Thursday, March 27, 2014

Guide to Connectivity - Cell Data or Wi-Fi?

So with all the bells and whistles associated with smartphone technology, why would you need meeting room Wi-Fi when a data plan is so easily available and accessible on your phone, and they both provide Internet service? 

This series of articles will address the most basic to the most complex information about meeting room connectivity to put you in the driver’s seat when talking with your internal team, venue or prospective clients.

Meeting Room Connectivity - 6 part Series

Here is a summary of what you will learn in this 6-part series on meeting room connectivity: 

Part 1: Cellular Data Service versus Wi-Fi: What is the difference? Part 2: Basic definitions of Wi-FiPart 3: Evaluating a venue’s Wi-Fi system and where to go for additional capacityPart 4: How to be RFP and contract smart when it comes to Wi-Fi Part 5: Creative ways to pay for Wi-FiPart 6: MiFi, LiFi and other bandwidth alternatives

What is Cellular Data Service?

Data Service is the transmission of non-voice data via a smartphone. This is an extra-cost, limited service beyond voice calling and texting (which usually are unlimited). The primary types of cellular data usage are e-mail messages and Web pages. 
Accessing video, email and the web are through your cell phone provider’s network and do not require a router or Wi-Fi. 

What is Wi-Fi?

Wi-Fi is a wireless local area network that is connected to a router and allows any electronic device to exchange data wirelessly over a computer network, such as a high-speed Internet connection. A device that uses Wi-Fi in a meeting can be a laptop, iPad/tablet or smartphone connected to the network via an access point. 
With Wi-Fi, you access the available networks, choose from those listed and enter a password. 

Data Driven Differences between Cell Services and Wi-Fi


According to WeFi, a data intelligence technology company, on average Wi-Fi is 69% faster than cellular networks when it comes to loading websites, streaming videos or sending email messages. 
In a meeting environment, the last thing you want attendees to experience is the ominous circle of wait on their phone or the message “page loading”. With the correct Wi-Fi configuration, you will know ahead of time that the bandwidth you have, is all you need. 
Data-heavy apps such as video or complex presentations are going to work much better on Wi-Fi due to its overall availability.


Wi-Fi is as prevalent as cell phone coverage and in some areas, may be more available as it continues to pop up in more locations every day. 


If attendees are expected to use their own data plans to access the meeting apps, realize that
1) a subset of meeting participants may not have a data plan and 2) they may not be happy you are asking them to use their data plan for your conference.

Since data plans can run $80-100 per month for a limited chunk of data, they may leave your conference with overages or no data coverage left for that month. 

Wi-Fi is usually available at the meeting venue and if it is not enough bandwidth, you can always look at bandwidth booster rental units. In addition, it is usually free to attendees or it can be integrated into sponsorship or registration fees.


According to a 2012 Cisco survey, over 50% of respondents felt that Wi-Fi was more secure than cellular because the security settings were stronger.
At a meeting, cell data coverage can be compromised because the networks are public. Wi-Fi access requires a sign-in and password both into the network and into the meeting. 


Wi-Fi is limited to so many feet of the router and when you are out of range, the service is unavailable. Cell data plan is limited to the network of the cell provider, which covers about 95% of the country.Now that you understand the differences between cellular data and WiFi, don't forget to check out Part 2 of this series on Wi-Fi terminology. 

Check out the rest of the series at: