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Latest from the Blog

Will the events industry benefit from Wi-Fi 6?

Wednesday, December 4th, 2019

In the world of Wi-Fi, there is a next-generation wireless standard upon us. Wi-Fi 6 still connects you to the internet yet has a bunch of additional technologies such as lower battery consumption in Wi-Fi 6 devices, higher data rates with peak Gigabit speeds and increased capacity with reduced latency to support higher numbers of users and devices, thanks to improved medium access control (MAC) control signalling. For those of us working in events where a bulletproof Wi-Fi connection can be integral to their success, will Wi-Fi 6 have a major impact? We’ve outlined the most event relevant benefits of the new standard below: Faster Wi-Fi Wi-Fi 6 is faster than the previous Wi-Fi standard 802.11ac. It will achieve speeds up to four times faster to drive more applications but it's not all about speed. This latest upgrade is more about setting a new platform of future-facing standards so that our speeds won't grind to a halt a few years down the line. Will Wi-Fi 6’s faster speeds have a significant impact on the events industry? Probably not, given most client devices will not be compatible or capable and to add to this there will be very few events that have a 10Gbps internet connection or the internal network infrastructure to deliver it. Perhaps in five years time, we will start to see the true impact this could have on the events world.  Better performance in congested areas  Wi-Fi 6 is all about improving the network for when large numbers of devices are connected. If you have ever tried using the ‘free’ public Wi-Fi on the underground at peak times you will know the feeling of a congested network, it’s painfully slow during rush hour and yet completely usable outside of rush hour. The new standard will provide better performance in heavily congested areas such as large stadiums and other public venues with large capacities and does have the potential to help improve performance for large scale events where you might have 70,000 visitors wanting to connect and use the stadium app for ordering food and drinks or watching an instant replay of the game.  More robust outdoor network operations  As festivals and outdoor events grow in popularity so has the demand for robust outdoor Wi-Fi networks. With higher speeds and improved capacity, Wi-Fi 6 will improve outdoor connectivity for users which is a tremendous benefit for festival organisers, however, the downside is that it will come down to the back end infrastructure and with this comes a much larger expense which we all know won't be welcomed easily. Wi-Fi 6 is certainly a big development in the world of Wi-Fi and is laying a new foundation to the future of connectivity, but for events until higher bandwidth becomes more affordable and the right internal infrastructure is in place we can’t see this having much of an impact, certainly not for 95 per cent of the events industry. A majority of events, unfortunately, won’t have the budget to invest in the infrastructure needed to take advantage of Wi-Fi 6. Currently, most events aren’t even able to take advantage of the full 802.11ac capabilities which have been available for approximately six years. By Gary Exall, Director, noba Event Wi-Fi

How realistic is ‘free broadband for all’ in the UK?

Thursday, November 21st, 2019

By James Grant, Technical Director, Noba Event Wi-Fi Last week the Labour Party announced its ‘free broadband for all’ election pledge. It would be achieved by a £20bn investment nationalising Openreach, the maintenance arm of BT, and a tax on internet companies such as Google, Facebook and Amazon etc, to cover operational costs. As providers of high-quality Wi-Fi across a range of sectors from education to hospitality, construction to venues and events we thought we’d look at how realistic the proposal is and how it could affect the events industry and even our own business. I think the first thing to point out is that this project would be a huge undertaking and while some smaller countries have achieved it, large infrastructure projects like this do tend to balloon in both cost and timelines (think HS2) and it’s unlikely we would ever see this fully achieved. Andora in the Iberian Peninsula is an example of a country that has rolled out free Wi-Fi for its residents and visitors to enjoy successfully. In 2016 just over 4m connections were made through its Andorra Telecom Wi-fi. Yet the population of Andorra at just 76,965 is small compared to the UK’s population of over 66m. The UK is also lagging behind when it comes to Broadband speeds. In fact, there are 25 European nations ahead of the UK for Broadband speeds including Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia and Romania. I think we are more likely to see SpaceX’s Starlink satellite constellation being constructed before free broadband for all is up and running in the UK. The Starlink project consists of thousands of mass-produced small satellites working in combination with ground transceivers to provide satellite internet access. This month alone SpaceX has deployed 122 satellites and in total, nearly 12,000 will be deployed by the mid-2020s with a possible later extension to 42,000. For the events industry, ‘free broadband for all’ would certainly be highly beneficial. It's amazing how often, even in London, events are run off of unreliable services, such as 4G, due to a lack of available options. Lead times for installing fibre, which is typically three months or more, just aren't compatible with smaller pop-up events. Even if it was achieved, 'one is none' (as they say) so we'd still need backup internet connections, managed Wi-Fi and the smarts to pull it all together. And I can't imagine the response times for faults would be particularly fast. In conclusion, it's a nice idea and if pulled off could be a big boost to the events industry, just don’t hold your breath!

Why should I pay for Event Wi-Fi?

