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.

Could 4G Broadband Be The Answer to Threat of BT Strike?
Working-From-Home Fears Due To BT Strike

For the first time since 1987, BT are facing nationwide industrial action due to a ballot regarding job cuts and site closures. The Communication Workers Union is due to hold a ballot soon, which could have an enormous impact on the network if a yes vote is returned.

Through this ongoing pandemic, effective internet has kept us connected with colleagues as well as loved ones. It’s held businesses together through the rise of working from home, and it’s kept part of the economy going throughout lockdown restrictions. As a nation, we’ve realised how vital a good internet connection is.

Most of the UK’s broadband network consists of BT, EE and Openreach, serving millions of homes across the nation. If, in late Spring, a strike goes ahead this could mean big problems for people who are working from home and reliant on their broadband connection.

Assuredly, they will only strike if they feel they absolutely must – They don’t want to disrupt services across the country to people’s internet unless they feel they have no other choice to protect their workers and service.

What does the possible BT strike mean for those working from home?

Nationwide industrial action by BT staff could have a huge effect on those working from home, who are relying on a dependable internet connection. Is there anything worse than trying to get some work done with a slow internet connection, or a meeting via video call dropping out every 2 minutes?

The pandemic and lockdown restrictions has meant that almost 50% of the working population have been working from home during the pandemic (ONS).

These workers are relying on their home broadband connection to be able to continue doing their jobs.

As we’ve seen from the challenges of home-learning and home-working, those who are currently based at home need a connection that can support both upload and download speeds in order to partake in video conference calls like Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meet.

Not only is home internet needed more than ever, but the quality of the connection is also more vital then it has been previously.

What alternatives to Wi-Fi would be unaffected by a BT strike?

If you are worried that your home internet connection could be affected by the posed threat of BT industrial action, there are thankfully alternative methods of getting internet into your home.

We have seen an influx of 4G broadband installations and enquiries. Whilst these have mostly been from areas in rural Hampshire where standard internet connections are unreliable and slow, 4G broadband is an excellent way of backing up your existing internet connection.

Why 4G broadband?

4G broadband is the idea solution to patchy, unreliable Openreach internet connections. It can also be an excellent back-up solution should your standard Wi-Fi connection go down or become unavailable.

4G signal is received via an external 4G antenna and emitted into your home through a 4G router using a sim based data plan.

Here at Geekabit, we have a 4G testing pole so that we can accurately estimate 4G internet speeds in your location before installing a new antenna and router.

How could 4G broadband help if my internet is affected by BT industrial action?

Our expert Wi-Fi engineers are skilled in providing 4G broadband services for hire. We are experienced in providing an ideal internet solution for scenarios such as building sites, TV filming and temporary cabins. It’s also a great interim option for people moving house and between service providers when they first move in to their new home.

This makes 4G broadband the perfect alternative if your internet was to be affected and your home-working situation compromised.

If you would like more information on our 4G broadband hire options, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our Wi-Fi experts here.

If you are already experiencing internet problems in a rural area, then 4G broadband may well be the answer. You may be interested in previous blogs we’ve written regarding this – Or for more information, please see our website.

 

You can read more details on the threat of BT industrial action via The Guardian.

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

Over the last year, we’ve been inundated with requests from people looking for a different and more reliable source of broadband service.

Many people are moving out of London into more rural areas and expecting the same internet connectivity as they would have in urban areas.

They soon realise that many parts of the countryside are suffering from a broadband deficit and there’s a connectivity imbalance across the countryside.

We’ve installed countless numbers of external 4G antennas and routers, effectively replacing the broadband through the telephone cable, with a data SIM card.

This simple solution has meant that people who couldn’t Zoom for work at home now can, children can do their schooling online through Google classroom and Teams, and the dreaded buffering of Netflix binging no longer happens.

Not only is this solution perfect for those at home, but it works excellently for temporary offices too, such as those in construction, archaeology and film and TV work.

We thought we would share a couple of case studies from some recent 4G installations that have seen a hugely positive affect on their connectivity since making the switch.

 

Case Study – A Rural Home in Bishops Waltham

Wi-Fi Issue: This charming rural home in Bishops Waltham struggled with only 2-3mb download speed and 0.5mb upload speed through their BT Openreach line. As the Director of a large London bank, this unreliable connection meant she couldn’t work from home.

Our 4G Broadband Solution: We installed a 4G antenna and router, and she’s now getting perfect 60mb download speeds with 20mb upload speeds. This means she then didn’t have to travel into London so often.

