Are you prepared for all of your event guests to connect to your event venue’s network at the same time? Without proper planning, large congregations of people can result in spotty reception. The things that drive your event’s popularity would all be impossible. No status updates, selfies, or video streams and no “free” social promotion of your event from your attendees is something that can happen if your network is unprepared. Not to mention you’d have dozens or hundreds of upset event-goers, depending on exactly how unprepared you may have been.
From a trade show to a rock concert, the success (or failure) of your event hinges on the reliability of your internet connectivity for a number of reasons discussed in this article.
Understanding WiFi hosting rentals
Unless your company has an affiliation with the venue, chances are you will need to rent a WiFi hotspot from a technology provider. Ask your venue administrator about the existing internet and electrical infrastructure to give you an idea of what the venue can handle as far as bandwidth, number of hotspots, and electrical outlets.
Does your venue provide WiFi services already? You might want to read the fine print. When event venues provide non-complimentary WiFi, they will often use this as an opportunity to charge outrageous rates even for the most basic internet service.
While some event venues choose to provide “complimentary WiFi services,” this is often used as a tactic to overcharge for other services you will need during your event.
After discussing the event infrastructure with the venue, it is time to decide just how many users — and more importantly, the number of devices — you can expect to be connected simultaneously at your event.
Not all hotspots have the same capabilities, so it is essential to come up with rough estimates of how many guests will be attending — as well as how many guests will be congregating in certain areas at any given time. Most event organizers suggest making a spreadsheet to keep everything organized and help your wireless internet provider assist you in the best way possible.
Why do I need WiFi?
Have you ever been to a sporting event, parade, or large gathering where you couldn’t seem to get a good enough connection to send a text, tweet, or launch a website? Bad connections happen when lots of phones are competing for the attention of a network’s antennas. Although your phone may be displaying full bars indicating good service, nothing is getting through. False service bar display happens because your phone may fail to associate with the 3G/4G/5G network in heavy traffic areas.
So if you are planning on getting dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of people together for an event, you can’t expect everyone (or anyone) to use their 4G cellular signal — you need a plan for wireless internet.
For security and bandwidth, you’ll need to provide wireless connections (see hotspot hosting options above) for any devices that require an internet connection. For example, you wouldn’t want to host your payment processing machines and security cameras on the same network as your guests are using to post on Twitter — it only takes one hacker to spoil the party for everyone.
That is why many event organizers opt to have separate connections for all or most of the following:
- VIP Guests
- Production Staff
- Video Streaming
- Members of the press/media
- Payment processing machines
- Registration machines
- Network Speakers
- Network Cameras
Choosing the right provider
Finding the right provider to host WiFi at an event is no easy task. The goal is to find a technology rental provider that puts the customer first and self-promotion last. For this reason, you could be making a mistake by Googling “WiFi Hotspot Rentals near me” and clicking on the first link that you see.
Why? First of all, you don’t know whether that company is ranked so highly because they paid for an ad or hired someone to beat Google’s algorithm. But more importantly, one of the most frequent event organizer stories you hear when it comes to WiFi is how their show was disrupted because either:
- They couldn’t contact their wireless internet hotspot provider for troubleshooting ongoing issues
- Their provider didn’t provide spares or offer onsite technicians to help set up equipment properly.
Let’s discuss how we can avoid these issues and what signs to look for in both good and bad wireless internet hosting providers.
Hotspot Event Hosting Options
Red Flags to look out for
Events, expos, and trade shows commonly bring together coalitions of vendors with one common goal: promoting their brand. While this may seem innocent, companies like these employ tactics that you would disagree with — and you might not even know it.
Does your potential WiFi vendor have photos on their homepage or about us page of their event staff dressed in colorful, brand-covered clothing? Red Flag.
Professional vendors use modest uniforms or “show black” clothing while onsite. Modest apparel attendees aren’t distracted by them or think they are associated with the event; it is also a common courtesy in the events industry.
Another scheme to look out for from your WiFi host is requiring login portals. Some companies use these portals to collect user data, which has no benefit to your event. Requiring a login portal is unnecessary, and many event-goers find it annoying or time-consuming and it distracts from their overall experience.
