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 The newer the device, the more likely they are to support a newer version of the 4G LTe or 5G spec, which would in turn bring you faster data rates.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.

 

5G Survey London

With the increasing prevalence of 5G availability across London, you might be needing a 5G survey. Perhaps your London business is moving premises – Or maybe you’re looking to buy or rent a property in London? Either way you need to know that wherever you’re living or working in London will have decent cellular and data coverage. 

Mobile coverage is a huge part of buying or renting a new property – Whether for a business or somewhere to live. 5G mobile phone coverage could be a massive deal breaker if it’s not at the level people have come to expect. 

Thankfully, here at Geekabit we offer a 5G survey in London and the surrounding areas – We know our stuff when it comes to all things wireless. We understand how vital it is to maintain strong connections, whether it’s in the office or at home. 

 

Geekabit’s 5G Survey London

Geekabit offer both internal and external 5G surveys, looking at mobile phone coverage both inside and outside your property. 

You might be wondering – Why would I need a 5G survey? 

For our clients that are wanting to map out the availability of 5G cellular and data coverage in a London office or building, the 5G survey would be a great tool. It’s extremely useful if your organisation is considering moving premises. It is so important nowadays to make sure that you have good 5G mobile phone signal coverage before signing on the dotted line. You don’t want any nasty surprises when it comes to coverage once you’ve moved in! 

Our landlord and estate agent clients also find it a very beneficial tool when it comes to selling or renting out business or residential properties in London. Tenants and house buyers aren’t just looking at the water pressure of the taps or the state of the windows – They’re now asking questions about the strength of cellular reception. Our 5G Survey gives you all the information you need to know. 

People want to make sure that where they live and work in London will have strong 5G mobile coverage. Geekabit’s 5G survey is the perfect way to prove your property has just this and on what networks. 

5G Hybrid Broadband

And where there’s a strong 5G connection, you know you’re covered if the internet goes down. Hybrid broadband is giving customers confidence that even if their standard internet connection fails, they will still have 5G mobile broadband to fall back on.

But this is only as foolproof as your 5G coverage. So before going ahead and investing in hybrid broadband, why not carry out a 5G survey first to make sure that your London property has the coverage you need to fall back on. 

 

Office and homes aren’t the only places where you need a strong, reliable 5G cellular connection

There are many external areas that would hugely benefit from an external 5G survey. Geekabit can also carry out a 5G survey along London roads, parts of the capital’s transport network and throughout leisure facilities in London and the surrounding areas. 

In today’s world, we don’t just stay in one place – Even while we’re working. We take our need for connection wherever we go – And it needs to be strong and reliable. 

Gone are the days where we are tethered to a desk – We need the 5G mobile coverage to be available on the go. Whether we are using a smartphone, tablet or other internet enabled device, we need to stay connected – And we need to know that the signal will be strong and reliable. 

Geekabit’s 5G survey can tell you how strong the cellular coverage is in certain areas of London, and which networks would work best for those locations. This information is invaluable.

 

How do we report the results of our 5G survey?

We can provide results, heatmaps and detailed reports measuring the details of phone coverage for 5G (as well as 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE). 

For any given London location, we can measure: 

  • The cellular connectivity
  • Data upload and download speeds 
  • The occurrence of dropped and failed calls for all the main mobile network operators

Over the last 2 years, companies have realised how vital cellular coverage is – For business operations as well as staying connected with loved ones. This was true before the pandemic, but Covid has certainly increased the need for strong, reliable mobile coverage. 

 

It’s time to invest in mobile enterprise

If you value the importance of the Quality of Service and Quality of Experience of your employees cellular coverage whilst they are at work, then it’s time to invest in mobile enterprise. 

Here at Geekabit, we’ve long been able to provide mobile phone coverage survey results for a fixed point – For example, a particular property in London. 

We can now provide this matched to geolocation data over a moving area, as well as on building plans and maps. When it comes to 5G surveys, this information is really important. 

