New York Comic Con 2012 was largely a success, but an absolute failure in one particular department: Its ability to provide a suitable wireless connection for those in attendance.
From Oct. 11 to 14, New York's Javits Convention Center is jam-packed with attendees, including fans, exhibitors, guests, management, press and a fair amount of stars and pop culture icons as well. The building itself contains 650,000 square feet to walk through, yet Reed Operations, the company responsible for operating New York Comic Con, did not take into consideration the volume of attendees requiring a Wi-Fi connection to do business and get by.
While several fans and attendees were seen holding up their cell phones to get better connections, some of the worst wireless issues were found downstairs, ironically in the room that needed an Internet connection the most: The Javits Center's dedicated Press Lounge.
Despite knowing how many thousands of press members would attend this convention, the Javits Center and Reed Operations simply neglected to create enough Wi-Fi hotspots for writers, analysts and reporters to publish articles and news stories throughout the day. With so many panels making news announcements each day, on top of the plethora of sights and artists' stories to share, the lack of wireless bandwidth becomes a serious communication issue to get content in and out of the Con.
According to two NYCC crew members in the Press Lounge, there are three Wi-Fi options available to all patrons, press included: You can log onto the Javits Center's free Wi-Fi network, which is available for the entire convention center to use -- "Good luck with that," said one NYCC crew member, since that option only carries enough bandwidth for about 150 users total.
The second option: Users can log onto another Javits' Center Wi-Fi hotspot, which is not only extremely sluggish but only available with an eight-digit user name and password combination that's only good for one-hour use before it expires, and it can never be used again.
The third option is to purchase Wi-Fi connectivity from Javits' Center -- not guaranteed to work, by the way -- which costs $4.95 for one hour, $29.95 for one full day of access, $69.95 for three days of access, and $650 for seven days of Internet access. All options stream data at 768K.
But what about Ethernet access? Surely the convention center would provide enough stationary computers with solid Internet connections. Unfortunately, according to the NYCC crew, only two computers in the Press Lounge carried free Internet access, which was pretty pathetic compared to the amount of annoyed reporters that needed to publish their stories.
To complement these bare-bones services, Starz and its new show, "Da Vinci's Demons," released hundreds of cards to the Comic Con audience, granting them unique user names and passwords to access the paid Wi-Fi network for one hour. Unfortunately, these cards are limited and users must get more cards to get more hours of Wi-Fi. Each card's unique passcodes expire after the hour of usage.
This lack of suitable Wi-Fi is an issue typical of most conventions, but the fact that Reed Operations and the Javits Center did not think ahead of time to provide press with their own unique Wi-Fi hotspot (with passwords only available in the Press Lounge) or a Wi-Fi hotspot for exhibitors-only, shows a real lack of planning and thoughtfulness when it comes to this massive culture convention.
Now more than ever, people rely on Internet connections for nearly everything, especially when it comes to doing business. But the fact that Wi-Fi is such an issue at this enormous culture convention is not only embarrassing -- it's bad business.
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