Wi-fi debate gathers pace

PCOs, venues and suppliers at a recent debate have agreed there is a need for venues in the UK to provide free wi-fi access for conference delegates

The discussion, organised by the Association of British Professional Conference Organisers (ABPCO), on the back of its Conference Cloud campaign, took place at the Twickenham Experience on 5 December.

Participants looked at the growing demand for bandwidth at conferences as delegates' expectations increase.

Ian Bull, business development lead service provider at Cisco, shared case studies where venues have introduced new sponsorship and revenue models to cover costs without passing these on directly to users.

Meetings industry technology consultant Corbin Ball highlighted the huge rise in demand for bandwidth, referencing recent research by telecoms provider Ibahn.

ABPCO chairman Michael Foreman said: "The debate brought together key industry players to identify what the requirements are for wi-fi from clients and delegates now and in the coming years.

"There was general agreement that there is a need for a 'basic' level of wi-fi access at no charge for delegates attending conferences and events, but that venues need to be transparent about what 'basic' means for them.

"We also brainstormed key uses of wi-fi, and questions regarding applications and volume that venues need to be asking and PCOs need to be clarifying with clients."

The Conference Cloud campaign, which was launched in August 2011, has so far secured the support of over 130 venues that offer free wi-fi to delegates and has received more than 200 petition signatories.

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