BDUK Government Scheme for Superfast Broadband

Since 2013, the Government’s £1.7bn publicly funded Broadband Delivery UK scheme has helped to extend “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) networks to 5,076,552 extra premises.

If you’re not familiar with the scheme, Building Digital UK (BDUK), part of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, has been delivering superfast broadband and local full fibre networks to the nation.

The government has:

  • supported investment to provide superfast broadband coverage to as many premises as possible beyond the 95% level achieved in December 2017
  • introduced a broadband Universal Service Obligation so that by 2020 everyone across the UK will have a clear, enforceable right to request high speed broadband
  • provided access to basic broadband (2Mbps) for all for those who do not currently have coverage otherwise
  • supported the stimulation of private investment in full fibre connections through a programme that is currently funded through to March 2021
Superfast Broadband Programme

For over 96% of UK premises, the government has ensured superfast broadband (speeds of 24Mbps or more) coverage. It has also provided universal access to basic broadband (speeds of at least 2Mbps).

If you would like to check whether superfast broadband is available in your area, you can use the superfast broadband postcode checker. To find out more details about what is happening in your local area try using their Google Map.

Do you have broadband access which is less than 2Mbps? If so, you can find out what options are available to you using the Basic Broadband Scheme site.

If you would like more information on the government’s approach to delivering superfast broadband and what is available, have a read of the UK Next Generation Network Infrastructure Deployment Plan.

Rural Gigabit Connectivity Programme

It was identified by The Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review, published in July 2018, that approximately 10% of UK premises, largely in rural and remote locations, would be unlikely to receive gigabit capable (full fibre) connections by 2033. In May of this year, the Rural Gigabit Connectivity (RGC) programme commenced and will run until the end of March 2021.

To ensure that the final 10% of premises are addressed at the same pace of the rest of the UK, the RGC programme takes the the first step of the “Outside In” approach.

Additional funding for Welsh Premises

What with our Director’s wife being Welsh, and having experienced rural Welsh Wi-Fi for myself whilst on holiday over the summer, it interested us to know that from March of this year, businesses and residents in Wales are eligible for additional funding from the Welsh Government towards the cost of installing gigabit capable broadband to their premises when part of a group project.

For small and medium-sized businesses (SME), the Welsh Government will pay up to an additional £3,000 as well as up to £300 more per resident in order to help connect harder to reach places in Wales.

The eligibility rules (and the scheme terms and conditions) are the same as for the rest of the UK – you can check if you are eligible and then look up a supplier in your area through the postcode search.

For funding towards resident-only broadband connections you can visit Access Broadband Cymru. For more information on the Welsh Gigabit Voucher Scheme see https://gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk/wales/.

BDUK Phases and Take Up

The take up figures reflect the percentage of homes and businesses that have chosen to sign-up with a superfast broadband network (delivered via FTTCFTTP “full fibre” or Fixed Wireless Access), specifically those which have been delivered via support from the BDUK programme (i.e. % subscribed of premises passed).

At present this data is split between the first two phases of the programme and some related phase 2 extension contracts. Phase 1 was broadly dominated by Openreach’s (BT) contracts, while the on-going Phase 2 contracts have attracted a mix of extension deals alongside BT and several alternative network providers.

BDUK Phase 1 (Finished Spring 2016)

Supported by £530m of public money via the Government (mostly extracted from a small slice of the BBC TV Licence fee), as well as significant match funding from local authorities and the EU. The public funding is then roughly matched by BT’s private investment. Overall it helped to extend “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) services to cover 90% of homes and businesses in the United Kingdom.

Overall 55.25% of premises have adopted the new service (up from 52.4% in September 2018).

BDUK Phase 2 (Technically on-going)

Supported by £250m of public money via the Government, as well as match funding from local authorities, Local Growth Deals and private investment from suppliers (e.g. BT, GigaclearAirband, Call Flow etc.). This phase extended superfast broadband services to 95% of premises in time for the end of 2017, although some contracts are on-going until c.2020 and will reach beyond 95%.

