Table of Contents Technology ShowcaseBuilding an Engaging Online Student UnionTechnology Showcase: Implications of the Internet of Things (IoT)Technology Showcase: The Natural Limitations of Technology: 4K TVsTechnology Showcase: Students Organize HackathonsTechnology Showcase: LEDs EvolveTechnology Showcase: Beyond Facebook: Social Media 2.0Technology Showcase: The Potential of Virtual Reality GamesTechnology Showcase: What Event Planners Need to Know About WiFiTechnology Showcase: 10 Pro Tips for Using Microsoft WordTechnology Showcase: It's Just a Video in PowerPoint–What Could Go Wrong?Technology Showcase: Competitive Presenting with PowerPoint RouletteTechnology Showcase: Adjusting Procedures to Provide Better A/V SupportTechnology Showcase: Tracking A/V Inventory in DEA EMSTechnology Showcase: Applying Innovative, Inexpensive Technology in a Theatre SpaceTechnology Showcase: Raspberry Jammin'Technology Showcase: Road Test: Apps for NotetakingTechnology Showcase: Road Test: Student Employee Scheduling ProgramsTechnology Showcase: Road Test: Project Management Software10 of the Top Commons Posts of 20152015 Education and Research Fund DonorsNeeds Assessment Identifies Strengths, Room for GrowthCAS Provides Better Tools for Relevant Functional AreasNew Team Provides Educational Tools, Discussion Opportunities Related to Campus ViolenceVolunteerism In the AssociationFrom the President: Who was Your First?From the Chief Executive Officer: Promoting Dialogue About Campus ShootingsMarch/April 2016 KioskOn the JobUnion Spotlight: Linda E. McMahon Commons at Sacred Heart UniversityUnion Spotlight: Andorfer Commons at the Indiana Institute of Technology
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THE
BULLETIN
Volume 84 | Issue 2
March/April 2016

Technology Showcase: What Event Planners Need to Know About WiFi

Readily available WiFi signals are becoming a customer service requirement, as necessary as restrooms or trash disposal. However, they often are outside of event planners’ control. Therefore, to successfully partner with information technology or facilities departments, event coordinators must understand the basics and common challenges related to wireless connectivity. The International Association of Venue Managers recently offered some considerations that apply in a campus setting.

Wireless Internet works via a series of access points, or routers, that transmit and receive radio frequencies to and from mobile phones, laptops, or other devices. At home, a router is typically connected to an Internet cable and forms a private local area network (LAN). However, in a college union setting, many access points are necessary.

Most wireless signals use a 2.4GHz radio frequency. This is the same frequency that individuals, private enterprises, commercial businesses, and state governments use and that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates. Therefore, some industry experts are concerned about oversaturation. The advent of wireless-capable devices such as Bluetooth headphones, smart watches, and fitness trackers also have created more noise on the spectrum. Understanding this challenge, some event planners are encouraging attendees to use the 5GHz spectrum.

The 5GHz spectrum is unlicensed, so there is less congestion, which makes it faster. However, not all devices can connect to 5GHz signals, so this is not a perfect solution. Additionally, in the future, a collaborative strategy to manage wireless traffic on the spectrum will be necessary since there is not an oversight body.

In addition, no matter how much bandwidth is available, the infrastructure needs to be well designed to maximize connectivity. Event planners can ask Internet providers for charts that show peak usage, number of devices used (including wearables), and the size of the content consumed/broadcasted. PSAV, a service provider for many convention properties, has a free bandwidth estimator tool (available at www.conventionindustry.org).

Event planners also can be mindful of two factors that affect wireless connectivity, both involving density. A “high-density environment” is typically the term service-providers use to describe an event that has a lot of users or devices trying to connect at the same time (e.g., a concert). Additionally, the density of a facility’s walls can also affect how well the wireless signal transmits (e.g., drywall versus cinderblock). These variables help determine the number and placement of access points in a facility as well as help event planners anticipate potential challenges related to wireless connectivity.

Another question to ask is about the number of incidents of customers using unauthorized wireless hot spots. These personal antenna devices tend to be problematic as they interfere with the facility’s network and can slow down the service available to all other users. While some corporate venues have policies against the use of these devices, the FCC warned in 2015 that blocking or intentionally interfering with hot spot signals is prohibited.

In the corporate sector, sports stadiums are leading the way in wireless infrastructure. The tens of thousands of spectators simultaneously tweeting, checking scores, or sharing photos necessitates this. AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, announced it will have 1,800 wireless access points and the equivalent of 11 cell phone towers by the beginning of the next football season. Major League Baseball launched its own wireless media company several years ago and requires high-quality, consistent, free signals in its ballparks. On campus, athletics events are typically the largest and are being thrown into the chase to provide wireless connectivity to event-goers. Knowing this, proactive collaboration between athletics facilities, information technology, and college union staff could be desirable as all parties strive to maintain quality of connectivity.