Conference wireless DOES suck

Doc was at Le Web recently and blogged about the crappy wireless. AMEN Doc, conference wireless DOES suck. Providers are terrible, giving no guarantee, delivering less than they promise, etc. Here’s LeWeb’s official take on the wireless, plus another review from the Guardian.

This is something Tom and I have struggled with since starting 360|Conferences.

We’ve had a wide range of experiences with conference wifi.

At eBay, we have no control over wifi. It’s there and that’s that. If it’s insufficient, there’s nothing to be done. It’s corporate IT, and they have no SLA and aren’t paid to provide wifi, end of discussion.

At the Red Lion in Seattle, we made it clear, “Whatever you think, you’re wrong. We’ll abuse your wifi.” As such, for what we paid, they really did their best. They brought in a tech from the vendor and had him stay the week to be on call. Guess what? Yup, he was called. In fact, he came down in the morning in his PJs to put more access points around the place. They definitely earned our money. Wifi wasn’t 100% spot on, a few people had troubles, but overall it seemed to work well.

In Milan, we had no wifi, the hotel used Swisscom, and wanted to charge us $20,000 which (from the paper work we saw) included upgrading the hotels internet infrastructure. We just couldn’t afford it, and were a bit offended to be paying to upgrade them, so we had to forego internet for our attendees, that sucked!

In Atlanta, we tried to get the point across that we’d have high demand and overall I think it didn’t suck too bad.

I think we have an ok track record as far as wifi. It ain’t perfect. I’ve never been to a large (I guess large is 400+) conference with perfect, 100% wifi. There’s always some one who can’t connect, always. I’ve been to one conference in the 200-300 range and have to admit wifi was nice. I did hear a few people complain, but overall it wasn’t totally sucky.

Doc gave me a good idea. It’s never occurred to me, but I think it’s totally fair to expect some level of SLA from wifi vendors. If they fail to deliver, you don’t pay. I think moving forward we’ll see if that can’t be included. For what internet costs, I think it’s fair to expect to actually get it, when we pay for it.

Sadly, rather than come clean and admit they messed up, Swisscom has claimed no foul and is acting like nothing is or was wrong, with the wireless at Le Web.

Tom and I will always strive to provide our attendees with a stable and reliable wireless network. We haven’t given up by any stretch! We will conquer conference wifi. Ok well, we probably won’t, but we won’t settle for crappy wifi either. If we can avoid it, we be sure to avoid doing business with Swisscom!

3 Replies to “Conference wireless DOES suck”

  1. Unfortunately many times where we turn to technology to simplify our lives, we find ourselves even more Complicated.

    Back to the dailup modem for you :)

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