Locations for BLE Beacons

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

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

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

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

Where can BLE beacons be placed?

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

Near to the Floor

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

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

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

On the Wall

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

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

On the Ceiling

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

The Complicated Bit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What does all this mean for BLE beacon placement?

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

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

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

What about aesthetic concerns?

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

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

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

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

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

Designing your beacon deployment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4.7 Stars

The Pros:

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

The Cons:

  • A bit pricey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3.8 Stars

The Pros:

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

The Cons:

  • Limited positioning options

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4.7 Stars

The Pros:

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

The Cons:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4 Stars

The Pros:

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

The Cons:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best Coverage: Ubiquiti Amplifi HD Mesh Wi-Fi System

3.7

The Pros:

  • Outstanding coverage
  • Very easy setup

The Cons:

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

How Do I Choose The Right Ubiquiti UniFi Access Point?

There are a few reliable staples in our Wi-Fi toolkit and one of them is the range of them is the range of kit by Ubiquiti UniFi. Their selection of access points are straightforward to match to our clients requirements due to their varying functionality and design.

We’re confident that their thoughtfully designed models will meet the needs of our clients and your end users. It couldn’t be easier to match specific user environments with optimal performance through the Ubiquiti UniFi range of access points and other pieces of Wi-Fi kit.

Our expert engineers can utilise the Ubiquiti UniFi range to make sure our clients are offered the ideal solution.

What does your business prioritise – Performance, design, aesthetics or network simplicity? Maybe one of these really stands out for you, or maybe your business needs a blend of them all.

Whatever your network needs, there is likely to be an Ubiquiti UniFi access point to match, each unique in what they can offer.

 

Hello Wi-Fi 6

UniFi have introduced Wi-Fi 6 technology through their range of UniFi 6 access points. You might like to check out the U6 Lite and U6 Long-Range if this peaks your interest.

These models (and the future U6 range) can support 300 devices on your network simultaneously, offering each of your end users a smooth, reliable wireless experience.

The UniFi 6 range use OFDMA technology, which means they can transfer high volumes of data across multiple devices more strategically, improving upload and download speeds.

 

Not fussed by the Wi-Fi 6 hype?

Don’t worry. Ubiquiti UniFi U6 access points might be the future, but their tried and tested models are still popular. Models like the UniFi HD and nanoHD still offer fantastic speed and range as well as consistently providing a strong signal to a large number of devices.

In the digital world that we find ourselves in, this is more important now than ever before.

The UniFi HD and nanoHD utilise integrated, directional antenna which increase coverage whilst only using minimal power. You can widen their coverage even further by mounting them to the ceiling, ensuring fast and stable connections, even in the busiest environments.

 

Want the tech but not the ugly design?

Ubiquiti UniFi are pros in combining technical prowess with designs that you will no longer want to hide in a cupboard.

If you have a bit of flair for design, or simply wish to align your Wi-Fi kit with the style of your space then the UniFi U6 access points could be a great choice for you. Not only can you change the exterior of certain models with varying skins (think wood effects, fabric and even camouflage) but you can also alter the colour of your U6 access point’s LED ring.

The perfect way to keep your Wi-Fi kit on-brand with your business.

 

Connect to more people by extending your Wi-Fi

The UniFi Mesh access point could be just what you’re looking for if you need to easily extend your WI-Fi signal to reach a larger area.

If you your aim is to enhance the reach of your signal or try to avoid dead zones, then all of the Ubiquiti UniFi access points can link to other access points in your office (or home). However, the Mesh access points are specifically designed to do just this.

If your business is a high traffic area, such as a hotel or museum, the Mesh access points are probably the solution you’ve been looking for.

If you’re imagining cumbersome equipment then think again! Many of UniFi’s mesh access points are compact as well as being easy to deploy. You can mount them to a wall, ceiling, place them on a tabletop or even mount them outside the property on a pole to improve the quality of the connection throughout your premises.

 

Plug and Play Wi-Fi Extenders 

We’re a generation of ‘plug and play’ – We just want something simple and easy that will just work. Ubiquiti UniFi’s Wi-Fi Extenders are just this, if you wanting to double the coverage in your area and improve the reach. All you have to do is plug them in and your Wi-Fi experience will be instantly improved.