So far in this phase an overall total of 39.59% (up from 35.7% in September 2018) of premises have adopted the new service and some projects have yet to report.

bduk impact march 2019

Factors affecting deployment

There are many and varying factors that could affect the % of take up.

  • Earlier phases of the roll-out were easier and faster to deploy, so you could expect to see a bit of a yo-yo movement with the take-up % sometimes falling if lots of new areas were suddenly covered.
  • Some contracts are in younger stages than others and hence will take time to catch-up.
  • As it reaches more remote rural areas, BDUK’s roll-out pace has slowed, which will in turn give take-up a chance to climb.
  • Higher prices for related “fibre” services
  • Customers being locked into long contracts with their existing ISP meaning they are not able to immediately upgrade
  • A lack of general awareness about the existence of faster services
  • A lack of interest in the new connectivity e.g. if you have a decent ADSL2+ speed and only basic needs then you might not feel as inclined to upgrade
  • There may be a fear of switching to a different ISP
  • The new service may run out of capacity if the demand is higher than expected. This would mean that those who do want to upgrade could be prevented from doing so until the problem is

For more information on the BDUK Superfast Broadband scheme you can check out this website https://www.gov.uk/guidance/building-digital-uk.

Why 5G Won’t Replace Wi-Fi

Whether we’re in the home, on the street or sat at work, the broadband we enjoy is constantly evolving and improving. From the days of dial-up through to broadband, LAN to wireless and 2G to 4G, we’ve always been moving in one, upward direction.

With the need, and indeed expectation, for faster internet comes a drive for big improvements in download speeds, software and hardware all around the globe. These developments for quicker, more reliable internet are not something that will be slowing down any time soon.

Which brings us on to one of the next big developments – 5G. The next generation in mobile broadband and set to take off where 4G has left off. Promising faster downloads and bigger bandwidth for all us smartphone addicts, 5G is set to launch this year.

With the potential promise to transform mobile internet, there may be one question going through your mind – Will 5G replace Wi-Fi?

The simple answer is no. As to why…

Wi-Fi is Wherever You Go

We’ve already said that there isn’t just a need for internet connection, but an expectation for it to be available (and usually, for it to be free). Whether it’s a public Wi-Fi network or private, free or not, Wi-Fi is extremely commonplace and more often found t obe present than not. Globally, Wi-Fi is one of the most common protocols to be found anywhere and everywhere.

There isn’t much nowadays that doesn’t connect to Wi-Fi. The watch on your wrist, the phone in your pocket, the tablet in your bag, the laptop in your briefcase. Most of these devices automatically seek and connect to any available Wi-Fi network.

And it’s not just personal devices. In your home, your heating, lighting, cooker, fridge, and probably even your television are all connected to your network so you can control them remotely or via a home hub.

And here lies the reason that 5G cannot replace Wi-Fi. The way 5G is installed means that it needs specific hardware to be able to connect. Therefore, it can’t be replacing Wi-Fi in homes and business all over the globe.

Last year, over half of the world’s internet traffic was carried over Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi is extremely important, relied upon and isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. And the Wi-Fi Alliance would agree. (Of course they would, it’s their standard).

It’s Not Just Mobile Broadband That’s Improving – There’s Wi-Fi 6 & WiGig Too

Mobile internet such as 4G isn’t the only thing to be getting an upgrade. If you’ve heard of the approach of 5G then you’ve probably also come across Wi-Fi 6 (or 802.11ax) which is also on its way.

Just like 5G, Wi-Fi 6 is promising a whole host of improvements which change the fundamentals of Wi-Fi and greatly improve the user experience. As with 5G, new compatible hardware will need to be purchased in order to utilise the new features

The great thing about Wi-Fi 6 however, is that no device will be left behind. The features will have backward compatibility meaning that Wi-Fi 6 hardware and devices will also work with previous Wi-Fi standards.

Benefits of the new feature will be flexible channel sizes to enable smart network management, support for the 6GHz spectrum, multi-user MMO uplink and downlink plus so much more.

The second generation WiGig standard, IEEE 802.11ay, is expected to be published this year. The next generation WiGig, also known as 60GHz Wi-Fi, will see it’s main improvements in speeds rivalling 5G of 10GB per second

The Impracticalities of Mobile Internet

If you had the choice to connect to Wi-Fi (safely) or use mobile internet, which would you choose? I think the overwhelming response to that question would be connect to Wi-Fi – The thought of having to rely solely on mobile internet is a little uncomfortable. If the option is there, then Wi-Fi will always win and that’s yet another reason why 5G won’t be replacing it.

Impracticality #1. The nature of mobile broadband like 4G or 5G is that customers are tied into long-term contracts and that’s not something that will change. Coupled with this, these customers will also have strict limits on how much data they will be able to use. This will be one of the reasons as to why the answer to our question above will often be Wi-Fi.

Impracticality #2. 5G internet relies upon frequencies that find it difficult to penetrate buildings. They also don’t travel very far. This is therefore a bit of a problem for internal use, making Wi-Fi a much more preferable choice

There is no doubt that 5G will indeed revolutionise mobile broadband, but due to the facts we’ve spoken about above, it won’t be replacing our beloved Wi-Fi.

 

Ubiquiti UniFi – What are Mesh and Mesh Pro Models?

What is Mesh and what is it used for?

Essentially, Mesh is a grid of access points that are all aware of each other and connected together. They are intelligent which means that if one goes down, the other access points automatically re-connect and continue to talk to each other meaning that they can still route traffic.

Mesh is really useful for situations where you have to cover a large area but there is only one physical internet connection. The access points cover the area wirelessly creating a mesh network that keeps the entire area covered.

It is worth noting that if it is possible to use a wired connection through an ethernet cable, then that would be the better option as it will have a superior performance over a wireless mesh uplink.

 

How to arrange Ubiquiti Constituent Parts

If you’re wondering what the interrelated Ubiquiti parts are and how they fit together, then read on. Remember that you will always need a router to do the routing in your network – UniFi Mesh access points are not routers.

You’ll see below that we’ve listed all Ubiquiti equipment. This isn’t essential, you don’t need to use Ubiquiti equipment for all devices, but if you do it offers the highest compatibility and scalability.

  • Access points: UniFi Meshor UniFi Mesh PRO
  • Router: UniFi Security Gatewayor UniFi Security Gateway PRO. The PRO version, as hinted in the name, has more functions and is more powerful. E.g. multiple LAN and WAN ports as well as SFP (Small Form-factor Pluggable) ports for fibre modules.
  • Switch(optional if needed): 8-Port UniFi Gigabit Switch
  • UniFi Controller: To be able to configure all of the above UniFi devices, you will need to download UniFi Controller onto a computer or tablet. This is a free software solution that will enable you to configure and manage all of the UniFi devices in your network. If you would like to observe and log all of the network statistics then the computer will need to be running all the time. If this feels a little daunting, then Ubiquiti sells a UniFi Cloud Keyfor this exact purpose. It is a small computer with a UniFi Controller installed on it which can be connected and running all of the time.

 

 

A real world example

Imagine you are hosting an outdoor event, like a festival themed wedding. You want guests to be able to #hashtag your wedding moment by moment, but you’ve picked an outside venue with little mobile reception. You have one wired connection available, and the rest need to be wireless across the entire area to provide seamless coverage.

The devices you could use are:

  • 1x UniFi Security Gateway PRO (multiple LAN and WAN ports)
  • 4x UniFi Mesh PRO (access points to match the gateway; MAIN, 1, 2 and 3)
  • UniFi Cloud Key (to enable configuration and provide network statistics)

The location where you are able to set up a wired connection would be your MAIN location, where you could connect a UniFi Security Gateway with one physically connected UniFi Mesh Pro access point. The remaining 3 access points would be connected wirelessly to the main Mesh Pro device.

