Network access at conferences sucks, pretty much without exception. That is, unless it's built by the badge-wearing network ops volunteers of the Defcon hacker convention, who are affectionately referred to as the "Goons" (read: IT badasses). Wired's Threat Level got a chance to look behind the scenes and snap some great photos of the network gear (and chain link fences, and padlocks, and German Shepherds) that make the Defcon network the fortress that it needs to be to keep a network full of hackers from tearing each other apart.
A Cisco fiber switch (top) handles all of the traffic on the 20 megabit internet link, and the whole thing runs behind an OpenBSD firewall. Around 40 Aruba AP-70 access points distribute the network, which are basically only radios hooked to AC power; they receive all configuration info from the main network system to prevent WAP takeovers:
The whole thing sits behind this padlocked chain fence, which is manned by a 24/7 armed security guard.