Monday, November 18th, 2019

The age-old question of why event Wi-Fi should be paid for is a common FAQ at the venues we work in. With free Wi-Fi more readily available on trains, in coffee bars, pubs etc and high-speed Wi-Fi available at home for a minimal monthly fee people don’t understand why this should be different at venues and events. Unlike lighting or video, Wi-Fi is for all intent and purposes invisible. If you connect to a £30 router from Maplins or a £1,200 access point the Wi-Fi signal on your phone looks the same. Wi-Fi at home or in Costa coffee might be free but there is no real quality of service on it and if hundreds of users tried to connect to it at the same time it would fall over. Venue Wi-Fi, in particular, Noba venue WiFi, has had thousands of pounds invested in it in order to handle high numbers of simultaneous users. On the back of this, there is usually a hi-speed internet connection which adds £10k plus annually to the overall spend. When we first started out, event Wi-Fi was considered a luxury, or nice to have, but not essential to an event’s success, now it is often as important as AV or set build towards the success of the event. For example, a phone launch being live-streamed to 300,000 viewers with 200 press in the audience who must have the hi-res product images online instantly, relies on a well designed and resilient network infrastructure, high-speed robust internet connection with seamless failover to a backup connection if the primary fails. All of this costs a lot of money to get right and highly-skilled engineers to configure the kit in the correct way and this needs to be reflected in the price. Nobody wants to have to explain to a high ranking executive from a phone manufacturer why their Livestream has failed and the press can’t tell the world about their product. Millions have been invested in the event and thousands need to be invested in the network to get it right. Obviously, not every event requires this level of connectivity, some only require basic browsing and social media access. However this still needs to be done right, 500 people at a conference that are using the free Wi-Fi service at a venue will still complain if the connection is rubbish. This leads to a bad reputation for the venue and the provider. This is why Noba will never provide a free service for more than 100 users at any of our venues. If people want the same service in the middle of a field this number drops to zero. It is a bigger expense to provide a great network in a disused warehouse or field than it is in a building with existing infrastructure. Your hotel room Wi-Fi might have been free but it is not comparable. Not all Wi-Fi is equal. The events industry would benefit from more standardisation on Wi-Fi costs as some venues can charge up to £27k for 100Mbps. (Noba charges from £500 at our venue btw) but ultimately good event Wi-Fi needs to be paid for. It either gets added to the venue hire invisibly which makes the venue hire more expensive or it gets charged to the end client. One of the issues with standardisation of costs, however, is that every venue is different and every requirement is bespoke to the event. Every venue cannot be configured to instantly accommodate every requirement without any reconfiguring of kit and without the input of highly trained engineers. A full lighting rig with all the expertise that goes with it will not be provided free of charge, why should this be the case for quality WiFi?  We’d be interested to hear your thoughts on event Wi-Fi. Please contact us to hear more about the venues we work with and our event Wi-Fi. If you would like to know more about our other services please email us on wifi@noba.co.uk and a member of our team will be in touch!

Exhibiting and speaking at Event Tech Live 2019

Monday, November 4th, 2019

This week the team and I will be at Event Tech Live, we’ll not only be exhibiting on the show floor and meeting up with clients old and new, but I’ll also be taking part in a panel discussion on the subject of ‘Future Event Venues’. It’s a hot topic which will no doubt generate some great content. During the session on Thursday 7th November, we will explore how venues can use technology in years to come and how this technology will shape the future of our events. At noba, we have the first-hand experience of working with venues that have been purpose-built with functionality, visitor experience and cutting edge technology in mind from the get-go. I look forward to discussing all of this, and more, with the rest of the panel and those attending. For us, attending the event gives us the opportunity to meet face to face with lots of clients, something which is very hard to do in a normal working day as everyone has such a busy life, especially in the world of events, but it also gives us the chance to understand what other technology is available and share in the knowledge transfer and education available at Event Tech Live.Event Tech Live does exactly what you would expect by bringing together a large group (several thousand) of suppliers and users of great technology to enhance their events. The possibilities are endless these days with the amount of technology that’s available but understanding how and when to use this technology is pivotal to how effective, or of use, it may be to the individual client. We’ve certainly found the event very beneficial over the last three years. With so much discussion in the world of connectivity and the Internet of things, staying connected is, in most cases, a major driver with most technologies. Take any cloud-based technology solution that needs to pull or push information in real-time across the internet, it needs a robust Wi-Fi solution that’s fit for purpose. We are involved in most discussions from the conceptual stages all the way through to delivery, integration with other technology or simply providing the platform with credible, reliable Wi-Fi which makes us a trusted partner and essential supplier to the events industry. What better place to ensure we are available to support and help our clients than being on hand at Event Tech Live.Come say hi at our stand 1508 at any time during Event Tech Live and speak with me directly or join the debate on Thursday 7th November at 1 pm at the Expo & Engage stage!Gary Exall - Director

