Locations for BLE Beacons

If you’re in the business of Wi-Fi and other wireless technology – Particularly designing and installing networks – Then you’ll likely know how common it is for architects and interior designers to go on at us about placement of wireless devices.

Sure, they realise it’s necessary to have light switches and fire alarms – But wireless access points and the like don’t get the same concessions. Here at Geekabit we firmly believe that network infrastructure is very much a necessity in any building – particularly business premises but homes too.

Bluetooth low energy beacons (or BLE beacons) broadcast to nearby portable electronic devices, enabling smartphones tablets and other similar devices to perform certain actions whilst in close proximity to the beacon.

For these to be successful, they need to be placed in certain places. And whilst we do try to keep everything looking aesthetically pleasing, we do believe that a reliable and consistent network is as important to a building as the design.

Where can BLE beacons be placed?

We’re going to look at a few different potential locations for BLE beacons and how they effect their functionality (and the design aesthetic of the premises).

Near to the Floor

In some buildings, the design means that using any kind of adhesive or screw fitting on the wall would be abhorrent! This is particularly true if the material is fabric, glass or metal. Whilst you will be mounting the BLE beacon near to the floor, you will need some kind od baseboard and will also need to take into consideration any floor cleaning processes. You don’t want the device to get damaged!

Another reason why the floor is a good option, is that it helps inhibit the BLE beacon from being seen from one floor to another. If you have floor holes, like an atrium or stairwell, the map can get easily confused. The floor then acts as a shadow for these types of areas.

Every ‘portal’ (for example, doors from stairways, lifts and lobbies) needs to have a BLE beacon. This is so the app knows to switch maps when navigating a change of floor.

On the Wall

The easiest way of placing your BLE beacon as close to your users as possible, is to place it on the wall.

Wherever a user goes in the building, they should be within 3 or 4 metres of a BLE beacon. The closer they are to the BLE beacon, the better the accuracy. The more BLE beacons you have, the the better any latency will be reduced. It is however worth noting that it takes approximately 2 to 5 seconds for the app to link to the nearest beacon due to it listening out for all the beacons in the vicinity.

On the Ceiling

It’s not ideal, but it will work if you have no other option. As we said above, your users need to be as close to the BLE beacons as possible. Thus, placing the beacon on a ceiling means that at best, the user is always about 2 metres away from it – Even when standing directly underneath it.

The Complicated Bit

That was all quite straightforward, but here’s the geeky bit to explain the why!

The wireless engineering reason behind how these placements work comes down to free space path loss.

FSPL is the ‘attenuation (the reduction of the amplitude of a signal) of radio energy between the feedpoints of two antennas, that results from the combination of the receiving antenna’s capture area plus the obstacle-free, line of sight path through free space.’

In the locations outlined above, we are making constructive use out of FSPL.

Due to the inverse square law of RF propagation, measurement of the power present in a received radio signal in the BLE beacon based on determining the exact location of a radio transmitter is optimal within about 0 to 4 metres.

The typical calibrated output of a BLE beacon is 0dBm (1mW). They operate in the 2.4GHz band on a 2MHz advertisement channel tucked between Wi-Fi channels 1 and 6, as well as one just past channel 11, and another one just below channel 1.)

There can also be some variability between receiver devices in terms of their sensitivity and even based on internal antenna configuration and how the device is held/oriented. For this reason, we assume a +/- 3dB for the purposes of this example.

Based on the Received Signal Strength Indicator (RSSI), when a receiving device sees a BLE beacon, it determines its distance from that beacon, using the beacon’s ID to correlate it with the device’s placement on the map.

When a device sees a beacon at -35dBm, it knows it’s under a metre away. If it sees it at -55dBm, that could be anywhere between 4 and 8 metres away.

The further away you get from the beacon, the wider the margin of error.

You also need to take into account any potential barriers. For example, any walls that get between can also add 3dB or more of attenuation depending on the materials used. This is just the same as when we’ve blogged about the effects of walls and similar barriers on Wi-Fi signal.

Below 1 metre, every time you halve the distance you gain 6dB – so 50cm would be -34dB, 25cm would be -28dB, 12.5cm would be -22dB, and now we’re getting really close to the beacon, and it’s already lost 99% of the transmitted power.

Remember that if you mount them on a metal surface, you gain a little bit back. If your surface is less than one wavelength (~12cm) wide, the maths behind it gets a bit tricky!

What does all this mean for BLE beacon placement?

The main takeaway from all this is that when placing BLE beacons, you should try to get them as close to the receiver as possible which is usually within 4m.

If you are mounting the BLE beacon on a wall, then you need to aim for a height of 1-2 metres maximum. You should also consider the height of traffic going past it – Like the hips, shoulders or trolleys of passing people. You don’t want to damage the beacon or rip it off! (You also don’t want to regularly injure people from bumping into it…)

We mentioned ceilings earlier. BLE beacons can be placed there, but in office buildings that generally means that the receiver is always going to be at least 2m away from it – Even if they were to stand directly underneath. Placing beacons near the floor are approximately a metre closer to the receiver device than one mounted on the ceiling.

What about aesthetic concerns?

Ahh yes. Aesthetics. If you are trying to place BLE beacons in locations where there are particular aesthetic concerns, then you could consider painting the beacons and the mounts to match the surrounding design.

If you are planning to do this, you must make sure that the paint doesn’t contain any metallic materials (lead, aluminium powder, gold leaf, iron oxide etc).

Alternatively, you could also use a vinyl skin to make the beacon more aesthetically pleasing. These can also be used on access points.

If you are planning to do either of these, always check with the vendor to make sure that painting or vinyl skins won’t void the warranty (it does in quite a few cases).

Paintable covers that can snap on to indoor AP’s are also an option which would save you having the paint the beacon directly.

Designing your beacon deployment

As with any radio frequency (RF) planning, you should try and model the BLE access points and beacons.

Make sure you set your BLE coverage requirements to the Received Signal Strength Indicator required for the maximum distance you want to be from the beacon (-52dBm).

You also need to make sure that you are always able to hear at least 3 beacons.

Hopefully this article will have helped you when it comes to the placement of BLE beacons – And how to keep those architects and interior designers off your back!

Could Pesky Pigeons be Interfering with your Satellite Broadband?

A short while ago we blogged about space entrepreneur Elon Musk’s company Starlink – A new satellite broadband service.

In a recent article from the BBC, a cyber-security expert from The University of Surrey talks about the outages he experiences on his satellite broadband – And how he thinks they could be down to pigeons sitting on his dish!

Those who live in rural areas can only dream of fibre broadband – Satellite broadband gives these people a chance for low latency broadband. This particular cyber expert, Professor Woodward, is one the 100,000 beta testers of the LEO (low Earth orbit) satellite broadband system.

And he believes that his satellite dish looks rather like a modern bird bath – That the pigeons have taken a shining to!

It’s definitely not a bird bath though. This fancy little dish sends and receives signals to passing satellites. There is a constellation of 1,700 satellites at a height of approximately 550km (380 miles). You might have seen them in the night sky! They orbit earth about every 90 minutes.

Starlink plan to mobilise tens of thousands more of these satellite to improve their broadband service. However, Space X, the company who operate Starlink, have been slowed down by chip and liquid oxygen fuel shortages.

