6 of 13 Meetings Technology Predictions for 2013

6.  Event Wi-Fi problems will get worse before getting better.

This demand for Wi-Fi at events is growing by high double-digit numbers each year. Tablet computers, on average, use 400% more bandwidth than other mobile devices and are becoming the fasted adopted technology hardware ever. Attendees have multiple mobile devices and expect the same broadband experience they receive at home and office – even though there may be thousands of people trying to access the Wi-Fi signal simultaneously. The recent Dreamforce Conference 2012 in San Francisco had over 10,000 simultaneous Wi-Fi users. The London Olympics logged more than 1 million Wi-Fi accesses on the BT network during the games. 5,000 attendees at the London Frieze Art Fair consumed more than t terabyte (1 thousand billion bytes of data).

The good news is that the technology exists to provide very high density delivery of Wi-Fi. Xirrus provides Wi-Fi arrays that can handle up to 1,792 simultaneous users from a single access point.
The bad news is that the equipment and bandwidth is expensive and many meeting venues are lagging far behind in the ability supply the increasing tsunami of demand. Both meeting planners and venue sales people need to educate themselves and, at times, each other on this very important, but technologically complex, issue. Two articles that can help are: Understanding the Internet Landscape at Hotels and Convention Centers — A Primer for Event Organizers and How to Discuss Your Event’s Wi-Fi Needs — A Primer for Event Organizers.

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4 Responses to “6 of 13 Meetings Technology Predictions for 2013”

  1. Silke Fleischer Says:

    That is exactly what we, as conference app vendors, have seen and are addressing so attendees won’t even notice if Wi-Fi is down while building their schedule or taking notes on their devices. Native apps are a great solution when Wi-Fi is limited. Organizers can include massive amounts of event related information offline (we had one event with over 15,000 sessions and associated medical abstracts) within the app without having to rely on Wi-Fi or bogging down the system even more.

  2. Etech (@etechEvents) Says:

    Corbin – nice meeting you at PCMA! This WiFi issue is a big one that seems to be the elephant in the room. We’re confused by the lack of urgency it receives, too. A glance at the hashtag for an event on Twitter will let anyone know if there were connectivity issues or not for attendees…and if they’re unhappy, boy, do they let it rip! Why risk bad PR and unhappy attendees/exhibitors for “free” WiFi?

    Do you think it’s an education issue? Would love to know your thoughts on how to better communicate the value/importance of WiFi when lots of folks seem to expect it for free on the venue side.

  3. Jason C. Levine Says:

    I agree with Silke. The trick is not to rely upon a working wi-fi connection for anything. Native apps that have 90%+ of the content downloaded to local storage is the way to go.

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