How to Avoid Event Connectivity Issues

Event Network Connection

If you use software for your event that requires an internet connection, a computer or tablet and access to the internet is all you really need—however, the quality of that internet connection can have a significant impact on your event.

In order to access the internet, you will need to connect to a network, typically by using a wireless network, a cable, or cellular data.

Bandwidth

Whenever you interact with a webpage on the internet, your computer is sending and receiving information via this network. Each network is unique and will send and receive information at different rates. The rate at which a network can send and receive information is called bandwidth.

Bandwidth consists of a download speed and an upload speed. Download speeds determine how fast you can load a webpage and how fast the page can react after you have interacted with it. Upload speeds determine how fast your input on a page is sent to the page host.

  GG RECOMMENDATION

These are our bandwidth recommendations for Go Time:

  • 2-5 stations: minimum of 5 mbps download and 3 mbps upload
  • 6-10 stations: minimum of 10 mbps download and 5 mbps upload
  • 11-15 stations: minimum of 15 mbps download and 8 mbps upload
  • Above 15 stations: for each additional station add 1mbps download and 500kbps upload, per station

mbps = megabytes per second
kbps = kilobytes per second

If you are checking in guests digitally, your network’s bandwidth can have a major impact on the time it takes for a guest to get in the door at your event. If your venue’s network transfers information slowly or has an inconsistent connection, check-in volunteers may run into issues like the page appearing to think for long periods after information has been entered, long delays between each check-in step, or even the inability to load at all. This can result in long, slow check-in lines and frustrated guests, so it is very important to make sure that the network you will use will be adequate for your registration needs.

You can quickly gauge your connectivity by going to your check-in area and streaming a video. If you encounter issues with the video playback, then you may need to consider additional options for connecting to the internet. You can also run a speed test at www.speedtest.net to see exactly what the bandwidth is for your network so you can make sure it will support an event of your size.

Proximity

It’s important to make sure your network’s bandwidth is satisfactory but you’ll also want to keep in mind that wireless networks have a limited signal range, which is affected by obstacles between the internet access point and the device you are using. You want your check-in stations close to your wireless router or access point and without objects or walls between the two to make sure that you are receiving the strongest signal possible.

It is typically best to install access points above peoples’ heads for the best signal. Some common areas where a signal can be weak are next to an elevator/escalator bank, the bar tucked in the corner, or the outside patio.

Data Transfer Limits

Other factors that can affect the effectiveness of a network include how much data is being transferred and how many simultaneous connections the network can support. A wireless network can only send or receive a fixed amount of data at one time, so, for example, if some guests are streaming videos on the network you are using for check-in, they can “clog” the internet connection and create delays for your check-in volunteers.

Because each wireless access point or router will also support a limited number of simultaneous connections, a fixed number of devices can be connected to the network through that access point. If your wireless router only supports 20 simultaneous connections and all of them are being used, your check-in volunteers will be unable to interact with the system until one of those connections is freed up.

  GG RECOMMENDATION

These are our general bandwidth recommendations for guests if they will use your wireless network for Online Bidding:

  • 300 or fewer attendees: Internet bandwidth of at least 6 mbps download and 4 mbps upload
  • 300-750 attendees: 12 mbps download and 7 mbps upload
  • 750+ attendees: at least 20 mbps download and 10 mbps upload

mbps = megabytes per second
kbps = kilobytes per second

Online Bidding

If you are using Online Bidding at your event, these factors become even more important. In addition to confirming that the normal network requirements for check-in are met, you will also need to ensure that your guests can connect to the internet in order to bid.

Usually, guests can connect to the internet just fine using their own personal cellular data plan. You can test the cellular reception at your venue by talking to your volunteers and staff to find out what cellular carrier they use. Go to the venue with devices on as many different carriers as possible and stream a video from the internet on each device from all of the areas you expect bidding to occur. If the video does not play smoothly, it will give you a quick idea of any carrier-specific issues or connectivity dead-zones around the auction space.

You can also provide a wireless network your guests can use for bidding. Even if you plan on your guests exclusively using cellular data to bid, some may not wish to use their personal data or may not be able to, so we recommend having a wireless available as a backup for these special cases.

It is especially important to have a wireless network available to your guests if the cellular reception is generally poor or if there are noticeable dead-zones where you can’t connect using cellular data. You can use a separate network or the same network you are using for check-in but make sure it will be up to the task of supporting both at once. You’ll need enough simultaneous connections for your bidders and your check-in volunteers so everyone can connect at once and you’ll need a fast enough bandwidth to allow everyone to load pages and place bids quickly and smoothly.

Other Tips

Once you’re sure your network can handle the activity from your event, you’ll want to make sure you know who is accessing it. If your event is at a hotel, for example, you may be sharing the network with another event going on or even with the hotel guests. See if you can password protect the network to ensure that only your guests will be using it but make sure to share the network name and password with your attendees.

If you are concerned about the bandwidth or number of connections, talk to your IT contacts to see if there is anything they can do to help, like restricting the bandwidth on each individual connection or blocking some bandwidth intensive sites like YouTube that might cause some strain on the network while guests are bidding.

Now that you know more about connecting to the internet, you’re ready to have an educated conversation with your venue to determine the best networking solution for your event. A strong connection at check-in means short lines and more happy bidders at the event. Amaze your guests with how quick and easy it is to bid from their phones by providing plenty of access points and a fast connection. You’ll be glad you put some effort into your wireless network as you watch your smiling guests bid high and bid often.

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