How even basic Wi-Fi is still a challenge for some events

‘Robust Internet for Events’ was our topic of choice when I sat with Craig Mathie, MD of the Bournemouth Rugby Sevens event, a few weeks ago for an open forum at Event Tech Live in the Truman Brewery. Around 30 people joined us from a range of events to cover what many people think is the ‘boring’ side of internet at events, primarily because it should already be sorted, just like power and water, but in many cases it is not.

One thing that I love about events, but is also the most challenging, is that most of the time we are starting, in some respect, from scratch. The event team might know how to plan an event but it’s probably a new venue, or a new team in the venue, or a new green field site, or a new sponsor. Something is always changing and because of that, even on the ‘basics’ side it is critical to consider key elements.

From the discussion I have summarised some of the key points below;

What’s the best type of internet for my event?

Rather like what’s the best type of car for my family, it depends on what you are trying to do and by when. I went through some examples of venues which are well known for their events, so they have invested in high speed connectivity, such as a leased line which means that over three years the service is cheaper to the event delivering the best speeds. For a new site, or one with short notice, we tend to bring in internet wirelessly from another location, or using copper services (which are mostly for the consumer market but can work in a pinch) or satellite.

Does whole venue or site wide Wi-Fi work?

Yes. If you want site wide Wi-Fi it can be delivered no problem. It is technically difficult but hey – that’s why you work with Etherlive! Venue wise it’s generally simpler to install, outdoors can be a bit more complicated but still very achievable if planned appropriately.

Is contactless payment reliable?

Yes. There is no reason for any technical issues with deploying contactless systems. Reports of issues are generally related to the devices themselves rather than the connectivity.

Isn’t 5G going to remove the need for Wi-Fi on site?

No. 5G, like 4G and others before it are great technologies just with better and bigger marketing budgets. Cellular technology (of which 5G is the latest standard) is designed to provide high speed connections for large populations, like towns, so it’s not designed to handle a very high peak of people in a specific area. It also isn’t really ‘supported’ like events need (have you ever tried to phone a mobile phone operator, complain about service in an area, and get an engineer to attend?). One advantage when 5G is introduced will be devices having another network option to connect – this will free up some of the 4G (and 3G) service.

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