McCormick Place WiFi Gets Faster, Cheaper

McCormick Place
has upgrade its Internet access, which should mean better WiFi services for those using the building as well as reduced costs for show managers, according to officials at the Metropolitan Pier & Exposition Authority in Chicago.

The new infrastructure with Cisco and Xirrus hardware should support as many as 45,000 users at the same time throughout the facility via 800 permanently mounted access points. Also, the system is now capable of adding more access points if events call for more WiFi portals. Finally, the venue has installed a separate redundant Internet circuit in case there are problems with the system.

“This WiFi upgrade, though significant on its own, is part of a larger overall plan to enhance the customer experience,” says McCormick Place General Manager David Causton in a statement. “Today 45,000 users can connect to the system at once, which is critical in a world where exhibitors and attendees now carry multiple WiFi devices on a regular basis.”

At the same time, the venue has implemented changes to its Internet pricing structure that will allow for a facility-wide buyout, but also accommodate smaller shows with packages that don’t require WiFi access to cover the entire convention center area.

“We have tested the new pricing model with a number of 2013 shows,” says Assistant General Manager Anthony Lopez, “and the feedback has been fantastic.”

Lopez says that, in some cases, this new pricing structure will amount to as much as a 40-percent savings for some show managers. It was designed to provide more specific service offerings as opposed to charging for bandwidth and equipment deployments that can require extensive change orders.

“New customers can simply let us know their attendee count, the service level they want, any high-density concerns and we do the rest,” says Technology Services Manager Ken Schmidt.

McCormick Place already offers a basic complimentary service in public areas, meeting rooms, ballrooms and some areas on the exhibit floor. That will continue to be the case.

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Posted by Michael Hart

Michael Hart is the executive editor of Expo. Reach him at View all articles by Michael Hart →