I want to share a little secret. Its one of those secrets that you really want to share but at the same time are not sure if you should in case it gets you into trouble…

How to get a stable internet connection to your booth at a trade show or exhibition without paying for it.

I have found myself doing more and more trade shows recently, and one of the things I find particularly hard to swallow is the cost of a physical internet connection to a stand.

At one of the recent show venues I attended they wanted five hundred pounds to provision a fixed line 1Mbps internet link (Yes £500 – that wasn’t a typo) considering all the other costs involved, most of the time internet access is just too expensive to consider.

So what are the alternatives? Well of course you could use a dongle plugged into a laptop or even a router (if it supports it), and this normally works fine – until the attendees start piling through the doors. A couple of thousand smartphones all downloading email and streaming iplayer tend to affect local cell tower performance.

Or you could use the normally free guest internet at the venue, and although it will likely suffer similar contention issues, if installed right, it can be pretty reliable. Trouble is though that again you are limited to a single device – normally a laptop, and using a laptop as a gateway for other devices on your local booth network can be tricky.

So what do I do? We’ll actually I connect to both using a Pepwave HD2 router. It has dual embedded LTE modems and dual WiFi radios, one used as a local AP, the other is for WiFi as WAN. The clever bit is that it monitors all available WAN links in real time so that when there is contention or packet loss on one link it favours the other and vice versa.

The end result is a router on your stand or in your booth that consumes all and any connectivity that’s available giving you a resilient high bandwidth connection, and the best bit? Since PepVPN can tunnel out over dynamically assigned public addresses you can also have a secure VPN between your stand and your head office. Yes, that means you can have an enterprise VoIP handset on your stand too 🙂