Updated: Sep 30, 2021
The speed of your internet connection can make or break your virtual or hybrid event.
When talking about internet speed it’s important to remember that the speed is a measure of both how fast you can move data through the internet but also how much data you can move at the same time.
Up or Down
You’ll hear internet service providers selling high speed internet. Usually the selling point is the gigabit connection. This is the speed at which you DOWNLOAD content from the internet. However, when hosting a virtual event what really matters is your UPLOAD speed. The reason is because when you host a virtual event you are pushing content from your computer out to the world. The faster your upload speed, the smoother your content will be.
How does this make sense?
Imagine you have ten big rigs that you need to move from point A to point B which is one hundred miles away. You need to get them all there at the exact same time. Any delay would result in a loss of revenue. However, you find out that you only have a small one lane road with a speed limit of 5MPH. Each big rig not only has to travel one at a time but would also take too long to get to point B. But what if you had a ten lane road with a speed limit of 100MPH? All of the big rigs would arrive faster, and at the same time. This example is true of internet speed as well. The larger the connection speed, the bigger the “information highway” is and the faster the speed limit is.
Wired vs Wireless
Wireless is all the rage. Wireless internet, wireless Bluetooth connection to your car, even wireless device charging. What about wireless virtual or hybrid events? The answer is ‘yes and no’. Can they be done? Certainly. Are they done regularly? Of course. There are risks with running an event wirelessly. First and foremost, the strength of your WiFi signal gets weaker the farther from the router you get. If your wireless router is downstairs in the living room and you are hosting from a home office on the third floor you may notice only one bar of signal strength for your connection. The reason is that anything between you and your WiFi router acts as interference. Every time the signal comes in contact with something (a chair, a stud in the wall, etc.) that interference can impact the quality and speed of your connection resulting in dropped audio, video that skips, etc. When you are hardwired to your cable modem via an Ethernet cable, you eliminate that interference and are able to maintain a strong quality signal to the internet which gives you clean audio, smooth video and happy participants.
Scouting your next location
Many hotels offer you the same wireless internet service that they offer to their guests. While adequate for guests to check email and surf the web, you will want to ensure that the signal is strong enough to host your virtual or hybrid event. We recommend a minimum of 10 Mbps upload and 10 Mbps download speeds, but more is always better.
Speak with a hotel manager, try to get into the room well ahead of time and set up a mock virtual or hybrid event so that you can test the signal quality and strength. Ask if there is any hardwire connection to the cable modem that you could utilize. If not, just be aware of your limitations. You may not be able to share that large HD video you had intended. This is your chance to adjust your show to avoid headaches.
The Bottom Line
Your show is only as good as the fastest internet connection you can find. Take some stress out of your virtual or hybrid event by plugging in to the cable modem whenever possible, your participants will thank you for it!
We hope this article by our rockstar Director of Technical Production Andy Myers is helpful. Our goal is to move you past 1990’s Bryant Gumble to hosting a smooth hybrid or virtual event.