Who cares about conference Wifi anymore?

Ethan Kaplan does. He complains about spending $3,500 to attend a conference without being able to get good Wifi.

Damn dude. If you can afford $3,500 for a conference then spend $80 a month on Verizon Wireless like I do. You won’t care anymore about conference Wifi. My Verizon wireless worked just fine the whole conference.

So, what should we care about? Access to power outlets! :-)

Comments

  1. Fair point Mr. Scoble. If I could get to Verizon’s website…. I’d be doing that.

    Speaking of: has anyone added up the cost of ubiquitous connectivity per month for a road warrior type? That includes TMobile hot spots, blackberry, mail hosting, cell service, etc?

    Chrispy crap.

    Let it be known: another Verizon client coming soon.

  2. Fair point Mr. Scoble. If I could get to Verizon’s website…. I’d be doing that.

    Speaking of: has anyone added up the cost of ubiquitous connectivity per month for a road warrior type? That includes TMobile hot spots, blackberry, mail hosting, cell service, etc?

    Chrispy crap.

    Let it be known: another Verizon client coming soon.

  3. I wish my company would spring for the Verizon card for me. They are willing to let me go to conferences but not get those little things that might make my job easier. We are Pound-wise and penny-foolish.

    If you only go to one or two conferences a year, there is almost no reason to spend $80/month on a Verizon card just for the one or two weeks you are out. C’mon, I agree, it’d be nice to have wireless at a con.

  4. I wish my company would spring for the Verizon card for me. They are willing to let me go to conferences but not get those little things that might make my job easier. We are Pound-wise and penny-foolish.

    If you only go to one or two conferences a year, there is almost no reason to spend $80/month on a Verizon card just for the one or two weeks you are out. C’mon, I agree, it’d be nice to have wireless at a con.

  5. Robert, I’ve been meaning to ask why you’re paying $80 a month for EV-DO through Verizon. I’m assuming you have an EV-DO PC Card modem, but…what phone do you use? I dumped my PC Card modem and contract when I got an EV-DO enabled phone which has the same data connectivity for $45 a month. Phone as modem = same performance – lower cost + happy blogger. ;)

  6. Robert, I’ve been meaning to ask why you’re paying $80 a month for EV-DO through Verizon. I’m assuming you have an EV-DO PC Card modem, but…what phone do you use? I dumped my PC Card modem and contract when I got an EV-DO enabled phone which has the same data connectivity for $45 a month. Phone as modem = same performance – lower cost + happy blogger. ;)

  7. I guess I’m the complete opposite of Ethan. Today I attended a free user group meeting to hear Chris Reinhold [MSFT] introduce Microsoft Forefront, MS’s new security suite. The computing society had an AirPort, and I also had an EVDO phone with Sprint’s $15 a month Power Vision plan. I dream that pne day, I might get to a big conference (I’d settle attending one at 1/3 Ethan’s cost), and I guess I’ll be ready. Maybe it’s time to start writing that justification for sending me to the next Tech.Ed…

    Perspectives and priorities can be peculiar!

  8. I guess I’m the complete opposite of Ethan. Today I attended a free user group meeting to hear Chris Reinhold [MSFT] introduce Microsoft Forefront, MS’s new security suite. The computing society had an AirPort, and I also had an EVDO phone with Sprint’s $15 a month Power Vision plan. I dream that pne day, I might get to a big conference (I’d settle attending one at 1/3 Ethan’s cost), and I guess I’ll be ready. Maybe it’s time to start writing that justification for sending me to the next Tech.Ed…

    Perspectives and priorities can be peculiar!

  9. Robert, we have several unlimited Verizon Wireless accounts and they are only $59 a month now. If you are signed up at for $80 per month you have an old price. Contact Verizon and they will lower your price on request.

    Rich Ord

    Publisher of WebProNews.com

  10. Robert, we have several unlimited Verizon Wireless accounts and they are only $59 a month now. If you are signed up at for $80 per month you have an old price. Contact Verizon and they will lower your price on request.

    Rich Ord

    Publisher of WebProNews.com

  11. Adam: you’d be right, but the Verizon card pays many other benefits as well. But, yeah, getting bosses to pay for stuff, even if it’d make you more productive, is a pain in the ass, isn’t it?

  12. Adam: you’d be right, but the Verizon card pays many other benefits as well. But, yeah, getting bosses to pay for stuff, even if it’d make you more productive, is a pain in the ass, isn’t it?

  13. One problem for most is EVDO is only available in the large cities. Get away from those 100 or so and EVDO is a none starter, it’s nowhere. WiFi is much more ubiquitous and usually faster.

