August 15, 2006

The wifi question

David feels the blogosphere may be more prepared than LTS on the preparation for internet reportage of SETT (tagged SETT06), the largest learning festival/conference in Scotland, one of the biggest in Europe. In fairness, there were only four four or five bloggers there last year - we all drank a wine together and felt very geeky. Providing wifi just for us would have been folly, and there was public internet kiosking available.

But since then we've blogged and podcast away, seeing many more join the blogwagon, most of them coming to SETT at some point and most of them likely to want to laud it up on their blogs. There are likely to be around 20 prominent Scottish bloggers and podcasters present and blogging, with an audience on this blog alone of around 35,000 people for the month around the Festival. Surely that 'free' marketing is worth paying out a little dosh, even if it is just to provide a wifi corner within the conference venues where we can all huddle and tap away? (Update: I've since found out how much this would actually cost - it's not a little dosh at all).

SETT has a stop-start blog itself, which was perhaps a little tame last year and certainly didn't attract much conversation. Maybe this year, if we can get more people to link to and from about the event,  the blogging buzz (and potential marketing buzz) could be even greater. And the buzz isn't just about SETT but about SSDN and all sorts of new product launches.

Needless to say, I am struggling to find a sponsor for wifi for TeachMeet06. Anyone out there want to get their company (almost) free publicity to all these blog readers?


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I was one of the stop / start bloggers at SETT 05!!!. And I do agree with you it was a little tame. Ollie Bray incidentally was another.

I'm slightly surprised that wi-fi is not built in. Considering the number of speakers and vendors that will want Internet connections I would have thought that wi-fi would have been an obvious solution.

When you consider that wifi is 20 pounds a head per day and multiply that by how much the venue might potentially lose in income, you see quickly that it's an expensive solution. I think LTS have wanted to do this for some time but between providing good speakers for those 6000 or so present and providing wifi for a limited number of bloggers, it is a tricky budgetary decision. Glad I don't make it ;-)

{Thanks to co-comment, I just noticed that yopu'd posted your reply here as well as on my blog... so I thought I'd post my rep[ly in two places too. :-)}

Yes, I was told that the SECC were looking for £20 per head per day. Now, to me that sounds like a "What the market will bear" price. When I was in Germany, the hotel charged €4.50 for half an hour access to the Internet. However, just down the road I could get an hour for two euros in an Internet cafe.

Does the SECC have to charge £20 a day per head to make money or is that just what they can get away with charging businesses that use the SECC? I suspect the later.

Could the SECC have been told, "Don't be silly!" and asked to come back with a more sensible flat rate fee? How much money do the SECC already make out of SETT? It's not just the hiring of the space but the catering and other stuff must bring in a wee fortune. How much would it really cost them to provide wi-fi compared to the amount they are raking in elsewhere? How much money did they make from wi-fi access last year? Not a lot is my guess. I suspect they could provide wi-fi at a tiny fraction of £20 per head and still make significantly more money from it than they did last year... but that's just my guess. I've been wrong before. :-)

It's long been a debate with businessmen and women in hotel bars about whether the hotel wouldn't make more money from people choosing to reserve a room there because it had free wifi than from people reluctantly paying out for overpriced internet.

However, most of the people staying in hotels are on business and charge it to the account without worrying too much. When you consider that a company mobile phone bill for new 3G devices can be as low as £10 (and at worst for those of us paying out our own pockets it's £30) for a whole month it makes more sense for us just to go mobile. It's what I intend to do.

On another note, though, often the places themselves have no control over the internet price as the line in is another company and the carrier is a third or even fourth party. It gets very complicated when you try to negotiate anything like that down. And when there is no competition (i.e. how many other central venues with free wifi are there in Glasgow?) the chances of negotiation are next to nought.

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About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is the founder of NoTosh, the no-nonsense company that makes accessible the creative process required to innovate: to find meaningful problems and solve them.

Ewan wrote How To Come Up With Great Ideas and Actually Make Them Happen, a manual that does what is says for education leaders, innovators and people who want to be both.

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School leaders and innovators struggle to make the most of educators' and students' potential. My team at NoTosh cut the time and cost of making significant change in physical spaces, digital and curricular innovation programmes. We work long term to help make that change last, even as educators come and go.

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