Since 2014, technical geeks from around the world assemble for what is clearly a very different kind of IT conference… the wirelessLAN Professionals Conference (WLPC). This is a conference where all the attendees are Wi-Fi geeks, and all the presenters are Wi-Fi geeks. And I use the phrase, Wi-Fi geeks, in an affectionate manner, because whenever this conference takes place, I always jump in a plane to go hobnob with my brethren Wi-Fi geeks.
WLPC the brainchild of longtime Wi-Fi industry professional, Keith Parsons, who basically put this conference together for himself because he loves the subject matter. And lo and behold, many other geeks practice the art of Wi-Fi design, deployment, and troubleshooting. As a result, the conference has grown in size and popularity.
The 2022 conference in Phoenix, Arizona was extra special because it was the first one to run in two years because of the holding pattern we have all been in since the start of the pandemic. For many of us, this was the first time we had traveled and/or assembled for business in two years. By the way, when I say business, I should note that this conference is more about Wi-Fi fun and games. The entire point of the WLPC is so Wi-Fi professionals can share knowledge and learn about Wi-Fi as well as other wireless networking technologies.
Although networking vendors are invited and actively participate, this is not a conference for marketing, sales pitches, or vendor booths. This is a conference for Wi-Fi geeks.
So, what exactly happens at this three-day Wi-Fi event? As I mentioned, there is a lot of learning and presentations where attendees share their knowledge. Every year anyone can submit a proposal for one of the speaking slots. The technical community then votes via Twitter and SurveyMonkey as to which Wi-Fi topics they would like to hear and see at the conference. The topics are usually engaging, fun, and sometimes provocative. This year, over 30 people took the stage to present about something they are passionate about regarding wireless networking. The presentations range from 10 minutes to 55 minutes in length.
Peter Mackenzie kicked off the 2022 conference with a presentation where he stated, “It is Impossible to Calculate Wi-Fi Capacity.” Also, Peter is always good to perform a few magic tricks while on stage.
There was also a lot of discussion about the technical aspects of Wi-Fi 6E and how the 6 GHz spectrum will take us to new journeys – I believe there were five presentations about Wi-Fi 6E including mine: “6 GHz Wi-Fi – It’s Almost Like Wi-Fi is being Born Again.”
Wi-Fi geeks love their technical toys, and one key highlight of the conference was Jerry Olla announcing updates to the WLAN Pi Pro project. 6 GHz packet captures are now a possibility!
Did I mention fun and games? Every night there are a lot of entertainment choices. Various vendors host cocktail parties. There is a retro video-gaming event, a Lego-building contest, a Wi-Fi Trivia contest, and a Wi-Fi podcast recording session where the hosts and guests drink a lot of whiskey.
Another big part of the conference is “hands-on” learning sessions called “Deep Dives.” Each day the attendees split into separate groups for specialized three-hour trainings. Some examples of this year’s deep dive sessions include CBRS, Antennas 101, LoraWAN home labs, and 3D Printing for WLAN Pros.
WLPC takes place every February in Phoenix, Arizona. Every October, a European version of the conference also takes place. And it looks like a Latin American version of the conference is becoming a regular event. I believe there are plans for it to run in July/2022 in Mexico City. This event has truly built a community of WLAN professionals, or as my friend Ferney Muñoz says… “La Familia.”
Ferney Munoz and Marcus Burton
By far the most popular technical Wi-Fi conference is the wirelessLAN Professionals Conference, held multiple times every year in different regions of the world. All the speaker presentations are also made available for free as videos, post-conference. You can learn more about the wirelessLAN Professionals Conference at www.wlanpros.com. Wi-Fi technology has literally changed our world. If you love Wi-Fi as much as me and my fellow geeks, please attend a future WLPC. I hope to see you there!