Last week I attended the Wireless LAN Professionals Conference in Phoenix, AZ. It was great to catch up with many WiFi friends and acquaintances along with getting to meet new ones. In this post, I will cover the highlights of the talks I attended (I didn’t all of them), and hopefully, I will motivate you to take the leap and not only participate next year but to also submit a talk proposal.

Keith Parsons opened the conference by welcoming everyone and provided some interesting statistics about the conference.

Note: 20% of the participants were also presenters in this conference;  Presentations from WiFi professionals FOR WiFi professionals – this is what makes the conference unique! The few vendor-specific talks were in the context of WiFi engineering and not a laundry list of features and marketing claims.

The first talk was by Blake Krone on “RRM and You” and, after this, the hashtag #wlpc caught fire. Blake preempted the potential audience uprising by saying that his talk wasn’t about the pros and cons of Radio Resource Management. That would have opened a big can of worms and it may have ended up in never ending debate, and maybe potential protests and riots!! He gave some very good takeaways on RRM on how to use it, if you choose to use it. He stressed out that RRM doesn’t replace WiFi design or WiFi engineers. You have to learn how RRM works, configure it, tune it, monitor its implementation, and, then rinse and repeat. There is nothing wrong with letting RRM converge and then freeze it – I like that one.

One of the final Ten Talks (these are 10-minute long presentations) was by GT Hill. Along with many others, he gave some very useful ‘rules of thumb’ on when it makes sense to have larger than 20 MHz channels:

  1. You don’t have budget for more APs
  2. You are one of the very, very, very few people that need 200 Mbps to one or two WiFi clients
  3. You actually have the data to backup that larger channels are OK in your environment

And some reasons to avoid wide channels are:

  1. Larger channels equal lower SNR
  2. More clients per AP equals more contention
  3. You could be creating co-channel interference
  4. You’ve fallen prey to marketing (and no one wants that)

The whole audience was nodding while GT was talking about this. Using larger than 20 MHz in enterprise environments is another subject that is beaten to death and the reality is that in enterprise environments, simple is better and more robust. I liked this talk because it gave me some rules of thumb to work with. I learned something new!

François Vergès and Glenn Cate gave a very interesting and memorable talk on “The Wild, Wacky, Weird, World of Warehouse WiFi.”

My takeaway was how unique and unpredictable warehouse environments are. If you decide to undertake such a project, you have to consider a number of parameters that you wouldn’t have to consider for a normal WiFi design and deployment project. Safety being one of them: you have to make sure you abide by the safety rules of the facility and disrupt the warehouse employees’ normal routines as little as possible. You might need to work off-hours to make everybody’s life easier during survey’s, testing, and deployment. And you have to be prepared to use equipment such as scissor and fork lifts, and potentially become certified in operating them – your CWNE certifications might not cut it there!

My talk was on how to prove that, “It’s Not the Network.” I will write a separate post on it, but I wanted to mention the following tweet that makes the effort I put in to give the talk worthwhile:

(Thank you for the pat on the back!)

The “Person of the Year Award” went to Lee Badman who has been one of the people that has nurtured and helped grow the community. His daily WiFi questions on Twitter (#WIFIQ) opens many discussions that help us learn and participate in lively debates. Well deserved!

I am looking forward to next year’s WLPC, and I hope to meet and chat with many more people in Phoenix.