Network Configuration is vital
In the early days of wireless internet, event WiFi providers and venues would create one public network to support your entire staff. That is another huge red flag.
Remember that spreadsheet you created? That can serve as your network blueprint. Every group of users should be segmented on your spreadsheet into unique networks: one network for production staff, another for vendors, and one for each guest group type. Without this type of separation, your event is vulnerable to security breaches, connection problems, and more.
Suppose you choose a WiFi host that knows what they are doing. In that case, you can even limit the amount of bandwidth guest devices can use at a given time and/or restrict them from communicating with other devices on the same network to alleviate any security or bandwidth concerns.
How does User Density affect wireless internet speed?
Is there a main show, a big event, a stage, or even a snack bar? In any location where hundreds (or thousands) of guests will assemble at once, your WiFi provider needs to use hotspots meant for high-density WiFi connections. These access points should be younger than one year old and must have the ability to support hundreds of simultaneously connected devices.
Does your event attract users with multiple devices? It is not uncommon for event-goers to bring multiple devices: a smartphone, a tablet, a laptop, a smartwatch, and even a network camera in certain situations. Remember to add these types of figures to the expected number of WiFi devices you are relaying to your service provider — and to your spreadsheet discussed above.
The more obstructions you have between the user and the hotspot, the slower your client’s connectivity will be. Multiple hotspots ensure that when a user moves to a new area, they can still easily connect to the internet with all of their devices.
Green lights, not red flags
We’ve discussed all of the red flags to look for in an internet hotspot provider, are there any signs to look for in a wireless internet hosting provider?
Let’s start with the most apparent green lights to look for and end with tips you might not have thought of without reading this article.
- Does your provider have mostly positive reviews on Google? Facebook? Do they have lots of followers on Twitter? These are all signs that this provider wants to put the customer first, rather than the contrary. 56% of users read at least four customer reviews before buying a product or service.
- How many years has your wireless internet provider been in business? Although it might seem like a good idea to help out a new company operating with limited resources, there is only one accurate indicator of valuable service: lots of positive experience. The more experience (and positive reviews) that your provider has, the more likely you will have a productive experience with that company.
- Besides perfect WiFi connections throughout your event, one of the best services your WiFi provider can give you are connection insights. If your provider gives you live data (or data after your show is over) that tells you how many devices are connected, how much bandwidth is being utilized, and how important each of your WiFi connections is — odds are you’re in good hands.
Not only does this data help you understand what’s going on at your event, but it also helps you plan for events in the future — will you need more hotspots or less? More powerful or less powerful? With the right provider, your event’s success –both past and present — is truly in your hands.
Things to remember
Things to remember about bandwidth:
- Cellular bandwidth is the least reliable (3G/4G/5G)
- Dedicated bandwidth through a fiber connection is the most reliable, but if your venue doesn’t already have fiber installed — you won’t be using fiber at your event.
- Most venues deliver wireless internet via point-to-point antennas, which are typically very reliable. Point to point installation is quick and often gives you the opportunity for speeds of over 10gbps with very low latency. These types of network speeds are ideal for video streaming, video communication, gaming tournaments, virtual reality, and much more.
- If you aren’t streaming video, gaming, or using high amounts of bandwidth — don’t get suckered into getting more than you need. That is another reason why it’s crucial to find a trusted provider who commonly deals with local businesses.
We will help you create a custom WiFi package tailored to you and your unique event venue and level of user density. With a Wireless Internet Hotspot rental from Rentacomputer.com, you’ll have peace of mind in knowing your attendees will always be connected to the internet without a hitch, separate networks will be configured for security cameras, production staff, payment and registration machines, and more; and your network will be configured with data security in mind.
Rentacomputer.com has a large stock of equipment ready to deliver that includes laptops, desktop computers, servers, tablets, smartphones, WiFi hotspots, Audio Visual equipment, and more. Not only can we deliver your rentals, but we also offer custom configuration and setup, so you know everything is in working order before, during, and after your event.
Furthermore, Randy can answer any questions you have about Wireless Internet equipment rentals–for any crowd volume, in any venue. Contact Randy today at 1-800-736-8772 ext. 225 or fill out a quick, easy online quote form.
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