I have just recently attended the Ekahau & Open Reality WiFi Design Day 2019 at the ICC in Birmingham and thought I would do a blog post to summarise my experience and thoughts.
This was my 3rd year in a row attending from the 1st one back in 2017 at the Churchill War Rooms, to the Barbican centre and then the ICC in Birmingham – this year I was attending as a speaker for the first time.
I really feel that there is no other event like this in the UK where you get the exposure to such a wealth of fantastic speakers, the opportunity to network with like-minded individuals & they throw in food + beers! For what is very little expense in comparison.
Big thanks to all the people over at Ekahau & Open Reality for the event but I want to say to Sam Cobley and Matt Cavill imparticular a huge thanks to these guys as I know how much personal time & effort they put into this event to make sure it’s always a massive success.
I will cover & highlight some of the presentations from the day below but disclaimer – I have not included every presentation from the day here as I did not attend them all!
When I first arrived at the ICC in Birmingham it wasn’t too difficult to work out where I needed to go from this nice display.
The line up for the day’s action, we took the liberty of highlighting what the people were saying was the most exciting & anticipated presentation of the day:
My 3rd year attending, first time speaking lanyard – a special day for me personally 🙂
I took this photo at what is arguably the most important part of the day – coffee time! We WiFi pros need that coffee first thing in the morning but it was equally as great to see that so many people were in attendance given the typically bad English weather that had caused extensive flooding & travel nightmares.
With nearly 300 tickets sold, we can see a packed crowd here and just how popular these WiFi Design days are becoming!
Anssi & Mikko kicked off the day by showing us some extremely cool & exciting new features that will be coming out very soon with Ekahau. You will now be able to moonwalk, drink a beer and survey – all at the same!
Ekahau never fails to amaze me with the innovations of the products they offer to us as WiFi Engineers and there is absolutely no way I would be able to do my job as effectively without having Ekahahu in my tool kit.
David Corbett gave us an interesting insight into the NHS Free WiFi rollout and how important WiFi really is seen now and no more as a “nice to have”. How much of a benefit & positive experience it brings to not only patients that use the WiFi extensively whilst at the hospital to stay in contact with loved ones but also for staff how much it is helping them also.
Next up to present was the original WiFi Legend himself, Mr. Keith Parsons! Keith took us through some tips, techniques, tools for troubleshooting WLANs. I have been lucky enough to be on one of Keith’s’ training courses, as well as seeing him present in person. There are few better in the WiFi industry than Keith and for him to share his knowledge and tips with us is one of the best parts of the day for me.
A couple of tips if you are at one of Keith’s presentations – make sure to put your phone on silent and ask permission if you want to record him, personally I would just suggest you sit back, enjoy and try to take in as much information as possible!
Keith also revealed some new training courses that are going to be available from the ECSE / WLAN Pros next year. ECSE Troubleshooting & ECSE Advanced – as well as offering the original ECSE Design still.
If like me you wanted to know when the next opportunity would be to go on one of these amazing training courses – here are some of the dates for 2020:
Mark gave us an insight into Eduroaming, from how it is deployed to how many unique devices they are seeing on the Eduroam network – Pretty impressive. This is a great concept and something I personally really want to see more of in the WiFi industry. Cisco is doing something very similar called “Open Roaming” where the handoff from 4/5G to WiFi is completely seamless and requires no interaction from the end-user – just how WiFi should be in my opinion.
Keeping up with the theme from last year where I featured on the WiFi design day YouTube video for feedback on the day – I was more than happy to get back in front of the camera again to tell everyone what a great day I had and why.
This was now after the lunch and the two breakout sessions or “tracks” started.
I attended track 2 as this was also where we would be presenting 🙂
First up was Nick Turner / Dick Burner – giving us a live demo of some of the new Ekahau features.
Next up in track 2 was the voice master, Andrew McHale. It is always a pleasure and insightful to listen to Andrew’s tips on voice for wireless – there is no doubt that he is one of the leading experts in the industry when it comes to the subject – so even though this was the 327273th time we had heard Andrew talk about voice over wireless – it was still amazing & extremely mind-blowing hearing Andrews knowledge of this subject.
I have highlighted my favourite tip from Andrews slide here 😀
This was mine & Mac’s first time presenting at the WiFi design day and we decided to talk about what we think is the most exciting thing about WiFi – RTLS! (Real-time location services) We first went through some theory on what is RTLS, different methods & techniques, etc and then had some real-world demos + testing that we had been doing throughout the year.
We then headed back into the main hall where Jim took us through an alternative view of what the 7Signal portfolio could bring to us by not using the WiFi monitoring tool for monitoring the WiFi – but using it to help us with designing WiFi.
The last presenter of the day was the Magician himself, Mr. Perter Mackenzie. The topic for Peter’s presentation was roaming analysis – where Peter covered the different methods & amendments available to help clients roam whilst giving us a deep dive view into the packets of how all of this happens.
This would have seemed like quite a dark art to me if I hadn’t have had the pleasure of sitting one of Peter’s CWAP courses this year so thankfully I could understand at least some of what Peter was saying :D.
Anyone thinking about going for their CWAP or just want to get a better understanding of how this fantastic protocol works, then I highly recommend you take one of Peters’s courses if you get the chance to.
Peter finished his presentation off by mentioning the WLA, all the great things they have coming up but also about the UK WiFi Guys Slack Chat.
This a great form of community and communicating with fellow WiFi pros in the UK – if you are not in the UK WiFi Guys Slack chat and would like to be, you can reach out to @WiFiNigel on twitter to get added.
This was a fantastic selfie that WiFi Nigel took, really catching his best angle here I think :D.
We finished the day off with a round table where some of the presenters were invited back on stage to take questions from the crowd & any questions that came in online. We were extremely honored to be invited back up to be on the round table to sit up there with some true WiFi legends and, Andrew McHale ;).
The only slightly negative feedback / constructive criticism was, and this is my completely unbiased opinion but I think that next year Open Reality / Ekahau should give the WiFi Ninjas a longer time slot and be on the main stage 😉
One final warning/ tip: if you go out with Alan Blake the night before a conference, you will have one of the best nights out you have ever had, but prepare appropriately for the hangover the next day. I would still highly recommend this experience to anyone as Alan is one of the most fun & nicest people I have met – who I always look forward to seeing at these events.
I hope you enjoyed my summary of the 2019 WiFi Design day, if you were there and would like to leave your feedback also – please feel free to post a comment below as I am sure the guys at Open Reality & Ekahau would love to know.
Lots of love,