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.

 

 

The Robustel R5020 5G Router

We’ve talked a lot in recent weeks about 4G broadband and how it can solve many Wi-Fi issues in rural areas and homes with a slow BT Openreach connection.

But of course, the question on everyone’s lips when we talk about 4G routers and mobile broadband is ‘when will there be a 5G router?’

One product we’re feeling particularly excited about is the Robustel R5020. This router is touted to be offering next-generation cellular connectivity at a competitive price.

The R5020 will enable rapid deployment of high speed IoT applications in sectors such as Transportation, Enterprise Connectivity and Digital Signage.

In a compact industrial unit, the R5020 will offer 3G, 4G/LTE and 5G band coverage.

What are the key features?  

Here are the key features of the Robustel R5020 5G router.

A router with 5G capability

As Robustel’s first 5G capable router, the R5020 will also be capable of supporting 4G and 3G bands.

 

A stable operating system

Powered by their tried and tested CPU platform, the R5020 uses their mature and stable in-house Operating System RobustOS. This OS is fully programmable with a fully documented Software Development Kit. It also comes with a free cloud management platform (RCMS).

 

Applications

The R5020 is designed for use by various applications.

In-vehicle applications

  • Passenger Wi-Fi
  • CCTV de-brief
  • Ticketing
  • Other similar “onboard” requirements

Potentially increase internet speeds in these scenarios with the R5020, as well as future-proofing your current installations by making them 5G compatible. The R5020 has achieved E-Mark* certification for in-vehicle use, and supports GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) positioning. There is also a version to protect vehicle batteries with vehicle ignition sensing when the engine is turned off.

Broadband Failover

  • As well as a 5G Router, the R5020 can be configured to use Ethernet or Wi-Fi as the primary internet source. Should there be an outage on either of these, it can then failover to 4G or 5G.
  • If your business is a shop or small office, this can provide a good degree of connectivity resilience at a reasonable cost.
  • It can provide sufficient bandwidth for multiple users.
  • Core networks can utilise connections from IPSEC (Internet Protocol Security), DMVPN (Dynamic Multipoint VPN) and Open VPN (Virtual Private Networks) protocols.

Primary Broadband

  • You might think that using mobile broadband would be a pricey alternative, but mobile networks are now offering unlimited 5G tariffs at reasonable prices.
  • This means that hundreds of Mbps internet are available over the air.
  • There are many technical and commercial scenarios that make a wireless internet connection a favourable option, and mobile broadband offers another level of connectivity on top.

 

For more information on this product, or to register your interest in it when it’s available, head to their website.

If you would like more information on how 4G broadband could make a difference to your connectivity, please get in touch with our Wi-Fi experts here at Geekabit. We have a 4G antenna testing pole so we can assess whether 4G would be a viable option for your premises.

 

 

*An e-Mark proves your vehicle or component complies with the relevant EU/ECE regulations and can be sold in the EU, as well as other regions which have signed up to the ECE vehicle regulations. EU type approval is mandatory for whole vehicles as well as a range of automotive systems and components

How Public Venues Can Make Money on Wi-Fi Offload with Google Orion Wi-Fi

Imagine you could make money, just from your business having strong, reliable Wi-Fi – At the same time as offering customers better mobile reception inside your venue.

Google’s Area 120, an in-house incubator, has recently launched Orion Wi-Fi in the US which will enable public venues like shopping centres, grocery stores, shops, restaurants, conference venues etc to offer those using a smartphone the opportunity to automatically connect to their Wi-Fi via their mobile provider, to get better reception.

Google Orion acts as the intermediary between the public venue and the mobile provider, ascertaining whether the price and the signal strength is worth giving their customers access.

Why would mobile providers want to do this for their customers?

You may be wondering why mobile providers would decide to pay a public venue for their customers to use the Wi-Fi available.

Often, public venues like grocery stores, shopping centres and conference venues don’t have great 3G/4G/5G reception for those wishing to use their smartphones.

