Fact: Anyone attending a business or trade conference is going to expect to have instant, reliable Wi-Fi. Fact: Providing flawless Wi-Fi to hundreds of users is actually quite difficult. Fear not, we at Smart Meetings have hacked the code to providing Wi-Fi to the masses. Here are our seven Wi-Fi commandments to live by.
Thou Shalt Meet the Demands
Plan to supply a Wi-Fi network that can support all of your attendees and all their device—that includes laptops, smartphones and tablets. Chances are that your attendees will have all three! So once you’ve got your final head count, triple that and you’ll know how many devices you need to support on your network. It’s better to oversupply than under. This might mean that you have to bring in your own system aside from what the hotel can provide to ensure seamless use.
Thou Shalt Make Sure the Main Areas are Wi-Fi Friendly
It’s the nightmare scenario: You get perfect reception in the hallways, but once inside the conference rooms, the Wi-Fi signal immediately shuts off. If you’re using a hotel or convention center’s network, make sure to test each room as you do a walk-through. Not every corner of the venue is going to have perfect connection, but you want to make sure you have it where it counts.
Thou Shalt Understand the Technology
There are two types of Wi-Fi frequency nowadays: 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. The former is the traditional frequency, but it doesn’t have a very far reach and is susceptible to interference. The latter is much faster and can penetrate walls with ease. But if you’re bringing in your own system, bring in the big guns and use a dual band system, which will offer Wi-Fi at both speeds so that there’s no crowding of one network, which will help with speed as well.
Thou Shalt Control the Traffic
You don’t want one attendee live-streaming a video that slows down the entire network. So restrict the amount of data available—it’s common practice in the meetings world. However, you and your team should have unrestricted access to the Wi-Fi—it’s one of the perks of the job.
Thou Shalt Embrace Speed
You could have everything else set perfectly in place—frequency, range, availability—but if you don’t have speed, then it was all for naught. And we’re not just talking fast internet, we’re talking super-fast, lighting-speed internet: 10Mb per 100 users would be golden for even the highest usage events. If you know it will be lower, go ahead and dial it back to 2Mb per 100 users. There are plenty of websites that can test speed, but speedtest.net is a good one. It’s a good idea to test your speed a few times throughout each day of your event to address issues before they become the talk of the conference (because they will become the talk of the conference if they go unresolved).
Thou Shalt Use a Password
For both security and stability, your Wi-Fi network should have a password. This will prevent non-attendees from latching onto a free network and burning through your data, as well as potential hackers from just waltzing right into your private network. How you choose to share the network password is up to you—just remember that plastering it across the conference room walls makes it easy to access for both your attendees and potential threats.
Thou Shalt Treat Wi-Fi like Water
The internet is a utility that our society is so used to having access to that we actually take it for granted. And that’s exactly what you should expect from your attendees. It is integral to business, so it needs to be dependable. Think of Wi-Fi like water: Without it, people get cranky, aren’t able to work and will complain until they finally get what they need. No, they won’t die without it, but your event will.