What kind of networking background should I have before I learn Wi-Fi?

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  • Updated 4 years ago
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Here, in the first hour, we're going to be focusing on vendor-neutral resources for Wi-Fi education. David, the first question is simple, but very important, what kind of networking background should I have before I learn Wi-Fi?
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Tom Carpenter

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Posted 4 years ago

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David Coleman, Employee

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Hello eveyone. Thanks for joining us.  I would recommend at a minimum that you have a good understanding about the seven layers of the OSI model which every networking professional learns as they begin their careers.  By the way, 802.11 technology operates at layer 1 (Physical) and layer 2 (Data-Link/MAC) of the OSI model.  
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Rob Ceralvo

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A good foundation for network engineering is to know the OSI model - 7 Layers by heart; but really, I've seen many wifi admins doing fine without these basics. What wifi admins are more concerned of is how to improve the availability/strength/reliability of their wifi signal.
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Tracey Riley

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Rob what about security concerns.  Are their more with Wi-Fi or the same?
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Tracey Riley

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Hopefully not a lot.  Because I am new to all of this and just trying to learn and understand it all.  Especially the tech language.
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Thomas Bach

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Normally it will come along with working with the stuff
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Tom Carpenter

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Tracey, tech language is always a hurdle. Sometimes having some basic definitions of key terms during the learning process is helpful. We provide a starter help at CWNP here: http://www.cwnp.com/training/freeresources/wtod/ and here: http://www.cwnp.com/uploads/cwnpexamterms-2014_004.pdf
(Edited)
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Tracey Riley

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Thank-you.  I am a newbie and have been asked to learn more than I thought I would ever have to so that IT was further needed support.  I like it because it is challenging but do not always know where to start.
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Keith Miller

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As someone who is also fairly new to wireless, I found that having a strong background in routing and switching has helped understand things.
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David Coleman, Official Rep

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Well you have to start somewhere.  Learning the OSI model is important.  Network+ is a good certification to get started in networking basics
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Tom Carpenter

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In addition, an even more basic starting place that few know exists outside of higher ed is Microsoft's MTA certification called Networking Fundamentals (exam 98-366).
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Joël Stouwdam

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I did follow the this microsoft certification but I think I had knew more about Networking basics after following a HP network basic training. What do you guys think about this?
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Nicolas Maton

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I'd prefer to advice everyone to go for the CCNA Exploration, it gives you a solid networking basis, which will come in hand.
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David Coleman, Official Rep

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Understanding how Wi-Fi functions within these two layers is paramount to learning how to design and troubleshooting an 802.11 WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network).
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Anthony Zotti

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As someone who is just beginning the journey of CWNP, I can say that I just jumped right into wireless as my focus. While I am in charge of developing a new department across three offices, I have had to study routing, switching and WLAN but, have decided to concentrate on wireless. My experience has shown me that, at least in my industry (A/V and home automation), few people have even a beginners knowledge of the subject and I want to change that.
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Anthony Zotti

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I'd also mention that learning how to use tools like Wireshark helps a great deal, as well.
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Ernie Johnston

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RE: I want to change that
It is clever of you. Also, you can't be swayed by mis-information. The customer will believe the possessor of the certification.
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David Coleman, Official Rep

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 Although WLAN design and administration is very different, a background in wired networking is certainly a plus and probably necessary.  An 802.11 access point normally functions as a wireless portal into a pre-exiting wired infrastructure.  Proper integration of a WLAN into an enterprise network requires knowledge of VLANS, subnets, routing, firewall policies and much more.  An administrative background in layer 2 switching is a good start.   Knowledge about Active Directory and LDAP is also highly recommended.
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David Coleman, Official Rep

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I am curious....  people on the forum with WiFi experience.... what was your networking background before you pursued wireless? Everyone speak up!
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Nicolas Maton

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I've been in networking since 2K, but only have been working with wireless since 2010. 
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Rob Ceralvo

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Google wifi modem provider
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Bart Onnink

