Technology today is confusing enough to make R2-D2's domed head spin. But it's also something you can't ignore, especially if your event is planning to use the latest science. To determine if your venue is adequately wired for your event, schedule a site inspection with your network engineer or technical director and the venue's telecom manager. Then follow these nine steps:

  1. Identify the type of bandwidth you need: ISDN, DSL, T1, T3.

  2. Is backup bandwidth available? If not, order it.

  3. Get contact information. Determine whether the venue owns the circuits and services them with an on-site technician or an outside vendor maintains them.

  4. Determine the in-house wiring: CAT 5, CAT 3, or less. The higher the grade of wiring, the more connectivity can be delivered.

  5. Get everything in writing from your convention service manager, including:

    • Price: Is the quote per day or per event? What's included?

    • Amount of dedicated bandwidth. Are you sharing bandwidth with the venue's administration, sleeping rooms, or with another event? Are you getting the full 1.5 Mbps of a T1 or just a fraction of its bandwidth?

    • Telecom and electrical power activation schedule, and hotel charges.

  6. Examine all connectivity contracts and terms and agreements carefully. Include your connectivity requirements and timetable in a detailed letter to the hotel.

  7. Determine what you're paying for. Does the price include:

    • Your Internet Service Provider?

    • Internet Protocol Addresses (IPs)? How many? What is the charge for additional IPs?

    • ISDN dial-up charges, ISP, and modem rental?

    • On-site engineering support and access to the telecom closet for build and during the event?

    • Networking equipment — router, hubs, networked computers, etc.?

    • The cost of cross-connections to extend bandwidth to your presentation room(s)?

  8. Incorporate the network into the floor plans and build schedule.

  9. Put all prices, deliverables, and timetables in your contract or hotel letter. Get sign-off from hotel management (not just the telecom director).

Mary Ann Pierce is president of Events Digital Corp. (, New York, N.Y.

Shop Talk

  • Bandwidth refers to the transmission capacity of an electronic line, such as a communications network, computer bus, or computer channel. It is expressed in bits per second, bytes per second, or in Hertz.

  • Typical bandwidth includes an integrated services digital network (ISDN), which is an international telecommunications standard for providing digital service from user to dial-up network; a digital subscriber line (DSL), a technology that dramatically increases the digital capacity of an ordinary telephone line; a T1, a 1.5 megabits per second (Mbps) point-to-point dedicated, digital circuit, or a T3, which delivers 44.7 Mbps

  • An Internet Protocol address (IP) is the address of a computer attached to a TCP/IP network. Every client and server station must have a unique IP address.