by Dave Molta, Associate Professor of Practice in the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University
On Wednesday, April 9, noted wireless industry analyst Craig Mathias, principal of Farpoint Group, visited Syracuse University’s CCENT lab to share his insights about wireless LAN testing. I’ve known Craig for many years and I’ve always been impressed with his technical understanding of wireless systems, his steadfast efforts to systematically evaluate emerging wireless technologies, and his vision of the future. Although Craig was my “competitor” for many years – I was writing about wireless for Network Computing Magazine while he was doing similar work for Network World, that never prevented us from sharing notes on topics of mutual interest.
During his visit, Craig shared his experience and insights about wireless testing with students in my Introduction to Computer Networking (IST 233) and Enterprise Wireless Networks (IST 648) classes. In my undergraduate class, he stressed the importance of developing a clear understanding of where specific products fit into the market and the importance of developing clear evaluation criteria. He also encouraged those students to think more like entrepreneurs and also to take advantage of the many opportunities available at Syracuse University to launch a startup while still in school. For the graduate course, Mathias focused more on testing methodology and the significant challenges associated with systematic testing of WiFi technologies. These insights were helpful to students who are currently conducting testing of new products based on the IEEE 802.11ac “Gigabit WiFi” standard as well as systems that enhance the performance of multimedia applications on WiFi networks. You can view Craig’s presentation below,
Regarding 802.11ac, Mathias was very enthusiastic about the new capabilities associated with products built around this standard and he encourages IT professionals to embrace this new technology. While some IT professionals are tempted to wait for the second wave of 802.11ac products that support higher speeds and multiuser MIMO, Craig feels that current products offer real value, providing enhanced performance and capacity not only to newer client devices that support 802.11ac but also to older products based on 802.11n. In addition, Mathias sees 802.11ac as a stable standard that is likely to last a long time. While network administrators have sometimes been frustrated by the frequent product upgrade cycles prompted by new 802.11 standards, 802.11ac provides an inflection point of sorts, with performance and capacity that will easily meet enterprise needs for years to come.