For customers to get better coverage direct, mobile providers would have to install more masts to try and cover these areas, which of course costs money.

An easier and cheaper alternative is to pay the public venue for their customers to use their Wi-Fi. The end user’s device would be picked up by Google Orion, which performs a rapid negotiation of cost and Wi-Fi strength between the venue and the mobile provider. The device would then automatically connect to the venues Wi-Fi upon entrance giving better reception.

The end user doesn’t drop their signal and remains happy with their mobile provider.

How would this Wi-Fi offload scheme work for public venues?

This Google Orion Wi-Fi device could be the first step towards indoor wireless communication being everywhere you go. And with public venues being paid for making their Wi-Fi available to mobile providers and their customers, there is even more reason to make sure your public Wi-Fi is up to scratch.

If you are a public venue and would like to make your Wi-Fi available to anyone with a smartphone walking into your business, you would sign up to become part of the Orion Wi-Fi service via their new portal.

You would connect via your Google account and then set up Orion Wi-Fi to work with your Wi-Fi network. According to Google, it is set to work with most commercial and enterprise Wi-Fi systems including the majority of AP’s and Wi-Fi controllers.

This isn’t yet in the UK, but presumably a person entering your venue on a participating mobile provider contract would then be able to connect automatically to your Wi-Fi. They would be happy that they have a good connection, associating your brand with good reception, the mobile provider would be happy that their customer can stay connected indoors, and you as a venue would be happy as you would be paid for making it available.

Current issues with Wi-Fi offloading

There are generally two main problems with Wi-Fi offloading:

– The quality of the Wi-Fi – It’s not great if end-users are handed over from their patchy mobile network to a bad quality Wi-Fi option instead.
– Connecting – End-users may be unlikely to spend time manually connecting to a different network when entering some public venues.
In theory, Google Orion addresses both of these issues and so it wouldn’t be surprising if every mobile provider would be interested. The prospect is that this could make Wi-Fi roaming even more powerful.

Are there any negatives to using Google Orion Wi-Fi?

ne plus about venues offering their own Wi-Fi portals to guests is the opportunity to collect data and engage new people. If they were to give up this chance to collect contact details and other personal information about their guests that they could use for future marketing purposes, they would need the appropriate compensation via payment from the mobile provider.

Of course, what would be even better, is if Google Orion Wi-Fi later offered both – Guest engagement and auto-connect. Maybe that will come.

Exciting developments on the horizon for new Wi-Fi technology

With current developments in the Wi-Fi industry starting to trickle through, it wouldn’t surprise us if there was real demand for Google Orion Wi-Fi.

With the arrival of a new Wi-Fi standard (Wi-Fi 6) as well as a wider Wi-Fi spectrum (1.2GHz in the 6GHz band), it would make perfect sense to offload mobile customers struggling with indoor reception onto reliable public Wi-Fi.

We’re hearing lots about 5G, but it will inevitably have difficulty reaching all indoor users as well as indoor cellular 5G systems being expensive.
Perhaps, as Google have intimated, now is the perfect time for a paradigm shift to Wi-Fi.

You can read more about it on the Google Orion Wi-Fi website here.

What’s The Difference Between 5G and 4G?

Wondering exactly how 5G is different from 4G? As the UK begins to embrace 5G technology, this is a question that more and more people will be asking.

There are actually many differences between 4G and 5G, but in this blog we’re just going to cover the main ones which will affect us the most.

1. What’s the difference in speed between 4G and 5G?

As with many technological advancements, one major difference between 4G and 5G is speed. 5G is much quicker than 4G – It is the fastest available form of cellular connectivity. Current real-world speeds of 4G are around 20-40mbps. In contrast, likely real-world speeds for 5G will be 300-500mbps, with theoretical speeds of up to 1Gbps. That’s a pretty big difference.

This is welcome news to those who have slow internet or connectivity problems – The new high speeds brought to us by 5G will make it a quick solution for many.

