Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

December 19 2016

How The Wi-Fi At Your Meeting Will Change In The Next Few Years

Staci Wuokko


Regardless of what kind of events you organize, all your attendees share one common need: a strong Wi-Fi signal. More smartphones, tablets and wearables are flooding venues, but organizers face some big challenges to keep them all connected. When was the last time the venue updated its technology infrastructure? Are there limited access points? Is there another event in the venue creating even more traffic on the network? While the list of potential worries is long, a new report from the International Association of Exhibitions and Events highlights some promising news for meeting professionals and business events organizers: the arrival of 5G.

“Service speeds will be 300—500 percent faster than current 4G capabilities, and 5G will also have the capability to deliver higher quality picture and sound as well as virtual reality to the handset,” Francis J. Friedman, President of Time & Place Strategies, writes in the report.

In addition to offering a better digital experience for attendees, 5G has the potential to deliver some big benefits for meeting professionals. “One of the benefits of 5G technology reported for the [exhibition and conference] industry is that it can penetrate the walls of convention centers and deliver full wireless service without having to wire the convention center,” Friedman writes. “If this proves to be effective, attendee wireless service will significantly increase while reducing show organizer budgets for providing in-hall wireless connectivity.”

SEE ALSO: Wi-Fi — Who’s Paying What?

This Will Take Some Time

The development of 5G will play a major role in creating a better convention environment, but the next generation of Wi-Fi isn’t going to take shape tomorrow. Friedman highlights that the first phase of implementation will occur within the next three years. In the meantime, the FCC is working to develop standards for the service, and some technology experts have cautioned the general public to be patient.

“Today’s technology industry has a remarkable success rate developing new products and services that profoundly transform our lives,” Stephen Shankland, a senior reporter at CNET, wrote earlier this year while attending the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. “You’d be well advised to make peace with your current network service, though, because the 5G revolution is years and years in the future.”

According to Shankland, a number of companies are beginning to experiment with in-home 5G. The first big mobile wave of 5G for consumers will arrive at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea where mobile carrier KT is planning to make a big splash. As the major names in telecommunications pave the way toward faster connections, meeting professionals and suppliers will need to work together to prepare for the changes. If you’re looking to kick off 2017 with in-depth discussions on the future of technology at meetings and events, register for Convening Leaders to join 4,000 of your peers in Austin. With hands-on demonstrations and workshops in Tech Central, you’ll head home with new insights into what’s next for mobile apps, social media, VR and more.

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