The Truth About Free Wireless

The costs of a meeting or conference can really build up. This is why temptations of “Free Wireless” can snag even the savviest planner. Unfortunately, what you save on your budget may seriously impact the quality of your meeting. 
 
 
Wireless is no longer an option. Laptops, tablets and phones now accompany most professionals every moment of the workday. They aren’t just addictive, they’re necessary. Emails must be responded to. Linkedin requests must be accepted. And yes, Facebook “must” be checked. The budget-hawk in you may see a good deal when compared to venues charging for wireless, but the unintended consequences of free wireless could be disastrous.
 

Here’s what they don’t tell you:

 
It’s Coffeeshop Quality – What works for 50 people fails for 100. Limited bandwidth fails quickly and immediately for everyone. You’ll notice when everyone looks up from their laptops and phones to start asking everyone in sight, “Is your internet down? I’m not getting a signal.” Then the stampede begins.
 
Your Presenters Deserve Better – Imagine traveling to a meeting, crafting your slide deck until the last minute, practicing your pauses, your tone, your questions to a tee…and your video won’t load. It interrupts the presentation and reflects poorly on you. 
 
You Get What You Pay For – When the signal goes down, who ya gonna call? WiFi-Busters? The support that comes along with free wireless normally amounts to lip service. 
 
Weak Signals Limit Potential – Presentations can be so amazingly interactive now – instant polls, live blogging on Twitter, streaming video, and more! You can’t trust the best new tech with hit or miss internet.
 
Security is Minimal – Hackers lurk around open wireless networks. Free wireless often doesn’t have the basic security to keep unscrupulous people out of your attendee’s personal info including passwords, email and bank accounts.
 
Frustration is a Heck of a Conversation Starter – Ever met someone who got home from an amazing vacation and couldn’t stop complaining about the flight? A bad wireless experience may be the first thing out of their mouth even when the rest of the meeting went off without a hitch. 
 
It’s best to be upfront with what you need. Most meeting venues can predict your wireless needs very accurately, just like they can with chairs or beverages. Plan for what you need, not for cost cutting. It will save you a lot in the end. 
 
Have any good horror stories to tell about free wireless? We’d love to hear them! Comment below!
 

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