3 reasons why we support the Government’s £250,000 Wi-Fi competition for events

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019

The UK Government recently launched a competition for event venues across the UK to apply for funding to improve its broadband infrastructure for international events. The £250,000 will be split between a variety of event venues across the country that can host over 400 delegates and will be used to support the improvement of onsite broadband facilities. We take our hats off to the Government for supporting the events industry and essentially using public money to attract more events and more sophisticated events to the country. We’ve put together three reasons why reliable Wi-Fi at events is essential for the future of the UK events industry. Successful events A good Wi-Fi network is vital to the success of any event these days. When you consider the amount of event technology that can potentially be used across an event cycle from event registration and a conference app to live streaming and social walls, the connection needs to be efficient and fit-for-purpose. Happy, connected delegates The number one frustration for people at events in not being able to connect to the venue’s Wi-Fi. In the connected world, we live in delegates need to be able to use their phones to check their emails and messages. Anyone that has attended an event and struggled to connect to the venue’s Wi-Fi network knows how frustrating it can be. Poor user experience can reflect badly on your brand and encourage people to use their mobile network to share their disappointments across social media. Dublin’s Web Summit suffered this problem a few years ago. Europe’s largest tech event left delegates frustrated that the connection was extremely slow and at some points was unable to connect. The event’s 22,000 visitors took to Twitter in their droves to complain about the issue. Security and reputation Most corporates such as banks, law firms and financial services want a secure network for their delegates to connect to at events, as they need to ensure there is no risk of their devices being hacked while connected to the conference network. Yet it is not only these industries that consider security as a vital requirement anymore, but network security is also a high priority for events in the 21st century. A reliable, safe Wi-Fi network available at UK venues is essential for building a positive reputation among international organisers and visitors and attracting business events to help grow the industry. Today, technology and connectivity are as critical as audio, video and lighting to events and live experiences, therefore bulletproof Wi-Fi is no longer a bonus at an event but an absolute essential. Article by Gary Exall- Director at Noba Our experts have kept plenty of events connected, with as little as 24 hours notice. Contact us to see how we can help you.

Event Wi-Fi Planning Guide

Thursday, November 17th, 2016

You never really know someone until you’ve seen them use slow internet. We’ve all been through the frustration of an app or web page not loading when we need it most – and it can test anyone’s patience. When it comes to event planning, it’s worth installing Wi-Fi at your venue, or temporarily upgrading your existing network to keep attendees satisfied. Whether you’re hosting a music festival or conference, communication is central to any event – whatever its size.  (more…)

Press, Production & WiFi at Adidas World Finals

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

Project type: Event WiFi Client: Iris Worldwide Services delivered: Satellite broadband, Press, Production and Public WiFi, live support.   Press, production and tech team WiFi provided for over 200 users at the Marseille docks. On behalf of award winning agency Iris Worldwide noba delivered a rock solid network including the backbone of the live scoring system for the Adidas World Finals.   With an install time of less than 6 hours our low contention, high speed triple bonded satellite broadband system provided over 60Mbps of internet throughput to this prestigious event.   For more information on our technology solutions for live events, please contact us.

Fully Managed WiFi Network | Rugby World Cup

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

Project type: Event WiFi Client: RTH Services delivered: Fully managed WiFi network, structured cabling, live support. Fully managed WiFi network for 3000 users! As experts in venue connectivity RTH called upon noba to install and manage the WiFi connectivity for the VIP hospitality areas at Twickenham for the Rugby World Cup 2015. Using a high capacity Ruckus wireless network our highly skilled engineers were able to create a robust, highly adaptable network. Guests, management and production staff enjoy faultless connectivity even at peak times with several thousand simultaneous users. As with all our live installations a noba engineer is onsite to monitor the network in real time. For more information on our technology solutions for live events, please contact us.

Press, Production & Public WiFi for Campaign for Wool

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

Project type: Event WiFi Client: XYZ Services delivered: Press, production and public WiFi. 150Mbps internet connection and hardwired 10Mbps upload for live stream.   Saville Row was transformed into a meadow complete with grazing sheep as part of Wool Week for the Campaign for Wool. As experts in outdoor connectivity noba delivered hi-speed production and press WiFi, guest connectivity and a robust internet for the live stream team. Working on behalf of XYZ this was definitely one of the more unusual events of the year!   For more information on our technology solutions for live events, please contact us.

Live Streaming to YouTube for Versus Versace Show

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

Project type: Live Streaming Client: Versace on behalf of My Beautiful City Services delivered: HD streaming to YouTube and noba Live Stream CDN. Embed of stream into various magazine websites.   The stream team deliver Crystal clear HD streaming to thousands of YouTube viewers live from the Versus Versace SS2016 show @ London Fashion Week on behalf of My Beautiful City.   Check out the highlights: https://youtu.be/MbJe7GMyu4Y   For more information on our technology solutions for live events, please contact us.