Whilst it’s not definitive what is actually causing Prof Woodward glitches, expert opinion says that a pigeon sitting on a Starlink antenna could certainly cause a decrease in performance.

Starlink aren’t the only organisation planning to provide satellite broadband. There are quite a few in the pipeline!

  • Project Kuiper from Amazon has a plan to launch 3,236 satellites
  • Canadian company Telesat are planning to put 298 satellites into orbit
  • The EU are making plans for a ‘mega-constellation’
  • China are making plans for their own satellite network
  • OneWeb – Part funded by the UK taxpayer – already have hardware in space like Starlink, with 288 satellites in space

If you’ve not heard of OneWeb, their focus will be on providing internet to businesses, maritime users and the government. They have a deal with BT, which means there is a strong likelihood that they will also provide consumer broadband to rural areas. It could also mean portable 5G cells for hire.

Some people may even be using satellite broadband without realising it! For places where fibre isn’t available, suppliers may run a satellite link. This would feed the local broadband pipe, giving rural homes a connection.

Becoming a beta tester isn’t cheap

If you’re struggling with a rural broadband connection and are sat wondering how much it might cost to become a Starlink beta tester, then read on.

It currently costs about £500 for all of the equipment you will need, plus £89 per month fees.

Thankfully, it’s pretty straightforward to get it all set up. Starlink will provide you with an app that helps identify any potential obstructions when you’re choosing the best spot for your dish.

You’ll want to choose somewhere flat and easy to get to – But worth considering the pigeons too!

Once you connect to the router and the dish is in prime position, you should find yourselves with fast internet.

What are the actual speeds of satellite broadband?

In this example, the average speeds were 150-200 megabits per second (Mbps) download speeds and 10-20Mbps upload. Whilst there may be occasional dropouts, this scenario didn’t experience interruptions in streaming shows.

And for many people struggling for broadband in rural locations, these speeds are a dream come true.

And with Elon Musk hoping to double the top speeds offered to 300Mbps, there seems to be scope for improvement.

What can affect satellite broadband service?

Well, as the blog title implies, pigeons can be a bit of an issue. But there are also other factors that can affect the service that satellite broadband service users receive via LEO satellites.

  • It depends on whether there are a number of other dishes nearby. For this reason, Starlink limits the number of users per coverage area. In a given area, not very many users can have the top speed at the same time. This is because it has a finite capacity it can provide in a given area, so user experience will decrease as the number of nearby users increases.
  • Regulator Ofcom expressed their concerns about how different satellite systems could cause interference. What would you prefer – A slow but reliable connection, or a fast yet intermittent one? For things like Zoom, you’re going to need a continuous connection.

Will the skies become crowded?

Astronomers have actually already started observing how busy the LEO is becoming, and how trails of satellites are interfering with their observations.

The possibility of collisions is also a very real concern. Apparently there have already been reported near misses involving Starlink satellites, with experts warning that the ability to prevent collisions between the many satellite constellations will become increasingly difficult for both humans and algorithms.

This means we may require more technologically advanced solutions in order to keep spacecraft safe in space.

Of course, the number of satellites orbiting earth will depend on the demand for them. There’s not much point sending all these satellites up into space if there isn’t actually a demand for satellite broadband here on earth!

But for those living in rural areas where fibre broadband isn’t possible, satellite broadband could be just the solution.

Just make sure to watch out for the pigeons!

The Fundamentals of a Wireless LAN

We were going to call this blog ‘WLANs for Dummies’ but that seemed a bit harsh so we settled on the fundamentals of a wireless LAN instead.

A wireless LAN, or WLAN, might seem complicated on the surface but actually it really just follows simple laws of physics. If you can understand these and follow them, then there shouldn’t be any reason why you can’t achieve high performance and scalability for your WLAN.

If you can understand the basics of wireless physics, then you can start to plan your WLAN for a successful deployment. It will also help you to troubleshoot an existing WLAN exhibiting issues.

How Does Data Travel Through a WLAN?

First things first – Let’s look at wave properties.

Data transmits, or travels, from one point to another – e.g. between wireless access points – via electromagnetic waves. This energy travels at the speed of light and operate at different frequencies.

The frequencies of these electromagnetic waves are defined by how many periodic cycles are completed by second.

For example:

How is Frequency Measured?

As we said above, frequency is how many wave cycles are completed per second. This is measured in Hertz. A 2Hz waveform is 2 completed wave cycles in a period of 1 second.

How Does Frequency Affect a WLAN?

A phenomenon called Free Space Path Loss is something that causes signal loss when a waveform travels from one point to another. This is what affects how well data travels across a wireless network.

Different wavelengths (frequencies) experience difference signal loss. The lower the frequency, the longer the wavelength, and the longer the wavelength, the further it can travel before signal gets lost.

For example, 2.4GHz have longer wavelengths than higher frequencies like 5GHz.

How is Wi-Fi Signal Loss Measured?

We measure the energy that is associated with received wireless signals in Decibels (dB). We can also measure loss of signal in this way.

Decibels are logarithmic. On the linear domain, when you add decibels it grows exponentially and when you subtract decibels it reduces exponentially.

The 3dB rule

Every 3dB change, there is a doubling of energy (if increasing) or a halving of energy (if decreasing).

As a ratio, this would look like:

If we had the wireless signal energy at
1:10dB

Then doubling it would be
2:13dB

Remembering this rule can help with both analysing the energy associated with wireless signals as well as predicting it.
Similarly, if you add or subract 10dB, it changes by a factor of 10.

The Relationship Between Frequency and Wireless Signal

Let’s take a look at 2.4Ghz and 5GHz frequencies or waveforms. 5GHz is a higher frequency, so has more wavelengths in a given time period. 5GHz has more wireless signal loss (attenuation) than 2.4GHz, and thus is better for high-density areas. 2.4GHz has less wavelengths in a given time period and is better suited for wider coverage. Bear this in mind when you are planning or troubleshooting a wireless network.

How is Wireless Signal Affected by Different Materials?

In an ideal world, you would have a clear line of sight between your wireless points. In reality, this is rarely the case and you will often find things that get in the way and stop the wireless signal from traversing effectively across your network.

Different materials will affect wireless signals and attenuation in different ways.

Materials such as concrete will cause more attenuation of wireless signal than wood.

In scenarios where wireless signals can propagate (the action of spreading) normally, there is no interference from other materials. However, there are some things that can alter the propagation of a wireless signal, causing it to behave differently and potentially become unreliable.

For example, a WLAN environment with metal surfaces may encounter unpredictability with wireless signal due to it reflecting off the metal.
Wireless signal can also be absorbed by certain materials like water or people, causing the signal to falter.

Being mindful of materials during the WLAN planning stage can help ensure the environment doesn’t hinder your wireless network and you have reliable connectivity results.

Co-Channel Interference

Different materials aren’t the only thing that can interfer with wireless signals.

Due to the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frewuency bands being unlicensed, there are no restrictions on people when extending wireless networks with access points.

This means that they can become crowded as well as channels not being assigned efficiently. Both of these issues can cause co-channel interference.

