4G LTE Antenna – What Do I Need to Consider? 

If you are using a 4G LTE broadband connection, or plan to, then you’ll need to be considering your external antenna. 

 

4G broadband is a fantastic option if you struggle with a standard broadband connection, especially if you live or work in a more rural area. Over the past few years we’ve seen a big uptake in 4G and mobile broadband options – For homeowners as well as businesses. 

 

What you don’t want is to switch to mobile broadband, and then end up with download speeds that are lower that what you were expecting. Whilst this may simply be down to poor reception, there are some other factors that can come into play. 

 

So, with you as the user, what considerations do you need to make to ensure your 4G mobile broadband connection will be the strongest it can be?

 

Did you know that LTE is MiMo technology?

LTE, like 11n Wi-Fi, is a multi-stream radio, multiple in/multiple out (MiMo) service. So similarly to 11n Wi-Fi, LTE uses multiple radio data streams to and from the end client – Which means the more streams of data the client can take, the faster the broadband. 

Just like in 11n Wi-Fi, the number of streams is T (the number of transmit radio streams) multiplied by R (the number of receive streams the connection can support) so TxR. This means that if something supports 2×2 streams, it can support twice the upload and download speed of a device with 1×1. In 4G LTE, you get anything from 1×1 to 8×8 stream capability (including all the possible mixes in between them). 

The number of transmit and receive streams dictates how many antennas the client needs. So for a 1×1 service, you would only need a single antenna. For a 2×2 service you would need 2 antenna. You get the idea. 

A connection can only support the number of streams the service provider is capable of via their masts. It is also dependent on the client device and its radio capabilities. 

The majority of devices – Like phones and routers – have dual stream capabilities. 

 

Choices of Antenna

If you’ve already been looking for a 4G LTE antenna then you’ll likely already have realised that there can be a difference in price. One of the main differences between antennas will be, as we said above, the number of connections they have. 

 

As you’ll have probably guessed, the more connections they have, the picier the get. So a 2×2 (or 2×1 or 2×2) device will cost more than a 1×1 device. You’ll typically see a choice between single (1×1) and dual connection (2×2) antennas. 

 

In most scenarios, you will be wanting a dual connection (2×2) antenna so that it supports the functionality of your router and other devices with dual stream, MiMo functionality.

 

But how do you know if the antenna will be any good? 

 

That comes down to polarisation. There needs to be a physical difference between the radio streams so that the receiver can differentiate between them. This can be as simple as mounting the antennas, leaving a physical gap between them of a few inches. 

 

It’s also a good idea to have each antenna at a different angle – Ideally at 90 degrees to each other. This is because although the radio waves might leave the mast in a lovely vertically polarised fashion, after a few reflections they will likely not be like that any more. Setting up the antenna so that they can also receive radio waves that are no longer vertically polarised will mean you will better receive the signal – A cross shape would achieve this. 

 

Do I need a Directional or Omni-Directional Antenna Set Up? 

Whilst it might be tempting to just opt for the highest gain directional antenna, this isn’t actually always the best choice – For 4G LTE or Wi-Fi. 

 

If you imagine a radio wave travelling from the mast to your receiver, with nothing in the way, it would have a straightforward route and an uninterrupted signal. In real life, this is unfortunately not the case. The signal cannot go through anything solid, so whenever something gets in its way, it reflects and scatters from those objects until it reaches the antenna. This means that the radio signal could come to your receiver from all different directions. 

 

Directional antenna, although high gain, have limited coverage in terms of their angle. So with radio waves potentially coming in in all directions, the directional antenna is going to cause you problems. 

 

The best situation for a directional antenna is when there is a clear line of sight between the mast and the mount of the antenna – Which is not a very common thing. 

 

The omni-directional antenna might well be lower gain, but it should pick up the signal regardless of what directional the radio waves are coming from. 

 

The best way to improve the signal you receive is to mount the antenna outside and as high up as possible.

 

Directional Antenna Pros

  • Can occasionally give a better, stronger and cleaner signal when carefully aligned with line of sight 
  • With a clear line of sight (and no ambiguity) then a directional antenna would be preferred choice

Directional Antenna Cons

  • Careful alignment with line of sight can be very tricky
  • Without line of sight, you have to rely on how it reflects and scatters
  • Changes in environment can result in how the signal is reflected (e.g. something as simple as a dry wall reflects better than a wet wall)
  • It is harder for the system to switch to a different mast (this could be dictated by the provider)

 

Omni-Directional Antenna Pros

  • Easy and quick installation (no tricky, careful alignment needed)
  • It is easy for the system to change transmitter masts
  • Antenna can be mounted outdoors, making a significant improvement in signal despite the lower fain

 

Omni-Directional Antenna Cons

  • In comparison to the directional antenna, the omni has lower gain
  • Can be more susceptible to radio frequency interference coming from different directions

 

Frequency Bands

There are a number of frequency bands that are used for 4G LTE in the UK. There’s the 800MHz band, the 1400MHz / 1.4GHz band, the 1800MHz / 1.8GHz band, the 2100MHz / 2.6GHz band, the 2300MHz / 2.3GHz band, and the 2600MHz / 2.6GHz band.

 

Although not set in stone, you generally find that the lower frequency bands are used more in rural areas due to them having longer transmission range than the higher frequencies and having to cover a larger geographical area. The higher band would likely be used more in built up towns and cities. 

 

What does this mean for antenna? Well, it means that you, as the end user, need to ensure that your antenna will support the service and frequency band of your provider. If you are sensible and savvy, you will choose an antenna that can cover the different frequency bands in case your service/provider changes. 

 

Stream Bandwidth

The available spectrum is divided and allocated between providers into sub-bands. The connection you get as the end client will depend (and vary) on how many clients the local signal mast can support as well as the bandwidth. 

 

If you live or work in a high user area, the density will mean that you may struggle with throughput speed or even getting a connection in the first place! 

 

What high user density situations could impact your 4G connection? Well, if you live near a football stadium or a busy motorway, you may find that on match day or during a bad traffic jam, your internet connection comes to a standstill as well! 

 

Which Antenna Do I Need for my 4G LTE Connection? 

 

How do you choose? Let’s take a look again at the main considerations you need to think about to ensure the best possible connection. 

 

Single or Dual Antenna

 

Does your router only have a single antenna connector? If so, then you should probably choose an external antenna with a single connector. 

 

If your router has a dual stream connection then you need to choose an antenna with 2 connectors. You could also choose two single connection antennas. 

 

Remember – If the local signal mast sends out a 1×1 service, then that’s all you’re going to get, even if you have a router and antenna set up that supports 2×2. Having the 2×2 compatible service won’t see you any difference if it’s a 1×1 signal service.  

 

Directional or Omni-Directional Antenna? 

We’re not trying to tell you what to do… But our Wi-Fi expert’s advice would be, in most scenarios, to go for an omni-directional antenna. As we mentioned above, it’s tempted to just go straight for the antenna with the biggest gain, usually the directional, when you could face very tricky alignment issues. Very few properties, business or home, have a clear line of sight between their local mast and their antenna. Unless you have this clear line of sight, then an omni is the best option.  

Correct frequency

Remember to ensure that your choice of antenna will work with the frequency range coming from your service provider and local mast. It’s only going to work if your frequency band matches what your antenna supports! 

 

To avoid potential issues when services or providers change, you should aim to choose an antenna that covers all the 4G LTE bands here in the UK. That means that your antenna should always work, even if you change provider or your local service changes. You might have to pay a little more, but it could save you problems in the future. 

