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BEST PRACTICE

CRITICAL QUESTIONS FOR

YOUR EVENT’S WI-FI SUPPLIER In our digitally connected and time-scarce world, is there anything worse than a slow or, heaven forbid, non-existent Wi-Fi connection? Fortunately, you can banish this horror from your next event by asking these questions.

W

E’VE ALL BEEN THERE; you’re glad to be able to use the free Wi-Fi you were promised at an event, so you log on and… you hang. And then you hang some more. Eventually, you log off feeling annoyed. Gavin Burgess, tech guru and managing director of Ultimate Data Sciences, acknowledges this is a widespread problem: “Organisers should make sure that the advice they are relying on covers all bases for their event. A simple thing like loss of Wi-Fi connectivity can greatly impact a visitor’s overall experience and, thus, their perception of the event.” The key to obtaining reliable Wi-Fi is knowledge. First of all, you need to know your requirements, says Gavin, including the number of visitors, what square meterage needs coverage, and what types of technology exhibitors or vendors will be using (including appliances and machinery),

16 • MEETINGS l NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017 

as these emit waves of a similar frequency to Wi-Fi, which can interfere with the signal. Next, you need to know what is possible. Gavin shares these eight questions to ask the venue or service provider, which will guide you in getting the info you need.

1. WHAT IS THE CONNECTION SPEED ON OFFER, AND AT WHAT COST? To help you make a decision, also ask what the cost is of the next level of connection speed. Sometimes, double the connection speed only costs slightly more.

2. IS THE DATA CAPPED OR UNCAPPED? Uncapped services are generally shaped, and therefore slow down as more visitors join the network. Capped services are generally not shaped, but more expensive per gigabyte, so you may land up with a surprise bill. Ideally, you want an uncapped, unshaped connection,

but this will depend on a cost-benefit analysis in terms of how much data will be consumed at the event. It can be very difficult to estimate data usage unless you have statistics from previous events. A good idea is to ask for a usage report after an event, and file it for future reference.

3. WHO IS THE UPSTREAM PROVIDER OF THE CONNECTION? If you are making a purchasing decision based on costs received from multiple service providers, make sure your decision also takes into account the quality of the upstream provider. Cheap but effectively non-existent Wi-Fi is not a better deal than a pricier option that works.

4. IS THE CONNECTIVITY READILY AVAILABLE AT THE VENUE, OR DOES THIS NEED TO BE ORDERED IN ADVANCE? If connectivity needs to be ordered, be aware that it can take much longer than expected to have it installed.

5. WHAT WERE VENUES’ STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES? Ask the venue about previous events it has hosted and how Wi-Fi was supplied and managed at those events.

6. H  OW WILL THE SERVICE PROVIDER OFFER SUPPORT THROUGHOUT THE EVENT? Will this support be on-site? How

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