When planning your WLAN it’s important to take these issues nito consideration and plan your wireless network accordingly so as not to risk problems with wireless signal later down the line.

You want your WLAN to be as effective and efficient as it can possible be, which takes planning and wireless network knowledge.

Whilst the 2.4GHz is popular due to its propagation qualities due its waveforms passing through materials like walls more easily and reaching end users at a long distance. This however has meant that its become crowded with competing devices such as cordless telephones, baby monitors and bluetooth devices. This saturation can cause problems with your wireless signal.

In comparison, the 5GHz spectrum has greater availability and relaxed transmission power giving it more flexibility when it comes to wireless networks.

The 2.4GHz band has only 3 channels without any overlap, whereas the 5GHz has 24. This is another reason why the 5GHz band is favoured for high-density WLAN environments.

Understanding Frequency Channels

To ensure you can maximise the performance and scalability of your WLAN, you need to understand how these channels operate and use that knowledge to avoid co-channel interference.

Let’s take an Access Point as an example. An AP will have a specific bandwidth through which it will transmit and receive signals to and from other points. The channel assigned to the AP will be appropriate for the centre frequency of the first 20MHz channel used by the AP.

This bandwidth is specifically the frequency range over which the data signals are transmitted. Peak transmission and power is spread over the range of that bandwidth, with it dropping off at the edges.

These edges are then at risk of meeting other nearby wireless networks and are prone to interference from the ‘noise’ of these other networks.

It’s important to use what you know about channels to prevent the reduction of wireless signal speed and loss of scalability of your wireless network.

In order to minimise interference between neighbouring access points, choose to assign them with non-adjacent channels. Following this will make it easier to scale your network. If you don’t follow this principle, you will likely encounter problems with latency and throughput.

The best way of reducing interference when assigning WLAN channels is to carry out a Wi-Fi site survey. This involves analysing the noise levels across the spectrum so you can make informed decisions for your wireless network.

Call The Experts

If this all sounds a bit complicated, then why not give us a call here at Geekabit? We have Wi-Fi expert engineers working out of Hampshire, Cardiff and London who can take care of all your Wi-Fi woes.

From Wi-Fi site surveys, to planning and installation, we’ve got your WLAN covered. GIve us a call or drop us an email to see how we can help keep you and your business connected.

Ubiquiti Wi-Fi Expert Help

Here at Geekabit, we love Ubiquiti – It’s no secret. We’re often asked what bits of Wi-Fi kit are our favourites, and Ubiquiti is definitely one of them. We use Ubiquiti wireless devices so much that we consider ourselves a bit of an expert when it comes to Ubiquiti Wi-Fi installations. We’ve done quite a few blogs sharing our expert knowledge of Ubiquiti Wi-Fi devices, so this week we thought we’d do a quick round-up on some of the things we’ve touched on.

Let’s start with how Ubiquiti UniFi could help your business. This blog was the first in a series of three looking at the benefits of Ubiquiti UniFi in a business setting. If excellent, reliable Wi-Fi is critical to your business operations, then this is well worth a read.

[Part 1] What is Ubiquiti UniFi and How Could It Help Your Business?

In the above blog, we looked at what Ubiquiti UniFi actually was and how it could function as a network in your business. This next one focuses in on the Controller and UniFi Cloud Key and their expert Wi-Fi function within an effective wireless network.

[Part 2] Ubiquiti UniFi – The Brains

The third in that series of blogs looked at the elements that complete the Ubiquiti UniFi network and how they could provide you with a better connected business. After the last 18 months, we’ve all seen how vital it is to have a reliable connection. This series of 3 blogs on Ubiquiti UniFi highlights how these interconnected devices could be the ideal solution for keeping your business well connected.

[Part 3] Ubiquiti UniFi – The Elements

Ubiquiti Access Points are a staple in our Wi-Fi toolkit. We’re confident that their selection of access points are straightforward to match to our clients needs and satisfy your end users. For a blog that takes you through choosing the right Ubiquiti access point for your business, check out the link below.

How Do I Choose The Right Ubiquiti UniFi Access Point?

Of course, Ubiquiti isn’t the only provider out there. How does it compare to some other top options on the wireless device market? See how it stacks up against popular choices from Meraki and Aruba.

UniFi vs Meraki vs Aruba

With all the Wi-Fi 6 hype, you might be wondering what the choices are in terms of Ubiquiti Wi-Fi 6 products. In that case, you’ll probably want to have a read about the Amplifi Alien – The new Wi-Fi 6 router from Ubiquiti.

Amplifi Alien – The New Wi-Fi 6 Router from Ubiquiti

If you have a large area to cover with your network range, then mesh could be the right option for you. Mesh is essentially like a interconnected grid or net of access points that all communicate with each other, ensuring that even if one goes down you don’t drop your connection. If this sounds like something that could work for your business Wi-Fi network, have a read of the blog below explaining Ubiquiti UniFi Mesh models.

Ubiquiti UniFi – What are Mesh and Mesh Pro Models?

The latest from our Ubiquiti blogs is the range of Ubiquiti airMAX products. With something to match every business Wi-Fi need – from a functional perspective to design aesthetics – This blog will take you through the Ubiquiti airMAX device choices.

Which Ubiquiti airMAX product should I choose?

If you need Ubiquiti Wi-Fi expert help then give us a call here at Geekabit. Our Wi-Fi experts operate out of London, Hampshire and Cardiff and are all competent in Ubiquiti wireless devices.

To get in touch, give us a call or drop us a message.

 

What is Hybrid Broadband?

Is hybrid broadband the answer to your WI-Fi woes?

It’s safe to say we all want unbreakable Wi-Fi. That’s what we strive to give our home and business clients – Especially ones with Wi-Fi woes!

Despite ‘Freedom Day’ happening earlier this week, many companies, employees and schools are still accessing work and learning from home. That means Zoom calls and Microsoft Teams meetings are here for a while yet. If you’ve ever had you Wi-Fi connection stutter and freeze during an important call or meeting, you’ll understand the frustration that comes with unreliable Wi-Fi.

You may not have experienced dodgy Wi-Fi but are you confident that your Wi-Fi is unbreakable? If the answer isn’t a firm yes then you might be interested to find out more about hybrid broadband and how it could help improve the reliability of your Wi-Fi connection.

You might have seen some TV adverts from BT and Vodafone, publicising their hybrid broadband offerings. But what actually is it?

What is hybrid broadband?

The idea behind hybrid broadband is a bit like a safety net. If your standard broadband connection starts to struggle or fail, it is backed up by a mobile connection via a 4G or 5G network (depending on carrier).

Basically, it provides a complete Wi-Fi service via a fixed landline and mobile provision all in one.

BT’s hybrid broadband Hybrid Connect works via their SmartHub2 router, not only using their broadband service but also offering a 5G back-up via their cellphone carrier EE. You don’t need to be a subscriber of both – Just a BT customer.

This means that should your broadband connection go down – Perhaps because of vandalism of the street-side cabinet, or extreme weather – Then you will still be able to get online via the 5G network.

All internet devices that are connected to your router would automatically switch over to the alternative mobile internet connection in under 90 seconds if a problem was detected with the broadband.