 

Location

You should always mount the antenna wherever it has the best line of sight to the local mast. Sometimes you might not be able to see the signal mast, especially if you live or work in a very built up area. Even if you cannot see the mast, bear in mind the direction it’s in – Does your antenna need to be at the front or the back of your building? Even without a clear line of sight, this will vastly improve the signal you get. 

 

Generally speaking, the higher up you can mount the antenna the better! 

 

Also make sure that you’re not locating it close to a thick wall or anything metal. Even an omni-directional antenna would struggle to get a good signal in these situations! You want to make it as easy as possible for the signal to reach the receiver on your antenna. 

 

I’ve followed the advice but still don’t have good download speeds? 

You could have the perfect signal – And still not get good download speeds. This could be down to a few different reasons:

  • The service capabilities of your provider (the frequency they are allocated)
  • The service provided from the local mast
  • The capabilities of your router
  • If you live or work in a high user density area with lots of people trying to connect at the same time

 

Whether or not this matters depends on what you are using your connection for. If you are a business and are relying on your 4G LTE connection for your business operations, then this is going to be an issue. 

 

Trust the Experts

 

Here at Geekabit, our Wi-Fi experts can tell you just how reliable a 4G (or 5G) mobile broadband connection would be with one of our surveys. 

 

If you’re struggling with wired broadband, and not getting the reliable internet connection you need in your rural business or home, then 4G / 5G could be a fantastic option for you.

 

It can feel like a big jump to give up on your wired broadband connection and opt for 4G – Which is where our Cell Coverage 4G survey comes in.

 

We can tell you exactly whether 4G broadband would work for you, and which network would be most reliable.

 

PCI: What Is The Difference Between 4G LTE and 5G NR

In this blog we are going to look at the difference between 4G LTE and 5G-NR, specifically in terms of PCI. 

 

What is PCI when it comes to 4G / 5G?

 

PCI is the Physical Cell ID and is one of the most important ways a cell identifies itself in a 4G or 5G wireless network.

The physical layer (or PHY-layer) Cell ID is what determines the Cell ID Group and Cell ID Sector, and it is this that is needed for DL synchronisation. 

DL (Downlink) Synchronisation is the process in which a UE (phone) detects the radio boundary and OFDM symbol boundary. In other words, the exact timing of when a radio frame or OFDM starts. (In telecommunications, orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM) is a type of digital transmission and a method of encoding digital data on multiple carrier frequencies.) 

This DL synchronisation process is done by detecting and analysing the SS Block. From a UE’s (phone’s) point of view, Downlink is the ‘receiving’ transmitting direction. The SS Block (SSB) stands for Synchronisation Signal Block and refers to the synchronisation signal and Physical Broadcast Channel (PBCH) as a single block that always moves together.

 

Why is PCI Planning important? 

 

If you are planning, designing and deploying a 4G / 5G network, then PCI Planning will be one of your most important steps. 

Making sure your network is properly designed with PCI in mind will ensure your network works efficiently and increases how your resources are utilised. 

Excellent PCI planning ensures QoS for those who are subscribed to your 4G / 5G network.

QoS (Quality of Service) is the use of technologies to control traffic on your network, ensuring that the performance of critical applications meets requirements.

The key goal here is to use QoS and PCI Planning to enable your network to prioritise traffic, offering dedicated bandwidth and lower latency.

PCI is one of the technologies used to enhance performance of business applications, WANs and service provider networks. 

Poor planning in this area can result in PCI collisions and conflicts – Which in turn, negatively impact the overall performance of your network.

 

How is the PCI value created?

 

The PCI value is created from two components – PSS (Primary Synchronisation Signal) and SSS (Secondary Synchronisation Signal). 

The PSS is used to obtain the slot, ub-frame and half-frame boundary as well as providing the cell identity within the cell identity group. 

The SSS is used to obtain the radio frame boundary (10ms) as well as enabling the UE (phone) to determine the cell identity group.

After your UE (phone) has successfully decoded the PSS and SSS, it will be able to calculate the PCI. It uses the following formula:

PCI = (3 × SSS) + PSS

 

How is PCI calculated for 4G?

 

PSS has 3 values (0,1 and 2) and is created using the Zad-off Chu sequence.The PSS helps to accomplish slot and symbol synchronisation in the time domain.

SSS has 168 values (0 to 167) and is produced using concatenation (linking together in a series) of 2 m-sequences (max length sequence). The SSS helps to achieve radio frame synchronisation.

The formula to work out PCI for 4G is therefore:

PCI = (3 * 167) + 2 = 503

This means that there are PCI values varying from 0 to 503 LTE, which in turn supports 504 unique PCIs for 4G. 

 

How is PCI calculated for 5G?

 

PSS has 3 values (0,1 and 2) and created using m-sequence. 

SSS has 336 values (0 to 335) and is generated using the product of 2 m-sequences.

In 5G-NR (a new radio access technology developed by 3GPP for the 5G (fifth generation) mobile network), the basic structure of PSS is the same but the number of SSS is increased.

The formula to work out PCI for 4G is therefore:

PCI = (3 * 335) + 2 = 1007

So the PCI values will vary from 0 to 1007. This means that 5G-NR can support 1008 unique PCIs.

 

What does this difference in PCI between 4G and 5G actually mean? 

 

In the simplest terms, 5G-NR has double the number of PCI’s, compared to LTE 4G. 

5G has more Physical Cell IDs (the actual area that the cell antenna on a cell site is covering). Each 5G NR cell has a Physical Cel lD. 5G has 1008 unique possible Physical Cell ID’s, whereas 4G has only 504. 

So if we’re connected to Vodafone on Physical Cell ID No.1, but we could also see Vodafone signals being broadcast out of that cell tower on different cell antennas using Physical Cell ID No,2 and No3, then our mobile device would know to connect to No1. It would get confused if it connected to No.2 or No.3 and impact the quality of service.

The user device connects to the one physically nearest. So for example, a Vodafone tower has two cell antennas out the top broadcasting the Vodafone signal across an area, which will overlap to a small degree. A user’s device will always want to make sure it is connecting to the same one. You don’t want to connect to one antenna and back to another – It’s this that ruins the quality of service. So you will always try and connect back to the one you were talking to, which is normally geographically the one closest to you. 

The Physical Cell ID is used to identify each space. We don’t want those numbers to overlap too often, or our devices get confused and don’t know which to connect to. If a device can see a Physical Cell ID of 2, and there’s another cell antenna using an ID of 2, it wouldn’t know which one to communicate with.

It is beneficial to know that 5G-NR has more PCI’s available in the planning stages, to enable a higher quality of service (QoS) for end user devices.



Wi-Fi and Connectivity Options for Village Halls

Did you know that village halls in need of a bit of updating and renovation can apply for a share of a £3m fund, all in honour of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee?

 

This follows the tradition of village hall investments for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897 and King George V’s Silver Jubilee in 1935. 

 

125 lucky village hall recipients will have a share of the £3m fund, which can be put towards renovations and building improvements including Wi-Fi.  

 

You might well be hosting or celebrating in your local village hall for this weekend’s Jubilee celebrations! Village halls are often the heart of communities, bringing people together. It’s vital these hubs stay well connected with strong, reliable Wi-Fi. 

Wi-Fi for Village Halls – A Quick Guide

If you’re a part of the committee that looks after your local village hall, then you’ll know that there is an ever-increasing need for these community buildings to offer broadband and Wi-Fi access to their users. 

