To help alleviate worries about Wi-Fi, our Audience Engagement Specialist and in house Wi-Fi expert, Matt King did a webinar with EventIcons on Wi-Fi at events!
Here are some key takeaways from the webinar:
1. Get dedicated bandwidth
Be sure the wifi network you’re using is dedicated and exclusive to the event, and not just shared with anyone and everyone! Shared bandwidth is the enemy of reliability and will clog up the network.
Then when looking for venues, think about how the wifi will be installed? How many access points are there, and where are they located? How many concurrent devices are allowed per access point? What channels is it broadcasted on? Ask for a coverage map of the venue to see where there may be trouble spots.
2. Ask yourself: Why is Wi-Fi imperative at this event?
You may not need to break the bank paying for the biggest and best Wi-Fi service. While Wi-Fi is always expected, to be able to save yourself money and time, consider why you need Wi-Fi? If it’s only because it’s a commodity, you may not need the largest bandwidth. Many people have a good 4G connection anyway which they could use if necessary.
On the other hand, if there are major deadzones in the venue, be sure to be able to provide coverage. Or will the Wi-Fi be used for something bigger such as live-streaming or video content? When looking at appropriate bandwidth speeds, we usually suggest 10 megabits per 100 people, but for these tech-heavy events, you will definitely need more.
We recently made a bandwidth calculator to give you an accurate measure of what you need for your event!
3. Secure your network!
Be sure your network operator is aware of how your attendees are using the network. Hopefully, you and the network operator can be proactive in stopping inappropriate use of the network that may slow down other people’s connection.
You can apply preventative measures such as restricting the amount of bandwidth users can have or blocking specific sites and ports. Additionally, you can allow tiered access to the network, where you throttle the amount attendees once they go over a specific limit. Otherwise, making sure your network is secured is as easy as providing a password and actively monitoring it’s usage.
Be sure to know what you’re getting into. When working with either a third party provider or a venue alike, documentation is extremely important to make sure you are getting exactly what you need.
Any venue or provider can tell you “this is what you’re getting” and give you a quote, but if they don’t have someone to explain it clearly and in writing, that may be a red flag for bigger problems. A general rule of thumb is that if someone on the staff can’t explain it to a five year old, they may be trying to intentionally confuse you or hide problems.
Ask questions such as: “Have you project managed similar events?”. “what Wi-Fi analytic software is being used?”, “How are you measuring performance?”, “What data do they share with their client, and will there be a report?”. “Are you willing to come to the site visit?”
5. Plan in advance
The most important thing is to plan. Wi-Fi is a major part of your event, not just something to be tacked on. That being said, plan in advance. You don’t want to be looking for Wi-Fi providers at the eleventh hour, and in panic to get it all together. You may be overcharged or sign a contract with a bad provider.
That being said, be able to have redundancy planning. Have extra access points in case there are unexpected areas that need coverage, or to replace broken or malfunctioning gear. Bring spare cables, switches, etc. The last thing you want is to be rushing towards the nearest Home Depot for extra cable an hour before the event.
It would always be preferred to have at least two days to prepare and set up the network. One day to setup the network, and another to test and have a rehearsal day with the clients. Planning ahead will always be one of the best things you can do to ensure your Wi-Fi is fully functional.
All in all, Wi-Fi is an extremely important part of event hosting that can be easily mismanaged. But with these tips in mind, Wi-Fi worries are a thing of the past! For more information or to book a Wi-Fi consulting session with Matt, please contact Mattk@glisser.com