With the ability to purportedly support up to 250 devices at a fast enough speed, this could be a great solution if you and your business operations are heavily reliant on being connected to the internet. Which is a lot of us currently!

Is hybrid broadband guaranteed to work?

Well, unfortunately no. Hybrid broadband is only as good as your 4G / 5G reception. Automatically switching to a 4G network with no reception isn’t going to keep you reliably online!

The good thing is, there is something you can do about this.

If your home 4G connection isn’t as strong as you would like, you will need to make sure your router has suitable external antenna reception. Geekabit can help with this for both home use and business customers!

We’ve helped a lot of customers recently, especially those in rural areas,to  get excellent 4G coverage to boost their Wi-Fi strength.

Here at Geekabit we have the expertise and tech kit to make sure that your antenna is placed in the best place possible for a reliable and strong 4G connection.

You can read more about how we can help with 4G broadband here.

If you think that 4G broadband might be the answer for your home or business Wi-Fi then get in touch with us today – Our Wi-Fi experts from Hampshire, Cardiff and London will be pleased to chat through the options with you.

 

 

Which Ubiquiti airMAX product should I choose?

It’s no secret that we’re big fans of Ubiquiti products here at Geekabit. We often recommend their devices and bits of kit for our clients and business Wi-Fi installations.

This blog is going to look at some of the different Ubiquiti airMAX products there are and which ones might be suited to your business and Wi-Fi needs. There are lots of different options that cover various outdoor wireless scenarios.

 

Point-to-Point or Point-to-Multipoint?

Let’s start at the beginning. First you need to ascertain whether your outdoor Wi-Fi would be best suited to a Point-to-Point (PtP) or Point-to-Multipoint (PtMP) network. These are the two primary deployment methods for distributing any fixed outdoor wireless communications.

Point-to-Point (PtP) – This method connects two locations, usually at a distance of multiple km, and essentially forms an Ethernet bridge.

Point-to-Multipoint links (PtMP): This method can connect three or more locations, via one Base Station (or Access Point) and multiple CPE devices (Stations) connected to the Access Point.

 

Point-to-Point (PtP) Links

Here are some of the Ubiquiti airMAX products with specifications on what wireless environment they would cater for. Whilst there are distances listed below, these are meant as a reference. It’s important to bear in mind that all real-life results have influencing environmental factors, for example, interference and Line of Sight.

Short distance (0-5 km)

NanoBeam 5AC-G2: This is recommended for short links, and exhibits superior performance which is due to the latest airMAX AC technology. It is able to deliver up to 450Mbps of throughput.

NanoStation 5AC Loco: Another good option for short distance links, this is the lowest cost PtP solution that has airMAX AC technology.

NanoStation 5AC: This one is a popular choice when it comes to short link Wi-Fi, and is commonly chosen for video surveillance due to its dual-Ethernet port capability. It also has airMAX AC technology.

Medium distance (5-15 km)

LiteBeam 5AC-23-G2: This is recommended as Customer Premises Equipment (CPE – any device accessing the internet) for most cases. Thanks to the latest airMAX AC technology, it has superior performance and can to deliver up to 450Mbps of throughput.

PowerBeam 5AC-G2: Recommended as CPE for medium or long distance links. Once again it has superior performance thanks to the latest airMAX AC technology. It can to deliver up to 450Mbps of throughput.

PowerBeam 5AC ISO:  This one is very similar to PowerBeam 5AC but offers an alternative for high-noise environments.

 

Point-to-Multipoint (PtMP) Links

When it comes to PtMP outdoor wireless networks, it’s really important to remember that the performance is dependent on both sides of the link. If you are trying to get across long distances, you’ll need to make good choices when it comes to the Base Station and CPE for each case. We’ll be looking at these options below.

The release of Ubiquiti operating systems airOS 6 (for M devices) and airOS 8 (for AC devices) provides backwards compatibility and means that you can upgrade your M sector by simply swapping the M AP for an airMAX AC radio as the AP.

 

Base Stations

You will usually find the location of a base station on the top of a tower, building or mast. Your maximum coverage will be determined by the height of that tower.

Low Capacity and Short distance Base Stations

For short distance base stations with low capacity, take a look at the following Ubiquiti airMAX products. These are ideal for areas with low interference.

Rocket M + airMAX OMNI antenna: This could be a great option for more rural Wi-Fi needs, particularly as it is susceptible to interference. It can support up to 60+ concurrent stations when all devices are airMAX capable.

High Capacity & High-Performance Base Stations

Rocket 5AC PRISM G1/G2 + airMAX AC Sector Antenna: This one’s for the highest performance base stations with carrier-grade system. Eight 45° antennas give 360° coverage. Co-adjacent noise is significantly reduces with airPRISM technology.

Rocket 5AC Lite + Titanium Sector Antennas: For medium-high density areas, this is a high-performance solution. It uses the latest airMAX AC technology plus variable beamwidth (60-120°) antennas for scalable growth.

LiteAP AC: This one is an ultra-lightweight airMAX AC sector + radio. It has incredible performance and disruptive pricing, plus 120° coverage.

 

Customer Premise Equipment (CPE)

One of the great things about Ubiquiti is the range of products and how they can work together to support your wireless network as a whole. If you go for the airMAX CPE to support your Ubiquiti products, you’re also getting centralised SDN management, hotspot/guest portal, advanced SSID/WLAN configuration, routing, switching and more. It’s well worth looking at the whole range available. Or call the experts (that’s us) to see whether Ubiquiti wireless devices could help with your wireless network.

Short distance (0-3 km)  

NanoBeam 5AC-G2: This has slightly greater range than the NanoBeam 5AC-19 M and is more directive.

Medium distance (3-7 km)

LiteBeam 5AC-23-G2: This low-cost CPE has very narrow beamwidth, and MIMO technology. This one is the new industry-standard for airMAX AC CPEs.

PowerBeam 5AC-G2: This option is a highly directive CPE, with better range and lower noise.

Long distance (7+ km)

PowerBeam 5AC-500/620: This one is a higher power device, with a super directive antenna, better range and lower noise. If you’re a design buff then you might also like how it’s more aesthetically pleasing compared to bulky dishes.

Rocket 5AC-Lite + RocketDish LW: You’ll likely find this one the best performing option. It’s higher cost than integrated designs, and can be unsightly as a CPE. It supports IsoBeam accessory for better isolation, which comes with RF chokes.

 

Frequency Options

Let’s talk about frequency. Due to physics and utilisation, each frequency has different characteristics.

Lower frequencies have better propagation characteristics than higher frequencies. You may find that they work better in environments where the Line of Sight is obstructed (for example, by trees). However, these bands may also have higher levels of noise and interference, so it’s very important to select the frequency that works best for your wireless environment.

Let’s have a look at the pros and cons of some frequency bands.

