Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

October 15 2013

This is What Can Get In the Way of Your Conference Wi-Fi

By David McMillin

wifi and mifi

When you hear your attendees or exhibitors grumbling about slow Wi-Fi at your next conference, make sure they know that your technology providers aren’t always to blame for connectivity issues. Instead, the cause for the “still loading” messages on those web pages might rest squarely on the shoulders of their colleagues.

The problem? Many cellular providers sell MiFi devices that allow users to use 3G and 4G to set up their own personal wireless networks, and plenty of conference-goers are getting in on the action. At IMEX America in Las Vegas, organizers addressed the issue before the show.

“As you prepare your presence at IMEX America, we are aware that some of you may be planning to use MiFi devices to share Internet connectivity,” a recent message to the IMEX LinkedIn group reads. “In the case of the busy and compact trade show floor at IMEX America, we ask that you refrain from using these devices.”

SEE ALSO: 5 Reasons Why Free Wi-Fi Might Not Be the Best Deal

The host and technology provider, the Sands Expo, reiterates the need to leave those MiFi devices unplugged. While show participants may assume that bringing their own devices will ensure a strong signal, all those devices simply wreak havoc on the connection that the Sands is actually providing. How? Think of standing at a bar. When you’re sharing the room with a few friends, it’s comfortable. You can talk. You can move. You can hear each other. Now, put thousands of people in that same room. You can’t get a drink. You can’t hear each other. You can’t do, well, anything.

MiFi signals are the same way. When just a few are crossing lines, you won’t notice the interference. When hundreds of attendees and exhibitors are setting up their own networks, everything slows to a crawl.

IMEX America proactively addressed the concern before it became a real issue on the show floor. As exhibitors and attendees alike grow increasingly addicted to being constantly connected, other planners may want to consider taking a similar approach.

SEE ALSO: 4 Steps to Control Your Connectivity Costs

Have you had issues with an overwhelming number of MiFi devices at your meeting or trade show? What have you done to combat the challenge? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. 

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