In the first post of our series on meeting Wi-Fi, we broke down bandwidth and the myths around how much you actually need for your meetings. But without a quality infrastructure, bandwidth would never reach the devices – laptops, tablets, smartphones – that we all use. In this second part of our series, we’re looking at infrastructure and the questions you should be asking regarding this often-overlooked aspect of internet services.
At home, internet bandwidth arrives on a single cable, usually in the basement or somewhere else convenient for the cable guy. Then, to actually make use of the bandwidth, you need some electronics – at the very least, a Wi-Fi router. If you happen to have a larger home, you’ll know that the Wi-Fi router that comes with your cable subscription doesn’t cover the whole house, and more electronics (in the form of Wi-Fi boosters) are needed to make things work properly.
Internet infrastructure in a meeting or event venue is the same, although due to the size of the building and high numbers of people, we need significantly more electronics to make things happen. In fact, venues sometimes make the mistake of upgrading bandwidth without the infrastructure to deliver it, which results in a higher bandwidth bill for the venue but no better experience for the guest.
The most important aspects of infrastructure to understand are the wireless access points – we like to call them WAPs, for fun. Ironically enough, these aren’t wireless. These are cabled to the rest of the infrastructure and create the last “hop” wirelessly from themselves to and from your device.
There are two important aspects to understand about WAPs:
- How many there are in a space?
- How old they are?
Taken together, these two pieces of info determine the Wi-Fi capacity of the infrastructure or in other words, how many devices you can put in that space without overwhelming it. Often hidden for aesthetic purposes, it’s hard to know from a site visit how many WAPs there are or how old they are – so this is an important question! One of the easiest things you can do is ask for the access point layout diagram. Every venue should have one, and this will give you all the information you need.
The question I already hear you all asking next is, “OK then, how many WAPs are enough?” Well, like a lot of IT stuff, it depends. Fortunately, we’re here to help with that and other specific questions you may have, regardless of the venue you select.
- Ask for the AP layout diagram and the age of the access points. Your trusted techie will be able to make a call on whether the infrastructure will be able to support your needs.
- If you find inadequate infrastructure (or bandwidth) at the perfect venue for your next event – don’t worry! Both can be successfully augmented given a little advanced notice (and we’d be happy to help).
- Internet@psav.comwill answer all of your internet-related questions, regardless of venue.
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- Live from PCMA Convening Leaders 2020! - January 5, 2020