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This article was published on April 21, 2009

Why our WiFi worked…

Why our WiFi worked…
Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten
Story by

Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten

Founder & board member, TNW

Boris is a serial entrepreneur who founded not only TNW, but also V3 Redirect Services (sold), HubHop Wireless Internet Provider (sold), and Boris is a serial entrepreneur who founded not only TNW, but also V3 Redirect Services (sold), HubHop Wireless Internet Provider (sold), and pr.co. Boris is very active on Twitter as @Boris and Instagram: @Boris.

Heat Map of Wi-Fi strength

People expect a wireless network and connectivity at a web conference. And they expect it to work too. unfortunately it usually doesn’t. Every edition of The Next Web Conference suffered from some problems. This year, it was almost perfect.

It was so perfect that I publicly offered to make the Wi-Fi work at leWeb in paris next year. It famously didn’t work last year even though Loïc reportedly spent over 100.000 Euros on it. We spent a little more than 5.000 so I offered to provide working Wi-Fi for 50.000 in Paris.

This is what the setup looked like last week:

  • We provided almost 50 workplaces with fixed ethernet and power connections. We also provided ethernet cables for everyone to use. This means that the heaviest users switched to cable.
  • Average number of simultaneous WiFi users was an average 130 (all day) with peaks of more than 150 users.
  • WiFi limits were set at 10Mbps down and 5Mbps up – no limits on fixed ethernet
  • Around 50GB of data was transferred over wireless in the main hall
  • Wireless was provided with a managed WiFi setup (Ruckus) and 8 APs in the main hall
  • Wireless in the nearby rooms was provided with 3 extra APs
  • Average signal strength per client was 75%
  • Bandwidth usage peaks were at 80Mbps
  • There were about 20-30 rogue WiFi devices visible at any given other than our managed WiFi setup (other APs, phones, ad-hoc networks etcetera)

Early in the morning on Thursday the technicians (@eventengineers and @mdbraber!) found a small error in the DHCP settings which they were eager to fix. As they rebooted the system the company handling the Fibre optic cables decided to unplug a bunch of cables to clean things up. It took a while to find out that the DHCP settings were fine and to persuade the Internet provider to reconnect the cables. Fortunately the downtime was short and easily fixed.

Maarten den Braber from Event Engineers used Twitter (@eventengineers) to constantly monitor any wifi problems in the audience and personally helped those who were having trouble connecting. Some iPhones had trouble connection to Wi-Fi but we couldn’t reproduce those problems on our own iPhones. Still looking into that.

Some of the positive feedback from twitter:


Some pictures of our setup:

bloggers tables: http://mobypicture.com/user/mdbraber/view/161180
happy wifi: http://mobypicture.com/user/mdbraber/view/163523

wifi dashboard: http://www.mobypicture.com/user/mdbraber/view/169290

Now back to my offer to LeWeb to fix their Wi-Fi for 50.000 euros. When I announced my offer a lot of people tweeted it and Loïc was listening. He replied via Twitter

At The Next Web Conference we paid less than 2.000 for the Internet connection (up to 100mbit) and spent the rest on our Wi-Fi set-up AND wired cables. I have no experience with buying broadband connections in Paris but even 50.000 for Wi-Fi (as opposed to 100.000) sounds like the rip-off of the century to me.

Loïc, did you keep the receipt? Send your Wi-Fi provider a copy of this post including your receipt and my phone number. It is time to get you your money back…

Anyway, our Wi-Fi worked and we are very happy with that.

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