 

Not only will this support a wide range of community activities and events, it will also enhance the facilities you can offer as a venue to those who hire your space. 

 

So what do you need to consider to improve digital connectivity for your communities and businesses by making sure your village hall is well connected? 

 

Get a Broadband Connection


Before even thinking about Wi-Fi or broadband, you need to make sure you have a telephone landline. The only exception is if you are able to get cable or fibre access to the hall. You can read more about FTTP in one of our previous blogs here. Make sure that you have a business contract rather than residential, as it will be for public use. 

 

To get a new telephone line, order one through BT.com. After that’s done, you can upgrade to broadband. Always make sure you check with the ISP that you are able to make your internet connection available to the public before placing your order. 

 

If you want to get broadband without a landline, you would need to be able to have a cable, full fibre or mobile broadband connection. More on that later! 

 

Not got an official postal address? Some village halls don’t actually have an official post office address which can cause problems with some ISP’s as they may insist that you have one in order to place an order. If you find this is the case, you can contact the Post Office and request an official address here.

 

Some ISP’s will accept what’s known as an ‘unserved’ building but they may ask to do an initial survey before they confirm your order.  

 

How much will it cost to install Wi-Fi in a village hall?

You will need to incur some costs to get Wi-Fi successfully set up in your village hall. Bear in mind the following likely outgoings:

  • Installation and connection costs for a new telephone line (plus VAT) and broadband connection (if required)
  • Line rental for the telephone line (ongoing costs)
  • Data usage charges from broadband / Wi-Fi use (ongoing costs)
  • Any work required to install the Wi-Fi router in a secure location, plus additional devices that may be needed to boost Wi-Fi signal 

 

You can help keep costs to a minimum by shopping around for the best contract available on price comparison websites. Remember you need a business contract, not a residential one! Make sure you balance out the costs with data usage limits and of course, reliability.

 

Remember though, making improvements with the Wi-Fi in your village hall is investing in its successful future. It’s vital that these community hubs are well connected for their users. And even better if you can get the costs covered by securing part of the £3m Jubilee fund!

 

Security

 

We cannot express enough how important it is to make sure that your Wi-Fi is secure. You should manage and filter the access to your Wi-Fi signal. 

 

If you were to allow unmanaged access to your Wi-Fi, people may use your broadband connection for illegal purposes. By providing the Wi-Fi for this, you could be liable. 

 

Luckily for you, it’s super easy to manage your Wi-Fi security – And definitely not something that should put you off setting up a Wi-Fi connection in your village hall. 

 

To minimise the risk of inappropriate use, you should:

 

  • Install your router in a secure place where only authorised users are able to physically access it. Don’t let people connect to your router via Ethernet cable as they could make changes.
  • Routers usually display the passwords you need in order to manage and access your Wi-Fi connection. If you think it’s possible for unauthorised users to access this information, then consider changing the User ID and admin password (instructions on how to do this should be in your router user guide).
  • Regularly change your Wi-Fi access password for users. This means that only current users will be able to use your Wi-Fi connection, rather than someone who isn’t authorised or is re-using a password they’ve previously been issued with.
  • Always ensure that the parental control setting is switched on. This prevents access to any unsuitable websites on your Wi-Fi connection. You can use your router manual to set appropriate firewall settings to set the level of restriction required. 

 

 

The router in our village hall doesn’t reach the whole building

 

If you already have a router installed in your village hall, but it’s not reaching far enough and you’re struggling with black spots or slower Wi-Fi in certain places then you may need to extend your Wi-Fi coverage. 

 

This is particularly relevant if you have a large village hall building – The signal just may not be strong enough to reach everywhere it needs to from one router. 

 

We mentioned above that it’s important for the router to be in a secure area so unauthorised people cannot access it. This could mean that it’s been placed in a less than ideal location for signal strength and connectivity. It’s vital to balance the two! 

 

Ideally, you will be able to place the router in a central location, but if that is not the case then you may need to install other devices to extend the signal to other locations within your village hall building. You could potentially use a powerline adapter or a Wi-Fi extender to boost the signal strength and get wider Wi-Fi coverage in the building. 

 

Mobile Broadband for Rural Village Halls

You and your users might not be in London, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t expect the same Wi-Fi connection that you get in urban areas – Despite being in more rural ones. 

 

Unfortunately there are many parts of the countryside that are suffering from a broadband deficit – Indeed, there seems to be a connectivity imbalance across the countryside, with many village halls struggling.

Over the past year particularly, we’ve installed countless numbers of external 4G antennas and routers in rural areas, effectively replacing the broadband through the telephone cable using a data SIM card.

 

You can read more about our 4G Mobile Broadband solutions in a previous blog of ours here

 

If you are wary about whether Mobile Broadband could work in your more rural village hall, then our Cellular Survey could be just what you need. We can map the availability of cellular and data coverage within a building and report the details of phone coverage for 2G, 3G, 4G/LTE and 5G. We can measure the cellular connectivity, data upload and download speeds and the occurrence of dropped and failed calls for all the main mobile network operators. You can read more about this here

 

Want to know more about how Geekabit could help get your village hall connected?

For further information about securing a strong Wi-Fi connection in your village hall, please email our Wi-Fi experts at info@geekabit.co.uk and someone will be in touch as soon as possible.

 

We work out of London, Hampshire and Cardiff, covering community buildings, businesses and larger residential properties. 

 

What is 6GHz Wi-Fi?

Did you know that following the historic decision by USA’s FCC in April 2020 to release 1200 MHz of bandwidth in 6 GHz space for unlicensed use, UK regulators cleared unlicensed wireless usage in the 6 GHz spectrum to give 6GHz WiFi a huge boost back in July 2020. 

 

This regulatory go-ahead enables your router to broadcast over the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. What does this mean in real life terms? Simply, it means there are now a lot more open airwaves that routers can use to broadcast Wi-Fi signals. This in turn means faster, more reliable connections from the next generation of devices.

 

This is the biggest spectrum addition in over 30 years – In fact, since the FCC cleared the way for Wi-Fi back in 1989. Pretty huge right? It means the space available for routers and other devices have quadruple the amount in this new spectrum. This means a lot more bandwidth for the user and less interference for their devices. 

 

For the past 20 years we’ve had the Wi-Fi Alliance that oversees the implementation of Wi-Fi. This change in the spectrum is the most ‘monumental decision’ during their existence. You’ll be seeing this implementation as Wi-Fi 6E, with more and more enabled devices becoming available. 

 

Will Wi-Fi 6E fix my bad Wi-Fi? 

 

There’s a good chance that spectrum congestion has interfered with your ability to connect to your Wi-Fi network in the past. When there are a lot of devices all trying to connect over the same band of frequencies, some devices will drop out. Have a look at your local area for Wi-Fi networks – If there is a long list, that could be why you’re struggling with a slow connection and less than favourable reliability. This is because there are too many competing signals, which stops your device getting through. It’s hoped that gains in 6GHz performance will last, even when they are more widely used than they are now. 

 

Not only does Wi-Fi 6E offer new airwaves for routers to use, they are also more spacious airwaves that have less overlapping signals which can cause problems on some other Wi-Fi channels. 

 

The new spectrum doesn’t use any of the previous spectrum, yet offers space for up to 7 maximum-capacity Wi-Fi streams which can all be broadcast simultaneously without causing interference with each other. 

