Cord Cutting in the Events Industry
Internet users are cutting the cord; the way we access the digital world has shifted. Gone are the days where we sit tied to our computers with Ethernet cords, tangled up in cables while searching for a port. We’re in the midst of a connection revolution. And as an avid internet user (like everyone else), I live and breathe through my connection to the online world. The reassurance that the internet is available regardless of location through a mobile connection is affecting a number of markets.
Users are migrating away from cable and satellite providers as they prefer online streaming networks that offer fewer commercials and pricing advantages. Various mobile providers also offer the ability to stream these networks without using any of their mobile data thus impacting internet providers as well. We’ve been anticipating a shift in how we access our favorite TV shows and social networks, but the dwindling effects are filtering into the events industry (among many others) as well.
Cord Cutting Statistics
Mobile-first and smartphone-first users are at the forefront of the Wi-Fi cord cutting trend; 13% of Americans connect to the Internet solely through their mobile devices. The rate of users with broadband service in their homes has decreased. In 2013, 70% of Americans had broadband service in their home compared to 2015, 67% of Americans had broadband service. Although the 3% decline may not seem alarming now, we can only anticipate that number to alter significantly in the coming years. As cable and internet providers better field these changes, the majority of users will follow those early-adopters.
“The events industry is learning to trust technology and last year it took a giant leap in this aspect,” said Juraj Holub, Marketing Manager of Slido. With the introduction of modern Wi-Fi infrastructure, beacons, RFID, event applications, and other event technology, the events industry is experiencing a very quick and innovative transformation of attendee experiences- all based around mobile technology. As we learn the value of these tools and build trust in their reliability, we’re slating them as an expectation for all events. When there is an event app that’s a central hub for interactions among the attendees, organizers, exhibitors and sponsors, the infrastructure that supports these connections is just as much a part of the event as the chairs we sit on (and probably more).
The Internet of Things brings an increase in the number of connected devices that one person uses. With more devices connected, the capacity and bandwidth that may have just recently been implemented is quickly becoming dated. The latency and reliability of internet service at events is often volatile and can cause frustrations resulting in an overall negative attendee experience.
More and more venues are rebooting their entire system to better provide internet services throughout the facility. Having lower latency and higher internet speeds also means that devices will stay connected for a shorter amount of time in order to complete a given task. This may not seem like a significant benefit, but American’s will soon be simultaneously accessing the internet and downloading and uploading data on over 50 billion IoT devices.
It seems that nearly everything we purchase relies on a connection: cars, accessories, appliances, electronics, and even clothing. We trust technology. We’re building driverless cars, and though that technology is still flawed, we’re adopting the trust of these tech features in other ways. Auto manufacturers are implementing safety elements that require a transfer of data in mere milliseconds. Collision detection is a very important example of this: a car in front of me stops suddenly, the vehicle I’m driving instantaneously detects this and applies my brakes before I’ve even blinked. Our reliance on an unflawed transfer of data is increasing and will begin to apply in nearly every facet of our lives.
As per events, imagine having thousands of attendees packed into a convention center using the event app to know where their next session is. Consider a presenter relying on a live poll to supplement their presentation, event planners evaluating beacon data submitted in real-time to anticipate staffing needs, or a venue manager monitoring their security sensors through their smartphone. Our trust in flawless data transfer increases every day. And although 5G is a ways off, we’re creating technology that is dependent on wireless connectivity.
5G: The Future of Mobile Connections
5G is the highly anticipated fifth generation of wireless connectivity or mobile data communications that is expected to reach the US by 2020. This is the first generation of mobile data communications that is being created to cope with the digital demands prevalent now and those in the foreseeable future. Not only will the 5G connection have faster speeds, but it will also have a larger capacity for data.
While speed is important, the most important part of a mobile connection is the latency or the amount of time between asking for something and getting it. Consider the time it takes between you sending a text and your friend receiving it, or the time between pressing play on a video and it playing. 5G will use higher frequency bands and will utilize spectrums in a more efficient way, increasing speeds and capacity, while minimizing latency. 5G will also have lower power requirements and will introduce efficient and effective device-to-device communication.
The Events Industry
Accessing the internet through a mobile device- it’s nothing new but is something quite revolutionary as a whole. People have access to live news, friends across the globe, their current heart rate…these changes are influencing the way we live our lives. When 5G becomes an active network (and even now with some 4G), IoT won’t be something that we reference; it will be ingrained in our habits and preferences. We have to implement this usage and our understanding into our events.
Facilitating these connections is going to be the most important part of our jobs. If my car can stop for me, why can’t I connect with the presenter in front of me to ask a question? Expectations in the capabilities of tech will increase. WiFi is important while at an event but consider too the impact of the increased functionality your event app or website can have when attendees are on the road? They’re not accessing the internet at home anymore. Anticipate that your event lives 24/7 and then ensure the capabilities at the event meet those already in place.