  14. One problem for most is EVDO is only available in the large cities. Get away from those 100 or so and EVDO is a none starter, it’s nowhere. WiFi is much more ubiquitous and usually faster.

  15. I need the free WiFi because even though I have EVDO on my Blackberry, the roaming charges from Canada to the States are killer! That said, if I wind up being in the States a lot I might just get an American EVDO phone for travelling.

  16. I need the free WiFi because even though I have EVDO on my Blackberry, the roaming charges from Canada to the States are killer! That said, if I wind up being in the States a lot I might just get an American EVDO phone for travelling.

  17. PXLated: That is absolutely 100% NOT TRUE.

    My Verizon Card worked on the interstate highway EVERWHERE between SF and Seattle and between Seattle and Montana and between Montana and San Francisco.

    If I can get a cell phone signal my Verizon wireless card works and works well.

    Wifi is usually faster, though, but isn’t even CLOSE to as ubiquitous, especially in small towns like those in Montana.

    Verizon Wireless ABSOLUTELY ROCKS compared to Wifi. Not even close. And it doesn’t cost me money in airports, hotels, or when I want to sit in Starbucks and do some email.

  18. PXLated: That is absolutely 100% NOT TRUE.

    My Verizon Card worked on the interstate highway EVERWHERE between SF and Seattle and between Seattle and Montana and between Montana and San Francisco.

    If I can get a cell phone signal my Verizon wireless card works and works well.

    Wifi is usually faster, though, but isn’t even CLOSE to as ubiquitous, especially in small towns like those in Montana.

    Verizon Wireless ABSOLUTELY ROCKS compared to Wifi. Not even close. And it doesn’t cost me money in airports, hotels, or when I want to sit in Starbucks and do some email.

  19. Tris: good point. Using cell phone and wireless services outside of your calling zone is ridiculously expensive. I remember getting hit with a $400 bill one time after being in Vancouver, which is just 15 miles over the border from the US.

    Obviously when I’m talking here I’m talking about the United States. When I’m overseas I rely way too much on Wifi.

  20. Tris: good point. Using cell phone and wireless services outside of your calling zone is ridiculously expensive. I remember getting hit with a $400 bill one time after being in Vancouver, which is just 15 miles over the border from the US.

    Obviously when I’m talking here I’m talking about the United States. When I’m overseas I rely way too much on Wifi.

  21. Robert, in the spirit of the MasterCard commercials:

    Monthly EV-DO on old plan = $80
    Monthly EV-DO on updated plan = $59
    One time PDANet license fee from JuneFabrics = $34
    New monthly EV-DO plan on phone only = $45
    Verizon EV-DO with phone as a modem = priceless

    http://junefabrics.com/pdanet/index.php

    Ping me off list with any questions. :) I use the PDANet setup with my XV6700 and Samsung Q1 UMPC for my all-day, every day mobile office. Works flawlessly.

  22. Robert, in the spirit of the MasterCard commercials:

    Monthly EV-DO on old plan = $80
    Monthly EV-DO on updated plan = $59
    One time PDANet license fee from JuneFabrics = $34
    New monthly EV-DO plan on phone only = $45
    Verizon EV-DO with phone as a modem = priceless

    http://junefabrics.com/pdanet/index.php

    Ping me off list with any questions. :) I use the PDANet setup with my XV6700 and Samsung Q1 UMPC for my all-day, every day mobile office. Works flawlessly.

  23. The problem isn’t that wireless sucks; it’s that 500 people are trying to use it at the same time in a small space. There are only 3 channels (3 access points) you can use in a small space without interference. Also to get good performance you only want about 30 people on one access point. 30 people * 3 access points = 90 people total. 500 people just overload it.

    The other problem is when people are transmitting their own laptops as an ad-hoc network. It interferes with the access points and degrades the experience even further.

    Just my two cents.

  24. The problem isn’t that wireless sucks; it’s that 500 people are trying to use it at the same time in a small space. There are only 3 channels (3 access points) you can use in a small space without interference. Also to get good performance you only want about 30 people on one access point. 30 people * 3 access points = 90 people total. 500 people just overload it.

    The other problem is when people are transmitting their own laptops as an ad-hoc network. It interferes with the access points and degrades the experience even further.

    Just my two cents.

  25. Robert…ok, I’ll amend my comment as it totally depends on “exactly” where you’re traveling. It’s great you got it on your trip. I’ve just spent hours in the Verizon, Sprint, Cingular stores discussing broadband coverage. According to all of them, in the major metro areas fast. Along some freeways between major cities dialup to fast. Off the freeway and off the beaten track but getting a “native” signal, dialup speed. Off the beaten path with no native signal, shit out of luck.
    For my travels, WiFi is more consistently available, just not always on.