Remember! Mesh devices all work on a 5GHz and 2.4GHz frequency. UniFi Mesh technology works exclusively on 5GHz for wireless uplink, so it’s best to keep this frequency solely for this purpose, and then use 2.4GHz for clients devices (e.g. phones, tablets, laptops etc). If you do it this way, the 5GHz uplinks won’t get overloaded by client devices.

With this set up you should be able to achieve good overall performance, with roaming between access points working seamlessly. Wedding hashtag saved!

You will see that on the devices that they say the coverage is anything up to 180m. It’s a good idea to err on the side of caution with this, and not stretch it to it’s limit. This will help make sure you don’t encounter potential range issues.

With devices that use small antenna like smartphones and tablets, you have to remember that they’re not as powerful. They can receive signal well, but can struggle when transmitting back to the access point. To try and avoid any performance issues because of this, don’t push the coverage range and keep the distance between Mesh devices around 100 metres.

Remember! We mentioned about channels above. You need to also make sure that you’re not getting overlaps on your 2.4GHz channel. If you stop this from happening, you can reduce if not eliminate any access point interference.

Here is an example of what channels you could use to avoid any interference issues:

  • Mesh device 1 – Channel 1
  • Mesh device 2 – Channel 11
  • Mesh device 3: Channel 1

We hope you found this blog helpful.

For more information on how Ubiquiti UniFi devices could help your network – Whether it be business, home or event – Please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Our Wi-Fi experts work out of Hampshire, London and Cardiff and are ready to help with your Wi-Fi woes.

Contact us here.

 

 

 

With thanks to https://www.ui.com/unifi/unifi-mesh-antenna/ for the image.

MiMo Technology – What is it and why do I need to know about it?

If you are planning on using an external antenna for your LTE broadband connection then MiMo Technology might be something to consider looking into first.

There are many factors that could affect your LTE broadband when using an external antenna, and MiMo is one of them.

If you’re already using an external antenna for LTE broadband and are experiencing lower download speeds than you thought, then read on. It might be just a case of poor reception, but there could be other factors too.

What is MiMo Technology?

MiMo means multiple in/ multiple out.

LTE is a multi-stream radio service so uses MiMo technology. Another example of MiMo Technology is 11n Wi-Fi.

One of the improvements in performance that you get from LTE is that it uses multiple data streams to and from the end client. The more streams of data that the client can take, the faster the broadband, just like 11n Wi-Fi.

The terminology used for MiMo as in 11n Wi-Fi is TxR, where T expresses the number of streams being transmitted, and R is the number of streams that can be received over the connection.

So, for example, if something supports 2×2 streams, then it can support twice the upload and download speed of a 1×1 device.

LTE offers devices from 1×1 up to 8×8, with mixtures in between.

For each radio stream, a client device needs to have an antenna. So for a 1×1 device, you would just need one antenna. To support a 2×2 service, you would need two antenna, etc.

This means that the number of streams a single connection can support depends on the capabilities of the service providers masts and the radio capabilities of the client device.

Just 5 years ago, you would have just seen LTE dongles and routers being supplied as 1×1 devices. Now however, tech has moved on (as always) and almost all dongles, phones and routers now support dual stream capabilities.

 

So if you are planning on using an external antenna for your LTE broadband connection then make sure that the number of antenna you have supports the TxR for your device(s), and also that the mast can support the number of antenna that you need.

Do You Offer Friendly Wi-Fi?

Have you heard of Friendly Wi-Fi? If not, then you are bound to start seeing their logo around soon.

Wi-Fi is quite literally everywhere you go – Not just a ‘nice to have’ but an expectation, wherever you are. The Friendly Wi-Fi symbol lets you know that the public Wi-Fi being provided has the necessary safety filters to protect people from harmful online content, especially young people.

