In this month’s newsletter, we continue our conversation with our technology partners at Freeman Audio Visual.
As we discussed in our last Techno-chat, determining ‘density’ is an important starting point when planning your meeting and is essential to selecting the technology package that will best suit your needs. In order to do this you will need to identify how many electronic devices will be accessing the Internet and whether all your delegates will need to be online at the same time.
Your next question will be, how important is it for my delegates to be connected? Do I need my Internet connection to be supported, reliable, sufficient and fast? Your answers to these questions will help you determine whether you choose a free vs. paid network.
Free vs Paid . . . What’s the difference?
The key difference between free vs. paid networks is in the network setup and the overall support, or rather the lack of “specialized” support free provides. Free networks typically rely on relatively inexpensive network-grade equipment and limited onsite knowledgeable support. For example, it may cost only several hundreds to install a wireless router that will cover 10-20 users over a limited space. In this case there is little concern about the quality or reliability of the signal as the network will not be robust enough to provide multiple users with solid upload or download capacity. Free is therefore provided with limited, if any, support and the risk factor of free is extremely high. Moreover, free services are limited to a shared bandwidth service with access to an average of 10-50mbps of download and 2-10mbps of upload speeds. This may sound like a lot, but if you consider this is typically the bandwidth found at home, yet it is still barely enough for 5-10 devices to be online simultaneously, in a conference environment this is most definitely insufficient.
Over the past several years, many hotels and conference centres have invested significant resources to install professional networks that rely on ‘enterprise-grade’ hardware which provides much stronger and robust Internet connectivity. They have installed extensive wired and wireless equipment which on average starts from $200,000 depending on their network load requirements. Enterprise-grade networks can accommodate 500 or more concurrent online connections and offer much larger bandwidth options which will enhance the speed of downloading and uploading data equating to an overall much better experience. In addition, the ongoing costs differ significantly, as enterprise systems usually pay much higher internet and system access fees than basic lines and also require licensing. Furthermore, enterprise systems have on-site knowledgeable staff and a multi-level support team available at a moment’s notice.
Our advice on free vs. paid connectivity
When it comes to choosing the type of network connection you need for your meeting or conference, the old adage, “You get what you pay for,” comes to mind. If you have very few delegates who will not require constant online access during the meeting, you may find that a free or basic network package is the best choice. However, if the success of your event relies on the reliability and speed at which your delegates can connect, using an enterprise grade network will be the best way of ensuring a high-quality connectivity experience and ultimately, a successful meeting.