 

Here’s the geeky bit… The UK telecoms regulator, Ofcom, made it possible for home Wi-Fi networks to harness 500MHz of radio spectrum frequency in the new 6GHz band, which will significantly boost the speed of licence-exempt indoor home wireless networks via Wi-Fi 6/6E. 

 

What is 6GHz? 

 

Basically, Wi-Fi works by broadcasting over airwaves that are open for anyone to use. Previously, this was over two bands: 2.4GHz and 5GHz. This third band, 6GHz, is quadrupling the available space for traditional Wi-Fi. 

 

What do the numbers mean? 2.4GHz can travel further, but 6GHz travels faster. The main thing however is that the number of airwaves available on the6GHz band is quadruple what has been available before. Exciting stuff! 

 

On a personal ‘how will this affect me’ level, it means that if you live in a block of flats, and you are the first person to get a 6GHz router, then you won’t be competing with anyone for a connection. The great thing is that even as 6GHz routers become more popular, it’s likely that signals will stay faster and stronger than previously as it’s a more spacious spectrum.  

 

Will Wi-Fi 6E be faster?

 

It’s not quite as straight forward as that, but Wi-Fi 6E will sort of be faster. Theoretically, 6GHz Wi-Fi has the same top speed as 5GHz Wi-Fi. The maximum Wi-Fi 6 standard speed is 9.6 Gbps. Now, you’re not going to actuall get that speed in real life, however having access to the new airwaves could well increase your speed. 

 

The available spectrum at 5GHz means that Wi-Fi signals aren’t as large as they could be. Whereas, it’s thought that routers at 6GHz will broadcast at the current maximum allowable channel size. That in itself, means a faster connection. 

 

These new networks could see smartphone Wi-Fi connections hit 1–2 Gbps. You might be wondering how this compares to 5G – Indeed, these are the speeds expected from millimetre-wave 5G. However, that has very limited availability. 

 

Remember that your internet speeds will also always depend on / be limited by your provider. But it could still be a huge jump for connectivity.  

 

Can I buy Wi-Fi 6 devices?

 

Here in the UK we started to see Wi-Fi 6 devices creep onto the market in the last year or so, once the Wi-Fi Alliance started offering certification for Wi-Fi 6E. Deployment has been slow and steady, with more Wi-Fi 6 enables devices appearing bit by bit. We’re on course for the next generation of Wi-Fi networks.

 

Wi-Fi 6E enabled devices are most seen in smartphones and then tablets, with TV’s likely to follow suit. We use our phones for almost everything, so it’s no surprise that it’s this device that will be top of the list for Wi-Fi 6E. 

 

How do I know if a device supports Wi-Fi 6E?

 

The most widely used Wi-Fi standard on current devices is probably still Wi-Fi 6, the standard previous to Wi-Fi 6E, which you could still see on the box of a new device. This isn’t such a bad thing – It means that the device supports that Wi-Fi standard and offers efficient Wi-Fi performance. 

 

What you should probably start looking out for when buying a new device is Wi-Fi 6E – It’s this one that is extended into the 6GHz band. All devices, like smartphones, tablets, laptops and routers should have backward compatibility – Meaning they will work with any previous Wi-Fi standard to the one that’s stated on the box. This means that you can enjoy available connections even when Wi-Fi 6E isn’t available. 

 

Be aware that even if you buy a Wi-Fi 6E compatible device, you will enjoy the benefits of that when you use it with a Wi-Fi 6E router. 

 

6GHz will become an integral part of Wi-Fi 6 and future generations of Wi-Fi. This means that at some point, you will have to replace your devices with ones that are Wi-Fi 6E compatible to be able to enjoy all the benefits the extra spectrum has to offer. 

 

Due to the Wi-Fi Alliance certification programme, only efficient Wi-Fi 6 devices will be certificated. 

 

It’s worth bearing in mind that the 6GHz spectrum does have some existing licensed users. This means that particularly in outdoor spaces,  Wi-Fi will have to work around them. Outside, routers will need to use something called an “automated frequency control” system. This ensure that they don’t interfere with these existing 6GHz users. Because that means less space to broadcast, there could be degradation of overall performance in some areas.

 

Does Wi-Fi 6E have anything to do with 5G? 

 

We touched on this earlier, but no, they don’t have anything to do with each other really. It just happens that both of these networks are being spoken about a lot, simultaneously. 5G is everywhere, is it not!

 

We keep saying about Wi-Fi 6E being a new spectrum, but really it’s not new, it’s always been there, it’s just been unlicensed. Now, people can use the 6GHz spectrum without a license in their homes. 

 

This also means that other technologies could try to make use of the 6GHz band, which could in turn take up some of the space that Wi-Fi wants to use. 5G is one of the technologies that could be a rival for the space on the 6GHz band. 

 

There is a possibility that 5G could overlap on the new Wi-Fi 6E spectrum through mobile network carriers. This could in turn lead to interference issues, but it’s a bit early to say. If you’re wondering whether 5G will become dominant and replace Wi-Fi altogether, then we think probably not. There doesn’t need to be a winner or a loser when it comes to Wi-Fi 6E vs 5G – They dont necessarily have to be in competition with one another. The spacious nature of this spectrum means there should be enough room for both. 

 

6GHz Wi-Fi is certainly being revered by the tech industry, so we’re pretty hopeful that Wi-Fi will be the main beneficiary of the newly opened 6GHz spectrum. 

 

Which is best for my business – FTTP or a Leased Line?

 

Let’s face it – These days, business flow depends on connectivity. 

 

With remote working now more prevalent than ever before, there is a significant business need for straightforward online collaboration. Not to mention business critical operations and organisational efficiency. 

 

For a successful business, you need a reliable, strong connection that doesn’t buffer or drop out during vital video calls and digital team meetings. 

 

What’s the point in having top of the range tech and dedicated employees if you don’t have the broadband speed to keep up with their communications or computers?

 

There is nothing less motivating than slow internet – Lagging video, audio that’s out of sync, calls that drop out, pages that load slowly. It makes us feel frustrated just thinking about it! 

 

And whilst it might not sound like much – That 30 seconds of delay here and there throughout the day could actually add up to a lot of lost productivity across an organisation in just one week. 

 

So what’s the solution? For any small business, it’s really down to two options – FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) or a leased line. But which one is best for your business?

 

What is FTTP and how does it work?

 

As we said above, FTTP is Fibre to the Premises. It means an internet connection that is designed for small businesses and consumer use.  

 

FTTP works by sending data over a fibre optic cable from the exchange to the user’s premises. FTTP relies on already existing broadband infrastructure, which means that users share the bandwidth. This could lead to slower connection speeds and unreliability during peak times. 

 

An FTTP service is asymmetrical, meaning that the upload and download speeds are not the same. 

 

What is a leased line and how does it work?

 

A leased line, or fibre leased line, is a dedicated fibre optic service. It has a fixed bandwidth and is provided directly to the premises. Unlike FTTP, a leased line connects directly to the public internet. This means there is no shared infrastructure – thus the data’s journey is very different. 

 

Due to leased lines being dedicated, it won’t be affected at peak times because the bandwidth is reserved exclusively for that user. A leased line also uploads data at the same time as it downloads – Useful for sending large files or if you use VoIP telephones throughout the business. 

 

How do FTTP and Leased Line compare? 

 

Let’s take a look at how FTTP and Leased Line compare to each other in terms of use and functionality. Depending on how these fit with your business, you should hopefully be able to identify which would work better for you and your business operations. 