Case Study – A Garden Landscaping Company in New Alresford

Wi-Fi Issue: This garden landscaping company recently moved their office to a rural location without any internet or traditional phone line. Their new office was a converted shipping container which, as it is made of metal, meant that their phones wouldn’t work quite so well for internet speed.

Our 4G Broadband Solution: Our 4G external antenna solution means they now get 40mb download and 20mb upload speeds within their new office.

Case Study – A Large Metalwork Company in Rural Dorset

Wi-Fi Issue – This metalwork company was having trouble with 3-5mb download speeds and less than 1mb upload speeds. This was the maximum possible speed in their area. Having asked  BT Openreach to extend fibre to their premises, they found out it would not only have cost them hundreds of thousands of pounds, but also ruined a beautiful part of the countryside. (If you watch The Crown you may well have seen it!) The poor internet connection meant that contacting their London based clients over Zoom was very difficult, and often required them to do so from their home instead or office.

Our 4G Broadband Solution: Using our 4G router and external antenna, they now receive 70mb download speeds and 30mb upload speeds. This means they can now easily maintain contact with their clients without having to travel back to their homes for a good quality Zoom call. It also means they can employ more people onsite and increase employment in the local community without moving their office to a larger town.

 

If any of these problems seem familiar to you, whether it’s your home connection or business, perhaps now is the time to get in touch and let us see if we can help.

These 3 examples are just a handful of the successes we’ve seen from clients moving from a slow BT Openreach connection to a faster 4G broadband option.

 

How can you be sure that 4G broadband is the right option for you?

It’s okay to feel nervous, we understand how frustrating a slow connection can be. We can come and assess your property to see whether a 4G broadband option would be viable for you with our new 4G antenna testing pole. This bit of kit means we can get an accurate representation of how our 4G routers and eternal antennas can solve your broadband connectivity problems.

For more information on our 4G broadband service, head to our website. You can also get in touch with one of our Wi-Fi experts who will be happy to discuss your requirements.

 

Don’t let a slow BT Openreach connection hold you back. Whether it’s for Zoom calls to keep in touch with colleagues, WhatsApp video calls with friends and family, or nightly Netflix binges – You deserve a connection that doesn’t freeze, buffer or drop. Call in the Wi-Fi Experts today.

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

In this week’s blog we’re going to take a look at the new Wi-Fi 6 router from Ubiquiti – The AmpliFi Alien. With attractive performance features, this router could be great for a busy household working and learning from home as well as the intrepid gamer.

This Tri-Band Wi-Fi 6 router brings a revolutionary Wi-Fi 6 benefit into your home along with an elegant design.

What are the key features of the AmpliFi Alien?
  • Wi-Fi 6 compatible
  • It has a scalable mesh system. This is great for gamers! The Wi-Fi 6 standard Mesh system can easily cover any home, providing 4K/8K UHD streaming and online gaming to multiple users in any room
  • It has true Gigabit mesh
  • An 8×8 super antenna system
  • You could get up to 4 times your current network capacity (compared to an AmpliFi HD)
  • Boost your coverage by up to twice your current network (compared to an AmpliFi HD)
  • Reduce battery drain in mobile devices
  • It has 2.4/5 GHz Wi-Fi 6 and 5 GHz Wi-Fi 5 radios
  • From this single unit, they deliver a total capacity of 7685Mbps and 16 spatial streams
  • Build a virtually unlimited Wi-Fi capacity within your home by easily meshing multiple units over the air
  • It has a convenient touchscreen which displays the network status and provides instant controls
  • The AmpliFi Alien has a single Gigabit internet interface and internal power supply
  • It is integrated with a LAN switch with 4 Gigabit Ethernet ports
  • You can use Wi-Fi 6 for wireless connectivity and the LAN ports for local wired connectivity
  • It takes just one minute to set up using their easy-to-use app.

 

What performance features could make the AmpliFi Alien a good choice for remote working and home learning in a device heavy household?

There’s a lot of households across the UK that are suddenly finding themselves in a network nightmare at home. Families where both parents are working from home, plus multiple children doing home learning lead to multiple Zoom / Microsoft Teams / Google Meet video conferences all needing to happen at the same time. And this can cause some big issues with internet and Wi-Fi. The AmpliFi Alien has some performance features would be enticing for anyone currently in this predicament.

