I have been in about 30 product briefings so far at CES so far and the trend is the same. No mater where I go exhibitors and sponsors tell me the connectivity is not good in this room or in this booth or in this part of the hotel or this part of the convention center. Yesterday I was at the Las Vegas Convention Center and today in the Venetian and Palazzo hotels and the connectivity in all locations was terrible.
That leaves the wireless carriers... AT&T has a wireless network which is under intense stress. I dropped numerous calls - often my calls wouldn't go through at all. Forget about wireless broadband - between briefings my devices just hung. AT&T had WiFi enabled the LVCC but the WiFi didn't work reliably for me the first day of the show for the first few hours.
I tried the convention center internet called Instant Internet and used my Boingo account to login and it worked great. But I could only find this network in some parts of the convention center.
That led me to the Verizon 4G MiFi hotspot I keep with me. It performed very well - allowing me to connect when I had to. I turned it on sparingly through the day to conserve battery and it bailed me out.
When AT&T call quality was terrible or calls kept dropping - which was pretty much constantly, I fired up the Verizon hotspot and used Skype.
There are over 100,000 of the leading tech enthusiasts in the world at this show and for AT&T it is a chance to highlight how awesome their network could be. Instead, we are left with a reminder of how poor the situation is.
It is really ludicrous. This is not a new show. AT&T knows we are coming. They have WiFi hotspot technology which could have been rolled out throughout the city (and working properly) but it wasn't.
Instead of boosting productivity through broadband and device usage I wasted infinite and precious time switching between wireless networks like a champ. I went from Venetian WiFi to AT&T to the Verizon hotspot, etc until I could browse the Internet and then I got some work done.
If anything, this show is a reminder of not only how amazing technology can be but more importantly how unprepared facilities and wireless carriers are for massive influxes of tech savvy users.