 

Speed and Bandwidth for FTTP vs Leased Line

 

Using an FTTp service, your highest download speed will be in the range of 300mbps and 1Gbps. Remember, in this scenario you share the infrastructure with other users, which means that during busy periods your bandwidth is likely to be compromised. Generally speaking you are looking at about 32 customers on an FTTP service. 

 

On a Leased Line, all of the bandwidth is there for you to use. The connection speeds on a Leased Line could be up to 10Gbps, with the same upload and download speeds. This is particularly useful for high-demand users, who could struggle on an asymmetrical FTTP. 

 

Traffic on a FTTP vs Leased Line

FTTP services can have a monthly data transfer quote which means it would be important for you to stay on top of your data usage. 

 

A leased line has availability 24/7 all year round, which means you have unlimited data transfers. 

 

Price of FTTP vs Leased Line

There is a significant difference in price when it comes to FTTP and Leased Line. 

 

The cheaper option is FTTP. This is because it’s a shared service, and more specifically aimed at residential properties and small businesses. You would likely be looking between £30 and £60 per month, which of course depends on the provider and the speed of the broadband you choose. For a new FTTP installation, it would take about 10-15 days. 

 

For Leased Lines, you would be looking at a cost of about £150 per month for lower bandwidths. Not only is it up to 5 times the cost of some FTTP, you may also incur additional charges (construction charges) which can push the price up more. Installation wise you would be looking at about 60-90 days to get things set up. 

 

Service Level Agreements for FTTP vs Leased Lines 

 

Whichever service you go for, you will have an SLA. The SLA for a Leased Line will be more thorough – For example, any fault on the line that needs fixing will be repaired within 5 hours. In comparison, a fault on FTTP could take 2 days to fix. 

 

An SLA will also lay out the speed of a Leased Line, which you can then be compensated for if it is consistently slower. This isn’t something you can do with FTTP. 

 

A Leased Line also comes with 24/7 support, whereas support for a FTTP line will be within business hours. 

 

Reliability of FTTP vs Leased Lines

 

As we mentioned above, when using an FTTP line, you could notice an adverse chane in connection during peak times. Leased Lines will never experience this problem (unless there is a fault) so you are less likely to have the connection drop out. This means that a Leased Line is the more reliable connection of the two. 

 

Availability

 

Leased Lines are available throughout the UK, but of course their accessibility depends on whether you can afford the cost. 

 

Whilst FTTP is a cheaper option, it is only available to approximately 94% of the UK.

 

Contracts

 

Contract options for these lines are as follows:

  • FTTP – 12 months, 18 months or 24 months, 
  • Leased Line – 12 months, 36 months, or 60 months 

 

It’s worth noting that if you choose a 12 month Leased Line contract, you’ll be paying more each month to spread the installation cost. 

 

So Which One is Best – Leased Line or FTTP?

 

If you own a small business, run a charity or are a residential consumer, then FTTP will likely meet your needs. 

 

Generally speaking, if you are one of these types of consumer then you won’t be needing service 24/7 all year round. You are also less likely to be transferring huge amounts of data too. And it’s the cheaper option! 

 

For larger businesses and organisations that rely more on a reliable connection, then a dedicated Leased Line service with a thorough SLA could be the better choice. You will then have peace of mind that your broadband is sturdy, and should something go wrong with it you’re backed up by a speedy resolution. Keeping disruption to your organisation to a minimum! 

 

Get In Touch

 

If you are feeling unsure about what could be the best internet service for your business and would like to discuss your connectivity needs, then get in touch with one of our Wi-Fi Experts today. We operate out of Hampshire, London and Cardiff and can help you to make sure that your connectivity meets your business or residential needs – Both in terms of connection but cost too. 

 

Wi-Fi Site Surveys – Validate Your Wi-Fi Design

You could have the most expertly designed Wi-Fi network, but without a Wi-Fi Site Survey, how will you know it will actually work as intended?

When it comes to designing and installing a wireless network, the most important thing is that it meets the demands of your users. 

The great thing about a Wi-Fi Site Survey is that can test your wireless network when it’s in the design stages and predict whether it will work or not, as well as within an already deployed network that needs some changes or additions made. 

Driving your Wi-Fi network design choices and deployment with data removes the risk of your wireless network failing to meet the needs of your enterprise. 

Gone are the days where a surveyor is laden down with computer setups, trudging around like a donkey. Nowadays it’s all the latest tech and we can carry out a Wi-Fi Site Survey with just the phone in our pocket. 

Validating your Wi-Fi network has never been more straightforward. Good news if you’re about to be designing your Wi-Fi network! Not only that, but it also makes it easier and quicker for businesses to be able to survey their Wi-Fi on a regular basis, ensuring that they continue to operate reliably. This is particularly important for anything that is business critical. 

 

What is a Wi-Fi Site Survey?

Well first things first – You might be wondering what actually is a Wi-Fi Site Survey? The purpose of a site survey is to visit the network premises and capture Wi-Fi signal and spectrum data. It also allows you to investigate the best places to mount access points and identify accessibility for necessary cabling. 

Getting a Wi-Fi site survey can test out a predictive Wi-Fi design before you deploy it on the network as well as check that any changes or additions to an existing network will work effectively. 

Why would I need a Wi-Fi Site Survey?

There are a few different scenarios where we would recommend a Wi-Fi Site Survey. 

  • Wi-Fi Design Site Survey – This survey is carried out on site before you’ve started to design your wireless network. Performing a Site Survey at this point allows you to create a predictive Wi-Fi network using data captured on the survey, including RF conditions, neighbouring networks, available/ congested channels, interference and accessibility for mounting AP’s.

     

  • Pre-Deployment Site Survey – Once you’ve designed your Wi-Fi network, you can use a Wi-Fi Site Survey to test your design and simulate the performance of antenna and access points. This data is acquired by placing an AP in the relevant location(s) and then analysing the Wi-Fi, making sure that the network would function as predicted in the design.

     

  • Post-Deployment Wi-Fi Site Survey – The role of this Wi-Fi Site Survey is to identify whether a deployed network is working as intended. That means meeting performance expectations laid out in the predictive stage of the wireless design.

     

  • Health Check Wi-Fi Site Survey – The best networks carry out regular ‘health checks’ to make sure everything is functioning as it should. This means that any changes you need to make to your network are proactive rather than reactive. Why wait until your end users are experiencing Wi-Fi problems that could produce a costly Wi-Fi outage? A Wi-Fi Site Survey at this stage can help pick up any issues with interference, coverage and capacity, nipping any potential problems in the bud.

     

  • Troubleshooting Wi-Fi Site Survey – This is the Wi-Fi Site Survey you would carry out if you were already experiencing problems. A more reactive survey in which you can identify the underlying cause of the problems your end users are reporting. You can then go back to the design stages and re-deploy your wireless network for more effective working. 

Why is a Wi-Fi site survey important to validate your wireless network after the design stage? 

 

As we said above, by carrying out a Pre-Deployment Wi-Fi Site Survey, you can test the predictive Wi-Fi design before installing it. Validating your wireless design with a site survey gives you peace of mind that the network you are deploying will work effectively. Any potential niggles can be identified, and designs can be amended before you’ve started the deployment. 

 

No one wants to have run cables and installed AP’s only to find that they work much more effectively in a different location! It’s also very handy to find out any potential causes of interference so you can take steps to avoid them. 

 

You could think of a Wi-Fi Site Survey as a bit of an insurance policy. It’s the smart way to avoid mistakes and ineffective networks, not to mention time-consuming and costly re-design processes should a wireless deployment fail. 

