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A Meeting Planner's Guide to Connectivity: Terminology

April 28, 2015

Bring out Wi-Fi, bandwidth and access points. Add in video streaming and hybrid events. Stir gently with attendees, speakers and exhibitors. And voilà you have a recipe for too much, too little or the just the right amount of bandwidth for your meeting.

Why is connectivity so complicated? Its speed is dependent on how many devices, apps and the type of apps running on those devices that can be easy on the venue’s bandwidth or cause it to implode. Add to the fact that everyone wants it to be secure and this decision can cause any planner great anxiety.  

As we delve into part 2 of this series, please note that our objective is to make your life easier through knowledge. Take a look at this terminology and a whole new world of understanding will be available to you.

Here are the basics:

What is Wi-Fi?

Wi-Fi is a wireless local area network that allows any electronic device to exchange data wirelessly over a computer network, such as a high-speed Internet connection. A device that uses Wi-Fi in a meeting can be a laptop, tablet or smartphone connected to the network via an access point.

What is an Access Point?

An Access Point is a specially configured device on a wireless local area network. Access points act as a central transmitter and receiver of wireless radio signals. APs are used to extend a Wi-Fi signal range.

Access Points may dictate the location of your seating, stage and trade show booths. Please note: Not all devices have the same antenna strength. iPads and other mobile devices have weaker antennas when compared to laptops.  

What is an IP address?

An Internet Protocol address (IP address) is a numerical label assigned to each participating computer device that uses the Wi-Fi. There are a finite number of addresses available in a network.

What is Bandwidth?

Bandwidth is the maximum data transfer rate for the Wi-Fi network. Think of it as a pipe – if it is narrow and you are trying to transport a high volume of data, such as video, the pipeline is going to backup (buffer) or explode (go down). However, if you have a larger pipe, more packets of data can go through it with multiple users and the transportation of said data is much faster.

The speed of the bandwidth is determined by the type of data that goes over the network. Photos, videos, uploads, downloads, web based apps, emails, and social channels all effect bandwidth but in very different ways.  

What is Peak Usage?

Peak usage is the highest level of concurrent access of bandwidth at a specific point in time.

What is Mb/s?

This is an acronym that stands for Megabits per second. Mega means millions and bits are the smallest unit of data. For example, if your network can transfer 100 Mb/s, it means it can transfer 100 million pieces of data per second over the network.

In order to know how much bandwidth you require, you will need to know the number of devices on the network, the types of devices and uses of the equipment.

Wi-Fi Wrap-Up

  • Fast, secure and reliable Wi-Fi is now an expectation among conference attendees; it no longer is a nice-to-have.
  • Relying on the hotel or conference center for all your Wi-Fi needs is not a given. You need to be an educated consumer.
  • Understanding and evaluating your Wi-Fi requirements is going to take time and effort. Put as much effort into this process as you would on negotiating your room block or marketing your conference. 

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