CANNES, France—The industry's most innovative minds have descended on the French Riviera as they do for a week every June. It's the crème de la crème of advertising and tech, and everything is sophisticated and world class—the scenic views, the beaches, the people-watching, the conversations and the food. Even the squawking seagulls hovering above this Mediterranean town can sound multilingual.
But Cannes' Wi-Fi? It only speaks pig Latin.
Some of its more decipherable messages—painful, when they appear—read as such: "Kill or wait?" Or: "The page can be loaded once the device connects to a secure network." Or: "Waiting for www.google.fr."
And so complaints about online service have been a common refrain among the thousands of Cannes attendees.
Wifi that actually works… The real unicorn in Cannes #CannesLions
— Ashley Friedlein (@AshleyFriedlein) June 20, 2016
The WiFi at #CannesLions is only suitable for PR texters. Really got to improve.
— Jan Nicolas Koenig (@kingkong) June 22, 2016
— Cindy Gallop (@cindygallop) June 19, 2016
judging crappy upload speeds at #CannesLions is the new judging ads
— Alfred M Maskeroni (@digimatized) June 21, 2016
The mobile internet connection—when working—has often slowed even text-based communications, specifically when people leave the the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès and hang out around nearby hotels and restaurants. In terms of multimedia executions? Forget about it.
"Calling it subpar would be a major understatement," said one media exec who requested anonymity.
Riviera One is the service provider that powers a lot of the internet for businesses on the Croisette. The company, with offices in London and Cannes, briefly responded to an inquiry about the negative chatter and promised to issue a statement, but none had been given by press time.
UPDATE: A Riviera One rep sent Adweek the following email later on Wednesday, explaining why the connections many are used to might be complicated to accomplish in Cannes.
"We manage Wi-Fi and network infrastructures for hotels and restaurants in Cannes as well as for many [clients] during the festivals. For the corporate clients, particularly from the technology industries, high-bandwidth internet is vital and therefore dedicated fibre lines are run for the duration of the festival. These, however, are too costly for the smaller restaurant venues to install on a long-term basis and that, coupled with the pure number of people using the residential infrastructure, things tend to slow quite dramatically. Fortunately, some hotels such as the Grand Hotel on the Croisette understand how critical these issues are to clients and have implemented more of a professional system to accommodate this."
Well, we downloaded the mobile app Speed Test to give readers a snapshot of the Wi-Fi strength along the Croisette, comparing The Grand Hotel and JW Marriott to YouTube Beach. The upload number is the key to understanding how well an internet connection is working—the higher the number, the better the signal.
The Grand Hotel: