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VENUE WATCHwww.exhibitionnews.co.uk 31Making the connectionWi-Fi at exhibitions is a major bugbear but steps to find a solution are elusive. Nadia Cameron investigates why free Wi-Fi services at the local Starbucks just won't cut it on the show floorigital communication methods are influencing our interaction in all sorts of ways, so it's not surprising to hear a new working group on Wi-Fi connectivity at exhibitions stemmed from a LinkedIn discussion. Wi-Fi has been on the show floor for a long time and has been continually criticised. But rising demand for Internet connectivity from exhibitors and visitors, triggered by proliferation of Wi-Fi-enabled devices on exhibitor stands and in visitors' hands is creating service reliability issues that are only getting worse. Add the number of organisers using Wi-Fi for apps for registration systems, lead generation, new apps and navigation tools and you've got a major problem. A working group facilitated by ESSA has been established to bring all sides of the exhibition industry together. Their aim is to find an appropriate, legitimate and financially sustainable way of providing adequate Wi-Fi during exhibitions. Online chat via LinkedIn led to an industry forum at the Event and Exhibiting Show in July, chaired by ESSA and AEV director Chris Skeith, and now a fully-fledged working group. Members come from Aztec Event Services, Clarion Events, Reed Exhibitions, DB Systems, Earls Court and Olympia, Excel London, the AEO, AEV and ESSA."We all know that at a busy event you cannot get a mobile connection, but your chance of getting a Wi-Fi connection is even less," Aztec Event Services MD and ESSA chair John Robson said. "We are overloading something that was never intended to handle this volume of traffic."To compensate, exhibitors are increasingly relying on their own Wi-Fi devices such as routers and pocket-sized 4G Mi-Fi access routers. These are competing for spectrum access, causing the whole lot to overload. DTECHNology. Wi-Fi stands for wireless fidelity and is a way to get Internet access. The term covers any wireless technology using the IEEE 80.11 specification. . Currently, the majority of Wi-Fi devices operate using a 2.4gHz frequency band. The latest Wi-Fi Technology uses a 5gHz band. . Wi-Fi on 2.4gHz only exists on 11 channels that often overlap and interfere with each other, meaning in reality that only three work. . In some cases Wi-Fi access is provided free by carriers; in others individuals are required to pay carrier charges. Wi-Fi: The basics