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.

 

 

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!

 

 

What is Facebook Wi-Fi?
If you’re not one of the 100,000 businesses already using Facebook Wi-Fi then you may very well be asking this question! Facebook have launched their own Wi-Fi option, to help businesses connect with more people.

How does Facebook Wi-Fi work?

Most businesses will allow people to connect to their Wi-Fi – Sometimes with a password (recommended) and sometimes without. Whilst it’s much more secure for both your network and the guests using it to provide people with a Wi-Fi password, some may feel it’s a bit of a faff logistically.

This is where Facebook Wi-Fi helps – It allows people to connect to your business Wi-Fi without needing to share a password. Not only can it make things easier logistically, it could also help your business to reach new customers by increasing the number of check-ins to your Facebook Page. That way, your customer’s friends will discover you too!

What are the benefits of Facebook Wi-Fi?

  • As we’ve just mentioned, by utilising Facebook Wi-Fi in your business, you encourage users to check in, which in turn increases your exposure to a new audience and reach more potential customers through friends.
  • Currently, the most secure way to share Wi-Fi access is to give users a password to enable them to connect. Businesses have varying methods of sharing password information with their customers, but it can be frustrating for customers if they can’t find the information and arnd are keen to connect quickly. Facebook Wi-Fi means that people visiting your business won’t need a password in order to log connect to your Wi-Fi – You won’t need to share passwords with Facebook Wi-Fi.
  • Because it’s linked to your business Facebook page, you are able to gain insights on your visitors. Anonymous information is collected so you can identify how many returning visitors you have checking into your page through Facebook Wi-Fi.
  • It’s free! There is no charge to use Facebook Wi-Fi for your business.

How do I get Facebook Wi-Fi for my business?

If you’re eager to get started, you’ll need to add the Facebook Wi-Fi features to your existing Wi-Fi.

First of all, you will need to have a business page on Facebook and admin access to the page. Make sure your business has a physical address listed in the Page Info section.

You will also need to have a compatible router. If it is compatible, you need to enable Facebook Wi-Fi in your router’s settings.

If both admin access and router compatibility are in place set up could be complete in as little as 20 minutes!

Is my router compatible with Facebook Wi-Fi?

First, you need to know what router you have. You can find this information on your router box, or by typing your router’s IP address into your browser. Once you know what router you have, you can check to see if it’s compatible with Facebook Wi-Fi here. The list comprises of some of our favourite brands of business Wi-Fi kit, including Ubiquiti UniFi, Meraki, Aruba and Ruckus among others.

If your router is on the list, you can then click through to a handy set up guide on YouTube, specifically for your router. Easy peasy!

If your router isn’t compatible with Facebook Wi-Fi but you’re really desperate to use it, you’ll need to invest in a new router that is compatible.

Want to know more about Facebook Wi-Fi?

You can find more information about Facebook Wi-Fi on their website here.

Will you be using Facebook Wi-Fi for your business? Let us know – Come join the Wi-Fi chat on our socials @wifiexpertuk!