If your London business has been thinking about investing in further mobile technologies, then our 5G survey is ideal for providing graphical and interactive information, allowing you to really drill down into the data and support and inform your worthwhile investment.

 

A word from our Founder

Steve Cross, Founder of Geekabit, comments:

“Mobile phone coverage has continued to increase in importance, with a massive investment throughout the pandemic in mobile working technology. With the great shift in office working already happening, organisations are looking to ensure that 5G mobile phone coverage in potential London office locations will be suitable for their workforce. Our internal cellular 5G survey tool gives clients the opportunity to make sure there will be no issues with mobile phones and tablets when moving buildings or downsizing.”

Want to know more about our 5G surveys?

For further details about the data which can be captured, or to discuss a potential project, please email our Wi-Fi experts at info@geekabit.co.uk and someone will be in touch as soon as possible.

 

Our 5G surveys are available across London and the surrounding areas. If you are interested in this service in a different location, please do get in touch. 

 

Wi-Fi to Fall in Love With

Wi-Fi really can be a love-hate relationship, can’t it? When we feel a strong connection then everything is plain sailing. But the minute that connection seems lost, the frustration creeps in. 

 

To keep your relationship with Wi-Fi healthy, here are some top tips. 

 

Ensure a Secure Connection 

Every good relationship relies on that feeling of security. Wi-Fi is no different. A survey found that despite 91% of respondents believing that public Wi-Fi wasn’t secure, 89% still chose to continue using it. 

It’s always a good idea to wait until you’ve found the right network before you start sharing personal information. If you’re using public Wi-Fi, always make sure it has strong security policies and infrastructure – Especially if you are sharing sensitive information on their network. 

 

Some Things Are Best Kept Private

Whether it’s Valentine’s Day or any other day of the year, some things are just better kept private. 

If you are connecting to a public Wi-Fi network, you should not be using credit or debit card information or sharing any bank details. Yes, that means no shopping! 

If you find yourself able to connect with other users in their network, for example through AirDrop, then you should disconnect. If you want to confirm that the network you are connected to is in fact the provider you think it is, you can check and verify the DNS name by checking the public IP address of the network. 

 

Don’t Risk Getting Held to Ransom

You have to guard your heart sometimes – And you should be guarding your devices too. More and more people are being targeted by ransomware nowadays. And most of those people are paying the ransom in order to get back their data. It’s not just your laptop that can be affected – Any phone or smart device can also be vulnerable. You could be looking at a cost of around £500 – Don’t let them fool you and swindle you out of your hard earned money. 

 

Stop the tears from streaming

If you’re currently relaxing in a hotel room about to start a romantic Valentine’s Day movie on Netflix, then be prepared for some buffering. Any kind of streaming service is a rather big challenge for hotel networks or similar. It needs to have the Wi-Fi to match the demand! And we’re sure that’s not the only performance issue that hotel room has seen. If you’re sitting on the other side of the bed, and it’s your hospitality venue that’s struggling with Wi-Fi performance issues, get in touch with our Wi-Fi expert here at Geekabit and we’ll see how we can help get your Wi-Fi from heartbreaker to love at first sight.

 

It’s not you, it’s me

If you got hacked, who would you blame? Yourself, the Wi-Fi provider or the hacker? Research suggests that 56% of people would blame the Wi-Fi provider / venue but 85% would blame themselves. When you connect to a Wi-Fi network, are you confident that it’s safe? It’s very important to make sure you have the information and tools you need to stay vigilant and safe online. 

 

Turn yourself on

Wi-Fi gives us the ability to turn on so many different things these days. From switching on the lights to turning up the heat for when we get home – All from our phones!

You could even dim the lights for a romantic moment… Who needs a wingman when you’ve got strong Wi-Fi?

 

Not feeling a connection?

