Managing Wireless Spectrum At Trade Shows

Posted by Laura Fontaine on October 18, 2010


Ever wonder how large trade shows such as the recent CTIA Enterprise & Applications show or this week’s 4G World are able to have so many wireless product demos without any interference?  Think about it for a second—scores of wireless demos occurring simultaneously, while thousands of wireless-toting attendees stroll the aisles. Combine that with the usage that’s occurring on the macro-networks operating around the convention facility, and that’s a radio signal nightmare waiting to happen!

To keep things humming, many trade shows take advantage of the spectrum management skills of Comsearch, a CommScope company. For almost 15 years, Comsearch has been helping exhibitors successfully demonstrate myriad wireless devices at large wireless telecommunications trade shows in the U.S. It’s kind of like air traffic control but for wireless devices instead of airplanes.

Our process begins well before the show starts—about four to five months prior. We start by reviewing spectrum requests from previous shows to get an idea of who may be the key spectrum users. In addition, by virtue of our ongoing spectrum management business, we’re familiar with the new technologies likely to be demonstrated, as well as the spectrum demands of those technologies. We then begin to create a spectrum map for each show. When mapping the spectrum, we need to ensure that the wireless traffic inside the trade show doesn’t interfere with the wireless traffic surrounding the trade show site. Generally the high demand for spectrum coupled with the increase in wireless demonstrations at trade shows means that finding slivers of clean spectrum is ever more challenging.

Once we identify spectrum for an exhibitor, we then perform an engineering analysis to efficiently assign frequencies that will minimize the potential for interference. If we can’t engineer the amount of spectrum exhibitors need, the team works with all exhibitors to figure out how to efficiently manage the spectrum resources, yet still demonstrate their wireless products.

Before and during the show, exhibitors see Comsearch’s team roaming the show floor, outfitted with a spectrum analyzer and directional antenna. We help with any wireless demonstration that may not be working properly. We may have to help an exhibitor reconfigure an antenna or ensure they are using their assigned frequency. Every day of the show, we visit each client’s booth to make sure product demos are running smoothly.

Comsearch has developed a solid process to find spectrum, assign frequencies, keep down interference, and ensure exciting product demonstrations. So watch for the Comsearch team at the next wireless trade show—or this week’s 4G World, where we are the official spectrum manager. We’ll be the ones with the funny-looking antennas.


About the Author

Laura Fontaine

Laura Fontaine is the director of interactive solutions at Comsearch. She has nearly 25 years of experience in the field of spectrum management and the evaluation of spectrum sharing and spectrum relocation. Comsearch has provided innovative spectrum management and wireless engineering solutions to the global market for fixed, mobile, and broadband wireless applications for over 35 years.