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ShowNets E3 Landscape - Photo courtesy of E3Insider

For a trio of days this past June, 52,000 attendees stormed 270 exhibitors at the 24th annual Electronic Entertainment Expo held at the Los Angeles Convention Center. It was Atlanta-based showNets’ 18th year of bringing what is a pivotal service to the show – that of a seemingly seamless wireless network designed to support the high density of those 52,000 attendees, each with likely more than one Wi-Fi capable device, as well as the nearly 300 exhibitors.

Shownets is a leading provider in this new technology service category, now known as public-venue connectivity, which entails design, engineering, installation and operation of customized (but temporary) enterprise networks for trade shows, conventions, company meetings and other large events.

How important is it? Mind-bogglingly important. Just think of the countless numbers of posts, tweets, bloggings, uploads, downloads, demos, photos, audios, videos and the like that count on that Wi-Fi network. Communication is key for any successful event. In fact, it takes a total of 45 showNets technicians just to install, test and support the more than 200 exhibitor, press and streaming networks.

A year-long process (they’re already working on 2017) before it’s ready to roll to LA from San Jose (everything is on wheels) ready to install, the network cabling, hardware and supplies required alone fill three tractor trailers. (Interestingly enough, the amount of data that moves in and out of the showNets E3 network at LACC, measured in Terrabytes, would fill 50 tractor trailers if it was all printed.)

Then, a team of 52 showNets engineers and operations staff must be onsite in the LACC a full two weeks before normal “move in,” installing and testing an infrastructure of 150 miles of temporary fiber and copper cabling, as well as a Cisco network core that rivals the capabilities and capacity of some metropolitan cities – up more than 20 percent since last year. They are the first to arrive and last to leave, onsite for a full month, carefully placing switches, access points, antennae, monitoring equipment and more. And that includes designing in full redundancy, with at least two of every critical component included for a guaranteed 100 percent uptime.

During the show, nine Cisco Certified Network Engineers work on-site in a behind the scenes network control center monitoring and managing the network environment as exhibitors demoed their computer and mobile games and virtual reality products.

IDG World Expo manages E3 for the Entertainment Software Association. “If the network goes down, the show goes down,” says IDG World Expo Vice President and General Manager Madeline Kruzel.

But that hasn’t been a problem, and there have been a host of tweets that prove it, of which are few are shared here: @ReadySebbyGo: “The first time I came to E3 in 2009, you could barely publish words on the Wi-Fi. Things have changed;” @radical defect: “An incomplete list of things that aren’t as bad as I expected: – Our walk from the hotel to E3. – E3 Wi-Fi;” @ThePoquito: “The W-Fi at E3 is on point. Currently sitting on the most comfortable couch I could find;” @Reclvse: “Loved following the events of #E32016 so far (my best ever). The ‘free’ Wi-Fi has really been helpful;” and, @Token_Gaming: “I’m surprised the Wi-Fi is handing this crowd!?”

Established in 1998, the family-run showNets has nearly 70 employees and works with major conference and exhibition management firms and large corporations. ShowNets provides custom-network solutions for six out of the top 10 trade shows listed in the Trade Show Executive’s Gold 100, including E3 and SalesForce’s Dreamforce.

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