Cannes Lions Attendees Are Crying Foul Over Wi-Fi Woes Along the Croisette

Stalling content creation and social

Headshot of Christopher Heine

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"

And so complaints about online service have been a common refrain among the thousands of Cannes attendees. 

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.

Generally speaking, it's not helping the show's social activity in terms of users on Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The savviest content creators have figured out that getting posted up at Facebook Beach, YouTube Beach or Twitter Beach is a smart way to conduct their business without wasting valuable time waiting for the Wi-Fi upload and download items. The digital companies have taken special measures to pipe in bandwith that will allow folks to function digitally in a manner they're used to. 

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:

JW Marriott:

YouTube Beach:

@Chris_Heine Christopher Heine is a New York-based editor and writer.