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A Meeting Planner’s Guide to Connectivity: Evaluating Wi-Fi Systems

April 29, 2015

Let’s face it – for the first time in our lives, technology is changing faster than our ability to adapt to it. And with these changes, come the demand for more connectivity at every level, all the time. As tech offerings explode on the scene, how do you know if the meeting venue can handle your bandwidth needs?  

Please note it is vitally important that you start the planning of your attendees, speakers and exhibitors requirements early and keep that discussion going in the months and weeks before your event. This article will give you a checklist of things to ask each segment and a workable solution if the venue’s bandwidth is not enough.

ATTENDEES

  1. How many attendees will be at your conference?
     
  2. How many devices and what type of devices will they be bringing?
    This is really important to know because the average attendee brings or uses 3 devices to a multi-day conference. Each type of device has a different antenna to reach the access points – case in point; tablets have much weaker antennas than laptops.
     
  3. What will attendees be doing on their devices – checking email, posting on social sites, accessing your applications, and/or using second screen technology?
     
  4. If you are using meeting apps, how many will be used by attendees and will they be web-based or native to the device?
     
  5. Will there be virtual attendees at your conference? If so, how many?
    Hybrid meetings put a strain on bandwidth because you are streaming live video remotely.
     
  6. What level of Wi-Fi service is acceptable to them? Do they expect lighting fast response or is a slight wait okay with them?

PRESENTERS

  1. How many concurrent speakers will you have presenting?
     
  2. Will they be accessing the Internet while presenting? If so, what applications will they be showing the audience?
     
  3. Will they be collaborating with other speakers or experts remotely?

 

EXHIBITORS

  1. How many exhibitor personnel will you have at your event?
     
  2. How many and what type of devices will they be bringing that will require Internet access?
     
  3. What will they be running on those devices?
     
  4. Will they be setting up their own private networks?
    If possible, try and keep exhibitors from doing this as radio signals from different networks can collide with one another and significantly slow down your network.

VENUE

  1. How much bandwidth will be available for your event?
     
  2. Will the bandwidth be shared or dedicated?
    If it is shared, you run a greater risk for slow and unsecure Internet access because multiple people across the hotel or conference center will be accessing that same system.
     
  3. How will the Wi-Fi network be managed and who will manage it – especially during peak usage?
     
  4. What is the age of the venue’s system and what technologies does it support?
     
  5. Are their Wi-Fi dead spots and what does the venue plan to do to fix them?
     
  6. Does the venue have Wi-Fi security in place – such as only 3 log-in attempts allowed, encryption of sensitive data and making sure attendees have strong passwords?
     
  7. Can they provide you with a detailed consumption report for an event similar to yours?

Finding a vendor that can provide Wi-Fi connectivity solutions with other services, such AV and computer rentals to oversee the implementation, is a good answer. They understand how the technology pulls on the bandwidth. If something goes wrong, the vendor is responsible for the support calls and most of the time, will be on-site to fix the problem. 

This vendor can also work hand-in-hand with you, the event planner to overcome your learning curve by recommending and testing the best solution for attendees, speakers and exhibitors. 

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