For anyone who’s had the urge to roam the exhibit hall while staying connected to the Internet, the Orange County (Fla.) Convention Center has news for you. It recently has installed a wireless network by Avaya, a corporate networking solutions and services firm headquartered in Basking Ridge, N.J., that brings communications within the more than 4.1-million-square-foot facility to a new level.

One of the first major convention centers in the country to offer wireless services to exhibitors, Ray Sirizi, network services supervisor at the OCCC, believes the new Avaya wireless network will save time and money for the convention center and for convention attendees. "Exhibitors can access the Internet on laptop computers from anywhere in the exhibit halls without being restricted by wires," he says.

The center says that the network will reduce setup time for each computer in a tradeshow booth from several hours to just 30 minutes, and last-minute exhibitors can still hook up to the network—an impossibility with a wired setup. Meeting rooms in the center also can be equipped with wireless capabilities. "We see a picture on the horizon where we might, with the agreement of area hotels, extend the system to nearby hotels," says Mike Walker, OCCC’s manager of information services.

As of July 1, the center plans to begin extending the wireless network to the facility’s common areas and lobbies. By 2002, the plan is to be able to have the center’s staff use wireless, hand-held units to process exhibit work orders and customer requests.