2. Will there be an improvement in latency when using 5G?

Commonly referred to as ‘lag’, latency is another improvement that 5G brings. Depending on signal strength, the typical latency of 4G is between 10 and 50 milliseconds. 5G will be more like 1 millisecond, or possibly even less. That’s quick!

But what does this actually look like in real terms? Well, imagine you are browsing the internet on your phone. The latency (or lack of) on 5G will mean that normal websites will be super responsive. What about video streaming on demand? 5G means that 4K video will become the norm.

3. When will 5G be available to me?

5G has actually been around in some places since last year (2019) when the initial 5G masts were introduced and turned on. Some users in London, Cardiff and other large cities were able to roam 5G zones.

However, 5G masts come at a high cost, as do other 5G technologies, so the rollout across the UK has been slow. 4G has of course been widely available for a long time, but the availability of 5G is slowly being increased across the UK so more consumers and businesses will start to be able to take advantage of the increase in speed and power. Those outside larger UK cities will have to remain with 4G.

4. Is the technology behind 4G and 5G different?

Perhaps it’s obvious, perhaps it’s not, but there are actually major differences between the technology behind 4G and 5G.

Due to 4G being commonly available for a while, the technology behind it and thus the hardware and devices available have had the chance to be refined. This means that the costs associated with this are lower.

As 5G is so new, the hardware to use it such as modems, masts and antennae are much modern and thus, more expensive.

As with most technological advancements, it’s inevitable that we will get to the stage of 5G that we are currently at with 4G, where it will be more cost-effective and les pricey. This isn’t likely to happen for a number of years however. The more that mobile phone manufacturers out 5G modems into their devices, the more 5G will be used and the more widely available it will become.

5. What are the differences in wavelength between 4G and 5G?

So far, the power and speed of 5G is making it sound pretty great, with only availability and price being a slight stumbling block. But it’s not as perfect as it seems. Whilst 5G is undoubtedly a great advancement in cellular and connectivity technology, there are some things to consider.

In terms of wavelength, 5G is very different to 4G in terms of varation and versatility. What’s different about 5G is that it has a few different variations of wavelength, from low-band to millimetre wave.

Low-band 5G – This might be the slowest form of 5G, but it can travel long distances. Low-band 5G is the most similar wavelength to 4G.

Mid-band 5G – This is the ideal in-between: A slightly faster form of 5G and the most common form of 5G transmission. It’s a bit of the best of both worlds – It provides pretty high speeds, but can also cover a medium size area with minimal masts.

Millimetre 5G – This is by far the fastest form of 5G, but it comes with its limitations. Millimetre wave might be able to achieve high speeds pf up to 1Gbps, but in order to achieve this it requires line of sight to the device. This means that there would need to be 5G masts on every lamppost for this to be effective – Something that will cause the rollout of this technology be very slow, and very costly.

Of course, this is rather different from 4G, which although has a smaller range of wavelengths and not as versatile, but far cheaper for mobile operators to roll out.

Perhaps the common approach to this will be to introduce the mid-band 5G into wider areas, with city centres having a few millimetre wave spots.

6. What will the uses of 5G be compared with 4G?

Hands up if you use 4G in your everyday lives… Yep, us too. We know too well how useful it is, and what we use it for whether it’s browsing, streaming or making video calls to colleagues, friends and family (we’ve done enough of that over the past few months to know how valuable it is).

Everything that has been possible with 4G, will be furthered more by 5G. The IoT (internet of Things) will benefit from 5G through smarter and more efficient connectivity for smart devices.

Due to 5G having a better internet connection that 4G, it will also mean that 5G could be used as a fixed line alternative in some scenarios. This means that homes or businesses that struggle to get fibre broadband lines could use a 5G router instead.

Hopefully this blog will have explained the biggest differences between 4G and 5G, and what we can expect from this technology over the coming months and years. There’s no doubt that it offers increased speed and power – Let’s see if the price and availability follow suit.