900MHz (M900) – Pros and Cons

  • Better tolerance for trees and small obstacles in comparison to higher frequencies
  • Tends to have higher noise levels
  • Only has a 26MHz bandwidth

2.4GHz (M2) – Pros and Cons

  • It is unlicensed worldwide
  • It only has 3 over-lapping 20MHz channels (1, 6, 11)
  • It tends to be a very crowded band with interference from other devices such as cordless phones
  • 40MHz channelse are not recommended

3.x GHz (M3-M365) – Pros and Cons

  • 300MHz bandwidth in countries where 3.4-3.7GHz band is available
  • It is noise free in most areas
  • Only 25MHz bandwidth in countries where 3.65GHz can be used
  • It requires a license

5 GHz (5AC/AF5/AF5X) – Pros and Cons

  • It is unlicensed worldwide
  • Higher EIRP limits allow higher gain antennas, and long distance links
  • Large amounts of spectrum available, easier to co-locate nearby devices
  • Weaker propagation in comparison to lower frequencies when there are obstacles like trees or walls are present

10 GHz (M10) – Pros and Cons

  • It is noise-free in most cases and is very useful when the 5.8GHz band is crowded
  • It has a very small Fresnel zone
  • It is only available in a few areas
  • It is a licensed band
  • It needs a perfectly clear Line of Sight

11 GHz (AF11FX) – Pros and Cons

  • It is noise-free in most cases and is very useful when the 5.8GHz band is crowded
  • It has a very small Fresnel zone
  • It is only available in a few areas
  • It is a licensed band
  • It needs a perfectly clear Line of Sight

 

Antenna Types

We spoke about the important of each side of the link being effective to ensure the highest performance possible. Now it’s time to talk about the antennas.

High gain antennas also play an important role when deploying a high performance outdoor wireless network. There are two main reasons:

  • They provide high gain amplification of the signal power resulting in higher signals and better link quality.
  • They are highly directional, which gives them spatial filtering characteristics that can help to block noise. This is especially important in noisy environments.

When thinking about the antenna for the base station, you might think it’s best to go for the one that offers the largest coverage area. However, it’s actually better to choose the antenna that covers the smallest amount of coverage that covers your range area. An antenna covering a larger area than needed could be more susceptible to interference due to a wider beamwidth, causing a decrease in scalability and performance.

Here are the categories of antenna.

Yagi: Directive, used for PTP and CPE applications. Frequently used in low frequencies, such as 900MHz, due to size

Grid: Directive, used for PTP and CPE applications. Great wind-loading properties. However, this type only works in one polarity (1×1), so lower performance than 2×2 antennas (Dish, Panel, etc.)

Panel: Directive, used for PTP and CPE applications. Compact design is very attractive in situations where dishes are not preferred.

Dish: Most Directive, highest performing airMAX antennas for PTP applications. Usually larger and heavier.

Omni: Provides 360 degrees of horizontal coverage (omni-directional). Ideal for low capacity and wide-coverage AP / Base Station applications)

Sector: Ideal choice for high performance Base Stations. Offer higher gain and directivity than omnidirectional antennas. Usually offered in 45, 60, 90, or 120 degree options.

This list is not conclusive. You can find all of the current airMAX antennas here by looking at the antenna section.

For more information in general about Ubiquiti airMAX options, head to their website.

 

No idea where to start?

Here at Geekabit, our expert wireless network engineers have the knowledge and experience to help you deploy a high performing outdoor wireless network in Hampshire, London and Wales. If you would like to discuss your Wi-Fi network requirements, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. Our Wi-Fi experts are only a phone call away!

 

4G Office Surveys – Hampshire, London and Wales

This week we spoke to a client needing a 4G office survey for their workplace, to see if 4G would be a viable internet option for their business, as well as identifying which network would be best for them.

Why would I want a 4G Office Survey?

4G broadband is an increasingly beneficial internet service provider for many homes and businesses, especially those in rural areas and places where BT Openreach cables can’t get to.

Here at Geekabit we take an unbiased approach when it comes to Mobile Network 4G surveys. Our aim is to gain an understanding of the mobile coverage on your premises and ascertain whether 4G broadband would be a good choice for your internet needs.

It is also hugely important for those who are considering moving their workforce to a new office building and need the guarantee of coverage. Even in today’s “Wi-Fi calling” world, we still need solid mobile phone coverage.

Our testing can assess any likely impacts on mobile network coverage in your office, from external factors such as wind farms and other tall buildings, to internal influences like wall composition.

What does a 4G Office Survey Involve?

Our equipment for a Mobile Phone Coverage Survey measures key performance indicators for 2G, 3G and 4G reception on various networks so you can be sure that 4G broadband is the right decision for your home or business.

The hardware we use to carry out in-building 4G office surveys uses advanced mobile network signal receiving and processing technology.

These 4G office surveys can be used to ascertain the internal mobile network coverage of your office or business premises, and identify any potential mobile network coverage problems early on before you commit to using 4G broadband for your internet provider.

There are some factors that could cause signal penetration problems (attenuation) such as different building materials and window glazing, but a 4G office survey can give you peace of mind that the 4G network you choose will be a reliable source of internet for your rural home or business.

Wired Certification through WiredScore

If you are a business landlord or even rent out a private property, carrying out a 4G survey for the premises can be extremely beneficial.

Back in 2015, the Greater London Authority launched a scheme through WiredScore – An initiative launched by the Mayor’s Digital Connectivity Rating Scheme.

This scheme gives a clear picture to tenants about the connectivity in their potential offices.

Over the past 18 months, we’ve all seen how imperative technology is – Where would we be without Zoom and Microsoft Teams? Technology plays a huge role in the success of businesses across the UK, not just London.

The capacity for connectivity in any given premises is an extraordinary marketing opportunity when it comes to landlords trying to get businesses to sign up to lease their office space. Commercial landlords and developers need to be aware of how important connectivity is to a property or premises – And a 4G office survey is a fantastic way to obtain this.

Good connectivity, especially when it comes to 4G in more rural areas, is a great asset to a business and will be top of the list of any business looking to secure new premises.

WiredScore provides the connectivity accreditation scheme to help overcome the challenge of proving your premises has the internet connection needed for a business to succeed. A WiredScore rating is a global rating scheme for digital connectivity and helps landlords to assess, improve and promote their premises.

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 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.

Relocating and moving offices comes with a raft of expense and issues which interrupts the daily workflow and output. Being confident that your team can communicate with your customers and stakeholders is a key consideration.

You can check out a previous blog of ours where we look at a few of our client case studies where 4G broadband was absolutely the best choice.

To see if 4G broadband would solve your Wi-Fi woes, get in touch with us today to arrange your mobile phone coverage survey. Let’s see if 4G broadband is the answer you’ve been searching for!

 

 

Do I Need a Wi-Fi 6 Router?

Don’t suffer with the buffer! If you’re finding that your Netflix binge is being interrupted by buffering, or your Zoom calls keep freezing or pixelating then it’s a good idea to make sure that your router isn’t the culprit.

If you’re looking for fast, reliable broadband, then Wi-Fi 6 could be just what you’re looking for. Last time we blogged about the improvements from Wi-Fi 5 that Wi-Fi 6 will be bringing. If that hooks you in then read on and see whether a Wi-Fi 6 router might end up being a great investment for your business or household.

Wi-Fi 6 is specifically designed to improve the performance of your home network and increase network capacity. This latest generation of Wi-Fi standard will offer your home faster Wi-Fi speeds and a more reliable connection. What does this mean in real times? It means buffer-free streaming on Netflix (and other platforms) and quicker downloads – Even if your house is device heavy, it won’t slow down your internet.

