Wireless LAN Professionals Conference: It’s all about the people

By Jake Snyder, Blog Contributor
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One of the best parts of the wireless industry is that there are so many wireless professionals willing to share their knowledge, experience and techniques with others.  We see it all the time in the twitter community and at vendor sponsored conferences like Atmosphere.  One of the truly unique events in the wireless Industry is the Wireless LAN Professionals Conference (  This conference, put on by industry veteran Keith Parsons (@keith.r.parsons) is all about the people.

So what makes this conference different?
Who puts the conference on?
Keith is the organizer and he does a great job of soliciting feedback from the community on everything from where the conference will be held, what kind of content people want, and finding presenters from the community.  He also works with technology companies in the industry to provide tools, and equipment that wireless professionals need in their attendee bags.  There is a tremendous amount of equipment, software and tools in the bag, enough to give any engineer all the tools they would need as a wireless professional.  Keith has said before that he builds this conference to be something that he wants to go to.  It's been successful because a lot of other professionals want to go to it too.
Who are the people in attendance?
The 160ish people who flew to Dallas, TX for this event are just like you and me.  All segments of our industry are represented, from vendors and VARs to carriers and operators.  I was privileged enough to meet wireless superstars operating at the highest levels and those just trying to keep their wireless network running. For those of you attending vendor conferences, you will find this exceptionally small and intimate.
Who are the presenters?
This is one of the cooler parts of this conference.  You have to be an attendee in order to present.  So the presenters are the attendees who feel passionately about something in our wireless industry.  During the closing keynote, Keith Parsons mentioned that about 20% of the attendees were presenters.  I have to give kudos to the vendors for letting their employees present.  I'm sure a lot of them might want to keep their employees and presentations for their own conferences.  It is astonishing the info and the level of detail presented and the general attitude to sharing knowledge and experience.
What are the presentations like:
There are two types of presentations: 1 hour and Ten Talks.  Ten talks are quick 10 minute talks that are laser focused on a very specific topic.  The hour long talks allow for the presenter to get deep into a specific topic.  These are my favorite, and the presenters did not disappoint.  Some of my favorites this year were Andrew von Nagy's (@revolutionwifi) presentation on capacity planning, and Chuck Lukaszewski's presentation on very high density best practices and test results.  Both were highly practical to me and i think most wireless engineers can get a lot of benefit out of these presentations.
What about after-hours activities?
There was tons off stuff going on after-hours at the conference.  You are on your own for dinner, so there was lots of going out for dinner/drinks/deserts.  Ben Miller organized an outing to a hockey game, there were also after hours recordings of the No Strings Attached Show (@NSAShow and the new video podcast Whiskey & Wireless (@WhiskeyNWifi  Big thanks to Aruba Networks for providing some of the refreshments for @WhiskeyNWifi and to Sean Rynearson (@Srynearson) and Pegah Kamal (@PegahKamal) for their bartending skills.   Jussi Kiviniemi (@jussikiviniemi) from Ekahau put on an optional evening training session on their Ekahau Site Survey product providing pizza and beer for all those participating.
Final thoughts:
This event is terrific.  In addition to learning a ton about designing, deploying and troubleshooting wireless, I got to meet some truly remarkable people and see old friends.  My mind was blown by some AMAZING presentations and I'm going to be spending the next few weeks seeing how I can incorporate some of this knowledge into my companies' wireless practice.  Thank you to Keith, all the sponsors and all the amazing individuals who make this conference what it is.