 

A predictive Wi-Fi design is great, but it’s not final. It’s not ready until you’ve tested your design with a validating Wi-Fi site survey. 

 

So what things would a Wi-Fi Site Survey identify to validate your wireless design?

By completing a Wi-Fi Site Survey, you would find out the following:

  • Accurate floor plans – If you haven’t set foot on site, then you are placing an awful lot oftrust in your CAD floor plan being accurate. By actually being on site and carrying out a survey, you can make sure that the distances in the design are correct and walls, stairwells and lifts are all where you expect them to be. If your whole Wi-Fi design is based on a floor plan that’s out of date, your predictive design is unlikely to fare well in the real world.

     

  • Signal attenuation and wall types – Completing a predictive Wi-Fi design using your ‘best guess’ is not really going to cut it. It’s actually really important that you know where walls are and what they are made of. Getting on site for a survey means you can check wall attenuation (ie. how much signal you are losing through the walls). Checking this information enables you to make sure that the RF measurements in your design are correct and confirms that your Wi-Fi design will work (or allow you to make the necessary changes to your design to make sure it does).

     

  • Access point locations – There is nothing quite like a Site Survey for identifying where AP’s need to be located. Carrying out the Wi-Fi Site Survey lets you check your predictive plans in a live environment. For example, checking the locations are free of obstacles (like ducting) and modifying your design if needed. It’s so important that you use this stage to test your predictive wireless design and make any changes needed to optimise it further.

     

  • Neighbouring networks – A predictive Wi-Fi design can’t know how neighbouring networks and local RF noise would affect the network. A Wi-Fi Site Survey can pick up instances of interference, and allow you to make sure your network design has peak performances and avoids neighbouring interference. 

 

What do you need for an accurate Wi-Fi Site Survey?

The Wi-Fi Site Survey is your chance to see how your network design could come to life. Really, the testing is the fun part! The most important parts of a successful Wi-Fi Site Survey are:

  1. An accurate floor plan – Make sure the measurements are correct. It’s vital that you are scaling your floor plan if you want your design and validation to be precise. Even seemingly small mis-scaling can make your plan inaccurate by many metres. Not helpful at all!

     

  2. Utilise available tech – There are lots of tools out there to help you. Using an all-in-one diagnostic measurement device can help you make sure that your design and site survey are as accurate as possible, giving your wireless network a professional result. It also helps you to carry out your Wi-Fi Site Survey a lot faster.

     

  3. What channels are you scanning? – There’s no point scanning channels you don’t care about. It’s just a waste of time. If you have no 2.4GHz access points or radios, then you don’t need to bother scanning those channels. And the fewer channels you have to scan, the faster your site survey will be!

     

  4. Make sure your data is accurate – The aim of your Wi-Fi Site Survey is to capture data that is going to either validate or help you make changes to your wireless design. Therefore, it’s imperative that you are capturing data accurately. If whilst walking, your path looks like you’ve walked out a window or got stuck in a wall then you need to re-establish your location. Otherwise the data you are capturing won’t be accurate, or helpful!

     

  5. Measure attenuation on both sides of the wall – To identify how much signal is being lost to obstacles like walls, you need to measure the attenuation on both sides of that obstacle. By measuring on both sides of the wall, you make sure that you are capturing all the data you need.

     

  6. What survey method do you need for your environment? – There are a few different survey methods so make sure you are using the one that is going to give you the most reliable data.

    Stop and Go – This is used in environments that are hazardous or particularly challenging. This one collects the least amount of data, but it’s important that you remain aware of your surroundings.

    Continuous – Lots of clicks on this one! It’s the traditional means of collecting Wi-Fi Site Survey data, but requires lots of attention at all times. You must click when you start, turn, change pace and of course, when you stop!

    Autopilot – This one is the Wi-Fi expert’s favourite. It’s quick and accurate. Using this one means you don’t have to manually click as you are walking through the site map. All you need to do for accurate results is make sure that the first calibration is accurate.

    GPS – If you are working outdoors with no key reference points then this Wi-Fi Site Survey is a great option. All you’ll need is a GPS-enabled mobile device with a SIM card. 

Trust the Experts

If Wi-Fi Site Surveys have got your head in a spin, then why not leave it to the experts? Our trained Wi-Fi professionals here at Geekabit are experts when it comes to wireless site surveys. 

Operating out of Hampshire, London and Cardiff, our Wi-Fi experts are on hand to assist with all stages of Wi-Fi deployment – From the initial design and Pre- and Post-Deployment Site Surveys to Health Checks and full installations. 

Get in touch with our friendly team today and we’ll be more than happy to help. Or head to our website to find out more about the Wi-Fi Site Surveys Geekabit have to offer. 

 

How to Remotely Monitor a Robustel 4G Router

In this blog we’re going to show you how you can link the Robustel 4G router with other platforms, so you can monitor your router remotely in real time, in a way that best fits with your business operations. 

 

Who are Robustel?

Robustel are used across various industries including Retail, Healthcare, Transport, Oil & Gas, Manufacturing, Security, Agriculture and Smart Cities. 

 

The design and manufacture of Robustel products provides industrial quality wireless routers, modems and gateways for Wi-Fi, cellular and LPWAN networks. This includes 3G/4G/LTE/5G in cellular networks and Cat-M1/NB-IoT/LoRaWAN/Bluetooth in LPWAN networks. 

 

Robustel customers are provided with EDGE Computing, Cloud Software and end-to-end IoT Solutions to complement the hardware. 

 

If you’re an enterprise or mobile network looking for a competitive edge in the IoT market, then Robustel could be just the thing. They are passionate about long-term relationships with their customers and partners, and work alongside many distribution partners in 120 countries including the UK.

 

Robustel work with businesses across the world in various industries – Solving connectivity problems with scalable, robust and secure IoT solutions. Whether you are just looking for the hardware or a complete  ‘IoT in a box’, Robustel will have a solution. 

 

So where does Geekabit come in, you might be wondering?

 

Well, while Robustel has an excellent interface for remote diagnosis and simple email notifications, it does not provide automated notifications to other platforms, with checks sent to your IT support teams.

 

How can Geekabit help with Robustel 4G router monitoring?

 

Here at Geekabit, we can provide access to our router monitoring software platform for real-time notifications of uptime, downtime, speed issues via:

  • Slack 
  • Teams
  • Text message
  • Automated phone calls

If none of those are sufficient, we can also provide an API connection to automatically import your Robustel notifications to the platform of your choosing.

 

Get in touch

 

If you have or are considering a Robustel router for your use case, but are not sure of the benefits vs a Teltonika router, please speak with one of our Wi-Fi experts.

 

If you think a 4G router will not provide sufficient upload and download speeds for your use case, please get in touch with us here at Geekabit

 

By using the right combination of equipment, external antennas, research and evidence based placement, we can dramatically increase what is possible.

 

Image from Robustel.com – Product shown is the R1520 Dual-SIM Cellular VPN Router.

Enterprise 5G: What You Need To Know 

You may be wondering what 5G means for enterprises. You may well have googled it and landed here! The prevalence of 5G will help to empower businesses – Allowing them to create new experiences and connect in more inventive ways.. 5G will help to change how we work and how we play as well as providing the solution for many problems. Some of them we might not even know about yet! There is a constant buzz in the air surrounding 5G and the excitement of all the possibilities it brings. It might also be causing a bit of FOMO – Businesses will not want to be the ones left behind. 