More and more internet devices are Wi-Fi 6 ready, but will only work to their optimum if there is also a Wi-Fi 6 router in place. (Likewise, a Wi-Fi 6 router will only offer Wi-Fi 6 improvements for devices enabled with Wi-Fi 6 technology).

We thought we would share some of the reasons why you might want to consider a Wi-Fi 6 router next time you’re in the market for one (or even if you’re not!. )

My household has multiple devices – What will Wi-Fi 6 provide me in comparison to Wi-Fi 5?

Wi-Fi 6 will provide you with the highest level of performance, even in a device-heavy household.

Wi-Fi 5 provided us with great technology – Wi-Fi 6 is an extension of that. Whilst Wi-Fi 5 brought us gigabit speeds, it begins to fall short in homes where there are more and more devices being added. How many devices do you have in your home that connect to the Wi-Fi? Count them and we think you’ll be surprised! And this is only going to increase over time. Wi-Fi 6 helps with this because it uses OFDMA (orthogonal frequency division multiple access). This key feature means that it can increase your overall network efficiency by allowing several devices to connect to your Wi-Fi with various bandwidths.

What real-world speeds and range will Wi-Fi 6 provide?

Wi-Fi 6 will deliver the fastest real-world speeds.

Wi-Fi data travels on component streams on each of the frequency bands 2.4 GHz and 5GHz. Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6 can carry the highest amount of streams, which allows for gigabit Wi-Fi speeds. Where Wi-Fi 6 goes further is that it increases the number of streams to 12 – A new high across the 2.4 and 5GHz bands. In comparison, Wi-Fi 5 only has a limit of 8 in a dual band configuration.

How do these streams affect your Wi-Fi? Not only does this increase in streams mean that you have access to a higher connection speed, it also means that your devices can communicate with your router via more paths. Compared to Wi-Fi 5 enabled devices, Wi-Fi 6 show an 40% increase in speed.

How is Wi-Fi 6 designed for the ‘Smart Home’?

Our homes are now full of smart devices. We can control the heating and the lights with the tap of a button on our phones. We can ask the postman to leave the parcel by the gate via our video doorbell. We turn music on via Alexa and we add to our shopping list by shouting Hey Google. We have smart TV’s as well as numerous laptops, tablets and smartphones all vying for a connection to the Wi-Fi. That’s a lot of devices. In fact, the average number of devices in the home has gone from 10 up to as many as 50. All of these put a load on your network.

Where does Wi-Fi 6 come in? Well, it’s been specifically designed to handle this demand on your Wi-Fi through the increase in devices – Without negatively impacting your internet speeds.

How will this affect your home? This improvement in internet speed will provide more reliability – Vital if you’re depending on it for your lights, thermostat and other IoT devices. The last thing you want with all these devices running is interrupted connectivity. Thankfully, Wi-Fi 6 will help with that

How will Wi-Fi 6 help with video streaming?

A Wi-Fi 6 router would be ideal for 4K/8K UHD streaming.

If you’ve tried to stream 4K or 8K video, then you’ll know it requires a constant high-speed connection. In busy, device-heavy households where everyone is trying to stream high-definition video you’re likely to start seeing buffering – It’s a big load on the network.

Wi-Fi 6 routers could help with all that thought. Annoying buffering will be a thing of the past due to a Wi-Fi 6 router’s ultra-fast processors, increased number of radio streams and increased memory.

You should find that Wi-Fi 6 routers will make streaming of HD video across multiple devices a lot better than older Wi-Fi technology.

Are Wi-Fi 6 products available now?

Yes – They’re already here! Future upgrades to smartphones, tablets and laptops will see the rise of Wi-Fi 6 enabled technology, so getting a Wi-Fi 6 router will mean you’re ready to benefit from all the improvements that Wi-Fi 6 has to offer – Like faster Wi-Fi speeds!

The great thing is that WI-Fi 6 routers will also work for Wi-Fi 5 devices (without the improvements) so it’s a great crossover for whilst you’re upgrading devices.

The Wi-Fi 6 portfolio of products is only going to get bigger, so consider whether a switch to a Wi-Fi 6 router would be a worthwhile investment for your home.

 

What’s Different About Wi-Fi 6?

Wondering what all the fuss is about when it comes to Wi-Fi 6? If you’re questioning what the differences are and whether it’s worth making hardware device changes, then read on.

The next generation of wireless standard is here (actually, it’s been here since the end of 2019). Wi-Fi 6, or 802.11ax has the following main differences:

  • It’s faster
  • It provides better performance in congested areas (think anything from your own device-packed home, to stadiums)

We know it informally as Wi-Fi 6 – Wi-Fi versions have now been assigned simple numbers to replace the more complicated code-like names that we saw before.

What are the Wi-Fi Version Numbers?

The new Wi-Fi version numbers are much more user friendly, but for the fellow geeks among us, here are what the new version numbers correspond to, plus (whilst not being officially branded) what all of the old versions would have been.

Wi-Fi 1 – 802.11b (released in 1999)

Wi-Fi 2 – 802.11a (also released in 1999)

Wi-Fi 3 – 802.11g (released in 2003)

Wi-Fi 4 – 802.11n (released in 2009)

Wi-Fi 5 – 802.11ac (released in 2014)

Wi-Fi 6 – 802.11ax (released in 2019)

You might start to see these newer version numbers appear in software when connecting your smartphone, tablet or laptop, to enable you to see which Wi-Fi networks are newer and faster. This is what the Wi-Fi Alliance announced that they would like to be seeing across networks. It’s worth noting that it isn’t mandatory for manufacturers to label their products with Wi-Fi 6 instead of 802.11ax, but we’re hopeful that most will. Re-naming products from 802.11ac to Wi-Fi 5 might be another matter though!

Wi-Fi That’s Faster

As with most technological advances, the latest development in Wi-Fi standard is faster in terms of data transfer speeds. In comparison to Wi-Fi 5, a Wi-Fi 6 router would provide one device with up to 40% higher speeds.

What Makes Wi-Fi 6 Faster?

The reason Wi-Fi 6 can achieve such faster speeds is due to more efficient data coding which thus results in higher throughput. Basically, the radio waves are packed with more data. With each Wi-Fi standard, the ability for the chips to encode and decode the data gets more powerful, hence why Wi-Fi 6 is faster than Wi-Fi 5, and can handle extra work.

You may be aware that we have 2 frequenceis used for networks – 5GHz and 2.4GHz. 5GHz is more commonly used as it is subject to less interference, however 2.4GHz is still a good option for being able to penetrate solid objects. Wi-Fi 6, the new standard, even increases speeds on these 2.4GHz networks.

How Will Wi-Fi 6 Affect the Battery Life on my Device?

Many Wi-Fi 6 enabled devices will have a new ‘target wake time’ feature. This means that an access point can define a specific set of times when devices connected to the internet need to have access to the wireless network. This new efficiency should mean that your Wi-Fi enables devices should have a longer battery life.

Let’s take your smartphone, for example. When the AP is talking to your phone, it can tell it when to put it’s Wi-Fi radio to sleep and when to wave it up to receive the next transmission. Because your device can spend more time in sleep mode, you should find your battery lasts longer.

