat map of the WiFi signal coverage based on the AP placement on the venue’s floor plan. iBWave riding the Virtual Reality bandwagon demoed a version that allows you to walk inside the floor plan, place AP, and visualize the WiFi spectrum!

Pretty impressive technology! However, I am skeptical as to whether it will catch on. In most cases, I don’t consider it to be very practical to walk through the complete floor plan of a building in order to inspect the WiFi spectrum.

WiFi Authentication in Plain English

One of the most entertaining moments was when @HeyEddie broke down how to use Wireshark to explain how WiFi works to a layman:

Although the whole auditorium erupted in laughter, Eddie Forero was teaching an important lesson: ELI5 how WiFi works. I am sure everyone has been asked by their parents or grandparents what they do for a living. Now we just needs to show them Eddie’s slide.

Crowdsourced DFS Maps

https://dfsmap.eight02.me/

Joshua Williams (@802dotMe) touched upon a very hairy subject: DFS channels. For WiFi engineers, it is heartbreaking to waste available spectrum.

Two of the main  reasons WiFi administrators don’t use DFS channels are the fact that it’s unpredictable if they can be used, and when using them we don’t really know who else is broadcasting on the same spectrum. Peter’s idea to ease these fears is to crowdsource DFS hits on a map.

With that, we can get a rough estimate if weather radars would interfere in our area and how often. That can guide us to say “yay” or “nay” to DFS channels for a particular installation, since conditions may be very different depending on your location.

Of course, as with every crowdsourcing project, its success is based on the participation of enough volunteers to create a critical mass. If you want to help with this you can sign up at https://dfsmap.eight02.me/

WLA Mentorship Program

Peter Mackenzie (@MackenzieWiFi) talked about a new initiative by the Wireless LAN Association (https://wlanassociation.org/): the mentorship program. The goal is to connect young WiFi professionals that are looking for mentorship with mentors that are willing to help them achieve their career goals. Mentees looking for a mentor will be part of a list, and available mentors will choose who they would like to work with. For example, if you are looking to prepare for a certification, you will be able to list that as your goal, and any mentors that can help with the specific subject will be able to offer their guidance.

In his closing remarks, Keith Parsons announced that he will be looking for a new venue since this year there were more than 300 attendees and the sign up process was oversubscribed. Looking forward to a bigger and better WLPC 2020!