If you’re wanting to extend your network with minimal extra power consumption, then these devices could be what you’re looking for, whilstalso supporting hundreds of simultaneous connections.

 

Connect to the crowds

It’s hard to imagine right now – Watching a football match, going to a gig, attending a festival. But these events will be making a comeback this summer, and with it the need to provide high-speed internet to A LOT of people.

Odds are that these audience members are going to want to livestream being back at such a big event – Hundreds of thousands of people all using their mobile devices at the same time.

What you need in this scenario is a hugely powerfully, high-capacity access point. The Ubiquiti UniFi WiFi Basestation XG is one of the world-leading Wi-Fi installations for large venues. It has the ability to support up to 1,500 device connections at a time. It also dynamically filters and evenly distributes traffic to avoid any channel congestion. With its directional beamforming antenna, it can maximise coverage.

 

Got more than one location?

If your business consists of more than one property over multiple premises, then you might be needing to bridge the networks between these buildings.

A large networking project such as this requires a Point-to-Point Bridge. These create multi-gigabit wireless links between 2 locations, up to 500 metres apart.

These devices are highly adaptive to your specific layout, using directional antennas to connect buildings with a strong link that go unobstructed.

Regardless of the building positioning, UniFi’s Point-to-Point Bridges could be your ideal solution if you’re wanting to connect a network over multiple properties within the conditions above.

 

So how do I choose the right Ubiquiti UniFi access point?

As this article has shown, whatever the scenario, there is a UniFi access point to match. These devices can ensure that your large network has enhanced wireless connectivity and your end user devices are supported.

U6 Lite and U6 Long Range – For when you want to utilise Wi-Fi 6

UniFi HD and nanoHD – The tried and tested models before the future of Wi-Fi 6 takes over

UniFi U6 – For those that have a flair for design and want to customise your Wi-Fi kit

UniFi Mesh – Extend your Wi-Fi and connect to more people

UniFi Wi-Fi Extender – Extend your network with a ‘plug and play’ bit of kit with minimal power consumption

UniFi WiFI Basestation XG – High powered for large venues and big crowds

UniFI Point to Point Bridge – Connecting multiple premises within 500m of each other

To see how Ubiquiti Unifi access points could improve your wireless experience, get in touch with us today.

You can find out more on their website: https://blog.ui.com/2021/02/19/how-will-you-connect-a-guide-for-choosing-the-right-unifi-access-point/

 

Wi-Fi Predictive Surveys, Heatmaps and Why It’s Important

What is a Wi-Fi Survey and why do you need one?

Well, the simple answer is that it is the foundation for any professional and effective Wi-Fi installation. It takes an expert in the Wi-Fi field to get it right, and it acts as the start of any wireless LAN design.

If you’re thinking that a Wi-Fi predictive survey is something we have saved and just fire out by email to all of our prospective clients, you would be wrong.

It’s not a one-size-fits-all, and is very much tailored to each unique client and their environment.

So where do we start?

The first stage in Wi-Fi design is a predictive survey.

At this stage, the walls are drawn in on the maps and the AP’s (access points) are placed.

A prediction is then made via a Wi-Fi heatmap that shows the projected coverage based on the walls of your premises and the placement of the AP’s. This can then be communicated to you in a report.

 

What’s a Wi-Fi heatmap? 

A Wi-Fi Heatmap is a visual representation of the way radio frequency (RF) power is broadcasted.

The ‘hottest’ areas, where the Wi-Fi strength is the strongest, is seen on the map in blue. It gradually bleeds out into light green.

Wi-Fi heatmaps demonstrate how our model will allow consistent levels of RF power from each AP to the end users. There are no grey areas on the map – Any areas identified as ‘grey’ and therefore not receiving a consistent level of RF power would be rectified prior to presentation to the client.

One of the main outputs from a predictive survey is a Wi-Fi Heatmaps – They are an excellent tool for illustrating how successful our Wi-Fi design and model will be.

Once this stage is completed, you would be provided with a custom report on your individual environment, including any Wi-Fi heatmaps as well as analysis of any possible issues we might encounter.

 

How can we be confident that a computer model is accurate?

A pre-install survey also complements this stage by carrying out onsite tests with an AP. This enables us as the Wi-Fi designer to test the building fabric and check that our model of your environment (in the predictive survey) is going to work. If any adjustments need to be made, e.g. if some walls are thicker than others, these can then be made in the predictive model.

