In today's digital age, a robust and reliable internet connection is no longer a luxury; it's a necessity. For the event production industry, where seamless connectivity is paramount, the stakes are even higher. 

Imagine a conference where attendees and production teams alike depend on uninterrupted internet access for everything from streaming presentations to accessing remote servers. A lapse in connectivity can not only disrupt the flow of the event but also tarnish the experience for everyone involved. 

At Showcore, we understand the critical importance of deploying a dependable network for our clients, attendees, and our own production team. Our recent assignment at the National Forum for Black Public Administrators (NFBPA) 2024 Local Government Conference in Baltimore, MD, presented unique challenges and learning opportunities that highlighted the intricacies of mobile network deployment. 

This case study delves into our approach, the obstacles we faced, and the strategies we implemented to ensure a flawless network setup. 

Understanding Client Needs & Venue Environment 

The foundation of any successful internet deployment begins with understanding the client's specific needs. For the NFBPA Local Government Conference, the initial step involved gathering essential information such as the anticipated number of users, the size of the venue, and the required bandwidth. This data allowed us to tailor our approach to fit the exact requirements of the event. 

Jonathan Krejci, Showcore's Senior Project Manager/Network Engineer, emphasizes the importance of this initial assessment: 

"The most important thing is understanding the wireless environment of the venue/area we are looking to deploy in. We need to consider other networks that are active, cellular coverage, and available bandwidth. For instance, if we are deploying a cellular bonded solution as the backbone of a network, we need to consider the cellular traffic nearby that could affect a cellular carrier's available bandwidth (sporting events, concerts, etc.).

Our preparation involved not only referencing FCC coverage maps but also conducting a thorough site visit. This hands-on assessment ensured we had a comprehensive understanding of the venue's wireless environment and allowed us to make informed decisions regarding carrier SIM cards and overall network setup. 

Deploying the Optimal Network Solution 

With a clear picture of the client’s needs and the venue's wireless environment, we moved on to designing the network infrastructure. For the Baltimore deployment, we selected Peplink HD4-MBX 5G and BR1 Pro 5G routers, complemented by a Ubiquity network consisting of U6 Pro Access Points, Pro POE Switches, and Cloud Key Gateways. 

This combination provided a reliable mesh network of 750 Mbps up/down (Full Duplex), split across four subnets: Guest, Office, Registration, and Production. Determining the optimal throughput for each router and the number of access points required was a critical aspect of our deployment strategy. 

Krejci further explains that process: 

"Having a firm understanding of the maximum attendee count and dispersion at any given point throughout the show is essential. In a General Session area and common gathering areas, we need to account for maximum coverage and bandwidth. These areas will have the most APs and bandwidth for coverage. Breakout areas, where only a small portion of attendees would gather at any given point, will have a smaller quantity of APs and lower bandwidth needs.

To cover 20 breakout rooms, an Expo Hall, and a General Session spread over three floors, we deployed four routers and 12 access points. This setup ensured robust connectivity throughout the venue, even at peak times when over 1200 devices were connected simultaneously, each averaging a throughput of 3 Mbps. 

Overcoming Logistical Challenges & Ensuring Adaptability 

Every event presents its own set of logistical challenges, and the NFBPA conference was no exception. From dealing with potential interference from nearby cellular traffic to ensuring seamless connectivity across multiple floors, our team had to remain adaptable and prepared for any scenario. 

Krejci highlights the importance of adaptability and backup systems in overcoming these challenges: 

"Being able to pivot around changing locations or adding locations without disrupting the network for other areas is crucial. Always making sure we have the ability to pivot on site with backup equipment and redundant systems.

Our approach involved meticulous preplanning, including a site visit to map out the venue and preprogramming the access points based on a CAD layout. This preparation enabled our single on-site technician to deploy and monitor the network effectively, with remote support from our home office providing additional oversight and troubleshooting as needed. 

Ensuring Security & Bandwidth Efficiency 

Virtual security and bandwidth management are often overlooked aspects of network deployment. Clients may underestimate the number of devices each attendee will connect to or the specific security requirements for their VPNs and protocols. 

Krejci underscores the importance of coordinating with client IT teams to meet security standards: 

"Many companies deploy different levels of security requirements before a computer can connect to a network. It is very important that we coordinate with the client's IT team to make sure all of these prerequisites are met to enable uninterrupted traffic between our remote network and their servers.

By addressing these considerations upfront, we ensured that our network met all security standards and provided sufficient bandwidth for all connected devices, thereby enhancing the overall experience for attendees and clients. 

Event Production Excellence: The Showcore Advantage 

The successful deployment at the NFBPA 2024 Local Government Conference in Baltimore, MD, exemplifies Showcore's commitment to excellence in event production. Our strategic approach to understanding client needs, thorough site assessments, and meticulous planning enabled us to deliver a robust and reliable network solution. 

At Showcore, we pride ourselves on our ability to adapt to any situation, ensuring seamless connectivity for events of all sizes. Whether it's through innovative technology, strategic planning, or effective communication between on-site and remote teams, we are dedicated to providing unparalleled service and support. 

If you're planning an event and need a reliable network solution, contact Showcore today. Let us help you create a seamless and connected experience for your attendees and clients.