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 firstname.lastname@example.org and a member of our team will be in touch!Posted 18th November 2019
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