Providers that proudly show the Friendly Wi-Fi symbol are showing that they care about your online experience. Most providers will already filter to a certain standard, but once they have been approved by Friendly Wi-Fi, you know that their service is enough to block pornography, child sex abuse images and videos and any web pages known to the Internet Watch Foundation.

Initially by the government, this safe certification standard for areas of public Wi-Fi is especially useful where children are present.

At home, you can put all of your security measures in place to make sure that the young people of your household cannot access inappropriate material online. But can you be so sure when out and about and using public Wi-Fi? Well, with the Friendly Wi-Fi symbol you can. If their symbol is displayed, then you know for sure that they are certified and your, and your children’s internet experience is safe.

If you’re reading this as a business that offers public Wi-Fi and are wondering how you can go about getting certified yourselves, you’ll be glad to know that it’s pretty straight forward.

In most cases your Wi-Fi provider will already filter to a level that matches Friendly Wi-Fi’s certification standards, and where it doesn’t, they can advise you what you need to do so that your Wi-Fi filters do meet their standards.

Once you’re certified, you can proudly display the Friendly Wi-Fi symbol in your business as well as your online presence, so that your customers and Wi-Fi users can be safe in the knowledge the internet is a safe space using your connection.

So as well as giving your users another layer of trust to your services, you can feel good knowing you are protecting young people from potentially harmful online content by operating in a responsible way.

So to be ahead of the crowd you could consider getting certified now. Friendly Wi-Fi are very quickly becoming the standard operating level of service for public and guest Wi-Fi providers. So why not have the symbol that the public will be looking for?

For more information head to their website: https://www.friendlywifi.com/be-an-approved-venue

 

 

 

Why Could Access Points Be Better for your Business Wi-Fi?

Home Wi-Fi set ups and business Wi-Fi set ups are very different, particularly if your business has a large office with heavy traffic.

At home, you can pretty much plug in a router and go, and you shouldn’t encounter many problems. But it’s not quite as simple for office environments. For the smaller business space, a router and range extenders might do the job, but for other, larger offices with more people accessing Wi-Fi, you typically be needing to utilise access points.

Here we’ll be taking a look at the features of both so you can see which the best Wi-Fi solution for your business would be.

What is an Access Point?

An access point is a nifty little device that enables you to connect an area of the business, e.g. Reception, to the Wi-Fi even if the router is out of range. Via an ethernet cable, the access point connects to a wired router, switch or hub, and can then project a Wi-Fi signal to your designated area, in this case Reception. In an office or large building, access points create a Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN).

What is a Range Extender?

At the start we mentioned range extenders. So what are they? Well, the clue is in the name. They quite literally lengthen the range of an existing Wi-Fi network. Unlike access points, range extenders connect to the router wirelessly, so rather than being able to be placed in the actual dead spot, they need to be placed still in range of the router. A situation where you might use this is in a multi-storey building. If your router is in the basement, then the range might extend to the first floor but not the second, so you could put a range extender on the first floor where there is still a connection, to lengthen the range to reach the second floor as well. .

Which is Better for Businesses?

While a range extenders might sound like a great solution to your Wi-Fi woes and easy to set up, they are only great for home Wi-Fi networks rather than offices. Unfortunately, their efficiency in a modern business environment is very low due to only being able to support up to 20 devices at one time. With employees generally carrying 3+ wireless devices on their person at any given time, it’s easy to see how in a business environment the network can quickly become saturated. A range extender might extend the range of a Wi-Fi router, but it doesn’t increase it’s bandwidth so could actually end up weighing down your connection if too many devices are attempting to connect simultaneously.

In contrast, access points are a much better option for business environments and large offices. Each access point is able to support 60+ simultaneous connections each, and because you can install them throughout the building, your Wi-Fi users can freely roam the building without passing through any dead spots and thus not having their connection interrupted. Devices are able to connect to access points seamlessly without dropping a connection between each one, so no connection disruptions.

With internet an increasingly important tool for businesses, in many cases vital for business operations, it is really worth investing in a well design Wi-Fi network for your business and access points are definitely the best option.

