Wireless Internet and Exhibit Halls

By Todd Zuccato, Smart City’s General Manager at the Phoenix Convention Center

Exhibit Halls produce a unique challenge for providing wireless internet service. The density of users and widespread use of personal devices create a distinctive environment where wireless internet delivery is complicated.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers clearly define the specifications for wireless networking. The IEEE 802.11 set of standards is dedicated solely to describe how to implement wireless computer communication in several frequency bands. IEEE 802.11 operates in an unlicensed wireless spectrum of frequencies. The FCC controls these frequencies but does not require a license to use them. Therefore, using an unlicensed spectrum means there is a potential for a significant number of devices using these frequencies at the same time, and for a variety of purposes. Here are the standard devices that use the unlicensed spectrum frequency:

  • Wireless access points/Wireless routers
  • Laptops
  • Tablets
  • iPads
  • Mobile devices
  • Bluetooth devices
  • Microwave ovens
  • Security cameras
  • Baby monitors
  • Remote car starters
  • Wireless speakers
  • Zigbee networks
  • Video senders
  • Wireless keyboards
  • Wireless mice
  • Remote controls (garage doors, universal remotes, security systems)
  • Medical devices
  • Wireless printers
  • Two-way radio transceivers
  • Some sewing machines
  • Most newer appliances

With so many devices competing for very little frequency allocation, an exhibit hall is one of the most challenging places to deliver high-quality wireless internet connection. With the combined efforts of exhibitors, attendees, and our on-site technicians the number of these devices can be minimized to ensure the best possible Wi-Fi experience for everyone.

The keys to successfully mitigating wireless challenges are early planning and sound communication. Notifying the wireless provider of any high-density areas or any interactive sessions will help the provider plan for the coverage required to be successful.

Exhibitors who plan to use 802.11 devices should also notify the wireless provider. The exhibitor and the provider can coordinate a channel and power plan that will offer the best opportunity for all parties to have successful wireless communications.

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