One of the worst things that can happen at your event is having promoted a WiFi connection, only to have it fail on you on the day of.
Use these five steps to make sure you have a flawless and safe WiFi for all of your attendees.
Make Sure You Have The Right Bandwidth
We’ve all experienced it. Disconnecting from WiFi in at an event because it’s not fast enough. This is what happens when not enough WiFi bandwidth was rented for the event.
When you are considering WiFi options for your event, the first thing you need to consider is the size of your event and how many people will be using the network that you’re choosing. This is essentially known as estimating the bandwidth that you’ll need for your event.
If you have the wrong bandwidth and your attendees can’t connect, they will be frustrated and may leave your event in order to go find WiFi that they can connect to that moves at the speed that they need. You do not want anyone leaving your event, especially if it’s to go and find a resource that you promised elsewhere. You’re putting good money into renting WiFi for your event, so make sure it works properly.
When you’re thinking about bandwidth, consider not just how many people will be at your event, but also what they may need to do while they’re at your event.
• Will they be sending fairly large files?
• Are they more so email types who need to check into things going on at their workplace?
• Are they going to be posting a lot to social media and doing live videos on any social or streaming from your event?
All of these are things that you need to consider when preparing the proper amount of bandwidth for the WiFi at your event.
One of the best ways to ensure proper bandwidth and ensure that you have it on hand for your attendees, team and the vendor that you choose to implement the WiFi is to use a spreadsheet where you list all attendees and groups of attendees. A spreadsheet will allow you to see at a quick glance how many people will be at your event along with how many estimated devices and it allows you to input information that you can easily change if need be.
Make Sure You Choose The Right WiFi Vendor
Part of being able to have the right bandwidth for the WiFi at your event is choosing the right vendor.
When you’re considering a vendor for WiFi at your event, start researching at least 6 months beforehand, meet with them at least three months before your event. Once you decide on the vendor to rent audio visual equipment from whether you’re in Los Angeles or elsewhere, reconfirm any specifications with them a month out from your event.
Your first thought may be to choose the largest vendor that you can find who has done the most events in your area and advertises their national level clients who they’ve helped with WiFi for their events. This isn’t generally the best route to go for most small and mid-sized events.
If your event is hosting under 7000 attendees, consider a local and smaller vendor that you can build a relationship with and who will prioritize good quality service over the project size. Rent audio/visual equipment from a vendor you’ve been able to meet with in person and who is responsive to your questions.
You can always gauge how it would be to work with a larger vendor by asking them to host WiFi in a specific area of your event by asking them to host the internet for the event in a specific section and naming that section after that larger vendor. This is also a good way to build a relationship with them and see how they work at handling the types of events that you could partner with them on at a later date without devaluing the local vendor that you’ve built a relationship with.
Understand Basic WiFi Terms
Even if you’re not a tech head, understanding basic WiFi terms will save you tons of frustration as you prepare for your event and have discussions with your vendor on specifications and requirements that you both will need to know as planning begins and progresses.
Here are some of the terms that you’ll encounter often as you look into WiFi options for your event and have discussions with your vendor about the type of WiFi that you’ll need for your event.
SSID – The term that tells you the name of your wireless network.
Hardline – A cord (Ethernet connection) that a device uses to connect to the web.
Splash/Portal Page – A sign in and/or welcome page that you see when you connect to a WiFi network.
Access Point – Think of this as the WiFi route. It sends the signal to other devices.
Switch – Hardware that connects many devices together through a hardline.
Cat 5 or Cat 6 – The types of cable used to deploy networks.
Hot Spare – A backup device that’s been setup and configured in advance and is kept on-site in case of device failure.
SLA – Service level agreement
You need to know these terms as you research WiFi options for your event. Without understanding what these abbreviations and WiFi lingo means, you’ll find yourself consistently wondering if you have the right information to ensure that the WiFi setup is a success at your event.
Make Sure Your Network Is Setup Properly
This is possibly the most challenging phase of ensuring that you have great WiFi at your event. That’s because this is really where the rubber meets the road.
All of the research you’ve done, all of the conversations that you’ve had with the vendor, all of the terms you’ve learned are now put to the test once it’s time to actually set up the WiFi for your event.
Using the sheet you made earlier, now is the time to pull that information out and check that your event WiFi will meet the specifications you need based on that sheet. One of the most critical things that you need to consider is the security of your network after it’s setup.
Segment the groups you’ve listed on your sheet and put them into different networks with different bandwidth limitations and communication restrictions. This will keep your WiFi secure and running fluidly during the event and will ensure guest devices cannot take over the WiFi or spread harmful malware protecting all of your other event attendees.
Be sure that your vendor tests the security of your network and can give you a plan on how they are protecting the network and WiFi setup at the event. What checks and balances do they have in place to protect against the potential of users having dormant malware? Ask for details and make sure they are specific in their replies.
Consider Where People Will Congregate The Most and Tap Into Insights
Your event WiFi will need to be the strongest and the most reliable where the largest number of people will be gathering at the event.
Whether this is in the main area where most of your speakers will be, or if this is an area that you have specifically set up to connect your event attendees to each other for networking purposes, make sure that you utilize the information that you’ve gathered for setting up your event WiFi properly in locations where you want people to congregate and utilize the strength of the WiFi in those specific spots.
If you follow these 5 steps, your guests will have a great experience and appreciate your flawless WiFi setup.