Wireless Access Points – The Advantages

As we’ve just explained, a Wireless Network that can only support up to 20 devices can quickly become saturated – If every employee has 4 devices (e.g. desktop, laptop, smartphone and tablet) then after just 5 employees in your office, you’re potentially going to start running into difficulties. Access points being able to support 60 simultaneous connections each is a huge advantage, but that’s not the only reason why they could benefit your business. Other ways access points can enhance your business network:

  • Thinking about how they would be installed? If you use a business-grade access point, then they can be installed anywhere you can run an Ethernet cable to. With newer models you can also avoid having to install a power outlet or running a power line as they are compatible with Power over Ethernet Plus (PoE+) which is a cord combo of Ethernet and power
  • Worried about security and guest access? There are additional standard features including Captive Portal and Access Control List (ACL) support which mean that you can limit guest access and manage users within your Wi-Fi network without compromising on security.
  • Wondering how multiple access points could be easily managed? There are some access points that include a Clustering feature. This enables an IT Administrator to view, configure, deploy and secure an entire Wi-Fi network from a single point rather than single, separate access point configurations.

 

If you’re sat there thinking that access points could be the solution to your business Wi-Fi needs, then give on of our Wi-Fi experts a call here at Geekabit. We work out of London, Cardiff and Hampshire and our engineers are ready to get your Wi-Fi network surveyed, designed and installed. You can get in touch with us here:

London: 0203 322 2443
Cardiff: 02920 676712
Hampshire: 01962 657 390

 

Wedding Wi-Fi

Planning your wedding?

Nowadays it’s not necessarily all about the traditional church and reception at a venue nearby. We are seeing more unique, innovative weddings where couples design their entire day around their own personal preferences.

From civil ceremonies in the woods, to partying the night away in a teepee on a vineyard estate, the only limit is your imagination.

But do these quirky venues have the Wi-Fi you’ll need?

With the rise of social media sharing, comes the trend of the wedding hashtag. Everyone (or almost everyone) shares their everyday moments with friends, family and followers with their social media following. And weddings are no exception. People want to take photos at weddings – The beautiful bride, the cute ring bearer, the gorgeous place settings, the pretty lights, the romantic atmosphere. All of these beautiful moments are just crying out to be shared on the likes of Facebook and Instagram. And more and more couples are opting for their very own #WeddingHashtag to collect all the fan photos from their big day.

But what if the Wi-Fi fails? What if their wedding guests take all these photos but can’t share them? It’s not the same adding a string of tipsy dancy videos the morning after the night before… Could no connection could lead to mass hysteria and frustration?

You might be thinking, if you’re opting for the tepee on a rural vineyard estate then you’ll have to let go of the idea of Wi-Fi and wedding hashtags. Well… Not necessarily. That’s where Geekabit and our Wedding Wi-Fi comes in.

Nowadays, people generally assume that they should get a wireless connection anywhere, anytime, even in the strangest, most remote of places. This seems to apply double for events, including weddings, where guests do tend to expect the wireless signal to be strong and reliable. When things are working fine, you won’t hear a cry or a moan, but if it dares run slow, or shock horror, fails altogether, you’ll certainly hear about it.

Whether you’re opting for a hotel reception or a fun-in-a-field kind of soiree, Geekabit can ensure that your Wedding Wi-Fi meets your needs.

Our passion is keeping you connected, so you can keep yours for your new husband or wife

All events depend on excellent communication and weddings are no exception. We are avid suppliers of reliable internet access for a whole host of events, big or small, and with some prestigious UK event names under our belts, your Wedding Wi-Fi is safe in our expert hands.

One of our specialisms is building temporary internet for anywhere between a handful of users at the most intimate of weddings, to thousands of guests worthy of a festival. We can provide Wi-Fi across sites from a few metres to covering thousands of users.

Even if you have a more traditional wedding planned, even the most established of hotels can’t always be trusted when it comes to Wi-Fi, especially if you are expecting hundreds of wedding guests.

