How to stop Wi-Fi hoggers damaging your event’s connection

Victoria Steinitz, LSO St Luke’s Sales and Marketing Manager, on how to stop Wi-Fi hoggers damaging your event’s connection

You’re working with a client you only met four days ago when they flew in from San Francisco on a busy Friday afternoon. Their two-day schedule, which has changed several times while you were carelessly off having a life over the weekend, is packed with content, back-to-back speakers with varied technical requirements and mobile devices are crammed in to charge in every available crevice around the building. Thankfully there is also coffee.
 
The event has been in preparation for several months, since before Christmas in fact – a decent lead time for once! And you have every available technical person on standby. This is going to be big. It’s fair to say every delegate that walks through the door these days is going to have a mobile phone. And they’ll be hungry for free Wi-Fi and that elusive spare power socket. Those delegates who’ve travelled since the small hours or the previous day not only to listen but also to participate and share will also have multiple devices, so it’s fair to say you shouldn’t be far off anticipating at least three devices per person.
 
If your venue is sold partly on the basis of its technical infrastructure and has recently put out a press release about upgrades to its communications systems, you can’t afford to let people down.
 
So in the first break what do they all do? Before, after and during their caffeine upgrade they are tapping, tweeting and let’s hope not quite yet dweeting, though with this lot you never know! Then at lunchtime things start to slow down – really slow – and even the organisation’s database is having trouble. So a call to LSO’s ICT Manager, who’s been watching all this from the main office a few yards down the road at the Barbican. No problem with our ISP, no problem with “the pipe”, bandwidth is fine, Wi-Fi is fine, so what’s going on?
 
In his own words, “lots of critical warnings on the firewall mentioning that the source IP session limit is continually being breached by two particular client MacBooks on the Wi-Fi. These two machines are maintaining lots of data sessions with the Internet, which typically indicates that there may be spyware or virus activity on them. Continually blocking these rogue machines is putting the firewall under higher than normal load, which is probably what is causing slowness and the few reported connection errors.”
 
Jokes about streaming continuous episodes of 24 – or perhaps something more imaginative – aside, these two people are jamming access for everyone else, frustrating the delegates and the client, and certainly not doing the venue’s reputation any favours. Apparently we have the option of disconnecting them. Sounds good to me. But is it ethical? Practical? Will it get back to the client as some pretty poor feedback? Only thing to do is to let the lively but lovable lead know the rot is coming from within and make a decision together.
 
“Cull the b******s. Cut ‘m loose!”
 
Ah, okay then, with pleasure! Gotta love Americans.
 
Incidentally, we learnt a lot from this event. What can you take away? Your welcome note may not need to include the location of the payphone anymore, but you need more extension leads and adaptors than you’ve had hot dinners. The ever-increasing variety of event technology may be above your head but it’s the fundamentals that will get you through the day – thorough preparation, good communication, a calm approach and, above all, a GSOH.

Any comments? Email Zoe Vernor

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Conference News hosts great guests on its pages. Our Blog section is the collection of the best opinions in the UK and international events industry.

ConferenceNews Guest Author

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ConferenceNews Guest Author

Conference News hosts great guests on its pages. Our Blog section is the collection of the best opinions in the UK and international events industry.

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