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Web Summit Suffers Wi-Fi And Capacity Issues In First Lisbon Event

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Web Summit’s Dublin Wi-Fi issues continue to plague it in the sunnier climes of Lisbon and sparks controversy among Portuguese operators

At the start of Web Summit in Lisbon, founder Paddy Cosgrave faced an embarrassing problem: his phone was not connected to a Wi-Fi network as he tried to do a live demonstration in front of 15,000 attendees.

This is the first staging of the event outside its native Dublin, where it had been plagued with connectivity issues. Two years ago, the Wi-Fi network buckled under the pressure of attendee’s data demands at the RDS venue.

The technical hiccup could not have come at a worse time as Cosgrave was about to introduce the Prime Minister of Portugal, but the incident has sparked a bit of controversy because of the operators involved.

Web Summit teething

web-summit-2On Cosgrave’s phone, Vodafone was clearly displayed but the Newbury-based operator’s Portugal division is not the official communications provider – that honour belongs to Portugal Telecom.

And Vodafone has felt compelled to tell everyone that the reason its name appeared on Cosgrave’s device is because that was the mobile network it was registered to – however it was connected to Wi-Fi and not cellular.

“As is public knowledge, Vodafone is not the operator responsible for Web Summit communications. Thus, the technical problems that occurred during the Wi-Fi connection can not, under any circumstances, be attributed to Vodafone,” the operator said.

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“However, at the time of the demonstration, the founder of Web Summit was using the Wi-Fi network available at the venue. Whenever the Wi-Fi is turned on, the use of data is never made by mobile network to which the phone is registered. ”

Vodafone Portugal also stressed that it had reinforced its cellular network to ensure it can cope with the anticipated temporary surge in network traffic.

More than 50,000 people have signed up for this year’s Web Summit, but other teething problems have also been evident. There was confusion as many people were denied entry due to a lack of capacity, despite having tickets for the event.

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This is a modified article that first appeared on B!T Magazine Portugal

Additional reporting by Steve McCaskill