Understanding Internet For Your Live & Hybrid Events
As a meeting planner, when planning and preparing for your upcoming events, you think mostly about the design, production, content, and presenters. That’s what your attendees and everyone else at the event are going to experience. But, if it’s not already, what should also be at the top of that list is high-speed internet. High-speed internet is a crucial step in planning and preparing and can make or break an event. Nowadays, people no longer bring just a phone or laptop to an event. They have their smartphone, laptop, smartwatch, iPad, etc., and the internet needs bandwidth to support all of these devices, along with the general sessions, streaming services, and breakouts that are needed for the live event and hybrid event production itself. Since high-speed internet has become such a crucial part of planning an event, we want our customers to know their different options and how Clarity can help them. Keep on reading to learn:
- Internet usage for your live events & hybrid events
- Estimating internet speed costs for live events & hybrid events
- How to calculate internet speed costs
- How Clarity can help you negotiate your high-speed internet needs
Internet usage for your live events & hybrid events
When it comes to internet usage for live and hybrid events, there are two different categories to consider. The first one is event wifi. If an attendee goes to an event, has their devices, and wants to connect to the wifi, in today’s day and age, they easily can. However, in the past, it wasn’t always that easy. Cell phones didn’t have the capabilities that they do today. You had your coverage issues, speed challenges, the cost of data, etc., which made event wifi crucial and cost meeting planners a lot of money. Fast forward to today, event wifi is now a less important part of internet services, because of how far cellular technology has come.
The second category that falls under the umbrella of internet usage, and what’s more important at today’s events, is the bandwidth that meeting planners need for the general session and each of the breakout rooms. This requires hard-line connections into the different rooms and gets more detailed with the complexity of your hybrid/live event.
Estimating internet speed costs for live & hybrid events
In terms of estimating your internet speed costs, the most important component to look at is hybrid events because they can make your internet speed costs significantly higher than a standard live event. In the past, when you were estimating the costs for live event internet and getting quotes, you would start with internet for your attendees and let the hotel/venue space know the number of attendees you are going to have, the number of days your event is, etc. From there, you would need a set amount of megabytes for the dedicated line for your production team/show office. Having these two components was effective for meeting planners because your production team was using the internet to download and transfer presentations and your show office was using it to handle registration and other administrative needs. It was a manageable amount of bandwidth and the costs were able to be negotiated as part of the overall spend with the venue.
Now, in a post-Covid world, the standard live events that meeting planners are experts at, are not as straightforward as they once were. Today, meeting planners now have to also become experts in understanding what they need in terms of the internet when they are going to be streaming for hybrid events.
The tricky part about this is that meeting planners now have to calculate the amount of bandwidth for their event based on the number of people that have come in remotely, whether that’s the presenters, panelists, or simultaneous streams needed to come in and out of the venue for the hybrid event. Calculating the bandwidth needed makes things complex because meeting planners are getting multiple quotes back based on the different components of their events. They are getting a quote for the number of megabytes needed for the different rooms, attendee wifi, etc. When in reality, they should be getting one quote with the total amount of bandwidth that they are going to consume. That bandwidth for the entire event can be shared between the different incoming and outgoing sessions.
How to calculate bandwidth needed for internet services
Like we just talked about, calculating the bandwidth needed for internet services can get pretty complex, so we will explain how to do it using a real-life example.
You first want to look at your peak utilization of the bandwidth or the most you are going to use at one point in time. From there, we recommend including a 20% buffer of peak usage. You want this buffer because, with the internet, you never want to be at your maximum capacity. For example, if your maximum capacity is 40 megabytes, you don’t want to only have 40 megabytes. You want 20% more than that for traffic to flow effectively and give you an overall positive experience and limit any potential issues related to capacity and throughput.
The way you calculate bandwidth for content going out is to figure out how many streams (breakout sessions, general sessions, etc.) that are leaving the venue at the same time. Each of these streams has a certain amount of bandwidth needed based on the quality of the stream and what you’re sending out. Typically, it’s going to be around 3-4 megabytes per stream that is leaving the building. For example, if you have 2 breakout rooms that run simultaneously and a general session on your schedule, then each of these rooms needs 4 megabytes. Meaning, you need a total of 8 megabytes before adding the 20% buffer. However, that is only what you need to stream out of the building, what you need for download speed will be vary based on your event.
Number of streams x number of megabytes x number of rooms = bandwidth for content going out (+20%)
Now, the bandwidth you need for content coming in can be vastly different. For example, if we have 4 breakout rooms with 6 remote presenters in each room who are being streamed in using zoom or a similar application, you’re taking 3 megabytes of bandwidth for each person, wherever they are in the world, streaming it into the building, and using it for the breakout room where that presenter is talking to the audience. What that means is if you are using 18 megabytes for this one room and you have 4 rooms, you need 72 megabytes for your event. But don’t forget to include that 20% buffer.
Number of streams x number of megabytes x number of rooms x number of remote presenters = bandwidth for content coming in (+20%)
Where it gets more complicated is if you have a panel discussion. We are going to continue using the same example from above but add to it so that in one of the breakout rooms, there are 4 panelists. Now for this one room, you have 4 incoming streams of 3 megabytes for each one of these panelists. In this scenario, for this one room, you need 12 megabytes...before your 20% buffer and not including your other breakout rooms that you haven’t calculated with yet.
If you have 4 panelists in each of your other breakout rooms at one event, now you need to calculate your total bandwidth for that conference at that time, which can multiply quickly. This doesn’t take into account if you have guest speakers, etc., which is why these calculations can be tricky, but that’s why Clarity is here to help.
To put it simply, if you lay out the agenda of your meeting, count how many people are coming in remotely and how many streams you are going to send out at the same time, you can quickly get the bandwidth of how many megabytes you are going to need.
Need help calculation your bandwidth? Contact us below!
How Clarity can help you negotiate your high-speed internet needs
If you don’t feel comfortable calculating the bandwidth needed for one of your events, the Clarity team has you covered. If you tell us the details of your live or hybrid event, we can do the calculations for you and break it down in a way that is easy to understand.
Once we have the bandwidth calculated, Clarity can step in as your partner and help you negotiate with the hotel as to what you are getting your bid on. What Clarity does as your consultant, is take all those requirements and give you a total bandwidth amount. So, instead of buying and purchasing bandwidth per breakout room, you purchase bandwidth for the whole conference. We will order the bandwidth and manage it based on the needs of your entire conference while making sure at any peak time we don’t go over. Typically the more bandwidth you order in total, the lower price per megabyte you can get. Organizing it and building your bandwidth into an organized total package will allow the venue to quote it easier and you can get a better deal!
If you are worried about your internet costs, a couple of tips we recommend would be to limit the number of panel sessions with remote panelists that are scheduled at the same time and space them out between breakout sessions and at different times. Another tip is to negotiate a total bandwidth package including both attendee wifi and the hardline connections as a total bandwidth package.
Those are Clarity's Tips on Understanding High-Speed Internet for your Hybrid & Live Events
Those are Clarity’s tips when it comes to understanding high-speed internet for your live events and hybrid events! Especially as a meeting planner, it’s crucial to be mindful of the internet speeds. More intense usage and requirements have been the trend, especially with the increase of hybrid events, and we don’t see it stopping anytime soon. There are more and more “smart” products coming out every year and people are bringing more technology to events than ever before.
Your attendees are paying money to have a remarkable experience and part of that experience is having internet services that work throughout the entire event, regardless of how complex it is. As a meeting planner, being mindful of this will translate into more robust requirements that will likely have a higher cost than in the past, but your attendees will thank you for not skimping on the internet services, and your hybrid or live event will be that much better. If you have an event you are starting to plan and want to talk more about high-speed internet services, click the link below to speak with one of Clarity’s expert representatives!