Need for speed

Expert Opinion
Need for speed

Mark Cooper, CEO of IACC, broadens the bandwidth debate.

 

There are so many factors to consider when event planners decide where to hold their meeting or event, from the cost and room layout and dimensions, to furniture, lighting and sound, and food and beverage capabilities, the list goes on.

However, the one thing that often gets overlooked is bandwidth requirements as many planners assume that venues have got that covered.

Meeting planners agree that their dependency on internet/Wi-Fi at a venue has increased and will continue to increase in the next five years.

According to IACC’s latest Meeting Room of the Future Report, 44% of meeting planners would not even consider shortlisting a venue that did not have the guaranteed capacity to support the needs of their event. An even larger majority, 56%, indicated that affordable or free high-speed wireless internet will be the most critical technology needed for meetings in the next five years.

The report also revealed an increase (up 8% from 2017 to 85% in 2019) in the number of meetings incorporating new technology, such as audience participation apps, projection mapping, screen-sharing, multi-media presentations and video live broadcasting on top of email, social media. This means it’s now more important than ever for venues to provide more bandwidth and speed to stay ahead of the curve with regards to latest meeting requirements.

When comparing internet offerings between venues, it’s important to keep in mind that not all bandwidth is the same. Several factors can affect the quality and reliability of the connection. IACC has compiled some important ones to consider at the planning stages of your next meeting or event.

But first, let’s looks at some of the ‘technical’ buzzwords; what is the difference between bandwidth and speed? Bandwidth is the maximum amount of data that can pass through a network link at a given time. Internet upload and download speeds are measured in megabits per second, or Mbps; this is how fast the network is capable of moving data.

 

Congestion on the line

Just imagine your client paying a fortune to have a keynote speaker deliver a session at their conference and the speaker can’t even play a 30-second video part of their presentation without buffering. That’s usually down to congestion, as delegates may be live streaming the speaker or Tweeting about the session in real time, meaning too many users sapping the bandwidth of a system that can’t cope with the demand. Volume and frequency of Wi-Fi traffic, as well as estimating how many devices each delegate will use during the event, is a key consideration at the planning stage.

If you’re unsure of your bandwidth and internet speed needs during your next event, IACC has a Broadband Estimator Tool (iacc-speedtest-estimator.com) to gauge an accurate reading of internet performance at your venue of interest. The test takes less than two minutes to complete.

 

Keep it private

Keep in mind that free access is not necessarily better when it comes to Wi-Fi. Free Wi-Fi is sometimes shared between all guests and public areas. If you need a dedicated connection for your meeting to ensure no interruptions, a private, dedicated internet service behind a firewall will ensure your meeting is secure and isn’t interrupted by competing demands from other venue guests.

Having reliable internet access at meetings of all sizes is more important than ever. How well a venue’s broadband service is able to meet a variety of demands depends on many factors, beyond just the obvious ones such as speed or price.