MWC 2011 – Free Wi-Fi On Its Knees, 3G Shines

This year, there's free Wi-Fi at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona at a couple of places and I couldn't of course resist to see if the company attaching it's name to the offer is any better at providing connectivity in this form and shape than those who have tried in the past. Unfortunately and not quite unexpected its not. The connection runs at a couple of kbyte/s and often there are interruptions of several seconds. Perhaps suited for the desperados but not for serious use. In contrast to that my 3G connection is running fine in the same crowded space. As in the previous years, the network operator I am using has deployed three carriers. On all three the signal is very strong and EcNo ranges are in the high -9 to -12's. But still, I get instantaneous and sustained data rates of 1.5-2 MBit/s. Refreshingly usable.

3 thoughts on “MWC 2011 – Free Wi-Fi On Its Knees, 3G Shines”

  1. You missed the point. …!
    The few WiFi APs that covered less than 10% of the show floor by design offloaded more than 1.2TB of data from mobile devices saving the 3G network from collapse as we have seen in previous years…

  2. Dear anonymous MWC Visitor,

    thanks for taking the time to leave a comment with an interesting data point. I’d really like to verify it but didn’t leave contact details.

    Concerning your other statement: My experience concerning availability, stability and throughput of the 3G networks on the Fira during MWC is quite different from your statement. Throughout the years I have always had excellent data rates and zero outages with the network I used both for voice and data. Last year, for example, I specifically concentrated on this point and recorded the number of cells and data throughput reached at various locations at the Fira. Here’s my report from last year:

    This shows quite well that 2G/3G networks were quite capable to cope with the data and voice traffic during the show. This is quite in contrast with the experience of the Wi-Fi network I have made during the show and this is why I wrote the original post. Of course I only tested one of the networks so others might not have fared that well. If that was the case, shame on them as it was not because it could not be done properly.

    I highly value the attempt to offer free Wi-Fi during the show but I think for next year the network design should be thought over a bit to reflect the usage. In that regard I was wondering a bit why the main sponsor for that network was not a network operator whom this network was there to help with as you suggest?

    No matter how much data went over the Wi-Fi infrastructure during the show, I wonder how much was really offloaded from the public 3G networks!? Most data seems to have been generated from people with notebooks and since most where international travelers with limited telecommunication budget most of them would likely not have used the 3G network with their notebook. So I think, without having concrete information on this, that most of that data was not offloaded. And if that thought is extended it’s going to be interesting in the future when data roaming rates are coming down and people start using their 3G dongles with SIM cards from foreign network operators while roaming at the MWC.

  3. 25,000 + unique MAC addresses were seen by the few hot spots offered ( less than 100) covering less than 5 % of the show area specifically designed not to compete with the show network that was sold to the exhibitors (for a good profit)… So I am sure there were a few phones in that number. Not sure how well the 3G network would have done if all the Press used it to upload their HD video instead of the few WiFI APs around…not sure a 3G dongle will work here:).

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