  • The Ubiquiti AmpliFi Alien is optimised to provide your home network with the highest possible performance – Irrespective of how many users or devices are connected at the same time
  • The AmpliFI Alien can eliminate dead spots and increase the total capacity in your home network by 4 times through utilising MU-MIMO and OFDMA for communication across 12 Wi-Fi 6 spatial streams
  • Got a video meeting you just cannot have interrupted by lag or loss of video? The AmpliFi Alien has 5Hz radio with Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) speeds which you can choose to dedicate to performance critical devices
  • Using the above features can help you to avoid competing for bandwidth with any other devices on your home network
Sounding good, but worried you don’t have the technical know-how to set something like this up?

The AmpliFi Alien comes with the AmpliFi App – A simple app that allows you to set up your network in just a minute. It’s user friendly yet full of controls and statistics to enable you to configure the AmpliFi Alien for your environment.

For more information and detailed specifications on the Ubiquiti AmpliFi Alien, head to their website.

What other products are in the Ubiquiti AmpliFi range?

The AmpliFi Alien is the latest router that Ubiquiti have added to their extensive range of Wi-Fi products. You can find out more about their range of products by heading to their website, plus see real-life reviews of how Ubiquiti AmpliFi products have changed home networks for the better including all the stats.

 

We don’t know about you, but we’re pretty excited to see the AmpliFi Alien in action!

 

 

4G Broadband and the Teltonika RUT950 Industrial Cellular Router

If you live in a rural area, you may know only too well how slow the BT Openreach service can be. And we all know how frustrating patchy Wi-Fi can be, especially when so many of us are currently relying on it for work, home learning and socialising.

We’ve had quite a few clients recently that have asked us to install 4G broadband as a more reliable alternative to the slow BT Openreach service they’ve had previously.

The really great thing about 4G broadband is that we can use our equipment to test whether it will work for you before fitting any kit.

It’s becoming a more popular choice for home Wi-Fi networks, so we thought we would share with you our top product for 4G broadband installations – The Teltonika RUT950 4G LTE Wi-Fi Dual-SIM Router.

 

What’s it all about?

Here’s where we’re going to get technical. To skip past the tech jargon, scroll to the next section where we explain why the Teltonika RUT950 is our preferred choice for 4G broadband installations.

This industrial cellular router can be used both as a backup in-case your normal broadband fails, or as your main internet source. It guarantees a reliable internet connection with high data throughout (the amount of successfully moved data, usually in Mbps) and data redundancy (permits the correction of errors).

Connectivity

  • 4G/LTE (Cat 4), 3G, 2G.

 

WAN Failover

  • Automatic switch to available backup connection.

 

Wi-Fi

  • Wireless Access Point with Hotspot functionality. This router can support upto 100 simultaneous connections. Perfect if you’re currently a family of 2 working parents sitting on Zoom calls with 2 teenagers needing to be on virtual lessons via Teams! You can also balance your internet traffic over multiple WAN connections.

 

Dual Sim

  • With auto failover, backup WAN and other switching scenarios. If one SIM has a weak signal, reaches its data limit, has no network or network is denied, the data connection fails, or the SIM becomes idle, the router will automatically switch to the other SIM to limit disruption to signal. Custom data limits can be set up for both SIMs.

 

Ethernet

  • X4 Ethernet interfaces with VLAN (Virtual LAN) functionality. Ethernet adaptions can come in really handy, especially at the moment when households are fighting over their connection.

 

RMS

  • Compatible with Teltonika remote management system, which makes for simple and secure monitoring by us, for you and your network.
  • RutOS is a unified operating system that works across all of the Teltonika Network routers. Being powered by RutOS makes this cellular router highly secure and easily customisable.

 

Security

  • Unlimited configuration and pre-configured firewalls. WPA2 Enterprise (Wi-Fi Protected Access – Still considered the gold standard for wireless network security). Attack prevention. Mobile quota control.

For more detailed information and the complete specification on the Teltonika RUT950 Industrial Cellular 4G LTE Wi-Fi Router, you can head to their website.

 

Why is this product our preferred choice?

This 4G router enables us to have remote access to the network. This means that should any problems arise, we can provide support to our clients from where we are, rather than having to go to their premises.

The Dual-SIM functionality means that there is a backup should one of them fail, giving the client resiliency and reliability.

The units are powered by an operating system called RuTOS. This interface, a little bit like the way you use your smartphone, means that the manufacturer can send through newsletters and updates when new features have been added to the operating system.

Essentially, it’s a really powerful bit of kit, and well trusted by our Wi-Fi experts and engineers.