It also means that devices that connect via Wi-Fi with lower power can benefit from longer battery life.

Wi-Fi That Performs Better in Crowded Areas

We know there hasn’t been much opportunity for it as late, but picture trying to get online at an airport, hotel or live event at a stadium. When an area is as congested with devices as these, you can suffer with slow Wi-Fi and even struggle to connect.

Wi-Fi 6 tackles just this problem. With new technology, superior to previous Wi-Fi standards, it’s purported that Wi-Fi 6 will improve the average speed of each user by at least 4 times. Even in crowded areas with lots of devices.

This isn’t just something that will benefit you when out in public places – It could be a huge help in your home as well. If you have a large family all with multiple devices connected to Wi-Fi, then this could be just the solution to stop the slow-down. Or perhaps if you live in a densely populated place, like a block of flats.

How Does Wi-Fi 6 Tackle Congestion from Multiple Devices?

There are various features that help Wi-Fi 6 better tackle the problem of heavily crowded networks. Just knowing that a Wi-Fi 6 device connected to a Wi-Fi 6 access point will work better may well be enough for you!

For those who want all the geeky details, here’s what’s going on to make Wi-Fi 6 better for networks with multiple or many devices.

Wi-Fi 6 technology is able to create a large number of sub-channels within one wireless channel. Date intended for each individual device can be carried by each sub-channel. This technology is called Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA). Essentially this means that a Wi-Fi 6 enabled access point can talk to more devices at once.

Wi-Fi 6 also has improved MultipleIn/Multiple Out (MIMO). Again, this lets the access point talk to multiple devices at once through multiple antennas. The difference between this and Wi-Fi 5, is that while the latter enabled an access point to talk to multiple devices at the same time, it couldn’t allow the devices to respond at the same time, thus slowing things down. The new improved MIMO on Wi-Fi 6 is a multi-user version (MU-MIMO) which enables devices to respond to the access point at the same time.

Let’s look at another potential scenario. Wireless access points that are locating close to one another may transmit on the same channel. This means that the radio needs to listen and wait for a clear signal before it can reply. Wi-Fi 6 uses spatial frequency re-use which allows you to configure Wi-Fi 6 wireless access points with different Basic Service Set (BSS) colours, which consists of a number between 0 and 7. The device can then determine whether a particular channel has a weaker signal, and thus ignore it and transmit without waiting. This is another way in which Wi-Fi 6 will improve wireless performance in congested areas.

These are just a couple of the improvements to be seen from the new Wi-Fi 6 standard. There are many more, smaller enhancements which will improve the speed and performance with Wi-Fi 6.

How Do I Know If Something has Wi-Fi 6?

Luckily, thanks to this handy article, you’re now familiar with all the technical names of the different Wi-Fi standards, so you’ll know exactly what to look for. Right? Don’t panic! We’re only kidding. Thanks to the new versions, it’ll be easy for you to find devices that are certified Wi-Fi 6 (rather than hunting around for 802.11ax!). Device manufacturers are able to say whether their product is Wi-Fi 6 or Wi-Fi 5.

You may also start to see a logo saying ‘Wi-Fi 6 Certified’ on relevant devices. This means that the product has gone through the Wi-Fi Alliance’s certification process. The old Wi-Fi Certified logo simply told you it was Wi-Fi Certified, rather than what generation of Wi-Fi a product was. The new logo will make it clear if it is Wi-Fi 6. So there will be no need for trawling through product specifications!

When Can I Get Wi-Fi 6 Enabled Devices?

The new Wi-Fi 6 standard was finalised in 2019, with hardware being released in the latter part of the same year and into 2020. So you should be seeing Wi-Fi 6 enabled products in the market now. It’s shouldn’t be something you need to put too much thought into – As new routers, smartphones, tables and laptops are released into the market, they will just start to come with this new Wi-Fi 6 technology.

It’s worth remembering that to benefit from the improvements on the new Wi-Fi 6 standard, you need both the sender and receiver devices to support this latest generation of Wi-Fi 6. Whatever the connection, it will only operate in the mode that your device supports. For example, you may have a Wi-Fi 6 enabled router, a Wi-Fi 6 enabled smartphone, but a laptop that only supports Wi-Fi 5. You’ll see the advantages of Wi-Fi 6 on your smartphone, but the laptop will only work at Wi-Fi 5 capacity.

Which is the Best Long-Range Router for My Wi-Fi Network?

During the years 2020 and 2021, we’ve never needed good Wi-Fi more. Our lives (personal and professional) have depended upon online communication. It’s never been more vital to have a reliable connection in order to stay connected – With colleagues as well as loved ones.

Many of our more local clients live in larger properties where having a long-range router is a necessity. Plus, more people than ever have created an outdoor office at the bottom of the garden to try and draw a line between work and home life (as well as to get some peace and quiet for those Zoom conference calls!).

But what good is an outside office if your router doesn’t provide it with reliable coverage? No one wants to be that person on the 2pm Teams call.

So whether you’ve got a large property to cover, or an office at the bottom of the garden, how do you get rid of those dreaded Wi-Fi dead zones?

Here’s a few long-range routers that could be just the solution you’re looking for to your patchy Wi-Fi, covering various categories. Which is most important to you?

Best All-Rounder: Asus RT-AX88U AX6000 Dual-Band Wi-Fi 6 Router

4.7 Stars

The Pros:

  • Advanced Wi-Fi 6 support
  • Excellent performance
  • Eight LAN ports

The Cons:

  • A bit pricey

The Asus’ RT-AX88U is equipped for handling large and busy homes. This model is the upgrade to the popular RT-AC88U, retaining the advanced versatility of features and configurability whilst also taking it to the next level.

Most Asus routers enjoy a sleek, no-fuss look that makes it easy to streamline into your home and this one is no difference. Don’t be fooled by its size though – It still packs a punch with four powerful beamforming antennas. These give it the range to cover a 5,000 square foot living area.

Whilst being compatible with 802.11ac Wi-Fi 5 devices, it can also provide your home with Wi-Fi 6 speeds of up to 6Gbps across both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. So even if you don’t have many Wi-Fi 6 devices yet, you’re future-proofing your home network.

Like to keep things wired? The Asus RT-AX88U has 8 Gigabit Ethernet ports at the back for any wired devices you like to keep plugged in.

It also comes with built in AiProtection as well as AiMesh 2.0 just in case you need to join it up with other Asus routers to get even stronger coverage across your home network.

Wireless Spec: 802.11ax | Security: AiProtection, WPA3, Guest Wi-Fi Secure Access | Standard/Speed: AX6000 | Bands: Dual-band | MU-MIMO: Yes | Beamforming: Yes | Wired Ports: 8

The Best for your Budget: TP-Link Archer C80 AC1900 Wireless MU-MIMO Wi-Fi 5 Router

3.8 Stars

The Pros:

  • Very affordable
  • Strong Wi-Fi signal
  • Easy setup

The Cons:

  • Limited positioning options

You might be thinking that there are many affordable routers on the market – Why pick this one for the budget choice? Well, while there are many to choose from at affordable prices, not all of them also deliver such a good range. The TP-Link’s Archer not only doesn’t break the bank, but it also delivers outstanding range across a reasonably large home.