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Systemadministrator
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Codie Naquin

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I am currently a quote "PC technician", but i have been studying for my CCNA and have been working in networking for about 2 years now
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Jonas Dekkers

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system integrator
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Manoah Coenraad, Champ

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I prefer a certification such as CCNA. If you have the basic knowhow about networking it doesn't matter which vendor you're using.
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David Coleman, Employee

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Good point Manoah.....  CCNA might be a Cisco certification but it does offer a good foundation in networking
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Anthony Zotti

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Agreed. Fundamentals are the foundation and CCNA provides that.
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Gustavo Gomez Jr.

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I agree with CCNA since route and switch are the foundation of, voice,  wireless...

I like the CWNA premium that has the video on demand option, its more affordable than a bootcamp.

Is CWNP planning Video on demand for CWAP, CWSP and CWDP?
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Joël Stouwdam

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I agree with Manoah. CCNA is helping me a lot in WiFi-world
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Crowdie, Champ

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The CCNA certification has really become the "standard" for entry level LAN engineers and is a great course.
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Hans Matthé

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 B2B - Network and system engineer
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David Coleman, Employee

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I was a part-time network administrator at a Circuit Board Manufacturer
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Bryan Harkins

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I started with Networking Essentials before Net+ and then went much deeper with Operating systems and wired device management.


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Tom Carpenter

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I had worked in a division of a Fortune 500 company and we ran a layered multi-protocol network of Banyan Vines and TCP/IP with Windows 3.x clients and a few Windows 95 clients by the time I left in 1997.
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Andrei Ionescu

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Banyan Vines. That takes me back! StreetTalk was oddly ahead of its time.
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Nicolas Maton

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Token-ring anyone? :p
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Rob Ceralvo

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Throwback - remember Token Rings? ';)'
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Nate

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Thicknet and Vampire taps?
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Norman M

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Hello, also like Hans network and system engineer
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Willem Ruitenbeek

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Before attending the acwa training iT would be great we have à WiFi basic training and questionary before they join. There is huge differance in the level of attendees
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David Coleman, Employee

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Could not agree more Willem.  Most WLAN vendors recommend CWNA training as a perquisite to their own training
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Willem Ruitenbeek

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Could iT be an idea that before attending acwa training they have to fill in à small questionary, à first scan of there WiFi knowledge. Provider by aerohive
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Harmon Oostra

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Maybe Aerohive can make a couple of simple YouTube Wifi introductions people can see before attending the training.
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Manoah Coenraad, Champ

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That's a good idea Harmon
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David Coleman, Employee

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>>Maybe Aerohive can make a couple of simple YouTube Wifi introductions people >>can see before attending the training.

We have some plans on creating Wi-Fi 101 Computer based training modules in the near future
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alfmckim

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I worked at a WISP for 5 years, and was also a two-way radio tech for a year before that. As part of a two-man team running a 1100-customer WISP, I had to do a bit of everything.
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David Coleman, Employee

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I have seen a lot of people with RF backgrounds in the military learn networking and pursue WLAN careers
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Anthony Zotti

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Through my experience with Mikrotik, I have been meeting a lot of WISP guys and they are clever! They really do touch on everything.
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Andrei Ionescu

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Built a Netware 3.11 network at a young age and have been hooked since. Worked as a network engineer/sysadmin/integrator for a long time and now run two boutique IT consulting firms. 
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Hasso Tepper

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Every bit of knowledge about TCP/IP networking should help. You can't avoid any of the OSI layers while working on WiFi networks. I've found that general networking experience helps a lot (I've 10+ years of experience in routing/switching) and it isn't too hard to jump into WiFi. Most of work must be done in RF area, in which most of general networking engineers (including me) have very little experience.
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David Coleman, Employee

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CWNP program is a great start to learning about RF
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Andrei Ionescu

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Excellent point. While solid traditional networking can get you far; when it comes to fine tuning and optimizing, I've found that we start veering away from routing and switching and into the worlds RF and physics.
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Jesse Roose