If your Wi-Fi is leaving you feeling frustrated and disconnected, then get in touch. Our Wi-Fi experts have the knowledge and skills to diagnose the problems with your Wi-Fi network, and deploy what’s right for you. 

 

After all – All you need is love, and Wi-Fi. 

 

How Do Wireless Directional Antennas Work?

This week we’re going to take a look at wireless directional antennas and how they work. By understanding this, you can ensure that your Wi-Fi network provides the coverage you need for reliable, strong Wi-Fi links.

To create a wireless bridge or point-to-point link, you would use a directional antenna. Your coverage requirements will determine the size and shape of the directional antenna needed, as well as whether you are using them inside or outdoors.

First things first – What do we need in order to establish a long-range wi-Fi link? There are a few main requirements that we need in order to achieve this.

Remote Wi-Fi Links – 3 Requirements

We need to satisfy 3 requirements in order to set up a long-range Wi-Fi link. Whether your signal is indoors or outdoors, the basic needs remain the same. For example, the signal could likely navigate and pass through a thin wall indoors, or one tree outdoors. However, navigating an entire building of walls or a forest of trees would be more difficult.

When a wireless signal is traversing over longer distances, packets of data can be lost. Adding in other complexities (like many walls or trees) can cause problems with the signal.

So in order to establish and maintain a strong connection over a long distance we need to fulfil these 3 requirements:

  1. There must be a direct line of sight between the antenna and the receiver. This means no obstacles in the way, like buildings, walls or forests.
  2. The antenna must be elevated and be horizontal with the point that is receiving the signal ready to transmit it. For the connection to be strong, the antenna and the router for example, need to be on a level – Not one higher or lower than the other.
  3. The antenna must be directed towards the router or Wi-Fi transmitter. The directional antennas only emit and receive Wi-Fi signal in one single direction, so it needs to be positioned on that side. The accuracy needed for the position depends on the angle opening on the antenna. For example, the smaller the angle, the more accurate the position must be. More on that next!

Antenna Angles

How far a directional antenna can transmit a Wi-Fi signal depends partly on the size of its angle. For example, a directional antenna with a wide angle could transmit to a wider area around it, but not as long a range. A directional antenna with a small angle is a more focused transmission and will provide further coverage.

A good analogy to explain this is a light bulb. A bulb without a lampshade will emit light at an angle of 360 degrees. It works well to illuminate the area in close proximity, but doesn’t have great range in terms of distance. For example, lighting up one room.

In comparison, a bulb inside a torch operates at an angle of approximately 30 degrees. The light is much more directed, and thus has a further coverage range – But we don’t see light outside of the ‘sides’. The smaller the angle, the further the reach.

The same premise applies to wireless signal and directional antennas, as you can see from the diagram below.

Types of Wireless Directional Antenna and Their Uses

There are 4 main models of directional Wi-Fi antennas. They are designed to provide a Wi-Fi connection over long distances. They direct an entire frequency pattern in one direction to reach from point-to-point. A directional antenna receives the Wi-Fi signal and emits it forward; the distance it can cover depends on the angle it uses.

  1. Wireless Directional Antenna for Indoor Use – The 60° angle antenna

    A wireless directional antenna with an opening angle of 60 degrees is most practical for indoor use. The open angle of this directional antenna enables it to see all the Wi-Fi networks in it’s environment. It provides good quality signal over a range of up to approximately 300m.

  2. Wireless Directional Antenna for Long-Range outdoor Use – the 35° angle antenna

    This wireless directional antenna uses an opening angle of 35° which enables it to locate all the AP’s in a mesh Wi-Fi network outside the premises, covering a distance of up to around 800m. For this reason, it’s commonly used for long range networks. They are generally easy to install, are a manageable size and tend to come weatherproof so they can be used outdoors come rain or shine!

