3 Concepts Planners Should Grasp Between Wi-Fi and Broadband Services

“I’m going to need 150 Mbps for each attendee.” If you catch yourself spouting off IT terms but aren’t really sure what it is you’ve just requested, there’s hope. IT does IT for a reason, they get “it”. For someone who wants to make an educated choice about IT services and not regret it later, Kevin Hall the Systems Analyst for The National Conference Center sat down with me and spoke in layman’s terms about IT options. We took revenue-generating services off the table and discussed three concepts planners should really understand between Wi-Fi and broadband services before purchasing anything. 

  1. Sometimes Wi-Fi is a viable option for training. That’s right; Wi-Fi can be used for training. However, Hall notes that it all depends on the infrastructure of the facility; and it matters how the meeting facility has designed their wireless system. He explains, “No matter what you use, you won’t get more performance than what the hotel has to give. Talk to their IT department and ask about their capabilities.” For instance, a hotel with one DSL line divided between 200 rooms is not feasible. Discuss and understand their IT capacities and what it’s been designed for – whether it was designed for software training, basic meeting rooms or was intended for more extensive bandwidths like training and meeting rooms.

  2. Basic Wi-Fi is usually free; choose Wi-Fi with a higher bandwidth for a seamless group experience. Groups should use a higher bandwidth Wi-Fi when a lot of attendees will be connecting to their Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) like an office network which uses a lot more bandwidth. Groups get a better experience from higher bandwidth Wi-Fi and it makes their experience as seamless as it would be in the office. The faster the internet, the better the experience for accessing files or applications from work network. Hall says, purchasing higher bandwidth service at a hotel or conference center won’t be as cheap as your monthly internet bill at home, but for as many people that are connecting simultaneously, the higher bandwidth can be as close to a home experience as possible. Hall’s words of wisdom? Request to meet with the IT department during your site visit and discuss your needs and what you want to do so the proper recommendations can be made. He also says to make sure both parties (you and the IT department) have a mutually understanding of the terms being used.

  3.  Purchase Wi-Fi over Wired services– Wi-Fi can be the same speed and experience as wired. According to Hall, opting for Wi-Fi allows the venue’s IT department to give more economically priced services to groups without the cost of intensive labor like running cables and deploying switches. Hall says, “Wi-Fi also provides fewer opportunities for failure like Ethernet cables or power cords becoming unplugged or taped cables across the floor causing a hazard.”

 While planners are learning some of the newer concepts such as hybrid, event mobile apps and social media integration, it’s still essential to go back to the IT basics for flawless meetings, especially as new tools and terms are being coined. You can also find a helpful glossary of meeting terms on the Convention Industry Council’s website.

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