Learning about event Wi-Fi can feel like learning another language. Often when you try to research event Wi-Fi terms, best practices and more you are greeted with technical papers written by engineers. The articles feel like they are from another world, are very complex and hard to understand. We are putting to an end to now.
Today we are covering the most common event Wi-Fi terms you should know as an event planner. With some basic knowledge and understanding of event Wi-Fi terms, you will be able to make better decisions when it comes to your event Wi-Fi choices.
Wi-Fi Terms – The Basics
When you are learning new terms you have to start somewhere right? These are the basics of event Wi-Fi terms. Understanding these terms will give you a foundation to work off to learn about event Wi-Fi and deploy it at your events.
Hotspot – A designated access point or location where Wi-Fi is available. You sometimes see these as a paid or free service at coffee shops and retail stores. Attendees may use Wi-Fi Hotspots at events.
Network – A wireless network allows devices to stay connected to the internet without plugging into cables. Networks use radio waves to connect all devices. At events when you connect to the Wi-Fi hotspot you are connecting the event’s network.
Network Name – This is the name of the wireless network. Your network name can be shown or hidden so only people who have the name can search and find it.
Range – The maximum distance your Wi-Fi can travel from an access point to a device like a computer.
Bandwidth – The maximum data transfer rate on an internet connection. Bandwidth is mainly measured in megabits per second, however, sometimes with very fast connections, it is measured in gigabits.
Speed Test – An internet speed tests check your internet connection and bandwidth speeds. The test shows how much data can be sent over a connection in a certain amount of time. This is a great way to check if the speeds at your event are actually what you are paying for, we recommend Fast.com & Speedtest.net.
VoIP – Voice over Internet Protocol allows people to use the Internet for telephone calls by sending voice data in packets using IP rather than the traditional phone line circuits.
IP Address – Like real life, addresses are important for identification on the internet. An IP Address is a unique string of numbers that are separated by periods. The address serves as an identity for each device using a network to communicate.
IoT – The Internet of Things is the network of physical objects (cellphones, computers, and more) that have an IP address for internet connectivity, and the communication between those objects and other devices on the internet.
Wi-Fi Terms – Equipment and Beyond
Access Point – Simply put an access point turns ethernet into Wi-Fi. An access point (AP) is a networking device that creates a wireless local area network, or WLAN, allowing Wi-Fi devices to connect to a wired network such as a wired router, or switch via an Ethernet Cable. The Access Point then sends Wi-Fi to a designated area. We recommend the Ubiquity HD Access Point for the best you can get. It’s an enterprise-level access point that can handle up to 2000 people to connect, this will allow your attendees to all connect to your Wi-Fi.
Router/Gateway – Routers have one single purpose for events, they are the brain of the internet. A router takes the wired internet connection coming to your modem and transform it into a wireless signal via radio signals and creates a network and routes traffic between devices at your event. It’s a dedicated device that runs your internets rules, firewalls, and all the info and data gets routed through it. We recommend Ubiquiti’s routers because they are easy to use and offer robust security.
Switch – A switch acts as a highway for all information going from your networks router to devices. A switch is similar to the hub but intelligent. Switches send data to the device that requested the data, and ONLY that device. Freeing up space on your network. They make switches that can even send power (electricity) over the ethernet! Neat! Make sure your switch has at least Gigabit ethernet but they also make 10 gigabit switches as well.
Modem – Short for modulator-demodulator your modem acts as a bridge between local internet and your network. It does so by plugging into a cable, fiber, or other types of infrastructure then outputs the signal into an ethernet cable plugged into your router to get an internet connection. Essentially your modem gets information from the internet into your Wi-Fi network.
Range Extender – Range extenders sit in the middle your router and where you need more internet coverage. Range extenders take your existing signal from your router and rebroadcast the signal to get an extended range of use using a different channel than your router. This to extend coverage at large scale events.
Wireless Bridge – A bridge connects 2 networks together over Wi-Fi
Channel – A Wi-Fi channel is an avenue that wireless networks can send and receive data. Choosing the right channel can allow for faster speeds and a better connection. If a channel is busy it can cause for slow connections and interference.
DHCP – Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol the client/server protocol that assigns the IP host their IP address. DHCP provides consistent rules and processes for internet everywhere
LAN – Also known as a Local Area Network, LAN is a network between devices on your Wi-Fi network or plugged into your router, connects devices together. Think about when you want to play video games between two game systems but not over the internet.
WAN – Short for Wide Area Network, WAN is when more than one network are joined together. An example of a WAN is the internet.
Wi-Fi Terms – Security
If you are planning an event you must think about cybersecurity. As an event planner the platforms and websites you use for your events host goldmines of data for hackers. Think about it, often you have banking information, personal addresses, phone numbers, flight numbers and so much more. It is your responsibility to keep that information safe! These are the terms you must know when thinking about internet security. If you want to learn more about cybersecurity check out our recent episode of Event Tech Podcast, on Event Cybersecurity Risks.
Secure Network – Any Wi-Fi network, home, business, event and otherwise that has security measures in place to protect users against hackers and data breaches. Events are strongly advised to use a secure Wi-Fi network. Event planners work with a lot of private data from attendees and vendors. It is your responsibility to protect the data.
Open network – This is an unsecured network and is not safe to use when working with private data. Open networks do not require a WPA, meaning it does not encrypt data making it easier for a hacker to get your important information as it is in plain text.