After both these surveys have been carried out, we can then be confident that the model is ready for installation and any cabling can be put in.

 

Why carry out a Wi-Fi survey with Geekabit?

Here at Geekabit, our Wi-Fi experts and engineers have the experience and knowledge to identify the needs of your wireless network and design the best option to meet them.

  • Every network and environment is different – Knowledge, expertise and experience is necessary to identify any issues on site and design a wireless network that will be reliable and effective.
  • We are meticulous and methodical in our approach, ensuring that our design and model will meet your needs and satisfy end users.
  • We don’t advertise our services and rely on word of mouth. This means we will always go above and beyond to make sure our clients are happy.

If your Wi-Fi isn’t currently up to scratch then a Wi-Fi survey might be your best option and prove a worthy investment. The only way to ensure a reliable wireless network that supports your business operations is to design it to your unique specification.

You might be wondering why you can’t just get a copy of the design software and design it yourself. If you have the knowledge and expertise that might well be an option, however as you’ve landed on this blog asking why you need a Wi-Fi site survey then it may be a fair estimate that you’d be better off leaving it to the experts.

It’s not just about inputting information into a computer and getting the perfect model out. A we said above, the predictive survey is best done alongside the pre-install survey where this model is tested and if needed, refined. These surveys together ensure that a computer model will work in the real world.

Want to call in the experts for your Wi-Fi survey?

You’ve come to the right place. Here at Geekabit our Wi-Fi experts have the knowledge and experience to help you to design your Wi-Fi network for the best coverage possible.

Don’t put up with sub-par Wi-Fi any longer and get in touch today.

 

New Remote Support Service and Cloud Hosted Ubiquiti Controller

Looking for a remote support service for your Wi-Fi needs? Interested in the benefits of a Ubiquiti UniFi Controller but don’t want the on-premise device?

Here at Geekabit we are pleased to announce some new services to our Wi-Fi repertoire. We are now offering remote support options as well as Geekabit-Cloud hosted Ubiquiti UniFi Controllers. Remote support will be provided both through a reactive service and a proactive monthly plan. We also offer cloud hosted Ubiquiti UniFi Controllers to negate the requirement for a Cloud Key or constantly connected on-premise device.

For more information on both of these services, read on.

 

Remote Support

When you have a hosted Ubiquiti Controller, or can provide access via remote desktop, we can diagnose many issues with your network without having to visit your business or home.

This enables quicker diagnostics, as well as potentially quicker resolution depending on the issue.

 

Geekabit-Cloud Hosted Ubiquiti UniFi Controller

 Use the Geekabit-Cloud to host your Ubiquiti UniFi Controller and you can take advantage of the following benefits:

  • There is no need to have an on-premise device attached
  • There is no need to invest in, and maintain, a legacy Ubiquiti Cloud Key or Cloud Key Gen2
  • It will be automatically upgraded with the latest controller software
  • It is a fully managed and automated server with https SSL certificate
  • You will have full remote access to the Ubiquiti UniFi Controller from anywhere
  • We charge a small amount per month as opposed to the initial large investment in hardware

 

Proactive Monthly Plan

 As part of our monthly plan, you can enjoy the following services:

  • We constantly monitor your Ubiquiti UniFi devices for downtime, current data usage, traffic usage and latency issues
  • We check for access points and other UniFi devices dropping out or disappearing
  • We check for created alarms
  • We check for number of connected clients on each AP and whether this is too many for optimum performance
  • We check for when there is an update to the firmware available on devices
  • We check the number of guests attached to the network
  • All of the above actions produce a notification which can then be sent via email or Slack to your defined administrators
  • You can then choose to have daily, weekly or monthly PDF reports sent you via email

If you would like more information on our monthly plan and the above new services of Remote Support and a Geekabit-Cloud Hosted Ubiquiti UniFi Controller, get in touch with us today.

How Can Wi-Fi Help Businesses Survive Covid-19 – A Case Study

 

Let’s be honest – Covid-19 has a lot to answer for. Not only has it stopped many businesses in their tracks, but it’s also altered the way in which these businesses can get back to work due to social distancing.

 

The amazing thing about all of this, however, is the resilience and innovation shown by these businesses – Determined to make necessary changes and come through this pandemic in a strong position.