 

5G is quite often used as a backup for 4G – But those days may soon be over. Businesses will need to start considering using 5G as their primary mobile network, as well as the possibility of using it or their wireless environment – Negating the need for office wiring. 

 

Transformation is happening across all industries – As it tends to do with the introduction of new technology. An ever-changing world! 5G could well be the latest key when it comes to boosting the ambition of your business and increasing the confidence of enterprise customers. 

 

There are 3 main take homes when it comes to Enterprise 5G:

  • This year, the investment in 5G looks strong in enterprises across industries
  • Confidence in the ability to implement 5G successfully is low (only 25% of enterprises feel very confident about effective implementation)
  • Sustainability needs must be met by 5G providers and IoT use

 

The level of current and future spending on emerging technologies is looking healthy, yet there are some significant challenges that industrial 5G needs to overcome. With only a quarter of enterprises feeling confident in their ability to implement 5G successfully, it is vital that 5G providers can help enterprises to get set up. 

 

So what do our 5G providers need to know? Well they need to know what enterprises are thinking when it comes to 5G implementation in order for them to become trusted business partners. 

 

There are several key insights that need to be considered for Enterprise 5G. 

 

Adoption of 5G is not guaranteed


Just because the intention to invest in 5G is there, doesn’t mean it’s a given. The future looks bright in terms of enterprises adopting emerging technologies over the next few years, with investments likely to rise.  The intention to invest in 5G is highest amongst enterprises adopting new technologies. 17% have already invested, and 56% plan to invest in the next 1-3 years. Only 12% are not planning to invest whilst they monitor technological changes.

It seems that organisations are mostly interested in 5G for its use in helping them to meet their sustainability goals as well as improving supply chain management.

This doesn’t mean that 5G implementation is guaranteed. Indeed, just because 5G is becoming more mainstream, doesn’t mean that all organisations are going to stay receptive to it. Asian companies planning to invest in 5G is actually down 10% in comparison to last year.

 

Enterprise 5G Vision Becomes Defensive

 

The mindset towards 5G and IoT is prizing efficiency and optimization instead of entering adjacent markets and driving top-line growth. The top priority of enterprises when it comes to IoT is operational efficiency. Similarly, less enterprises want to spend on IoT for new products and services. 5G application uses for VR and AR seem to be diminishing.

We also need to look at Environmental, Social and Governance consideration as although these are fueling interest in 5G, they are also necessitating new demands on tech providers. Sustainability is a hot topic at the moment, and almost 50% of businesses don’t feel their sustainability needs are being met by 5G vendors.

 

New ways of buying and deploying 5G are well received by enterprises

 

Enterprises seem very receptive to 5G solutions, with over three quarters of businesses interested in using private networks to support the implementation of 5G. Furthermore, 50% of businesses thought that purchasing private network capabilities was an important 5G investment strategy. The reasons being that it provided more control of their network and improved reliability.

It would seem that the lack of confidence in 5G implementation could lead to businesses purchasing 5G through a MVNO (mobile virtual network operator). This implies that the relationship between telecommunications operators and enterprise customers could be in jeopardy. They need to ensure that 5G offerings are offered with easy market strategies.

 

Focus on 5G’s relationship to other technologies, with less attention on cyber risks

 

It looks like one of the top priorities for businesses is looking at the relationship of 5G with other technologies. It would be beneficial for enterprises to receive ongoing information and education on emerging technologies and how they relate to each other for their business needs. Not understanding the relationship between 5G and other emerging technologies could cause challenges.

Rather incredibly, less than a quarter of businesses viewed reducing the risk of cyber threats a priority in terms of IoT and 5G. We cannot stress enough how vital it is for enterprises to design their 5G and IoT deployments with security in mind. This is not a blind spot that can be ignored.

 

Telecommunication operators are falling behind network vendors



Enterprises are supporting their 5G deployments with their technology and telecoms providers, often following selection criteria based on price. Pricing seems to even come above the speed of execution.

It seems that enterprises don’t just want a technology supplier – They want a transformation partner. And who the experts are in this area is fairly evenly split between application and platform vendors and professional services firms. Hot on their heels are network equipment vendors! Less than a fifth of enterprises view telecommunication operators as experts in digital transformation. Whilst trusted as IoT experts, they need to prove their ability to deliver new connectivity transformations.

 

Ambitious ecosystem strategies for enterprises

 

Enterprises are wanting to take advantage of new technologies and ecosystem collaboration is one route towards these new skills and knowledge. Much of their 5 year growth is based within business ecosystem collaboration. There is a growing emphasis on developing cross-sector partnerships as well as shortening the time between new products and services, and revenue. These are ambitious drivers of ecosystem strategies.

Perhaps the most important takeaway from all this is that nearly three quarters of businesses are prioritising suppliers that can offer the relevant ecosystem relationships as part of their 5G capabilities. This means that any 5G provider needs to meet their customers needs and expectations by tapping into these fast-changing corporate ecosystems.  

 

 

Get in touch

 

If you’re struggling with wired broadband, and not getting the reliable internet connection you need in your business, then 5G could be a fantastic option for you.

 

It can feel like a big jump to give up on your wired broadband connection and opt for 5G – Which is where our Cell Coverage survey comes in.

We can tell you exactly whether 5G broadband would work for you, and which network would be most reliable.

 

Give our Wi-Fi experts a call or email us today!

 

How can I improve my 4G signal speed?

Is there anything worse than slow Wi-Fi or a poor data connection? Waiting for a webpage to load or watching a video b-b-b-buffer. It is so frustrating! 

 

More and more people are now opting for 4G or 5G cellular connectivity in their homes, replacing fibre broadband that’s too slow. Many households are also using 4G/5G connectivity as a back up in the form of hybrid broadband. 

 

Why do people choose cellular broadband? Sometimes it’s because of the price of regular wireless broadband, which can be expensive – Especially in more rural areas where it’s also slow. In these instances, cellular signal if more often than not a faster option. 

 

4G LTE and 5G do have their own restrictions though. Slow data rates on 4G LTE and 5G are also common. But is there a way to improve your 4G signal speed and data rates?

 

How Can I Improve My 4G LTE or 5G Speed?

 

There are three main things you can try to help improve your 4G and 5G data rates:

  1. Update your Device

    If you are using old devices, you may only be connecting to older bands. Using a new phone, tablet, laptop or hotspot could help you to connect to new bands. The newer the device, the more likely they are to support a newer version of the 4G LTe or 5G spec, which would in turn bring you faster data rates.

  2. Try using External Antennas

    Many major carriers have hotspots that support external antenna ports. You may find that using an external antenna could help you to improve signal strength, signal quality and help you access bands that aren’t getting indoors. 

 

  1. You could try a Signal Booster

    The majority of phones (as well as some hotspots) do not have external antenna ports. If you are trying to improve data rates on your phone, you could use a signal booster. They work by amplifying your signal as well as increasing the signal strength of the signal. You can also use them alongside external antennas – They enable the rebroadcast of improved indoor signal.

What configurations can I use to improve 4G / 5G signal strength?

There are a couple of configurations that our Wi-Fi experts would recommend giving a go.

 

1. Latest Hotspot + Directional Outdoor Antennas

 

If you’re happy to use Wi-Fi for distributing your signal indoors, then you can use a hotspot (from your chosen carrier) used alongside external antennas which are mounted on the outside of the building.