  3. Wireless Directional Antenna for Distant Networks – the 30° angle antenna

    These wireless directional antenna models have a closed angle. Their installation is a little more complex to the previous two models, and therefore is better suited to professional networks that need to cover very distant networks. Due to the closed angle, it is extremely important to get the positioning accurate.
  4. Wireless Directional Antenna for Professional Installers – the 7° angle antenna

    Due to these models of wireless directional antennas having a very narrow beam, it’s necessary to have them professionally installed. They are a favourite among professional Wi-Fi installers as they have a very high gain so provide a high wireless broadband casting range. High gain antenna can provide a strong Wi-Fi connection in all parts of your property from a single router. This type of directional antenna will have a parabolic reflector – basically a curved surface like a dish which direct the radio waves. This type of wireless directional antenna is ideal for long range networks.

If all this talk about wireless antennas has got you confused about which direction to go in, then why not give our Wi-Fi experts a call?

Working out of Hampshire, London and Cardiff, we can plan, design and install a Wi-Fi network that’s tailored to your home or business requirements. Get in touch with us today and we’ll have you better connected in no time.

 

 

Our Top Wi-Fi Blogs of 2021

A new year has begun, and no doubt it will bring new technology and wireless improvements with it!

Here at Geekabit, we covered a lot of different Wi-Fi topics last year here on the blog, many of which were steered by the enquiries we were receiving to our Wi-Fi Experts across Winchester, London and Cardiff. We saw a big increase in demand for 4G broadband, particularly for homes in rural areas. Hybrid broadband has also soared in popularity!

We’ve also talked a lot about 5G and Wi-Fi 6 and a few of the products already available on the market. With there still being a heavy focus on working from home throughout 2021, it’s no surprise that reliable broadband and internet speeds at home were still crucial. We even launched our own product – SpeedScore – A great way for estate agents and landlords to accurately identify their broadband speeds.

With all of this in mind, we thought we would take a look back on the last year and see what blogs were most popular with you – Our readers!

#10 – Just making the top 10 reads from 2021 is a blog on the 4G Broadband Teltonika RUT950 router. This device was out top product for 4G broadband installations during 2021 – Click the blog to find out why.

4G Broadband and the Teltonika RUT950 Industrial Cellular Router

#9 – Continuing on the 4G broadband theme, in at number 9 is why 4G broadband could be the answer for all your rural Wi-Fi woes. 2021 brought us many clients desperate for a quicker Wi-Fi service in rural areas, particularly those who had moved out of London but expected the same internet connectivity. If you’re sticking with more working-from-home as we move into 2022, then have a read of this blog to see if 4G broadband could bring you a better connection.

4G Broadband – The Answer to Your Rural Wi-Fi Woes?

#8 – Last year we saw a big buzz around 5G. This blog was all about the Robustel R5020 router – An exciting product offering 5G connectivity at a competitive price.

The Robustel R5020 5G Router

#7 – We can’t talk about 4G broadband without talking about data plans. Joining in on the blog popularity of 4G/5G broadband and pieces of kit was this blog on Unlimited 4G broadband data plans. well worth a read if you’re going down the 4G broadband route.

The Best Unlimited 4G Data Plans for Broadband

#6 – Which brings us nicely to hybrid broadband. This has seen a soar in popularity, and we’re expecting to see a lot more of this in client enquiries over this coming year. But what is hybrid broadband? If you’re wanted unbreakable Wi-Fi for your home or business then this could well be the solution you’ve been searching for.

 

What is Hybrid Broadband?

#5 – 2021 saw Facebook launch it’s own Wi-Fi – But what is it? Hundreds of thousands of businesses are already using it, but if you’re not yet one of them then click the blog below to see what you need to know.

What is Facebook Wi-Fi?

#4 – Anything to do with Ubiquiti always proves a popular blog topic. And with good reason – These devices are one of the staple pieces of kit here at Geekabit. The Ubiquiti UniFi range of access points are always easy to match to our clients needs.

How Do I Choose The Right Ubiquiti UniFi Access Point?