  26. Robert…ok, I’ll amend my comment as it totally depends on “exactly” where you’re traveling. It’s great you got it on your trip. I’ve just spent hours in the Verizon, Sprint, Cingular stores discussing broadband coverage. According to all of them, in the major metro areas fast. Along some freeways between major cities dialup to fast. Off the freeway and off the beaten track but getting a “native” signal, dialup speed. Off the beaten path with no native signal, shit out of luck.
    For my travels, WiFi is more consistently available, just not always on.

  27. EV-DO isn’t a cost effective feature for all of us. On the East coast at least the last time I checked the coverage for it wasn’t good at all…and since everywhere I go I have wifi coverage…having a EV-DO card to cover the 5% without wifi just isn’t worth it.

    I am not one to pay $3500 for a conference either so I don’t fall in that “upper-class-geek-bracket”.

    Would I love to have anywhere access to the internet with my laptop…sure. But what would be great is that EV-DO or technology that did the same thing was embedded into my laptop like wifi is so that I didn’t have a card sticking out.

  28. EV-DO isn’t a cost effective feature for all of us. On the East coast at least the last time I checked the coverage for it wasn’t good at all…and since everywhere I go I have wifi coverage…having a EV-DO card to cover the 5% without wifi just isn’t worth it.

    I am not one to pay $3500 for a conference either so I don’t fall in that “upper-class-geek-bracket”.

    Would I love to have anywhere access to the internet with my laptop…sure. But what would be great is that EV-DO or technology that did the same thing was embedded into my laptop like wifi is so that I didn’t have a card sticking out.

  29. Ralph: it worked everywhere in New York and Boston that I went. Don’t know about further out than that.

    PX: I don’t do a lot of backroad traveling. Generally I stick to the interstates. :-)

    It didn’t work where my cell phone didn’t work. But, it often worked in places I couldn’t get cell phone coverage at. For instance, here at home TMobile doesn’t work at all, but it works great. Or, at my mom’s house in Montana, Cingular doesn’t work at all, but the Verizon card worked just fine.

    The most infuriating thing is that Wifi is lots of places, like at the Ritz down the road. But they charge for access.

  30. Ralph: it worked everywhere in New York and Boston that I went. Don’t know about further out than that.

    PX: I don’t do a lot of backroad traveling. Generally I stick to the interstates. :-)

    It didn’t work where my cell phone didn’t work. But, it often worked in places I couldn’t get cell phone coverage at. For instance, here at home TMobile doesn’t work at all, but it works great. Or, at my mom’s house in Montana, Cingular doesn’t work at all, but the Verizon card worked just fine.

    The most infuriating thing is that Wifi is lots of places, like at the Ritz down the road. But they charge for access.

  31. I have an EVDO card on my MBP, but alas, it didn’t work in the Grand Ballroom all morning this morning.

    The rest of the event it’s worked great, though, so I dunno what was up. Too many people taking your advice at once? :)

    FYI, the $16/day wired connectivity in the rooms SUCKED last night, too. Bad WiFi at the $3500 conference (with AOL’s name plastered all over as the provider) + bad wired at the $250/night hotel (plus $16/night for the connectivity) = bad news.

  32. I have an EVDO card on my MBP, but alas, it didn’t work in the Grand Ballroom all morning this morning.

    The rest of the event it’s worked great, though, so I dunno what was up. Too many people taking your advice at once? :)

    FYI, the $16/day wired connectivity in the rooms SUCKED last night, too. Bad WiFi at the $3500 conference (with AOL’s name plastered all over as the provider) + bad wired at the $250/night hotel (plus $16/night for the connectivity) = bad news.

  33. Robert, Yes that wouldn’t have been after NorthernVoice and the “How many geeks does it take to find a resturant” incident?

    Personally I’d pay a little extra to have all North America coverage. Even if I could add it on for a week or something. I rely on the speed of my Berry to keep me up to date. Not to mention at a conference I’d gladly use my EVDO instead of conference WiFi to help others out.

    Hey Telus … Rogers … listening? Canadians travel to the US A LOT, we’d like better plans!

  34. Robert, Yes that wouldn’t have been after NorthernVoice and the “How many geeks does it take to find a resturant” incident?

    Personally I’d pay a little extra to have all North America coverage. Even if I could add it on for a week or something. I rely on the speed of my Berry to keep me up to date. Not to mention at a conference I’d gladly use my EVDO instead of conference WiFi to help others out.

