Interview for Network World 'Q&A Living Legends': (2011)
Vic "Father of Wi-Fi" Hayes hardly fits the conventional image of a "legend." Soft-spoken on the phone, self-effacing, he's less a technological visionary and more of a problem solver. But Hayes was the first chair of the important 'IEEE 802.11 group', which in 1997 finalized the wireless standard for radios. The radio link would make connecting systems physically simpler, and eliminate the need to fiddle with proprietary protocols.
Although he had a radio background, thanks to his Dutch Air Force training, and NCR experience with data communications protocols, Hayes at first hesitated to accept the chairmanship, until a colleague assured him, "Vic, you can do this." "This" included a crash course in learning "Roberts Rules of Order." "I had to get a feeling for that," Hayes says, from his office at Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands, where, at 69, he is a senior research fellow on the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management. "I purchased the book and studied it, so I could lead the group. I very much liked it."
We caught up with Hayes at his university office, where in between international conferences and authoring (most recently co-authoring "The Innovation Journey of Wi-Fi: The Road To Global Success"), he's helping to launch a new research project that will analyze Wi-Fi deployments in rural areas and developing economies to identify the ingredients of successful wireless broadband projects.
Q: Do you have a sense of how important your technology is to the world?
A: Yes. First in 1998, when we started our own wireless network at the meetings, with one of the laptops being a server. One person put all the new documents on the server and within two minutes all 120 people had them.
The second time, I realized how good it was, was when I started to see the user innovations and initiatives in using Wi-Fi for long-range communications in rural areas. Creating networks to bring broadband to the people really makes me happy.
Click: Dutch article at Computable.