WiFi is easy — as long as you have the wireless spectrum all to yourself. For most, people’s experience with WiFi is simply a matter of going to their local Best Buy, buying a consumer grade wireless router and plugging it in at home. If they live in a suburban area where the houses are fairly separated, these people really don’t have much to worry about in terms of interference.
Problems escalate when setting up WiFi in urban areas. In situations where you live in a high-rise apartment or condo, you have to compete against all of your neighbors and their WiFi. But even then, getting WiFi to work reasonably well is possible (but not optimal) in many circumstances because the power of your WiFi access point will be stronger than most of the surrounding access points.
Even more difficult, how can you adequately provide WiFi access at major conferences and other events that have hundreds of booths and exhibits that use their own WiFi?
In these situations, it’s best to use a professional that understands how to optimize wireless in spaces where WiFi spectrum is overcrowded. There are three goals to accomplish when providing WiFi at major conferences and events:
1. A working signal for your booth, exhibit or conference room.
If presenters require WiFi in order to demonstrate their product/service, this is of critical importance. If you also plan to give WiFi access to visitors, you’d better make sure that the presenters have first dibs on access. Otherwise, you might end up with a problem similar to the one Steve Jobs had when he was attempting to use WiFi while showing of the new iPhone 4.
2. Make sure your WiFi signal doesn’t interfere with other exhibits/booths.
Cooperation between other technicians at conferences is of utmost importance. The last thing you want to do is step on others spectrum in order to get your WiFi to work. There are power-level techniques and antenna systems that can be used to better target a specific space so your signal only projects where it needs to. If you blast your signal throughout the entire conference, it may give your company a bad reputation.
3. Have a plan B.
If the spectrum is seriously overcrowded, it’s best to have a fallback plan that either minimizes the need for WiFi or eliminates it all together.
A colleague of mine provided WiFi access to a major US wireless provider for CES 2012. According to his observations, many CES exhibitors did not plan well. They opted to use consumer-grade WiFi access points with little to no security or QoS to prioritize traffic and users. And because of this, they likely ran into many technical problems when it came time to actually use WiFI in their presentations.
So if you are planning on attending a major conference or other event where you think you might run into a congested WiFi spectrum, drop us a line. At West Gate Networks, we use enterprise-class Ruckus WiFi gear and know how to properly configure the setup so it works sufficiently in your environment.