January 18, 2017

Do you know what it takes to create foolproof event Wi-Fi? Follow these 5 tips to avoid a Wi-Fi failure at your next event.

Maxed-out event Wi-Fi means partially loaded web pages, conference apps that crawl, and those embarrassing presentation moments as technical support scrambles to move an event forward. Each packs the potential to send stress-levels soaring, social media rants slinging, and event attendees exiting to the nearest Starbucks!

Effective event Wi-Fi eliminates these gotchas. However, profiling Wi-Fi users and estimating connectivity requirements can strike fear into the technically faint-of-heart. According to Successful Meetings, 55% of event managers state their biggest 2017 challenge as getting enough Wi-Fi bandwidth for attendees.

We’ve collected five event Wi-Fi planning tips to help you rise to the challenge. Follow these tips to lay the foundation for crowd-pleasing Wi-Fi at your next big event.

Wi-Fi network planning

Leverage last year’s experience

Start your event Wi-Fi planning by looking at any available usage statistics from a prior event. Your venue or Wi-Fi vendor can supply you with stats such as bandwidth usage, upload and download speeds, and numbers of connections across your event Wi-Fi. This information offers a great base to build on. Fine-tune the elements that worked well. Review and improve areas that were problematic. Account for growth, and remember to factor in increased technology use.

Event attendees using Wi-Fi

Understand attendee use patterns

Estimating device connections and the bandwidth they use may sound impossible when you’re dealing with thousands of users. Simplify the equation by grouping connections into a few attendee profiles with similar Wi-Fi needs. Common groups to consider include audience, presenters, and exhibitors. Identify common usage patterns for your target demographic. For example, a technical audience typically requires more bandwidth per connection than a sales event. Don’t forget that a single user may make two or three mobile device connections.

Event exhibitor's using Wi-Fi

Identify critical content 

While one event’s audience may be satisfied with checking email and light web surfing, another event may have developers programming in every breakout session. Different content types require varying amounts of bandwidth and are frequently categorized as low, medium, or high bandwidth consumers. From cloud-based apps to web-based training, anticipate the apps each of your event attendees will depend on for a positive event experience.

Keynote presentation over Wi-Fi

Translate “good event Wi-Fi” into meaningful terms

Once you’ve identified critical applications, rank each connection as a low, medium, or high bandwidth consumer. Email and web browsing rank low. A social media or web-based event app requires a medium amount of bandwidth. Connections for a programming workshop at a developer conference can use a high amount of bandwidth. These terms pack meaning into communications with technical staff and provide a key factor for predicting peak Wi-Fi network loads.

Wi Fi network connectivity

Prepare requirements before you evaluate venues

An accurate estimate of network connectivity requirements will help you negotiate the right venue at the best price possible. Ask the following important questions and more about a venue’s ability to meet event Wi-Fi needs:

  • How much bandwidth will you make available to the event?
  • Will the bandwidth be dedicated or shared with other users?
  • How old/new is your networking infrastructure?
  • Will I get dedicated technical staff on site for support?
  • Can I bring in an outside Wi-Fi vendor to meet event-critical requirements?
  • How much will you charge for Wi-Fi, and what is included in that charge?

Compare responses from different venues. All venues offer Wi-Fi, but the quality of service included varies widely.

If a venue’s Wi-Fi infrastructure doesn’t meet critical event needs, a third-party Wi-Fi vendor can help. We are happy to recommend either C3-Wireless or Trade Show Internet. Both offer solutions for reliable internet service in high-density environments.

Approach event Wi-Fi planning by profiling attendee groups, the applications they’ll use, and the bandwidth each will require. Armed with this knowledge you’ll be able to confidently communicate with your venue, staff, and suppliers about event Wi-Fi needs.

What questions or tips do you have about building an event Wi-Fi plan?

Leave us a comment or question below.

woman is working at laptop computer while drinking coffee overlooking event venue.

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