#3 – Wi-Fi 6 was another topic on everyone’s lips last year. This blog on the Amplifi Alien Wi-Fi 6 router was a big favourite of our readers – Could that be because of the ongoing need to work and learn from home?

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

#2 – How do you choose the right wireless product for your home or business? It’s a question often asked so no wonder this blog looking at 3 top wireless products almost made the top spot. If you want to compare UniFi, Meraki and Aruba bits of wireless kit then this is the blog for you.

UniFi vs Meraki vs Aruba

#1 – And here we are at number one. The most popular blog last year was this one on Starlink and what it meant for broadband here in the UK. another interesting read, particularly those living and working in more rural areas, struggling with connectivity.

What is Starlink and what does it mean for UK broadband?

So there you go – Our top ten Wi-Fi blogs of 2021. We’re excited to see what 2022 will bring!

 

Wi-Fi Woes at Home: Could it be your Router?

Wi-Fi is one of those things that we don’t tend to take much notice of – Until it breaks.

Just like when a power-cut stops our electric, or cloudy water comes out the tap – When our Wi-Fi goes down, we notice! Slow or faulty internet might be one of the most frustrating things of all time. There’s nothing quite as annoying – Whether you’re in the middle of a Netflix binge or an important Zoom meeting.

The last time you thought about your internet probably coincided with one of those moments. Maybe it was back when the first lockdown came in and you were suddenly thrust into a world of remote working. Or when schools were closed and you abruptly and unexpectedly became a teacher and had to navigate an online classroom with your children.

Never have we had to rely on our home Wi-Fi networks like we have the last 2 years. The world still looks like a bit of a scary place right now – Don’t let your home network be an added source of stress.

We might have electricians to sort out our electrics and plumbers to sort out our plumbing – But who sorts out our Wi-Fi in our homes? Here at Geekabit, our Wi-Fi experts are here to help you. Most people get sent a router from their broaband provider, plug it in and hope for the best (no judgement here!). But what about when that’s not enough to provide you with a reliable home Wi-Fi network?

We’re going to take you through the basics of Wi-Fi so you can make sure your router is providing your home with the network you need.

So let’s start from the beginning.

Wi-Fi Standards – What are they?

What we understand as Wi-Fi was only named that after the ability for us to connect to other computers and the internet has long been around.

It started out as 802.11 (The first Wi-Fi standard). Not quite the description you’d expect for such a transformative piece of technology! And certainly not a word that lends itself to the general population of internet users.

So what came next? Along came 802.11b (there was a 802.11a but we won’t go into that). Catchy huh! This was the first major revision of 802.11 which came in 1999 alongside the name Wi-Fi. These numbered standards come from the Wi-Fi Alliance – A global group of technology companies who ensure that anything labelled as a Wi-Fi product has been adequately tested as such.

This means that if you buy a product with Wi-Fi, such as a laptop, and you have a functioning Wi-Fi network, then the 2 will be able to connect. That’s the rule!

In the 20 years since we’ve had more revisions and improvements, taking us through more standards: 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n, 802.11ac and 802.11ax. They don’t exactly roll off your tongue do they?

What they have done however, is:

  • Increase the maximum speed
  • Minimise congestion in built-up areas
  • Improve connections when multiple users on different devices are accessing the same network

Wi-Fi Standards and Compatibility

What these complicated names also mean is that even the most technological savvy people don’t have much knowledge about how their home Wi-Fi network actually works. Again no judgement – It’s not your fault!

Without Googling or hunting down hardware – Do you know which of the standards above your home network supports? How about your laptop, tablet or smartphone?

Without also knowing what standard your router runs on, how could you know whether the standard your devices are running on is compatible?

Backward compatibility has its costs. If you have a new router running on the latest standard of 802.11ax, but your laptop is 20 years old with 802.11b compatibility, the laptop can only go as fast as the old standard. It can’t access the benefits of the newer standard that the router supports. Unfortunately, having this laptop connected to the network can cause the whole Wi-Fi system down to its level. For this reason, the default settings on many networks automatically kick off any older devices to stop problems arising for other users.