 

We’ve worked with a client over the past few weeks who are the perfect example of exactly this. They knew what they needed in order to weather the Covid-19 storm, and we had the Wi-Fi expertise to find the solution to their problem.

 

The Client:

 

The Colour Factory are a hub of 6 professional artists who work together out of a studio in Winchester. They have a vibrant programme of art courses run by these resident artists, producing imaginative community and educational projects.

 

 

Client Issue:

 

Their current internet was a poor BT connection where broadband upload speeds barely made 1Mbps.

 

Due to social distancing regulations, they were unable to continue offering art tutorials in person, and therefore needed to move these onto Zoom. In order for these to work well, they would need 2.5Mbps per tutorial.

 

With 6 artists, possibly all working at one time, they needed a reliable and stable upload capability of at least 15Mbps.

 

Geekabit Solution:

 

We knew that a 4G service would be a strong option for their location. We installed and set up a 4G antenna, providing a strong Wi-Fi signal that enabled their artists to broadcast Zooms across their 1000m2 campus.

 

It was also important for them as a business to keep their well-established landline number. We were able to maintain this via a 3rd party partner who carried the number across to the same 4G service.

 

The Results:

 

They are now getting a 95% perfect signal from their local telecoms antenna.

 

In the client’s own words – “The experience you brought to the problem has saved The Colour Factory this year! Now the stage is set for The Colour Factory to master the new challenges of socially distanced zoom workshops.”

 

If your business is relying on strong, reliable Wi-Fi to come out of this pandemic still standing, then get in touch with one our Wi-Fi experts today.

 

Brazil: “Wi-Fi 6 is an alternative to 5G”

Will Wi-Fi 6 be an alternative to 5G?

Brazilian telecoms regulator ANATEL certainly thinks so. In May, Brazil started taking steps towards making the full 6 GHz band available for release for unlicensed use. Last month they said in an interview that the 6 GHz band in particular will be an alternative to 5G.

In April the Federal Communications Commission (an agency in the US that regulates radio, tv, wire, satellite and cable communication across the United States) released 1.2 GHz of new spectrum to Wi-Fi in the 6 GHz which spurred on international momentum for 6 GHz Wi-Fi. And now, Brazil l become only the second country to follow in the US’ footsteps.

Brazilian regulator Anatel is showing strong support for Wi-Fi 6 and the case for 6 GHz Wi-Fi, and are quoted as saying

“Wi-Fi 6 can potentially become an alternative to 5G – Wi-Fi is the most popular way to access the internet and it is the most democratic way of bridging the digital gap in Brazil.”

Over the next couple of months, it is expected that the next regulatory step will be made by issuing a document with proposed technical conditions for releasing the 6 GHz Wi-Fi band. Reports state that it’s unlikely a final decision will be made on 6 GHz Wi-Fi before 2021.

What about the UK?

It is entirely possible that the UK and other parts of Europe will release parts of the 6 GHz band to Wi-Fi before then – In particular the lower 500MHz part of the spectrum.

However, Brazil will still be only the second country to release the full 1.2 GHz of spectrum.

Brazil has a population of approximately 210 million, so if telecoms regulator Anatel make a positive decision then the market for 6 GHz Wi-Fi could exceed the current US market by about 25-30%.

Brazil currently ranks fifth in the world for internet users:

  • 150 million Brazilians are active online
  • 30 million fixed broadband connections (which is less than 50% of households)

Wi-Fi 6 as an alternative to 5G? Definitely watch this space.

 

How many access points do I need and what type?

The world might have changed, but the demand for Wi-Fi hasn’t. If anything, the demand is even higher! And if you want a happy workforce when they return (if they haven’t already), or satisfied guests and customers, then you’re going to need fast and reliable Wi-Fi.

People tend to link the impression and success of a brand or business to how well their Wi-Fi works, and employees don’t want to return from working from home to find that the office Wi-Fi is worse than at home. Now is so not the time to have unreliable, patchy Wi-Fi.

Does your wireless system need deploying, or upgrading?

This can be a daunting task if you’re not sure what you need or what you’re doing. You may just decide to call in the experts (our Wi-Fi engineers work out of London, Hampshire and Cardiff, just FYI) or you may decide to work it out yourself. In which case, you’ll probably read on.

