‘Smart bITes’ guide for tackling wi-fi interference

Leading technology supplier Etherlive provides a set of concise tips for avoiding and minimising wi-fi interference during large-scale meetings, conferences and exhibitions. Unless addressed wi-fi interference can be a major issue detracting from a successful event.

The advice is the latest in a series of ‘smart bITe’ guides, designed to address the growing reliance on technology for events and empower event organisers with knowledge that will enable them to accommodate the increasing requirements of delegates and exhibitors:

1. Manage expectations and set formal guidelines

Delegates and exhibitors should be informed in advance that any personal equipment will be subject to certain guidelines to prevent interference with the in-house wi-fi. It is recommended users are requested to sign a simple pre-registration form containing the guidelines prior to the event. Have technical resource or partner on hand should any exhibitor wish to ask questions.

2. Use a technology partner to scan the airwaves

Once guidelines have been set, wireless scanners can be used by on-site technology experts to ensure the agreements are being followed and to locate equipment causing interference. It’s not just other wi-fi devices that can be a problem – DECT phones, Bluetooth, alarms, telemetry systems and even industrial microwaves can all be sources of interference.

3. Manage other suppliers

Any wireless networks used by other suppliers should be taken into account during the early stages of wi-fi negotiations; wireless networks may be of equipment used by AV companies for example, so it is worthwhile engaging to pre-determine any possible interference and pre-assign channels so systems can coexist.

4. Get skilled up
Ensuring that the team running the event have access to technical resources or an on-site technology partner are essential in enabling an organiser to address any interference affecting delegates during the event.

5. Put in place a back-up plan
If local interference cannot be eliminated, there should be a back-up plan to minimise the impact i.e. the installation of some hard-wire cables which delegates and exhibitors can use. Whilst wireless offers freedom, many venues suggest that those requiring a ‘guaranteed’ service should consider a backup wired connection assuming the device supports this.

6. Make the necessary pre-event considerations

Check the venue before choosing it in order to identify any potential problems; a good question to ask in the first instance is whether the in-house network can be turned off if it is not required for the event reducing interference.

7. Know your frequencies

Interference can often occur as a result of too many technologies crowding the same frequency channel. A way of counteracting this is to advise those requiring a larger wireless range to use a 5GHz network, which can offer more transmission channels than the overused 2.4GHz. More and more devices now support 5GHz including a number of smartphones.

8. Use the right equipment

Domestic Wi-Fi equipment and lower cost business equipment does not have the advanced antennas and management capabilities to deal with interference effectively. Higher-end professional equipment can automatically work around interference and deliver a much stronger, higher quality connection.

Tom McInerney, director of Etherlive, said: “Technology is becoming more integrated with events than ever before, and the demand for good quality connectivity is really evident; we’ve been in a number of meetings recently where the delivery of wi-fi networks has presented a challenge due to interference. Consequently, organisers are increasingly working with technology partners to achieve peace of mind that the correct IT infrastructure is in place prior to the event, and that specialists are on-site during the event to minimise interference or prevent it altogether.”

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Notes to editors:

• Etherlive is one of the UK’s leading providers of IT and communications technology for the live event sector.
• Etherlive is a specialist in large-scale indoor & outdoor events with multi-faceted communications needs, as well as being a major supplier to the corporate conference and events market.
• Etherlive has been appointed by the likes of WOMAD festival, The Green Man Festival, Goodwood Festival of Speed, South West Four, Southampton Boat Show, London World Triathlon regularly working with brands such as Nokia, Sky, Amazon and Sony.
• Website: www.etherlive.co.uk Blog: www.etherlive.co.uk/blog
• Twitter: www.twitter.com/etherlive
• Etherlive Limited, Brinkworth House, Chippenham, Wiltshire, SN15 5DF