Pros

  • If you already have a hotspot, this can prove highly cost-effective
  • Easy to support MIMO (multiple input, multiple output). Using multiple antennas can help improve performance
  • Offers the fastest available data rates
  • Using directional outdoor antennas can help improve signal to interference and noise ratio (SINR) as well as enabling you to access weaker outdoor bands, and improve MIMO performance


Cons

  • It requires a hotspot, with a line of service
  • Your system will be hard-wired. Mobile phones will be able to connect via Wi-Fi but won’t see better 4G/5G signal.

 

  1. 4G LTE or 5G Signal Booster + Directional Outdoor Antenna

 

A mobile signal booster is a great alternative if you don’t have a hotspot, don’t fancy one or simply cannot afford the monthly charges associated with adding a phone line. You may also just want to have wireless 4G / 5G coverage inside, which a mobile signal booster will give you. 

 

A mobile phone signal booster works by amplifying the signal from outdoors and then rebroadcasting it indoors via wireless. Thus getting you the best data rates. 

Pros

  • Provides wireless coverage for multiple devices
  • Will works with existing phones
  • You don’t need a hotspot or extra phone line
  • Using the directional outdoor antennas can help to improve SINR
  • A booster could enable you to connect to weaker bands

Cons

  • Boosters are SISO (single input, single output) with one antenna outside and one antenna inside. This means you cannot use MIMO with this option, and it decreases speeds by approximately 33% 
  • This option can be more expensive than external antennas

 

What can cause slow 4G / 5G data rates? 

 

If we’re trying our best to improve our 4G and 5G data rates, it would make sense to identify what actually causes rates to be slow. There are five main factors that can affect the 4G LTE / 5G data speeds you experience.

 

  1. The Signal Quality (SINR)

    The quality of signal in 4G / 5G networks is measuring in signal to interference and noise ratio (SINR). If you can increase your SINR, you can dramatically improve your data connection speed. As outlined above, you can improve your SINR by using a directional outdoor antenna, which can also be connected to a signal booster or directly to your 4G / 5G hotspot.

  2. The Number of Connected Bands

    Carrier Aggregation is when your phone (or hotspot) is able to use multiple bands to connect to the tower simultaneously. This means that the more bands you are connected to, the higher your data rates.

  3. The Signal Strength (Reference Signal Received Power)


You might be thinking that signal strength must be the most important factor, but it’s actually not. In 4G and 5G networks the RSRP signal strength certainly does matter, but it’s not the most important thing. Check your RSRP – If it’s already stronger than -100dBm, then having a stronger signal won’t help to increase your data rates. 

 

  1. Congestion

    As you can imagine, the more users there are on the tower, the lower your data rate is going to be. The congestion in the tower will also vary by band. In general, lower frequencies penetrate buildings more than higher frequencies. This means that the higher frequency bands are usually less congested. This means that using an outdoor antenna and connecting it directly to your hotspot or signal booster Ican really help you to access the less-congested bands.

  2. MIMO Support

    Using MIMO means that you can use multiple antennas to increase data rates by about 30%. The majority of mobile phone signal boosters are SISO (Single Input, Single Output) but you could install two systems in parallel to get a MIMO booster. 

  3. Throttling

    If you’re with a Mobile Virtual Network Operator, it means that the service provider does not own the wireless network infrastructure. This means that the main carrier’s network may treat your connection like a second-class citizen and find yourself throttled! Throttling may also occur if you use a lot of data per month. Throttling is how the service providers manage the data they provide – They can de-prioritise certain users and even stop their connection going over a certain speed.

 

Get in touch

If you’re struggling with wired broadband, and not getting the reliable internet connection you need in your rural business or home, then 4G / 5G could be a fantastic option for you.

It can feel like a big jump to give up on your wired broadband connection and opt for 4G – Which is where our Cell Coverage 4G survey comes in.

We can tell you exactly whether 4G broadband would work for you, and which network would be most reliable.

 

How do I get reliable Wi-Fi in my garden? 

Hello Spring heatwave! Hampshire, as well as other parts of the UK, have been treated to a bit of a March heatwave this week with sunny days that are feeling really warm. Finally! And now that many more of us find ourselves working from home more often, we wouldn’t be surprised if you’re trying to figure out a way to get all your gear out into the garden and Wi-Fi working well. 

 

Whether you’re soaking up the sun during Zoom meetings or attempting to escape the same 4 walls with some fresh air whilst answering emails – You’re going to need a strong, reliable Wi-Fi connection in your sun-soaked Hampshire garden. 

 

And no, it’s not okay to steal your neighbour’s Wi-Fi – Even if you know their password!

 

So, if you’re trying to make the most of the sunshine that Hampshire currently has on offer, then here are our top tips for getting strong, reliable Wi-Fi in your garden. 

 

Use an Access Point


Our first recommendation would be to run an ethernet cable out to the garden area and install a new access point. 

 

Many of our Hampshire based clients have homes where this option has worked really effectively. There are other options (see below) but this would always be our preference and recommendation when being asked how to get Wi-Fi in your garden. 


Where is your router? 

 

Is your router in the best place? You could try moving your existing router to see if a change of location improves the signal you get in your garden. 

 

We’ve visited many Hampshire homes where the router has been situated at the front of the house, most commonly in the front room next to the smart TV or telephone. This location makes it unlikely for the signal to be able to reach your back garden. 

 

Consider where you access the internet the most, and whether you could move your router to a different location that would work for both the house and the garden.

 

Extend your Wi-Fi range with a repeater 

 

If the range of your router won’t reach the garden from a suitable location inside the house, then there are ways you can extend it. A repeater is one possible solution, and works particularly well in larger homes. Some of our Hampshire based clients have found that a repeater has solved their Wi-Fi woes when it comes to getting a reliable signal in the garden. 

 

The pros – By placing a repeater in range of the garden, you can make your Wi-Fi go further. It’s cost effective and easy to configure. 

 

The cons – It works by mimicking your existing network and creating a new one. You would have to manually change the connection on your device when you move between the garden and the house. This option can also half your bandwidth, resulting in slower internet speeds.

 

Extend your Wi-Fi range with an extender

 

By using an extender, you can extend the range of your router by plugging it in at a position where it will provide coverage to your garden. 

 

An extender is cabled and takes internet signal directly from the router and emits it from a better location. Despite being slightly more expensive and a bit more complicated to configure than the repeater, our resident Wi-Fi expert says, 

 

One of the biggest benefits of an extender is that it is connected using a wired connection, so there is no need for a wireless signal to operate it. This also means that the bandwidth stays at its full potential.

 

We’d recommend that you consider calling in the experts if you’re considering this option – And we reckon our clients that are currently enjoying Geekabit installed Wi-Fi extenders in their sunny Hampshire hotspot would say the same! 

 

Mobile Tethering

If your smartphone has good reception outside, then you can use its Wi-Fi hotspot and tether that to your laptop or other device to use its connection. 

 

However, it’s worth bearing in mind that the data you use will come off your monthly allowance, and if you go over it can be rather a costly mistake.

 

This option is probably more suited to those ‘one-off’ moments – Perhaps to tide you over while you wait for one of Geekabit’s Wi-Fi experts to come and sort out a more long-term Wi-Fi connection in your garden. 

 

Get in touch

 

So there you go, some of our top tips on how to get Wi-Fi in your garden so you can enjoy the Spring sunshine whilst working from home!

 

If you’ve tried the options above and still no joy, don’t be afraid to call in the experts! Our Wi-Fi experts are on the other end of a phone call or email and are happy to help get your Wi-Fi working as it should. 

 

We work out of Hampshire, London and Cardiff and are really passionate about getting people the Wi-Fi connection they deserve.