If you are relying on your guests to share their experience of your wedding online using a wedding hashtag, then don’t rely on your venues Wi-Fi. Let us ensure that your Wi-Fi remains reliable throughout, so you have a story of your perfect day to cherish forever from all of your closest friends and family members.

We have a team of experienced Wi-Fi engineers who are experts in building temporary Wi-Fi networks for all kinds of events, including Weddings. Working across London, Cardiff, Hampshire and throughout the UK, we can ensure your wedding guests stay connected on one of the most important days of your life.

We would be delighted to discuss your special day and advise what Wi-Fi solutions we can provide for your wedding. Give us a call on 0203 322 2443 (London), 02920 676712 (Cardiff) or 01962 657 390 (Hampshire).

 

What’s Satellite Broadband and Why Is It Good for Rural Areas?

You might hear satellite and think space-age, but satellite is used for all kinds of things – One of which is broadband.

So firstly, what is satellite broadband?

It’s actually pretty self-explanatory. Satellite broadband is a broadband connection via a satellite.

Instead of plugging in a router, you require a satellite dish and a transmitter attached to your home. These connect to a satellite that orbits the earth in sync with the earth’s rotation – In other words, it always stays above the same place. The satellite can then transfer data to and from your dish, and then to and from the provider’s central hub on earth, which connects to the internet at ground level.

This type of satellite technology is what we use for satellite TV, GPS and forecasting the weather.

If you’ve not heard much about satellite broadband before, that’s because it isn’t very widespread at the moment. However it does provide a great solution to some particular internet issues.

Some places are just difficult to reach by cables mobile masts. Places like rural areas, mountains, islands, forests and jungles. Hard to imagine digging up some of these places to lay cables or erect a mobile mast. You’re just not going to get a traditional connection to these places.

For satellite broadband to connect, all you need is a satellite dish with a clear line of sight to the south sky, and thus can connect from almost anywhere! Ever used Wi-Fi on a boat or a plane? Chances are you were using a satellite broadband connection.

Satellite broadband on a consumer level is still in the early days but it is certainly looking at a big future. There are currently more satellites being made to enable broadband capability to almost anywhere in the world.

What are the pros for satellite broadband in rural areas?

  • It’s ideal for rural areas as it enables a broadband connection for places in the middle of nowhere, where cables really struggle to reach. Rural locations where fixed line broadband is extremely slow or non-existent could hugely benefit from satellite broadband.
  • You might be thinking a broadband connection is great, but what about the speed? Well, speeds are already comparable to standard ADSL broadband. In a few years time it’s expected that speeds will be closer to fibre optic broadband.
  • Due to the fact that all you need is a satellite dish, it is widely available.
  • In today’s mobile age, not everyone needs or wants a landline, but you often end up having to get one just to get an internet connection. Not with satellite broadband – It’s landline free!

Are there any downfalls of satellite broadband for rural areas?

Of course, there are a couple of downfalls. Lag, or latency, tends to be quite high due to the fact that the signal is travelling 22,200 miles into space and back. This means that if you were trying to play online gaming you might struggle. It can also be more expensive than the standard fixed line broadband, as well as restrictive on download limits. If you’ve got satellite TV, then you’ll already know how the weather can interfere with the signal sometimes, so during a storm you might find that your connection falters. While speeds are comparable to ADSL, they won’t be as fast as what you are used to elsewhere. As it’s still in it’s early days, there aren’t a huge number of providers so there’s not a great deal of choice when it comes to prices and packages.

All of that said, if you’re living in a remote, rural location and currently have little to no broadband, even the downfalls of satellite broadband are an improvement on your current situation.

If you live or work somewhere rural where it’s just not possible to lay cables or receive signal from a mast, then satellite broadband might just be to your rescue

 

The Best Wi-Fi 6 Routers Available in the UK Now

As you’ll have seen from previous blogs of ours, the features improvements with Wi-Fi 6 is the biggest thing to happen to wireless networking in years. With the reduced latency and theoretical speeds of 10.53Gbps, it should in theory be able to compete, if not better, gigabit wired connections.