WPA – Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) is a common security protocol developed by the Wi-Fi Alliance when you connect to your network it is a secure network. WPA is an encryption tool that scrambles your encryption key and also checks to make sure it wasn’t altered during any data transfers.
WPA2 – WPAs replacement which is significantly more secure. It does not allow TKIP which is found in its predecessors which has holes and limits commonly known. WPA2 enforces a mandatory use of the AES (Advanced encryption standard) a super strong encryption algorithm.
Passphrase – A combination of letters and numbers that serve as a security key and provide authentication for wireless network connections. A passphrase is also known as a Wi-Fi security key. Using a passphrase helps simplify network management allowing administrators and network users to enter a passphrase which is easier to remember than long strings of numbers. Not all Wi-Fi networks can support passphrases so check with your event Wi-Fi provider to see if it is a possibility.
Encryption – Encryption is a type of code that provides security using algorithms to turn plain readable text into unreadable code. Only those holding an encryption key can decode the text. Everything from online shopping to highly confidential information uses encryption. There any many levels of encryption from basic to extremely advanced, as an event planner it is critical you use a form of encryption on your event websites and event apps to keep attendees important information secure and protect their data.
VPN – A VPN also known as a virtual private network allows users to create a secure connection to another network over the internet. Remote workers often use a VPN to allow access to the company network securely. To protect your data on a public network you could also use a VPN.
Firewall – Firewalls are a critical part of network security. Firewalls are programs that stop access to or from your network from unauthorized places based on a set of security rules.
Wi-Fi Terms – Internet Options
Internet is not one size fits all! Events will need different speeds and types of connections depending on the type of event, what the event is using the internet for, and the location of the event.
DSL – DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) is a type of connection that works through a phone line, because of this it is widely available (anywhere with a phone line it’s possible to get). This internet option has limited speeds. DSL is one of the slower types of connections.
Cable – Cable internet uses cable modems and Cable TV lines to provide internet. It’s a little more reliable and faster than DSL. This is a very popular internet option.
Fiber – Fiber internet is becoming very common in households, and businesses. With fiber, you are able to get really fast speeds up to1 gigabit per second. It works by using fiber cables comprised of glass which send a light signal through refraction from point A to point B.
Satellite truck – In areas broadband isn’t available satellite trucks can be deployed to bring internet to where you are. One of the main limitations is speed, to work it has to reach a satellite in orbit thousands and thousands of miles away and come back to earth with the data. Another downside is satellite internet can be affected by the weather just like your satellite TV at home. With heavy rains and snows, you may lose signal. The major bonus to satellite internet is you can get internet anywhere you can park a truck.
Microwave – A high-speed wireless internet where radio signals and transmission towers are used instead of cables to provide service. Transceiver equipment is installed at receiving locations such as a business. Bandwidth speeds are faster than satellite internet. To use Microwave internet, site access is required building. Trees can prohibit microwave internets use. Microwave internet is extremely reliable because you are not dependent on underground cables which can be cut during surrounding construction and more. Microwave internet tends to cost more than cable, fiber, or DSL internet. However, with increasing popularity internet prices, are expected to decrease.
Cellular tower – It is possible to use cellular networks to pull internet from using a cellular hotspot. This is not reliable in some areas where cell phone service is spotty or non-existent.
Wi-Fi Terms – Common Internet Cables
Fiber Optic Cable – A cable comprised strands of pure glass as thin as a human hair which carry refracting light signals. Fiber optic cables are great for the internet because of their high carrying capacity and low transmission losses. These cables also send data faster than traditional copper cables.
Ethernet cable – This is the most common networking type of cable used to connect devices to networks. Ethernet cables come in various lengths and are made of copper. You can the cables up to access points and connect to the switch to get data. They have different speeds and enhancements depending on the needs you have, we will list them below.
- Cat 5 – provides 10/100Mbps speed to the Ethernet, which means that the cables can support either 10 Mbps or 100 Mbps speeds.
- Cat 5e – This is the most commonly used type of ethernet cable. It is the enhanced version of the previous Cat 5 cable. New enhancements cross talk and can support 10/100Mbps and 1000 Mbps (gigabit) speeds.
- Cat 6 – 1 Gigabit Ethernet transmission rates with a bandwidth of up to 250 MHz,
- Cat 6a – improving on Cat 6, Cat 6a has 10,000 Mbps data transmission rates and doubled the bandwidth to 500 MHz
Wi-Fi Terms – Deployment Types
Internet Deployment is simply getting your internet up and running. This includes configuration, installments, testing and more. To get Wi-Fi up and running at events there are two common methods of deployment you can use.
Cloud base – As the name says this is WLAN managed from the cloud. Cloud-based deployment is growing in popularity. There are many benefits to using this type of deployment, it’s flexible and easy to set up from anywhere. Another benefit is scalability, there are no limits on how many access points you can have.
Centralized – With Centralized deployment, Wi-Fi is deployed through a central data center paired with a central access controller which managed all access points.
I hope by now you have some clarity on event Wi-Fi term basics. With this foundation, you can lay the groundwork to understanding the complex world of event Wi-Fi to plan your best events. Just like AV it is crucial to have your Wi-Fi provider explain exactly what you are getting and walk you through the process step by step! Stay tuned for more in your Wi-Fi at events series!
Did we miss a term you would like to know? Comment below and let us know.