What is the importance of access points to keep my event viable?

What is an access point?
An access point is a station that transmits and receives data within a wireless local area network (WLAN). It connects users to other users within the network and also can serve as the point of interconnection between the WLAN and a fixed wire network. Each access point serves multiple users and as people move beyond the range of one access point, they are automatically handed over to the next one.

How many simultaneous connections can each access point support?
A standard access point can support around 200 connections. It’s fair to assume that users with multiple devices will connect both devices to the WiFi. If we’re assuming 1.75 connections per user, one access point can only support 114 users.

(Assumption: our event is expecting 530 users)

How many access points do I need?
If each access point can support 114 of our 530 users, you will need at least 5 access points in any room where all the users will be present. However, we suggest to rather have more access points so you won’t run the risk of any access point hitting its maximum number of connections.

Where are my access points located?
Access points should be located evenly throughout especially larger rooms to ensure users in the front and the back can connect with ease. Most venues would actually position their access points in this way, but it’s worth asking for a breakdown of where each access points is located in the rooms you’ll be using.

Which 802.11 protocol do the access points use?
802.11 is the specification for wireless network communication and there are a number of different iterations.

Smaller wireless range with a maximum indoor range of up to 35 metres:
- 802.11a
- 802.11b
- 802.11g

Larger wireless range with a maximum indoor range up to 70 metres:
- 802.11n
- 802.11ac

The wireless protocol you choose, depends on the size of the room and where the access points are located. Most access points will be in a cupboard/behind a wall which will affect range as well.

What brand are the access points?
This shouldn’t be too large of a concern and most venues will have homogeneous networking equipment, but if different brands are being used it can affect the handshake which is a protocol that controls how different pieces of wireless equipment communicate with each other. If your venue is using different brands of networking equipment, it’s good to ask if they’ve ever experienced issues with the handshake between the different pieces of equipment. If you’re doing an on-site inspection, an easy way to check is to move between the areas with different pieces of equipment and see if the signal on your phone drops at any point.