Technology Terms: MiFi Devices

By Quas Sine, Smart City’s Data Operations Manager at the Anaheim Convention Center

What’s a MiFi?

The term “MiFi” is used to describe a wireless router that acts as a mobile WiFi hotspot. A MiFi device is typically connected through a cellular network, such as AT&T or Verizon. This router provides Internet access for up to ten devices with varying download speeds.

How does it work?

The MiFi works at a distance of up to 30 feet and provides Internet or network access to any WiFi-enabled peripheral device. A peripheral device is a device that is connected to a host computer, but not an integrated part of it. Peripheral devices expand the host computer’s capabilities. Some examples of peripheral devices include:

  • Input – mouse and keyboard
  • Output – printers and monitors
  • Storage – flash drives and hard drives

How can a MiFi device affect the meetings and convention industry?

Although they are well suited for homes and small offices, MiFi devices are problematic when used on the trade show floor as they create interference with Smart City’s existing wireless infrastructure at the convention center. Attendees broadcasting personal hotspots on the exhibit floor through devices such as Jetpack or iPhones make it difficult for other show attendees to connect to the Exhibitor and Instant Internet services provided by Smart City.

What can I do to eliminate connectivity issues caused by MiFi devices at my show?

The best way to reduce MiFi interference is through education. An example of this is how a larger client handled outside devices at their show. The management team, aware of the possibility for interference problems, purchased a WiFi buyout and emailed attendees to let them know these devices were not allowed. Smart City monitored the activity on the show floor to help enforce this policy and alerted show management of any MiFi interference we discovered. Show management then informed attendees that they would have to discontinue using them. With vigilance from both the client and our local team, we were able to keep visitors connected and improve the overall experience for all parties on the show floor.

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