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Wifi connectionOne of the things I noticed when going to the very first event I went to after joining an academic library was the remarkable amount of connectivity that is needed by people attending the event.  Almost everyone had a laptop or netbook, and was taking notes, checking their email or browsing the web.   So it makes wifi connectivity at conferences and events a really critical factor.  As I’ve been to more events at a number of different institutional venues over the last couple of years I’ve started to notice that there are quite a few different approaches that are being taken.  And that seems interesting as I’m presuming that most institutions are users of JANET and therefore would need to comply with  the same Acceptable Usage Policy but institutionally come up with different solutions.

So far I’ve come across five different types:

  • Type A
    Offer a separate named conference wifi service and provide you with the wifi access key, either in the conference/seminar materials or on posters/flipcharts etc.  All participants are using the same network and access key.
  • Type B
    Have a separate wifi service for each meeting room and make the access key available at the meeting.  All participants in that meeting use the same network and access key.
  • Type C
    Offer Eduroam and nothing else.  You can only get network access if you are from another HE institution and have already set up Eduroam on your device.
  • Type D
    Use the standard institutional wifi network but provide, on request, an individual wifi access code, often by preprinting them on a sheet with details of the acceptable usage policy.  Attendees have an individual access code but no record is kept of who has which code.
  • Type E
    Provide a specific conference wifi network. Attendees can sign up for an individual wifi access key that generally works for the day.

I’m sure there may be other models out there but I find it is interesting that there is so much institutional variation for something that is vital for any venue that hosts meetings with people from outside that institution.  And with institutions perhaps looking at conferences and seminars as a way of drawing in some extra income, then having a robust, reliable and easy-to-use wifi network for guests at your event is pretty much essential.

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November 2011

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