How to Optimize Your Event's WiFi

A primer on the terminology, plus questions to ask of the venue

Photo Credit: Peera for Adobe Stock

More to Know
• Remember that the WiFi in an empty room might seem fast and reliable, but you need assurances that the same holds true when attendees connect at the same time, or when livestreaming a video and a presentation for a hybrid event.

• Make sure the venue has the IT support you will need; if not, hire an outside vendor to handle your tech needs. 

• Does the venue use a WiFi Assurance automated, cloud-based solution for troubleshooting and optimization?

WiFi has long been a necessary resource for any event, and as we return to meeting face-to-face again, it will prove more important than ever. If there's trouble with the network, the entire event can be in trouble. This is especially true when conducting hybrid meetings, with both in-person and online elements. These events are all about connectivity, so both WiFi and wired Internet must be robust, laying the groundwork for a successful stream and ensuring that all participants — not just the ones sitting in the room — can experience the event you planned at its best. Here are four considerations to keep in mind — whether your next event is in person, online or both.

Know the Lingo

It can be difficult to negotiate WiFi usage if you don't understand WiFi terminology. Here are some essential terms: 

Bandwidth controls the amount of data that can be transmitted and received per second. Think of water flowing through a pipe — the larger the bandwidth, the bigger the pipe, and the more water (data) travels through it. Every new device that connects to the "pipe" takes some of the water, leaving less for everyone else.

Access Point (AP) describes a device that provides a connection to the network.  

Latency is the time it takes for Internet traffic to go from a device to a server. The higher the latency, the slower the network.

Be Aware of Trouble

The top causes of event WiFi issues are:

  • Inadequate bandwidth;
  • Inadequate support; and
  • Infrastructure problems

To prevent the first issue, use a bandwidth calculator tool, such as this one from One Ring Networks ( Read on for how to avoid the second two. 

Ask Questions

You don't want any surprises. Ask the venue specific questions about support and availability; it's a red flag if they don't have the answers.

  • How much bandwidth in total does the property support? Will there be other events held at the same time? Does every event share the bandwidth, or can we get dedicated bandwidth?
  • How is the network's mobility? Do devices stay connected as attendees wander around, or do signals drop in between APs?
  • How well does the network balance usage? Can the network accommodate one room using a lot of WiFi, and other rooms using less?

Plan Far Ahead

When researching venues, be very specific on exactly what you need from the WiFi. If necessary, work with an external vendor to get the coverage that you need. Give whomever you work with plenty of time to test the network and ensure that its design goes above and beyond your expectations. 

Roger Sands is cofounder and CEO of Wyebot Inc., a B2B leader in WiFi automation. His 19 years of experience in tech includes a long stint with Hewlett Packard.