Oliver Richardson

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Bandwidth consumption at events on the rise

Having recently installed and then pulled-out the Connectivity Infrastructure at Farnborough International Airshow, which at over 1000 acres is, we believe, Europe’s largest temporary network, I was struck by how quickly Connectivity technology has developed to become a business critical component of events.

Only a generation ago, most offices had only a few computers and it wasn’t uncommon for staff to hand-write emails and give to a secretary to send! At that time, connectivity was through a dial-up connection which frequently cut out and had an upload speed of around 56k.  Today, most 3G connections have an upload speed of approximately 26 times that fast and we think nothing of downloading or streaming entire movies.  In fact, it’s not uncommon for an individual user to clock up 40GB of bandwidth each month by streaming movies and games and downloading content.

Similarly, we’ve seen bandwidth consumption increase tremendously at events including Farnborough International Airshow as the role of connectivity extends way beyond simply checking emails or the weather.  This year’s event saw consumption double compared to the previous event, or quadruple compared to 2010.  The number of secure connections we installed also increased, as exhibitors looked to create their own networks to manage their communications and operations securely while at the airshow.

Exhibitors, visitors, press, registration, security, emergency services, contingency planning  – all now make use of the bandwidth we provide to run their day and manage their operations in a multitude of ways.  Exhibitors wrote orders of $200 billion at the show and a secure connection was vital not just for them to confirm the orders but also for the press and media to be able to publish news of the deals taking place at the event.  Most event visitors wouldn’t even consider spending a day out of the office – let alone several – without the means to connect to their email, and keep on top of things back in the office.  And, with most mobile comms knocked out by the sheer volume of visitors to the event, the wifi – through email and social media – became the de facto means of arranging and changing meetings at the event, for everyone.

With the trend of increasing data usage on a daily basis the need for companies to be connected to high speed internet will be more and more crucial, the need for faster and faster internet speeds both download and upload is going to require a continuous upgrading of infrastructure and technology to meet their demands.  If we moved this far and this fast in two decades, imagine what things might look like in the next two decades.  We’re looking forward to the challenge!