Wireless networks are a system of products that rely on one another in order to be successful. You might have one really great product, but that’s not going to do you much good if the rest are sub-par. The most successful wireless systems consist of having all of the right components, working seamlessly together.

One of the most common questions our Wi-Fi experts are asked (apart from ‘how do I get my Wi-Fi to the garden’ – lockdown life) is what is an access point, what type do I need, and how many?

Unfortunately, if you’re going for this alone, there’s not a ‘one solution fits all’ answer to this, but we’ll try and outline the most beneficial information as possible. At the end of the day, we want the best result possible for your end users – Whether it’s your employees or customers.

  1. How many end-users can each Access Point support?

Firstly, there are different types of access points – The ones you use at home are different from those you would use in a business setting. Enterprise grade AP’s are what we would use for non-residential settings. As well as providing higher client thresholds, they also offer other capabilities such as intrusion detection and prevention, spectrum analysis and load balancing.

These types of AP’s can thus handle more devices, provide security and make performance adjustments in real-time.

It’s important to look at the design of an AP, as there are unfortunately many that are now outdated. A lot were created for coverage as the most important factor, however since then people have started to carry multiple devices at any one time. With 2-3 devices per person, an AP’s ability to handle many devices impacts how your network performs.

When planning your wireless system, it is essential you plan for capacity – BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and the IoT (Internet of Things) means that there is an ever-increasing number of devices that will try to connect to your network.

  1. What type of access points do I need?

When shopping for devices, you will find there are literally hundreds in use that are AC certified. All of these devices would benefit from wave 2 AC access point deployment.

This type of AP are a great choice due to their increased reliability, faster speeds and better support for high density areas.

Just in case you are wondering what the different is between wave 2 AP’s and wave 1, wave 2 have 3 other main features, other than speed.

  • MU-MIMO
  • 4 spatial or data streams
  • 160 MHz channels

That’s really interesting, but what does it mean for your business? Well, with the right design in place (did we mention that our Wi-Fi engineers have expertise in Wi-Fi surveys, design, and installation?) wave 2 AP’s can offer better performance whilst actually using few access points. This helps boost productivity, efficiency and user satisfaction. All of which should be top of your list at the moment for getting your business successfully back on it’s feet.

There are, of course, many additional factors that can impact the performance of your new access points – If something still isn’t quite right once your deployed your network or upgraded devices, give our experts in London, Hampshire or Cardiff a call.

  1. How many access points do I need?

Unfortunately many people think that Wi-Fi problems will be solved by adding more access points – But too many AP’s can actually be as bad (possibly even worse) than not having enough.

The number and placement of access points is dependent on the environment and WLAN design. You don’t want an under-engineered design but you also don’t want one that’s over-engineered. You’re the Goldilocks of the Wi-Fi world, and you want your network just right.

You might have already found yourself some free software that boasts DIY network design – But be careful! Without the Wi-Fi expertise of an experienced engineer, it can be difficult to get it just right even with software to guide you. Design is important, so do get in touch if you run into difficulties.

So what’s next?

Wi-Fi has become as important to us as electricity. We rely on it and take it for granted – And just like a light that won’t switch on, we really notice when it’s not there or flickering on and off.

Whether you are about to deploy a new wireless network, or are upgrading your current one – your access points will play a huge part in how successful it is. You don’t want frustrated end-users – Whether they are employees or clients. This all comes down to how well your wireless network has been designed. For Geekabit’s expert advice from our experienced engineers, get in touch today – We can survey, design and install reliable and secure Wi-Fi networks for your business.

What’s new in the world of Wi-Fi: Smart Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi 6 and Cloud Management

The Wi-Fi world is always a-buzz with new technology – Just because the whole globe seems to have been at a standstill, doesn’t mean that developments aren’t still being made.

The last couple of weeks we’ve seen a steady stream of reductions in lockdown restrictions meaning more and more businesses are returning to normal (albeit a somewhat ‘new normal).

Here at Geekabit we are certainly picking up the pace and starting to get back to regular work from our bases in Hampshire, London and Cardiff. The UK is waking up and our Wi-Fi experts and engineers are ready for it.

We make it our business to keep up with what’s new in the world of Wi-Fi so here’s a quick overview of a few of the latest announcements when it comes to Smart Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi 6 and cloud management applications.

