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An Event Planning Blog by Gather Digital

Venue Wi-Fi: Considerations for Your Next Event

Written by: Samuel Bavido

Samuel Bavido

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As you prepare for your event, how can you know that your attendees will have the means to access your mobile event app? How can you ensure that your attendees are able to make full use of the great features that are available to them? These are questions that we are often asked, so it made sense to put together a quick guide to venue Wi-Fi requirements.

The most important thing to consider is that your event app is often not the primary consumer of bandwidth. Once your attendees have access to venue Wi-Fi, you can count on them to check email and download attachments, post photos to Facebook, check Twitter, video chat on work calls and do all the things that you typically do when you get Wi-Fi. The app is actually going to use only a small percentage of the bandwidth that your attendees will take up, so the first step is to think about the basic profile of your group. Are they likely to be high-bandwidth users or not? Particularly social, tech-savvy or work-focused attendees may be heavy consumers of your Wi-Fi. 

The technology of your app makes a difference. If you have a web/HTML5 app, it is going to use more bandwidth, because every page has to be loaded each time someone clicks on it. A native app, like Gather Digital’s, will use significantly less bandwidth, because the app, once installed on a device, is only downloading small bits of data. As an example, once the Gather Digital app is installed (which is only a 10-20 megabyte [or MB] download), it syncs with the server every ten minutes. The typical sync will use between two and 100 kilobytes (KB)—an extremely small amount in today’s world. The average single web page is 10-20 times that size. 

The features and content in your app can cause broad variations in bandwidth needs. Do you have long videos accessible from your app? Downloading those will take up bandwidth. What about large PDFs that attendees need to download? These can take up bandwidth, and depend on the particulars of your app content.

Finally, consider if you are using live polling or not. Live polling is one feature that requires that all of your attendees be connected to the app provider’s servers at the same time. Even if the bandwidth requirement is not high, this can tax the venue’s capacity to keep that many devices connected to Wi-Fi simultaneously. It is important that the Wi-Fi solution provide as many access points as you have people participating in the live poll.

Once you have given thought to your attendees’ probable usage levels and the particulars of your app, we recommend that you speak with your venue about your options. Tell them how many devices you expect to be connected, whether you anticipate them being high or low-bandwidth users, and if you have any special needs given the features you will be using. The venue will have a long history of usage patterns and bandwidth requirements. With this information, they should be able to advise you on the best options for your particular needs at that particular location.

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