It has four beamforming antennas which are backed up by a front-end module (FEM) – A high power FEM than what you’ll find in most other routers around this price range. You’ll likely be pleasantly surprised at the power of the signal around your home with this router. Its dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi 5 support delivers up to 1.9Gbps of throughput across the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. What does this mean in real terms? Apart from the very busiest of families, it will give you enough coverage for 4K video streaming and video calls.

Worried that you and your devices will be slowing each other down by trying to use them all at the same time? Within this price range, the Archer C80 is one of the few routers that offers full 3×3 MU-MIMO. This means each ofyour devices gets the best possible speeds – Without slowing each other down. For those of you that like to keep things wired in, it also has 4 Gigabit Ethernet ports. So devices like PC’s or games consoles, you can plug them in round the back for maximum speeds.

Watch a lot on your smart TV? The QoS features enable you to prioritise certain devices. So you can rank your smart TV at the top so make sure you always get the best streaming quality.

And if you’ve got teenagers that are attached to their screens around the clock, you’re going to love the parental controls. These let you filter internet access to certain devices according to the time of day. No more secret Netflix binges at midnight before school the next day!

Sound a bit complicated to set up? Nope! The TP-Link’s Tether App makes it all super quick and easy to get set up. This is a great choice if you’re conscious of your budget, but have a fairly large home and want to get rid of those Wi-Fi dead zones.

Wireless Spec: 802.11ac | Security: WPA2, Guest Wi-Fi Secure Access | Standard/Speed: AC1900 | Bands: Dual-band | MU-MIMO: Yes | Beamforming: Yes | Wired Ports: 4

Best for a Spending Spree on Mesh: Netgear Orbi AX6000 Wi-Fi 6 Mesh System

4.7 Stars

The Pros:

  • Super fast performance
  • Excellent range
  • 5Gbps WAN port

The Cons:

  • Very expensive
  • Lacks some advanced features
  • No USB ports

If you’re wanting to get the latest Wi-Fi 6 technology in a mesh system then the Netgear Orbi is one of the best you can buy. Using two units, you can cover an area of 5,000 square feet with consistent Wi-Fi coverage with fast speeds. If you need to extend your range even further, you can simply add in more of the satellite units.

This router is a tri-band system (like it’s Wi-Fi 5 older brother) and dedicates the extra 5GHz band to be used as a backhaul channel.  It offers unparalleled  performance compared to other mesh Wi-Fi systems, hence the big price tag. The Netgear Orbi offers Wi-Fi 6 speeds of up to 6Gbps.If you’re in range of one of the satellites, it doesn’t matter how far you are from the main router – You’ll get the same super fast speeds throughout the entire home network.

What about the wired connections? Each satellite unit has 4 Gigabit Ethernet ports on the back. Between each satellite unit is a 2.4Gbps channel, delivering powerful Gigabit speeds – Ideal for a PC, game console or smart TV wired into the unit.  Not only that, but it also has a 2.5Gbps WAN port, meaning it’s ready to plug into an internet service of multiple gigabits.

If you have a moderately sized house, just the one base station will do you. For a larger area of coverage, simply add in as many satellites as needed to increase the speed and range throughout the network.

Wireless Spec: 802.11ax | Security: NETGEAR Armor, WPA3, Guest Wi-Fi Secure Access | Standard/Speed: AX6000 | Bands: Tri-band | MU-MIMO: Yes | Beamforming: Yes | Wired Ports: 4 (per unit)

Best Design: Netgear Nighthawk RAX120 12-Stream AX6000 Wi-Fi 6 Router

4 Stars

The Pros:

  • Wi-Fi 6 Support
  • 12 streams with Tri-Band Wi-Fi
  • Advanced wireless features

The Cons:

  • Expensive
  • There are only few devices can currently take advantage of it

With the Netgear’s Nighthawk RAX120 Wi-Fi 6 router, think a black, high-tech box with antennas – But sleek. It has 8 high-performance beamforming antennas concealed by hawk-like wings.

It’s appearance emulates speed with the technical capabilities to match – To AX6000 Wi-Fi 6 compatible devices, it can deliver up to 6Gbps. For older, Wi-Fi 5 devices, it delivers up to 4.8Gbps on the 5GHz band and 1.2 Gbps on the 2.4GHz band.

For those wanting a connection reliable enough for video streaming, gaming and video calling throughout your home, you’ll be pleased to know that you’ll have more than enough bandwidth to handle it. The Nighthawk aso has 8-stream MU-MIMO support, which means a good amount of your devices will enjoy the maximum available throughput, but without slowing each other down

Round the back of the unit you’ll find a set of four Gigabit Ethernet ports as well as a special multi-gig Ethernet port. This additional port can either work simply as a 5th Gigabit port, or can also handle 2.5Gbps and 5Gbps connections. As well as the Gigabit Ethernet ports, there are also 2 USB 3.0 ports which means it can deliver top speeds from faster storage devices attached to the network.

It’s worth noting, as with all routers, that it’s wise to consider it’s placement as to avoid any outdoor walls or appliances that could cause an obstruction to the signal and slow it down.

Wireless Spec: 802.11ax | Security: NETGEAR Armor, WPA3, Guest Wi-Fi Secure Access | Standard/Speed: AX6000 | Bands: Dual-band | MU-MIMO: Yes | Beamforming: Yes | Wired Ports: 5

Best Coverage: Ubiquiti Amplifi HD Mesh Wi-Fi System

3.7

The Pros:

  • Outstanding coverage
  • Very easy setup

The Cons:

  • Not ideal for busier households
  • Slower speeds at extreme ranges

Got a large property that requires wireless coverage over every inch? It may not be the fast, but it can get a basic level of Wi-Fi coverage to 20,000 square foot of space. The Ubiquiti AmpliFi HD is an advanced mesh Wi-Fi system with a 4 inch swuare box as the main router plus a pair of mesh points that you can drop further out to extend the coverage. This helps you to reach the outer edges of your property.

We said it’s not the fastest – The dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi 5 is only rated at AC1750 speeds, with 1.3Gbps on the 5GHz band and 450Mbps on the 2.4GHz frequencies. However, it does have 3×3 MU-MIMO support which means it can deliver its best speeds over a much larger range than most of the competing AC1750 routers.

The reach that this system offers is unrivalled by its competitors. If it’s all about the range for you and your property and less about the speed then this could be the router for you. For devices in range of 5,000 square feet you’ll get the top speeds (as with other long range routers), however you will still manage to connect (albeit at a slower speed) at a range of up to 4 times that distance. So if you just need Wi-Fi to power a camera or smart home device, or for checking email and basic internet use across all the edges of your large property, this the AmpliFi HD may be the router for you.

Wireless Spec: 802.11ac | Security: WPA2, Guest Wi-Fi Secure Access | Standard/Speed: AC1750 | Bands: Dual-band | MU-MIMO: Yes | Beamforming: Yes | Wired Ports: 4

 

We hope this gives you a bit of a guide as to which long range routers might be the best for you and your Wi-Fi network needs.

If you need Wi-Fi advice for your home or business, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our Wi-Fi experts.

 

 

Image is the Netgear Orbi AX6000 Wi-Fi 6 from Netgear.com.