Wireless networking: Back to basics

Brandon Carroll, author of the CCNA Wireless Official Exam Certification Guide shares his must-dos for preparting for the CCNA Wireless Exam, some sage career advice, and an interesting personal profile.

This is part of a regular series that highlights new books and their authors. Also in this series: Joel Scambray on "Exposing the hacker's advantage."

CCNA Wireless Official Exam Certification Guide

What I like best about wireless technology, says Brandon Carroll, author of CCNA Wireless Official Exam Certification Guide is the freedom it offers to the end user and the rate at which the technology has advanced. Just a few years ago wireless products like the iPhone and netbook computers weren't even a thought. Today they are commonplace largely due to the availablilty of wireless technology.

I find that when people are just getting into wireless networking they can often be overwhelmed by the amount of information that is out there. They can also get lost in a maze of vendor specific features while overlooking core fundamentals of wireless networking. My advice would be to learn the fundamentals. Learn them inside out. Know the influences on wireless technologies as well as the ways to overcome them. Spend some time on the Cisco web site learning about the Cisco Unified Wireless Network (CUWN) and the components. Try to understand what their purpose is and what business challenges they solve. The sooner you get the big picture the easier it becomes to configure a wireless network as various parameters begin to take shape in your mind.


Name: Brandon Carroll

What I'm working on now: Right now I am working on the CCIE Security, Voice, and Wireless. Yes, three different tracks. I am the most serious about Security because of my time invested in it.

Favorite Web sites and hidden gems: I love the blogosphere. I blog regularly at http://www.globalconfig.net, and I also spend time finding hidden jems on sites like http://etherealmind.com, http://blindhog.net, and http://ccieblog.com.

Something most people don't know about me: I actually fell into networking about 12 years ago. Prior to that I was planning on being a firefighter. I was a paid volunteer for a few years though.

Philosophy: Never stop Learning. If you do you may never catch up.

Do you have any favorite commands you want to share? One thing that I find useful is the ability to run a debug for a specific client.

Begin with the command (Cisco Controller) >debug mac addr XX.XX.XX.XX.XX (where X's are the MAC address of the device in question)

Next run a debug, such as debug lwapp events. The output will be specific to LWAPP events from the MAC address that you enabled the debug for. To turn it off type debug disable-all

5 keys for success Speaking in terms of the CCNA Wireless Exam I would have to say that the 5 must-do's are:

  • Begin with the basics.
  • Once you have a solid foundation begin exploring the CUWN and its design.
  • Once you understand the CUWN start configuring the devices that are part of the CUWN. If you don' have any lab equipment read the configuation guides.
  • Review and understand the Cisco Mobility Express Solution.
  • Spend some time with troubleshooting Wireles Networks.

5 don'ts

  • Don't get caught up with other vendor implementations. Their proprietary methods will not help you pass this exam.
  • Don't forget to learn basic RF mathematics.
  • Don't get caught in the trap of spending too much time learning the Wireless Controllers (usually because that's what you have at work) and not enough time with the other technologies covered on the exam. The exam covers a lot of ground. Be prepared for that.
  • Don't forget that Practice makes Perfect. You need to get on real equipment.
  • Don't forget the practice questions that are included on the CD that comes with the book. You need to be prepared for the test-taking time constraints.

Who should read this book? This book is designed for Network Administrators that posess the CCNA or are planning on having the CCNA soon, and want to pursue the CCNA Wireless Specilization. The book is also filled with practical knowledge and will be beneficial for Wireless LAN Administrators.

What can readers expect to learn? Readers can expect to learn the topics covered on the CCNA Wireless Exam including Basic RF, Configuration of WLAN Controllers, AP Configurations, Cisco Mobility Express fundamentals, Cisco Wireless Control System fundamentals as well as useful test taking strategies.

Parting words: The CCNA Wireless is just the starting point. Already Cisco is certifying Experts with the recent release of the CCIE Wireless certification program. Keep progressing in your knowledge and you will only be helping yourself by opening up new opportunities.

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