Signals on the High Seas

December 6, 2010 - 3 Comments

I heard a pretty good story recently from one of my favorite people in the WLAN industry, a very sharp guy who recently changed employers. As I’ve not procured approval to use his name, we’ll forego that for now, but it’s a great story nonetheless and is an example of the power of social networking in the professional environment.

The scenario takes place aboard a modern cruise ship on which my colleague and another person in question has installed a vast wireless LAN; a total of 1,000 access points will be in operation by the time you read this, which places it among the very largest of WLAN’s on the planet. Ships, airplanes and cars commonly feature numerous types of wireless connectivity, including AM, FM, satellite radio, GPS, Bluetooth, mobile cellular, and more. Amazing.

The challenge in this story was that deep into the mobility deployment install effort, they ran into a major code snag. Fairly common if you’ve done these, in particular as the deployment moves toward two critical phases, incorporation of clients and layering on the security elements.
After lighting up the WLAN for the first time, they discovered the code in the controllers simply wouldn’t perform the functions they needed. Hundreds of miles from shore, and deep inside the bowels of the ship, they were in a bit of a jam. My colleague who is probably the best social networking person I know, sent out a tweet asking if any other engineer had encountered his problem and how did they resolve it. The result was quite interesting; within seconds, dozens of engineers from around the world had sent tweets in response. A number of them included url’s with an optimal code solution located.

The problem was resolved, the deployment phase concluded successfully, and the WLAN industry gained both strength and nimbleness as a result of this practice. I was impressed by this story because it demonstrates the power of connectivity. Not just just because my colleague was able to resolve this wireless, in real time, while buried deep within one of the world’s largest ships hundreds of miles out at sea, but more importantly, the human connectivity which allowed some of the top engineers in the world to communicate effectively without regard to borders of almost any type.

Mobility allows us to to change work from a location to an activity. Using that connectivity within a very large web of highly capable engineers allow us to resolve challenging problems in real time.

It’s perhaps the most exciting time I’ve seen yet in the twenty or so years I’ve been around wireless. I believe the very best and most exciting times are ahead of us, especially as we connect with our peers, both technically and professionally.

Full speed ahead.


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  1. Matthew– glad you enjoyed the post. Terrific to receive this feedback, and thank you for that.

    More importantly, wonderful to see another professional using a terrific tool to augment pervasive and real time access to key information. Keep us posted!

  2. Talking about the “Human Network”. FTW!

  3. Neil,

    What a great story! Social networking truly is powerful. I have found Twitter to be a great resource in my line of work. Far better than any other method I have used in the past to get information from my peers in the technical world. I can’t ever think of a time within the past year or so in which I have not been able to get timely answers for technical matters from the Twitter community. Much like the smart phone, I don’t quite remember how I got certain things done before social networking! While I do use things like Facebook for personal stuff, the bulk of social network interaction that I have is work related. Thanks again for a great story and reminder of the capabilities social networking can provide us.