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The Exhibitor Manual – Internet Services Part IV

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Ok, our last stop in the series about internet orders is to go over VPN, Wireless and dedicated lines as other ordering options.

Let’s start with VPN which is short for Virtual Private Network. A virtual private network (VPN) extends a private network, like your company server, across a public network, like the Internet.  A VPN is done by creating a point-to-point connection by using dedicated connections, protocols, or encryptions. Through VPN you can access your private network over Internet. VPNs allow employees to securely access their company’s intranet while traveling outside the office. So if you want secure access to your company servers while at a trade show then setting up a VPN would be the right choice. Everyone would log in just like they were at the office using the same functionality, security and management policies of your company’s private network.

Next is wireless internet. Did you know that on your own you can rent air cards, Mobile hotspots, or the latest innovation which is “internet- in- a- box” kits? Basically, if your phone will work in the exhibit hall then these devices will also work. This is not offered through the Official show provider. It is offered by mainly A/V companies on a show by show basis or by your phone company on a monthly basis. It has been my experience that the Verizon network is the best for connectivity in most convention locations. My smart phone has the capability to work as a mobile hotspot when I travel. I buy a certain amount of data for a fee of $15 dollars per month. I use it regularly when I travel for instant access to internet. If you use it solid for one computer for a tradeshow for 3 days you will probably need a higher data limit. Considering that internet costs are $1,000 or more for one IP address per show it is worth looking into for the single to 4 workstation applications.  Of course more and more show service providers are offering wireless internet at trade shows. Only use it for basic web surfing applications and email as it will be subject to interference, shared usage and low speed.

Ok, last but certainly not least is the dedicated line with the best one being a T-1 line. So what is a dedicated line? Basically, it is a line that will not have any branches or hubs between its ends, allowing the one service full access. It will guarantee a certain amount of transmission speed and bandwidth. So when should you get a T-1 line? A T-1 line is all about speed and data transfer rates. Most modern large buildings will have a T-2 or T-3 fiber optic line from a service provider connected to an internal PBX. Therefore the convention center can offer you a T-1 connection from their PBX or Private Branch exchange. One T-3 connection which by itself has data transfer rates of 44 megabits per second is equal to 28 T-1 lines at 1.5 megabits per second.

Bottom line, if you need internet for a tradeshow, I highly recommend calling the show internet company and explaining what you are doing. Learn first what you need by asking your IT technicians going to the show certain questions. Basic questions are:

  1. Do you need routable internet?
  2. How many IP addresses are needed?
  3. Are you bringing your own switch or router?
  4. What is the minimum speed you need? Is 256 K enough or do you need 512K or more.
  5. Will you be showing internet video or HD internet video requiring even more bandwidth?
  6. Do you need to access the corporate server requiring a VPN be used?

Armed with this basic information you can work with the show provider to order the correct amount of speed and bandwidth for your exhibit.

As always, please respond with your questions or comments and let others know about EXHIBITOR LOUNGE.COM. We will see you next week. Until then, I am your host Michael Gray telling you to RELAX in the Exhibitor Lounge.