How to Determine How Much WiFi Your Event or Project Needs
Few things in life are more frustrating than dealing with a spotty WiFi connection, and it always seems to happen at the worst times. Whether it’s an important Zoom meeting with the boss or right in the middle of giving a demo to a potential client, we’ve all had to deal with the anxiety and sometimes even anger that comes with not having reliable internet.
With this in mind, having a reliable WiFi connection should be a top priority for event/project planners for both in-person and digital events. Your sponsors and vendors will expect it at expos, and it provides attendees with a smoother, more engaging experience.
A lot goes into determining whether or not you are providing adequate WiFi for your event to run without kinks. In this article, we will review how event organizers can ensure they are properly making this determination.
Assess How Many People Need WiFi and Usage Levels
One of the first things you should determine when assessing your event WiFi needs is how many people will need access, and what they will need it for. Attendees will likely use the WiFi on two devices – smartphones and a laptop. Presenters will likely require more bandwidth if they are broadcasting videos or other multimedia, and vendors might need a strong connection for giving demos of their platforms or making sales on a POS.
If your event or project is going to have multiple hundreds of people attending, your WiFi needs will be much higher than if it’s only 50 people.
Image courtesy of eventmarketer.com
Determine Bandwidth Needs
The next step, after identifying the number of people that will need access to WiFi and what each person’s level of usage will be, is determining what your event’s bandwidth needs are.
Before diving into calculating that, it’s important to understand some terminology. According to an article by socialtables, a key differentiating factor is Bandwidth vs. Dedicated Bandwidth. Bandwidth is a range of frequencies within a given band, in particular that used for transmitting a signal. Whereas Dedicated Bandwidth is the bandwidth that is specifically set aside for one business or entity.
When planning for an event, you want to ensure you have dedicated bandwidth. For instance, if you hold an event at a hotel and the WiFi they provide is the same WiFi that hotel guests (not attending your event) access, it can greatly reduce the actual bandwidth you are getting for your event exclusively, and cause issues.
Once you ensure that your event will have dedicated bandwidth, you can then use a bandwidth calculator to determine what amount of dedicated bandwidth is needed. By selecting all the ways WiFi is needed, like breakout presentations, registration, live streaming etc., the calculator will break down how much bandwidth is needed for each function, and provide a total.
Selecting a WiFi Provider
Once you have an understanding of the amount of bandwidth needed, you can then start determining whether your event will use the WiFi that many venues provide as part of the rental package, or if turning to a third-party provider, like us here at eTech, is needed to get sufficient bandwidth.
When working with a provider, a good one will become a partner in your event planning and during the event. They should be able to help you determine how much equipment is needed based on your bandwidth needs, where the hotspot modems should be located, assist in the setup, and be on-call for any issues that may arise. Additionally, a third-party provider can help with WiFi bonding in case you just need supplemental WiFi to work in addition with the venue provided network. At eTech we always work alongside our clients every step of the way to ensure our enterprise-grade 5G network equipment is exceeding expectations and meeting all needs.
After all equipment is set up, it’s then important to test speeds to ensure you are actually receiving the speeds needed. The easiest way to do this is using an internet speed test like the Ookla Speedtest. You can run a speed test on any WiFi, whether it’s a hotspot modem signal, or the venue’s provided WiFi signal.
While running the speed tests, you want to ensure the device you are running the test on is connected to the right network, and not pulling signals from other networks. It’s also important to run 3-5 tests in each area and look at the average results, to get the most accurate picture.
A couple of factors to consider that may alter your speed tests results are:
- Other devices connected to the internet source – When running speed tests, it’s best to do it when others aren’t on the network or downloading large files. This can use up a lot of the bandwidth and provide you with lower levels than you are actually getting. During speed testing you want an accurate picture of the total bandwidth you are receiving.
- Placement and distance to internet source – The further away from the internet source you are, the weaker the signal is going to be. Also, if the signal has to travel through walls – especially concrete and other dense building materials – it will lose some of its strength. This is important to keep in mind when determining if extra internet sources are needed for breakout sessions, or at registration if it is a good distance away from the nearest source.
After running your speed tests and feeling like you have an accurate average of readings, the final step is to analyze the different factors of the test.
- Download – When looking at your download and upload Mbps values, you want to ensure that the average across your tests are above your events total needed bandwidth amount as calculated above. 50+ Mbps is considered extremely fast and is typically enough for multiple video streams.
- Upload – Upload speeds are very important for presenters (especially for digital events) as it will determine how quickly, and what quality of videos and presentations can be broadcasted. 10+ Mbps usually allows for high-quality streams.
- Latency or Ping – Latency, also known as Ping, is how long it takes the request from a device to reach the network and return. You want this value to be as low as possible, ideally under 100ms.
Having a reliable WiFi network is more important than ever before with the recent emergence of digital-only and hybrid events. At eTech, we are always thrilled to talk through your event WiFi needs with you and help you determine the best route for success.
About eTech Rentals
eTech Rentals is a national technology solutions provider located in Southern California specializing in rental technology integration. eTech is committed to long-standing client relationships and consistent, reliable local service, trusted by expert event planners, film and entertainment production companies, and businesses in California and nationwide.
Learn more about eTech Rentals at: https://www.etechrentals.com/