What is in this article?:
- Beyond â€śDumbâ€ť Internet: Get Ready for the Really Cool Networked Event
- The New Wi-Fi Questions for Meeting Venues
The New Wi-Fi Questions for Meeting Venues
So how does this trickle down to meetings that aren’t held at Vegas complexes where tens of thousands of attendees are the norm? For one thing, the growth in mobile use is continuing everywhere. According to the current Cisco VNI Global Mobile Traffic Study, by 2018 there will be 5 billion mobile users (up from 4.1 billion in 2013) and 10 billion mobile-ready devices and connections (up from 7 billion in 2013). These increases will drive an 11-fold growth rate in mobile traffic.
That means hotels and convention centers need to concentrate their infrastructure improvements on the cellular carriers as well as on Wi-Fi networks. Technologies such as distributed antenna systems and multi-beam antennas (recently invented by AT&T engineers, who are already working on something more powerful, a “super multi-beam antenna”) expand cellular service, bring it indoors, and support multiple wireless carriers.
So one new question for meeting planners to ask their venues’ tech chiefs is whether they are running a DAS in addition to a Wi-Fi network, says Karmis. If they are, confirm that all the wireless carriers are in fact included.
Second, know who is providing the Wi-Fi network, and if there will be full-time employees on site managing your traffic. For meetings and conventions, the days of “dumb Internet” are over, Karmis says. You already know to ask how much guaranteed bandwidth can be delivered. Now ask if the property “has a policy-based management capability to properly manage capacity demands across the network,” he explains. That means giving your attendees their premium connection regardless of how many other people are using the venue’s free Wi-Fi.
On-site managers monitor access points, ensuring that as attendees walk from point to point they are kept seamlessly connected, and they become are aware of issues immediately and can address them before a user has to report a problem. They also keep the network up to date with software upgrades. “With high-density, robust Wi-Fi,” Karmis says, “it’s not just a set-it-and-forget-it approach.”