  1. EE launches 3 new hardware units as part of ‘Smart WiFI’ service in the UK

Telecommunications giant EE have released their ‘Smart WiFi’ service through new affordable router and extendable discs. Although not Wi-Fi 6 compatible, the range includes a portable ‘4GEE WiFi mini’ unit which provides Wi-Fi services through EE’s 4G network.

The choice to keep this newest offering affordable means staying at Wi-Fi 5 rather than moving to Wi-Fi 6, but does mean it only costs £10 per month for 18 months, for all 3 hardware units.

  1. Spain’s first Wi-Fi 6 product launches from Telefonica

Last week Telefonica released their ‘Smart WiFi Amplifier’ which is Wi-Fi 6 capable – Their first Wi-Fi 6 product, as well as the first of its kind in Spain. This cleverly designed little unit can double up as either your primary AP (by using your Telefonica home gateway to load the existing network configuration) or as a repeater to extend Wi-Fi coverage to all areas of your home.

In their press release, Telefonica explained how the unit will deliver up to 4 Gbps (which is 5 times the speed of previous generation Wi-Fi) as well as offering 30% better coverage.

  1. RUCKUS Cloud management platform released from CommScope

There might not be much going on in the enterprise Wi-Fi world what with everyone largely still working from home, but that doesn’t mean that developments can’t still be made. CommScope (also known as Ruckus) have launched their new Cloud management platform for enterprise and carrier Wi-Fi.

The newly released RUCKUS Cloud is an AI-enabled platform for Wi-Fi network management by managed service providers and enterprises. It provides network health monitoring, remote client troubleshooting, AI-based analytics and much more by supporting both wired and wireless infrastructure.

 

You might be asking if you need any of these? Especially if you’re getting your business back on it’s feet, and don’t want patchy Wi-Fi to let you down at this crucial moment of bouncing back. Our expert Wi-Fi engineers cover the UK out of London, Hampshire and Cardiff – Get in touch with us today for any Wi-Fi issues you may be experiencing.

 

 

Image from EE.

How do I get Wi-Fi in my garden?

Maybe you’re working from home and desperate to soak up some sunshine (between thunderstorms) whilst typing away on your laptop. Or perhaps you’re escaping the chaos of family life by working from the garden shed. Either way, you might struggle to keep your connection stable on a Zoom call trying to use your existing Wi-Fi outside.

Here are our top tips for getting reliable Wi-Fi in your garden, without stealing your neighbours (you’ve still got their password from last years BBQ haven’t you?)

  1. Access Point
    Our first recommendation would be to run an ethernet cable out to the garden area and install a new access point. There are other options (see below) but this would always be our preference and recommendation when being asked how to get Wi-Fi in your garden.

    2. Is your router in the best place?

You could also try moving your existing router. If it’s situated at the front of the house, perhaps in the front room by your smart TV or telephone, then it’s likely that it’s signal won’t reach your back garden. Consider where you access the internet the most, and whether you could move your router to a different location that would work for both the house and the garden.

3. Extending your Wi-Fi range with a repeater

If the range of your router won’t reach the garden from a suitable location inside the house, then there are ways you can extend it. A repeater is one possible solution.

By placing a repeater in range of the garden, you can make your Wi-Fi go further. It’s cost effective and easy to configure, but works by mimicking your existing network and creating a new one. This means you would have to manually change the connection on your device when you move between the garden and the house. This option can also half your bandwidth, resulting in slower internet speeds.

4. Extending your Wi-Fi range with an extender

By using an extender, you can extend the range of your router by plugging it in at a position where it will provide coverage to your garden. An extender is cabled and takes internet signal direct from the router and emits it from a better location. Despite being slightly more expensive and a bit more complicated to configure than the repeater, our resident Wi-Fi expert says, “one of the biggest benefits of an extender is that it is connected using a wired connection, so there is no need of a wireless signal to operate it. This also means that the bandwidth stays at its full potential.”

5. Mobile Tethering

If your smartphone has good reception outside, then you can use its Wi-Fi hotspot and tether that to your laptop or other device to use its connection. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that the data you use will come off your monthly allowance, and if you go over it can be rather a costly mistake.

So there you go, some of our top tips on how to get Wi-Fi in your garden so you can enjoy the summer sun whilst working from home!

If you’ve tried these options and still no joy, don’t be afraid to call in the experts!