If you are struggling with a slow BT Openreach connection and would like to find out more about 4G broadband, head to our website. Or you can give our Wi-Fi experts a call and we can chat through whether 4G would be a good option for you.

Optimise Your Home Network for Remote Learning and WFH

Got network issues at home? Haven’t we all. Suddenly the majority of households are relying on their Wi-Fi a lot more.

 

Many of us are now working from home – We’re sat on Microsoft Teams, Google Meet or Zoom. Video calls for work aren’t the only thing clogging up your network – Odds are you’ve also got children sitting on virtual lessons, learning remotely.

We’ve gone from using our broadband to stream movies, scroll social media, send some emails and play games to families all using the bandwidth at the same time for multiple video conferencing all at once. Plus all those leisure activities on top!

So what can we do about it?

Understand Your Bandwidth

Here’s a little metaphor for bandwidth, in case you’re not familiar. Imagine you’re drinking through a straw. If you’re slurping on a diet coke, then it’s a simple suck. If it’s a milkshake you’re drinking then you’re either going to need more suction, or a bigger straw. Coke is speedy, milkshare can be slow.

If you’re sending a quick text-based email, it won’t need much bandwidth. If you want to press play on a 4K video and watch it immediately, then you’re going to need a bit more bandwidth.

Right now, with Zooms and other video conferencing taking centre stage in our home networks, we’re needing both upload and download bandwidth. For effective video conferencing you need both upload and download bandwidth capacity (you’re watching and transmitting video at the same time so you need Mbps both up and down).

Try doing a speed test (upload and download). To handle 2 or 3 Zooms at once, you’ll need around 11Mbps upload speed. Yo can also talk to your ISP to check how much upload bandwidth you have on your current plan. .

What Is Your ISP Giving You?

The more capacity you have, the bigger your bill will be.

If you are really struggling with your network, then consider chceking your plan with your ISP, and if needed, upgrade it to include more upload bandwidth. It’s also worth noting that you should also make sure that your ISP is capable of delivering these bandwidth promises. Most speeds to vary and are rarely guaranteed.

You may also want to check whether your ISP is ‘throttling’ you. If you are using (or trying to use) too much data, they may be restricting how much milkshake gets through your straw by biting on the end of it. Sometimes there is the option to pay a fee to stop them throttling you.

QUICK TIPS
  • Check your plan with your ISP
  • Consider upgrading bandwidth, if possible
  • Check you’re not being throttled
  • Check if your ISP offer dedicated fibre lines to each house or whether it’s shared between a cluster of homes

What If You Can’t Upgrade Your Plan To Get More Bandwidth?

Sometimes it’s not as straight forward as just upgrading your plan. It may be too expensive, or it may not even be possible in your location. Thankfully there are some things you can control within your home.

Let’s think about the devices that may be taking up bandwidth, but may not be needed all the time.

  • Smartphones – If you’re working on a video call or doing remote learning, then you probably don’t need your phone. It’s always doing things in the background. Switch them to Airplane mode when they’re not being used, or you know there are several of you trying to use video.
  • Smart TV’s – Let’s face it, Netflix and productivity don’t really go hand-in-hand (unless your Toddler is watching it while you work!). Any TV’s that are not in use, need to be powered down (not in sleep mode).
  • Wi-Fi enabled smart devices – Our homes are full of these nowadays. Anything using WI-Fi and running in the background can be switched off to try and save as much bandwidth as possible.
QUICK TIPS
  • Create a video schedule for your family and try where possible to avoid conflicts (both online, and offline…)
  • Schedule back-ups and auto-updates for during sleep time
  • Ban Netflix etc at capacity-critical times

What if none of this helps much – What then?

Consider Getting Wired

There is another way to optimise your home network – And that’s to run wires with ethernet cables.

A wired connection is always going to provide you with more reliability. It’s usually faster than wireless too!

We’re not suggesting installing wires all over your house – The situation we find ourselves in currently is only temporary. But if you’re happy to run cables along your skirting boards for a couple of months then great!

QUICK TIPS
  • If you can work close to your router then you can keep costs down by using a simple and relatively short ethernet cable from router to laptop.
  • If there’s no improvement when wired in, consider checking if your router is working how it should be.

For more ways to troubleshoot Wi-Fi problems at home, check out our previous blogs. You might find these ones particularly helpful!

Troubleshooting Your Home Wi-Fi

When Should I Use an Ethernet Cable?

Common Wi-Fi Problems and How to Fix Them