    Hey Telus … Rogers … listening? Canadians travel to the US A LOT, we’d like better plans!

  35. I’m a huge evdo fan. Just switched from Verizon to Sprint. I live in Texas… where we drive everywhere. I’ve found only a few holes in the network between Dallas-Houston-Austin. I also travel quite a bit around the US, and I’ve found it invaluable moving between and around cities. (I do only go to larger cities and their suburbs.) It’s also priceless when I’m visiting clients because I’m not hamstrung by my clients’ firewall or network restrictions.

    I cancelled all my wifi accounts and decreased my DSL speed at my home because the Sprint service is so good. In fact, my Sprint evdo is often faster downstream than my SBC DSL at my house. Go figure.

  36. I’m a huge evdo fan. Just switched from Verizon to Sprint. I live in Texas… where we drive everywhere. I’ve found only a few holes in the network between Dallas-Houston-Austin. I also travel quite a bit around the US, and I’ve found it invaluable moving between and around cities. (I do only go to larger cities and their suburbs.) It’s also priceless when I’m visiting clients because I’m not hamstrung by my clients’ firewall or network restrictions.

    I cancelled all my wifi accounts and decreased my DSL speed at my home because the Sprint service is so good. In fact, my Sprint evdo is often faster downstream than my SBC DSL at my house. Go figure.

  37. I don’t have to buy a contract to get WiFi. I do have to pay that for EVDO. How often do I find myself desperately wishing I had wireless connections? Never. but then, I’m more patient than you are about such things, and not as addicted to my tech.

    Oh, and coverage is still spotty. In my hotel in the Research Triangle area of Raleigh/Durham NC, NEITHER Sprint nor Verizon are even able to give me reliable *voice* or 1xRTT, much less EVDO. Note that Research Triangle is not some backwoods area. IBM has one of its largest facilities here, and I drive by a GE Aircraft Engine facility every day. Serious tech here, but crappy EVDO coverage.

    I also did some math, and unless you travel a lot, on your own dime, you’re going to be hard – pressed to pay $60 or more a month for Wi-Fi. And honestly, I’d rather go to a Barnes and Noble, grab a book, grab some Hot Cocoa at the Starbucks therein and do my emailing there. Much more pleasant than in a hotel room or a car.

  38. I don’t have to buy a contract to get WiFi. I do have to pay that for EVDO. How often do I find myself desperately wishing I had wireless connections? Never. but then, I’m more patient than you are about such things, and not as addicted to my tech.

    Oh, and coverage is still spotty. In my hotel in the Research Triangle area of Raleigh/Durham NC, NEITHER Sprint nor Verizon are even able to give me reliable *voice* or 1xRTT, much less EVDO. Note that Research Triangle is not some backwoods area. IBM has one of its largest facilities here, and I drive by a GE Aircraft Engine facility every day. Serious tech here, but crappy EVDO coverage.

    I also did some math, and unless you travel a lot, on your own dime, you’re going to be hard – pressed to pay $60 or more a month for Wi-Fi. And honestly, I’d rather go to a Barnes and Noble, grab a book, grab some Hot Cocoa at the Starbucks therein and do my emailing there. Much more pleasant than in a hotel room or a car.

  39. @21 You luddite, John. Shame on you for not wanting to be on the net every waking moment. Get your priorities straight, man!! ;-)

  40. @21 You luddite, John. Shame on you for not wanting to be on the net every waking moment. Get your priorities straight, man!! ;-)

  41. I am at the DevConnections Convention in Las Vegas. They have a wireless connection, but it doesn’t work most of the time. My verizon card has save me the $12 per day room fee, plus allowed me to blog from the conference. It is spotty in some areas of the Hotel but I am pretty happy about its performance. The number one complaint I have heard, from presenters, and participants is NO INTERNET CONNECTION, guess what, they don’t have EVDO or any wireless cards. Well worth the 500 dollars a year, especially when you have to support users back at work. Pays for itself.

  42. I am at the DevConnections Convention in Las Vegas. They have a wireless connection, but it doesn’t work most of the time. My verizon card has save me the $12 per day room fee, plus allowed me to blog from the conference. It is spotty in some areas of the Hotel but I am pretty happy about its performance. The number one complaint I have heard, from presenters, and participants is NO INTERNET CONNECTION, guess what, they don’t have EVDO or any wireless cards. Well worth the 500 dollars a year, especially when you have to support users back at work. Pays for itself.

  43. Somebody who can shell out $3,500 USD to attend a conference can also buy extra battery pack (or several) for his notebook, mobile phone, photo and video cameras.