For this reason, it’s wise to make sure that the Wi-Fi standard that is supported, is common amongst your router and the devices connected to it.

The re-branding of Wi-Fi Standards

Thankfully assessing compatibility will become a lot easier now that the Wi-Fi Alliance has rebranded the Wi-Fi standards.

You might be surprised to find that you are already acquainted with the latest Wi-Fi standards – Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E.

With the branding of these newest standards, comes the relabelling of the older ones. They become:

  • 11 – Wi-Fi 1
  • 11b – Wi-Fi 2
  • 11g – Wi-Fi 3
  • 11n – Wi-Fi 4
  • 11ac – Wi-Fi 5
  • 11ax – Wi-Fi 6

The ones we need to know about and look out for are Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6. Simply put – Your home Wi-Fi network will run better if use routers and devices that support the latest Wi-Fi standard.

We mentioned Wi-Fi 6E. This is the latest Wi-Fi standard which arrived this year. This standard, for the first time since the beginning of Wi-Fi, it uses 6GHz. This band is a new section of the radio spectrum which hasn’t been used by Wi-Fi before. This new standard will minimise interference with other networks and help achieve speeds we haven’t seen before.

Where do routers fit into all of this?

As you have seen, there has been a steady stream of Wi-Fi standards since the internet first emerged.

As with most things technological, improvements are constantly being made. We live in a world where there is always the newest device – Faster, more compact, better this, better that. Always competing with what came before it.

You probably replace your phone quite regularly, especially if you are on a contract or plan. Getting an upgrade is the norm! You may also do the same with laptops and tablets, TV’s and other smart devices around the home.

But do you do the same with your router?

Have you ever stopped to think that the router you’ve had since you moved in is stopping all your new devices from working to their optimum ability?

Your smartphone might support Wi-Fi 6, but that’s no good if your router is ten years old! Could your router be the cause of your home Wi-Fi problems? Slow internet speeds, bottlenecks, buffering?

What’s the point in spending thousands of pounds on the latest phone, tablet, laptop, smart TV etc if you haven’t invested in a router – And instead connect all your top-of-the-range devices to a box you got free from your provider when you moved in nearly a decade ago.

It seems pretty obvious now we’ve pointed it out, but so many of us do this very thing. We’re not trying to shame you – the majority of people don’t consider that their Wi-Fi woes could be a result of an older router.

‘I think my router could be causing my Wi-Fi problems – What do I do next?’

Assuming that the connection coming into your home is not ‘dodgy’ then a new router could be the answer to your Wi-Fi problems.

The majority of households have a pretty straightforward set of needs when it comes to Wi-Fi coverage. A simple change, such as a pair of Wi-Fi 6 ‘mesh routers’, could be just what you need to to provide a bit of extra bandwidth and even cover those annoying ‘black spots’. Esepcailly if one of those happens to be out in the garden where you desperately tried to catch a bit of sun whilst working from home during the summer!

For the cost of skipping the latest smartphone upgrade, you could fix the Wi-Fi problems for your entire household.

No more buffering mid Netflix binge. No more dropping out of video calls and online meetings. No more being ‘that colleague or friend’ that causes the tech problems.

This one small switch could be far more beneficial that upgrading your devices or doubling your monthly BT bill.

What if replacing your router could give all your Wi-Fi devices a new lease of life in your home?

 

Can My Christmas Lights Affect My Wi-Fi?

The 1st December means we can officially start talking about Christmas! December 1st also happens to be National Christmas Lights Day which coincides with many people choosing to put up their Christmas tree (if they haven’t already done so!).

So you fight the knot of Christmas lights that you’ve fetched from the loft, stick on the ‘Christmas is Coming’ playlist on Spotify (thank us later) and flick the switch for the moment of truth – And Bublé buffers as soon as the tree lights up. What’s going on?