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I have a basic understanding of wireless/networking. How much more in depth should I go if I just want to be able to optimize home wireless networks?
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Hans Matthé

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if it is just the goal to optimize a home network it is a lot of effort to dive just for that in the CWNA course. It is offcourse interesting material ... .
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David Coleman, Employee

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Optimizing home WLANs is no where near as complicated as enterprise WLAN.  I would suggest the CWTS certification if that is your goal
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Jesse Roose

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I get that it is more complex, but isn't managing a simple wireless network a building block into more sophisticated types of wireless network administration? 
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David Coleman, Employee

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Sure..... the RF concepts for all WLANs are the same 
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Channa Perera

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I was network engineer for 15 years. Last 2 years have exposer to some cisco wireless.
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Hans Matthé

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I started with CWNA, it's a great extension of the network knowledge and experience I already have. It is also clear that experience in networking is not enough because 'the air' is a very specific medium.
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David Coleman, Employee

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Thank you Hans......  glad to hear it helped!
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alexf

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is the cwna course already available in pdf version?it's not always practical to carry around such a heavy book. Thanks!
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David Coleman, Employee

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CWNA book is not available as a PDF.  A digital Kindle version on ITunes eBook version is available.
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Keith Miller

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I bet it's available on Safari as well if you have an account.
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Trudy Lindstrom

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David as an Administrative Assistant for the IT Dept. how can learning these skills assist me and the dept.?
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Tracey Riley

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Trudy, I am in your boat.  I am the Administrative Assistant for the VP of Data Services  over 15 branches for a Bank  I have realized more over the past several months the more I know the more I am able to understand the issues at hand as well as am able to help my co-workers communicate better if they are not understanding one another.  Also trouble shooting has become more of a part of my job than was originally intended.
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David Coleman, Employee

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Excellent point Martin. I would also recommend that as an administrative assistant... see if you can arrange to spend a day in the field with one of your company's WLAN engineers
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Nate

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I would suggest signing up for Juniper Fast Track
http://www.juniper.net/us/en/training/fasttrack/
They have a very nice web based training, I think about 5 hours or so that goes over network basics, subnetting, IPV6 and more. It has some nice quizzes and ending assessment test. All for free.



Juniper for some reason will send the password you sign up with to your email in clear text
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Nicolas Maton

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It will help you to optimize your network and finding problems. You can be sure that wi-fi is a lot more difficult to get working then Ethernet. Lot's of interference, etc ..
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Martin Ericson

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Most Engineers hate to write docs :-)
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David Coleman, Employee

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If you are to get a WLAN certification such as CWNA, you could work better with team that you are trying to support.   I have had a lot of non-technical sales employees take CWNA training so that they could speak the language and be more competitive
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Tracey Riley

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Thanks for the encouragement, I will look into this.
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Nick Lowe, Official Rep

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My background is just being passionate about all things tech and a Computer Science degree. I've approached Wi-Fi from perhaps a different perspective to most, I'm a software engineer who enjoys poking and disseminating computer networking tech to get a deep understanding of how and why things tick.

At some point, I'd like to make the jump and go and work for a wireless networking vendor in some form of development capacity. I'd love to help develop and have a strong input in to the software that runs on such devices.

Wireless networks are so intertwined with everything we do these days, I think it's essential to have a strong understanding of them. I'm entirely self taught in this area.
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Raymond Hendrix

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I Worked for 6 years in the military doing EW. They also paid for my IT certifications.
MCSA/MCSE/MCT
But knowing about radio and antenne techniques helped me with wi-fi a lot.
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Jake Hottes

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Does CWNA cover anything about antennae techniques?
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Raymond Hendrix

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Yes a fair bit.
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Matthew Gast

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Start with understanding how other link layers work.  Charles Spurgeon's Ethernet book for O'Reilly (appropriately, with an octopus on the cover) is excellent at introducing the most common of all the IEEE 802 network technologies.