These frequently asked questions and answers have been defined by eForce in partnership with the AEV (Association of Event Venues), ESSA (Event Supplier and Services Association) and the AEO (Association of the Event Organisers) to ensure they are relevant to you.
What is Wi-Fi?
Wi-Fi technology allows an electronic device to exchange data wirelessly (using radio waves) over a computer network, including high-speed internet connections. A device that can use Wi-Fi (such as a personal computer, smartphone, tablet or digital audio player) can connect to a network resource such as the internet via a wireless network access point. Such an access point (which may broadcast a hotspot) has a range of about 20 metres (65 feet) indoors, and a greater range outdoors depending on the model and power of antennas. Wi-Fi coverage can be restricted to an area as small as a single room by walls that block radio waves or extend to many square miles, achieved by using multiple access points.
What are its limitations?
Connecting to poorly planned Wi-Fi networks in busy enclosed event environments can be problematic. This is often due to either a network not designed to service the density of the devices that require connections, or because other systems are causing interference.
Wi-Fi devices use one of two bands to connect. These are 2.4Ghz (802.11b, g or n) and 5Ghz (802.11a or n). The majority of smart phones (including older generation Apple iPhones), and older laptops, all work on the 2.4Ghz band which due to the limited amount of separate channels to communicate on may become congested quickly. This limitation is typically due both to insufficient planning of the wireless network and to the way some devices interact with the network (regardless of how robust it is). 5Ghz Wi-Fi currently offers much better performance in these environments due in the most part to it having more channels to communicate on and fewer devices at the current time that can use it.
Are there technological solutions available to remedy this?
Yes, with the appropriate planning, communication and expectation setting, thousands of people can connect to 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz Wi-Fi networks. In the longer term 5Ghz networks will ease the current congestion of 2.4Ghz networks, which still work well and are widely used by businesses on a daily basis. However Wi-Fi technology should still be considered as a ‘good’ connectivity option by organisers as opposed to the ‘best’ option of wired connection. Wired connections will perform better since the risk of external factors impacting the service is considerably less.
Why is the provision of Wi-Fi in event venues different from coffee shops, hotels etc?
Size, scale and use. Whilst a coffee shop of hotel bar/lounge Wi-Fi infrastructure is generally adequate for a small number of users checking emails, it would not be able to cope with a much larger number of business users accessing more data-intensive functionality. The expectations of business users in an event environment are much higher too. Therefore, it may be important to convey to your event participants that a paid-for, ‘business-class’ Wi-Fi solution is necessary in order to give them the same experience and capabilities that they have to pay for in their office locations or, generally, in hotel rooms.
Here are some useful terms and definitions to help you when discussing your connectivity requirements.
An Ethernet connection is used to connect network-ready devices (e.g. laptop) to a network. The Ethernet connection looks like a phone jack, but is not compatible with telephones, only network cables that are designed to fit that type of sockets. You probably have one as part of your domestic internet equipment.
The measurement of the bit-rate available, or consumed data communication resources, expressed in bits per second or multiples of it (e.g. 10 mega bits per second). We can facilitate anything from 1Mbps to 200Mbps. Tip: The amount of bandwidth you will require will depend on the applications you are using and the number of devices connected.
Hubs are for connecting multiple devices together and making them act as a single network, effectively splitting a connection. Tip: It’s important to remember to order electrical supply if you are hiring a hub.
CAT5 Patch Leads
Basically a connecting lead. These leads run from the hub to the individual PC or laptop. Each cable is terminated with something called an RJ45 connector at each end. Tip: Consider the length of cable you require as this may affect the charges.
This is a unique identifier or name for a WiFi network. When someone uses the network, the SSID is attached to the header of packets of information sent. This in turn acts as a password when mobile devices connect to the Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN).
Short for Virtual Local Area Network – this is a network of computers that behave as if they are connected to the same wire, even though they may actually be physically located on different segments of the LAN (with wireless devices connecting via a dedicated access point).
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