We (human beings) have several weird superpowers, but the ability to communicate over vast distances has always fascinated me the most.
I've had the privilege of meeting some of the most truly capable pioneers in this field - but the reality here is that we're faced with a very unequal world.
Authors like William Gibson and Neal Stephenson have the right of things as well and while we're not quite living in that dystopian future, technology can become a great equalizer.
So yeah - as telecommunications operators we have the responsibility to bridge this gap!
I'm always surprised by how much there still is to learn, even in fields I feel like I already know. Here are a few learning approaches that will help you build out a good foundation for learning Wi-Fi (and more!):
- Amateur Radio: It's cheesy, sure. I'm amazed at how much my grown-up self can now do with amateur radio - I've been licensed since the '90s (
KL0NS) and the community is doing so much more now than ever. When I was very young, this was a good opportunity to learn the principles of radio outdoors.
- In Anchorage, Alaska we have it pretty good - KL7AA is a self-provided test provider, and they sell the study book I used way back when
- Everywhere else in the US, the test costs $15 and probably takes about 2 days to study for. There's no reason not to try it out and participate. Most of the study material is free, and we even get practice tests
- ARRL provides good ways to participate
- If you join a radio club they'll find different ways to exercise your brain, and they're usually pretty fun. In addition, you'll be helping maintain emergency communication networks.
- Get Certified. Also pretty cheesy, I know how people feel about IT certs and still would argue for in this case. For Wi-Fi, the CWNP organization tends to serve the same role as the Linux Professional Institute - employers don't know about them but it's really effective in terms of education.
Let's just cover some volunteer opportunities here - because there's no point in building skills if you don't use them:
- World Wi-Fi Day
- ITDRC These guys are really neat. The IT Disaster Resource Center leverages oldie-but-goodie enterprise telecom/IT equipment to provide disaster relief all over the continental US. Check out their deployment map!
- Airheads Volunteer Corp. I know this is a vendor plug, but this approach is really cool if you can travel!
- United Way
One of the passive effects of these approaches - you'll get better as you go. Employers nearly always constrain your learning path to what they need at the moment, often to their own detriment. They may not know what they'll need you to do next year, COVID showed us that. Volunteering not only gives you an opportunity to help others but also passively improves your skills outside of the usual "corporate playbook".