My ECSE Troubleshooting Course Experience (Part 2 – Technical Review)

In part 1, I briefly described my experience with the ECSE Troubleshooting Course from a non-technical view based on the first 2 days of the course. In this post, I will discuss my experience from a technical point of view after I have completed this course and attained its associated certification.

ECSE Troubleshooting Course from Ekahau University

If you check the course name, Ekahau Certified Survey Engineer – Troubleshooting Course you would expect this course from Ekahau University to be heavily focused on Ekahau products and how Ekahau products can be used to troubleshoot Wi-Fi networks. I was afraid that it will be more “Ekahau” centered approach but luckily it was not. This course was designed with a primary focus on troubleshooting Wi-Fi networks in general and Ekahau products were just a tool part of the troubleshooting tool-set. At the end, we know that one must choose the right tool for the job and this course clearly demonstrated this.

If you check the course outline, you will notice the following:

  • Day 1 was all about understanding how Wi-Fi works. It was a very informative day with a refresher for all the main concepts. It was very interesting to discuss how all the built-in mechanisms from Power Detect, Energy Detect, NAV and Inter Frame Spacing make Wi-Fi slow by design! You need to understand how Wi-Fi works to be able to troubleshoot it. Day 1 was like a crash course on how Wi-Fi works!
  • The real fun started in Day 2. To troubleshoot the wireless network, we had to consider the complete service chain. We spent hours focusing on the troubleshooting process and possible things that can go wrong. For me, the nicest part was clearly specifying the vital signs (channel utilization, retry rates and MCS rates) for a properly operating wireless network and how to measure them. I was initially surprised about the lack of focus on Wi-Fi throughput testing even though I was expecting WLANPi to play a big role here! I had this struggle with many of our customers explaining that throughput on wireless has limited value and it will vary from device to device, from time to time. Now, it is easier for me to educate my customers based on the conversations that we had.
  • I can summarize Day 3 as demoing the Power of Ekahau tools. In this day, Ferney demoed many of the spectrum analysis capabilities of Ekahau and showed the real power of the Ekahau Pro. I used to enjoy how Ferney used to get a new tool from his boxes and start explaining its impact on the spectrum. I also loved how he demoed the sticky client problem on Ekahau Pro. At the end of the day, it was clearly engraved in our mind that most interference in Wi-Fi comes from Wi-Fi!
  • Day 4 – It was a less loaded day with a more focus on soft skills. I liked the scenario based game where everyone had to describe a wireless issue that they received and other students had to ask some questions to figure out the root cause of the issue. At the end of this day, we sat for the exam which in my opinion was very well written and it tested clearly that we did all the labs and were able to understand all the 6 petals of troubleshooting (Investigate, Measure, Validate,Interrogate, Analyze, Manage)

What I really loved about the course was the Ferney’s teaching approach. He really valued our time and he didn’t waste any minute uselessly. If he noticed that the labs can be done alone, he would tell us to do them alone at night while we focus on something more beneficial in class. This really made a big difference because the experience and knowledge that was shared by Ferney were in my opinion “the crème de la crème“! For every technical question, he had the proper Ekahau file to show to explain this concept/issue! Another thing that I liked is his constant referencing to other WLAN professional sessions. Finally, I loved his well organized and equipped setup which made the online course flow smoothly without any issue.

From my side, I would definitely recommend anyone working in Wi-Fi (design, support, troubleshoot) to attend this course with Ferny in particular. I think Ferney made a huge difference in raising the bars for this course to make it more beneficial for all the students. I am sure this course will help me in my journey to keep learning and getting better at what I do. There is always so much more to learn…

Finally, I think this course can be enhanced to contain more updated information on 802.11ax as the technology becomes more mature. I do understand that many of the fundamental concepts are the same, but I think new issues should be considered like impact on packet capturing with OFDMA, impact of WPA3, BSS coloring…etc.

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