Etherlive – Event Technology Experts

Event Technology: Myth Busting #2

Event Technology Myths

In the second part of our myth busting we look at satellite, high density Wi-Fi and broadband speed.

Satellite is the best all round solution for quick event deployment – BUSTED

Over the last few years KA band satellite has become a cheap option for temporary internet access, it can be a great solution in certain cases but there are many cases where it is not suitable. Satellite suffers from a high latency due to the distance to the satellite and this means every piece of data takes around 600ms to cross space. That delay might not seem much but it is crippling to services such as VPN (Virtual Private Networks), VoIP, video calls, online gaming and any application which requires lots of rapid two-way data traffic. It is great however for large file uploads and video streaming, however, it is important to watch data usage as this can rack up significant additional costs.

Satellite is also a poor solution for wide-scale access such as public Wi-Fi, this is because of a technology it uses to try and boost speed, the downside of which limits the number of simultaneous users who can connect to one satellite service. Most KA satellite services also have high contention ratios which can reduce the advertised 18Mbps/6Mbps type speeds down to something considerably lower, a similar trick is used with home broadband services. Uncontended services are available but the cost is much higher and other than for short durations (it’s normally sold in 15 minute slots) it is not competitive with other solutions.

Satellite can absolutely be the right approach, and we deploy lots of satellite solutions, but understanding the user requirements and explaining what the user experience will be like are extremely important to avoid disappointment and frustration.

Better Wi-Fi just means using more Wi-Fi access points – BUSTED

One of the most common problems with Wi-Fi networks is too many Wi-Fi access points and a poor design. A typical response to a user complaining about Wi-Fi is for another Wi-Fi access point to be deployed to ‘improve coverage’, yet frequently this just makes matters worse. Large scale and high density Wi-Fi requires very careful design to avoid what is known as Co-Channel Interference (CCI) where multiple wireless access points are in effect shouting at each other and slowing the whole network down.

Using fewer high capacity managed wireless access points with a detailed radio spectrum design, often with focused antennas, can deliver much high capacity and a better user experience than a thick blanket of access points. Good Wi-Fi design is a technical art requiring some very detailed knowledge – the output though is pretty much invisible to the normal user until it doesn’t work!

20Mbps of broadband speed is always the same – BUSTED

It would be nice if the experience and speed of all broadband services were the same so that when you are told you have 20Mbps that’s what you get. Reality is somewhat different and more complex due to a number of factors:

That’s it for issue 2. Next time, does my microwave really break my Wi-Fi? How comes Wi-Fi works through walls but not though trees? And should you worry about network security.

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