  44. Somebody who can shell out $3,500 USD to attend a conference can also buy extra battery pack (or several) for his notebook, mobile phone, photo and video cameras.

  45. Well coming from the UK to US conferences means I have no choice but to rely on Wi-Fi in many cases. So for sure some of you can spend all that a month, and write it off, but the point still stands. Maybe with all teh power strips that are thrown out people could just add some old fashioned wired connections we can hardwire into?

  46. Well coming from the UK to US conferences means I have no choice but to rely on Wi-Fi in many cases. So for sure some of you can spend all that a month, and write it off, but the point still stands. Maybe with all teh power strips that are thrown out people could just add some old fashioned wired connections we can hardwire into?

  47. [...] Robert Scoble writes about whether having a decent WiFi connection at a conference is something that important, and concludes that if you can afford the $3500 price tag to get in, you can also afford a $80 a month Verizon mobile data plan. Ethan Kaplan thinks it is important, and I agree, but for different motives. What Robert fails to appreciate is, that while Web 2.0 may be more US-centered in terms of visitor origin, there are many conferences where the bulk of atendees come from abroad. In this case, it makes little sense to get into a Verizon plan just for the few days when you are visiting. Roaming data charges (when roaming data connections such as GPRS even work, which I found impossible around California) are astronomical. [...]

  48. Robert – two things real quick:

    1 – on yours and others loud praises I got a Verizon EVDO card a few months ago. I have been really happy with it so far, except when I travel to Seattle, specifically Redmond. Of all the places I go Redmond and Bellview seem to have almost no reception. Did you have any problems when you were on campus at MSFT?

    2 – on your comment about conference organizers making sure to have plenty of access to power outlets, might I suggest an external battery from Batterygeek. I am in no way affiliated with them, but have been a happy customer of their’s for 6 months. I use one of their portable power stations whenever I go to conferences. On a recent trip it powered my HP TC4400 for the flight from Cincinnati to Seattle and then straight into a 8 hour conference. If you want to be completely wire free this is the ticket.

  49. Robert – two things real quick:

    1 – on yours and others loud praises I got a Verizon EVDO card a few months ago. I have been really happy with it so far, except when I travel to Seattle, specifically Redmond. Of all the places I go Redmond and Bellview seem to have almost no reception. Did you have any problems when you were on campus at MSFT?

    2 – on your comment about conference organizers making sure to have plenty of access to power outlets, might I suggest an external battery from Batterygeek. I am in no way affiliated with them, but have been a happy customer of their’s for 6 months. I use one of their portable power stations whenever I go to conferences. On a recent trip it powered my HP TC4400 for the flight from Cincinnati to Seattle and then straight into a 8 hour conference. If you want to be completely wire free this is the ticket.

  50. I’m feeling quite well endowed after all this with my 2GB upload/download per month on my Vario with T Mobile. My organisation gave me the smartphone and challenged me to outstrip the month allowance – which only costs us £8.50 per month! I’m working on it….

    I’ll show you, Robert, when you’re over in London at the end of the month.

  51. I’m feeling quite well endowed after all this with my 2GB upload/download per month on my Vario with T Mobile. My organisation gave me the smartphone and challenged me to outstrip the month allowance – which only costs us £8.50 per month! I’m working on it….

    I’ll show you, Robert, when you’re over in London at the end of the month.

  52. A 5-day 10th European Conference of Health Information and Libraries held in Cluj Napoca, Romania, offered free WiFi across the venue for its nearly 500 delegates, staff and visitors. The organizers wanted it that way. Where EV-DO broadband or 3G service is available as monthly subscription, nobody looked at it as an option for the 5 conference days. Some told me they were amazed by the WiFi service and by the fact it was free esp. when most conference venues charge hard cash for less.
    Robert, I believe your point is mis-aimed at the wrong issue. It’s not WiFi itself.

    Actually, it’s exectly this kind of negative vibes about WiFi I fear most. Getting a couple of people complaining about one crappy service is enaugh to herald all others as being same.

  53. A 5-day 10th European Conference of Health Information and Libraries held in Cluj Napoca, Romania, offered free WiFi across the venue for its nearly 500 delegates, staff and visitors. The organizers wanted it that way. Where EV-DO broadband or 3G service is available as monthly subscription, nobody looked at it as an option for the 5 conference days. Some told me they were amazed by the WiFi service and by the fact it was free esp. when most conference venues charge hard cash for less.
    Robert, I believe your point is mis-aimed at the wrong issue. It’s not WiFi itself.

    Actually, it’s exectly this kind of negative vibes about WiFi I fear most. Getting a couple of people complaining about one crappy service is enaugh to herald all others as being same.