Wi-Fi can be worrisome. Who needs to connect? How much data will they use? What’s the Wi-Fi password again?
Don’t worry. It’s time to put your Wi-Fi behind you and get clued up on how to talk to your venue about Wi-Fi and make sure you stay connected.
Why is Wi-Fi so important?
Live events mean large gatherings of people in one place at one time. As a result, venue Wi-Fi tends to be heavily over-burdened and stretched to capacity. Not only will you need Wi-Fi to run basic processes such as registration and communication, but it’s likely that your delegates, exhibitors and sponsors will also need Wi-Fi to run their devices. If the internet is overloaded, it could shut down altogether, leaving everyone offline and unable to connect.
So how do you avoid a Wi-Fi meltdown and keep everyone online?
“Ask questions about Wi-Fi capacity as soon as you identify a potential venue. You will save yourself a lot of problems if you include these questions in your conversation from day one. The earlier network issues are detected, the more options there are around finding solutions. I’ve known a few event organisers who have decided to switch venue very late in the day solely based on Wi-Fi issues.” Francesca Berry, Noodle Live App Success Manager
What Questions Should I Ask My Venue?
Over the years, we’ve come up some standard questions to ask your venue before you sign the event contract. This helps us to understand exactly what to expect on the day.
What is the speed of the Wi-Fi connection that is being provided? Can I carry out an internet speed test?
“At Noodle Live we use https://www.speedtest.net/ as we’ve found it to be the most reliable. I’ll never do a site visit without it. This can easily flag to us whether we think there’ll be any issues coming on site to deliver the event and then we can discuss other options and go to plan B if we see a problem. Just remember, the speed required varies depending on how many delegates and how much hardware you’re bringing on site.” Lauren Piercey, Noodle Live Project Manager
It’s also a good idea to ask whether this connection is dedicated to the delegates or shared with all venue guests? If it’s shared, get an estimate of venue capacity for the day of the event.
What is the process for logging in to the Wi-Fi?
Find out if the Wi-Fi uses a simple network & password or whether there is a splash screen to complete. If there is a splash screen, ask for to an overview of the required steps and find out if this splash screen is optimised for mobile devices. You may also want to ask if there is any timeout on the network which requires users to re-enter these details after a certain period of inactivity.
How many access points do you have?
And what are the specifications for these access points in terms of supporting multiple simultaneous connections. This is particularly important for features such as live polling.
How much mobile signal do you get in your venue?
Is the mobile signal strong or do people struggle to connect?
“It’s also a good idea to ask yourself where your delegates are from. International delegates are more likely to rely on Wi-Fi than locals. Also, consider whether your venue naturally has good mobile signal. If it’s in a basement or a remote location, your delegates are likely to turn to Wi-Fi instead.” Vicki Wiadrowski-Fox, Noodle Live Head of Events
Are there any hardwired Wi-Fi access points?
Hardwired access points (where you can plug in to receive internet) can be a great back up for the most important tasks and processes, such as registration or presentations. It’s a good idea to find out if these hardwired points come at any extra cost.
Is there any IT support available?
We need this information so we know how quickly we are able to solve networking issues on the event day and the level of dedicated support.
“Find out if there is IT support onsite. Speak to them before the event so that you will be able to work together on the day. Ask them what backups are in place in case their Wi-Fi fails and find out if you can bring your own backup, like a mobile Wi-Fi dongle. It’s also a good idea to ask about login pages and time outs. Can you set your own user name and password? Are delegates kicked off if inactive for a set amount of time?” Hannah Todd, Noodle Live Senior Event Technology Consultant
The Wi-Fi Calculator
“In order to have a clear conversation with the venue about exactly how much Wi-Fi is needed, it’s a good idea to get your head around the numbers and to clearly state the exact amount of Wi-Fi you will need to ensure everyone can get online. If you’ve agreed the figures, then you will have a good understanding about what the system can handle.” Clemi Hardie, Noodle Live Managing Director
At Noodle Live, we’ve created our very own Wi-Fi calculator to help us understand exactly how much Wi-Fi is needed for any given event.
To use the calculator, simply add the numbers of devices you expect to use in every area of your event to find out the total bandwidth you may need to use at any one time.
We also recommend providing 0.2Mbps per user. Mbps stands for megabits per second and measures the amount of digital information that can be transferred at any one time.
So, if you’re expecting 100 attendees, you need 0.2Mbps x 100 = 20Mbps for your event. When we contact the venue, we state these numbers clearly and ask for written confirmation that this will be possible.
Do I need to consider other digital equipment?
Yes – if you’re using other equipment or interactive technology, like tablets or desktop computers you should also mention that in your initial conversation. Consider whether the tech will require Wi-Fi or whether it will access the internet via a hard-wired connection. Try to get to grips with how much bandwidth these items will require and ensure you include them in your estimation.
Still need a nudge in the right direction? Check out the Noodle Live Wi-Fi venue checklist. It has everything you need to help you ensure your venue is equipped and ready to welcome your guests and make your Wi-Fi dreams come true.