words Alan Turnbull
As WiFi has become an integral part of our lives, it has become impossible to imagine a world where we don’t use this form of internet every day.
Now, there are few places where we can’t connect to WiFi, or use our mobile phones as a connected device. However, even the best music festivals remain one of the few places where WiFi isn’t fully operational across a whole festival site for the entire event.
Festival organisers are looking to change this, and although connectivity has been limited across festival sites in the past, full-connectivity from mobile devices is set to be the future of the festival experience. Together with KBR, specialist WiFi installers, we explore what the festival industry is set to gain from staying connected, and how music festival organizers can implement reliable WiFi infrastructures in the future.
Why should festivals have readily available WiFi?
Since the turn of the century, the number of people attending music festivals has grown exponentially. From 2004 to 2013, the number of these events rose from 100 to 700. As well as this, in 2014 alone, festivals generated £3.1bn. Due to the market being so financially buoyant, this had led to increased competition within the industry. What this means is that festival organisers need to establish a competitive edge and a USP — with this USP being WiFi.
For festival organisers, investing in a WiFi structure is not a wasted cost, because 90% of all festival goers are smartphone users, making an event with free WiFi more appealing than one without. There are lots of advantages of WiFi for consumers. In an age where friends regularly stay connected and share their plans and memories with each other, it is no surprise that WiFi for such popular events like festivals is becoming a must have for those who attend.
How are WiFi structures reliably implemented?
Because festivals usually take place in fields and other remote locations, establishing a reliable WiFi connection is no easy task. In response, a number of specialist companies have been established in order to keep festival-goers connected.
Of course, given the size of the site and the sheer number of people trying to connect to the WiFi network, at present it’s difficult to provide a festival-wide connection — so using the connection in your tent is still widely unavailable. Rather, WiFi hotspots are created.
One of the most notable examples of these hotspots was the ‘WiFi cows’ that popped up across Glastonbury 2014. These fibreglass cows acted as a 4G hotspot provided by EE, allowing festival-goers to get connected in true outrageous festival style. The WiFi structure also enabled contactless card payments across the festival’s 25 bars.
In the future and as our dependence on digital grows, it’s likely that festival WiFi will become even more widespread, essentially turning each site into a hotspot.
Is WiFi at a festival really beneficial?
As many celebrate the availability of WiFi at these events, some are questioning whether this new level of connectivity will detract from the overall festival experience. If attendees are too busy tweeting and posting about their experience, are they truly experiencing it?
However, the many benefits of WiFi outweigh this slight negative. WiFi not only helps promote a festival through attendee social coverage, it helps festival-goers stay connected with their friends at the event and those at home. Clearly, festival WiFi is here to stay.