There tends to be articles that circulate this time of year about how Christmas lights could be interfering with your Wi-Fi. But is it really the Christmas tree lights that’s causing Mariah to falter on that high note?

If you haven’t put your tree up yet, and you’re a bit of a Wi-Fi geek (like us) then why not do a little experiment to see exactly how much your Christmas tree lights affect your Wi-Fi? Test your internet and download speeds before and after putting up the Christmas tree with the lights turned on.

 

Will my Wi-Fi be affected by my Christmas tree lights?

Let’s face it, no one wants to choose between functioning Wi-Fi and a Christmassy home. People need that bit of festive cheer more than ever this year, but we also need to know we can rely on our Wi-Fi to keep us connected with our loved ones over the festive period (and stream all the Christmas movies…).

There are potential Wi-Fi issues that can arise with Christmas tree lights so we thought it was worth running through a few do’s and don’ts to help avoid any internet interference from happening in your home. But first – what’s the reason Christmas lights could cause internet issues?

 

How can Christmas tree lights interfere with Wi-FI?

Christmas lights emit a very weak electromagnetic field which can theoretically interfere with the radio waves being transmitted from your router, thus affecting your Wi-Fi speed. If the lights were to transmit electromagnetic radiation at or around the same frequency, then it is possible that they could slow down your Wi-Fi.

Between the LED or lamp being completely on or off, it can exhibit negative resistance which in turn causes radio energy. This happens less with modern day lights than older ones though (see below for more info on this).

Is your tree lit up to give a soft glow, or does it look like something fresh out of Blackpool illuminations? The more lights you have, the stronger the electromagnetic field will be.

And the closer the router is to the lights, the higher the chance of interference.

So what can you do to ensure that your beautifully decorated Christmas tree doesn’t knock off your Netflix binge of Christmas movies?

 

Geekabit’s Top Tips to Prevent Wi-Fi Interference this Festive Season

 

Rule #1 – Don’t place things on top of your router

Just don’t do it. This doesn’t just go for decorations, but in general. We can’t stress this enough – Don’t put anything on top of your router.

This includes Christmas lights – No matter how festive they look! Don’t put Christmas lights or anything else directly on top of, or too close to, your router.

Whilst it has been reported that routers that were placed too close to Christmas tree lights could be negatively affected by signal interference, if they’re not directly next to each other or on top of each other, it should be fine.

 

Rule #2 – Use a main plug socket

We get it – Christmas is one of those times of year when you’re struggling for socket space and digging out all the extension cables you can find to be able to power Christmas tree lights and all kinds of other lit decorations.

But don’t be tempted to unplug the router and plug it into the extension cable. It will work a lot better, and faster, if it’s plugged into a main socket.

 

Rule #3 – The more modern the lights, the better

There are generally 2 types of light whose qualities have the potential to cause interference.

Older types of Christmas lights that are arranged in a string of low voltage lamps in series with each other and are designed to blink can cause radio interference which can lead to dips in Wi-Fi speed.

More modern Christmas lights use solid-state LED’s and have an external control for flashing which don’t create radio noise. However, it’s worth noting that some LED’s have a chip inside the bulb to control the blink and these devices can also cause interference.

On the whole though, modern lights are definitely less likely to cause you a Wi-Fi problem, so maybe save yourself the annual horror of trying to untangle your 10 year old string of lights and treat yourself to some new ones.

 

Rule #4 – Don’t put your router in ‘high traffic’ areas

Tis the season for family gatherings, friend get-togethers and all sorts of festive shenanigans. Not to mention the big man in red tumbling down the chimney! Humans are great signal absorbers, so put the router in a place where it won’t get blocked by partying people or round bellies that shake like jelly.

 

Did you do the Wi-Fi speed test before and after? We’re pretty sure the results will be rather negligible but we’d love to hear your results!

 

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!