Events Council Blog

The FCC’s Common Sense Rules for Wi-Fi in Public Venues: It’s about Common Courtesy

Nov 29, 2017

This past July, the United States Federal Communications Commission, with industry participation, including from the Events Industry Council’s APEX work group, the International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM) and the International Association of Exhibition and Events (IAEE), established and approved as an industry best practice, common sense rules for Wi-Fi usage in public assembly venues.

FCC-Common-Sense-Rules-WifiWhat the common sense rules come down to is really common courtesy. Imagine planning a trade show and arranging for education on the show floor. You’ve invested in an audio system for your participants so that they can hear the presentations (you know, those really cool ones with headphones). Meanwhile, the exhibitor in the next booth has brought in their own sound system and is blasting classic '80s power ballads. While suppressing the urge to wave your cellphone lighter in the air and rock out to Peter Cetera’s “Glory of Love,” you walk over to the exhibitor and ask them to turn down the tunes. You return to the education stand, having effectively managed your event environment.

The Wi-Fi common sense rules are really about the same thing – practices that help everyone have a great experience. When individuals bring in their own routers or Wi-Fi hotspots to a trade show (also referred to as rogue access points), they can overpower the event’s Wi-Fi system, making it difficult for participants to get online, and it could potentially affect the reputation of the event and the official service providers. Instead, the common sense rules recommend being considerate of others by turning off hot-spots, sharing the bandwidth and not hogging the spectrum through practices such as channel bonding, or other practices that use a disproportionately large amount of bandwidth. Not only are these practices courteous, there are also numerous security benefits.

To download the working group’s complete report, visit the FCC’s website.Tip: to find the common sense rules, jump to page 20.