Wi-fi 6 compatible routers have actually been available on the market for a while, but the problem has been that there are no clients currently available to use the new tech.

We’re now starting to see some devices with Wi-Fi 6 compatibility built in. The Samsung Galaxy S10 is possibly the first device that features this new standard and in April it was revealed that the Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX20 module was on its way. Dell has just announced some XPS laptops that feature Wi-Fi 6 and many of the Wi-Fi enabled AMD X570 motherboards to feature it.

Now that we are seeing Wi-Fi 6 compatible devices entering the market, you may be starting to think about upgrading your router so you can benefit from this new technology.

So here are the options currently available in the UK. Brace yourselves, it’s going to get pricey… (But things always are with new technology aren’t they!).

Asus

ASUS RT-AX88U Wireless-AX6000 AiMesh

Price – £299 – pre-order

Technically this isn’t actually available yet, but you can pre-order it on Amazon.

RT-AX88U is a 4×4 dual-band Wi-Fi router that provides 160MHz bandwidth and 1024-QAM for dramatically faster wireless connections. With a total networking speed of about 6000Mbps — 1148Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and 4804Mbps on the 5GHz band — RT-AX88U is 2.3X faster than 802.11ac 4×4 dual-band routers.

One of the big selling points is AiMesh.  you should be able to pair it with other devices and create a mesh system.

 

ASUS GT-AX11000 ROG Rapture 802.11ax Tri-Band Gaming Router

Price – £379.99

In stock and available via Prime. If money isn’t an issue then the ROG Rapture 802.11ax might be for you. It is another router with AiMesh and it also features a 2.5GBase -T port which you will need if you want to make the most out of its wireless transfer speeds.

It has transfer speeds rated at:

  • 11ax (2.4GHz) : up to 1148 Mbps
  • 2 x 802.11ax (5GHz) : up to 4804 Mbps

 

Netgear

NETGEAR RAX120 Nighthawk AX12

 

Price : £359.99

If you prefer your router to look like a stealth bomber over the arachnid style of the Asus then this flagship device may be preferable. This has a 5G ethernet port and dual gigabit port aggregation

This has up to 12 simultaneous Wi-Fi clients. and is rated at:

  • 4GHz AX: 4×4 (Tx/Rx) 1024 QAM 20/40MHz, up to 1.2Gbps
  • 5GHz AX: 8×8 (Tx/Rx) 1024 QAM 20/40/80/80+80MHz, up to 4.8Gbps

 

NETGEAR Nighthawk AX8 RAX80

Price : £283.96

This drops the specs a little to be a bit more affordable. You only get8-Stream Wi-Fi with up to 1.2 Gbps + 4.8 Gbps for ultra-fast wireless speeds. It does, however, keep the 5-gigabit port and has link aggregation.

NETGEAR Nighthawk AX4 Wi-Fi 6 Router (RAX40)

Price : £200

The most affordable Netgear at around £200, but not available on Prime and possibly not proper UK availability.

This has 4-Stream Wi-Fi with up to 600 Mbps + 2.4 Gbps for ultra-fast wireless speeds. There are 5 Gigabit Ethernet ports but no multi-gig or port aggregation.

Tp-Link

 TP-Link Archer AX6000

 

Price : £345.68

The first of the two TP Link devices available, the other is the AX11000.

The stand out feature of this device is the 8-gigabit ports available plus one 2.5 gigabits reducing the need of a second switch to expand your ports.

Similar to the others there is :

  • 5GHz: 4804Mbps(802.11ax)
  • 4GHz: 1148Mbps(802.11ax)

 

Commercial Access Points

EnGenius EWS357AP Neutron Dual-Band Wi-Fi 6

Price : £240.34

Currently the only access point on the market with Wi-Fi 6.

This EnGenius EWS357AP Neutron Series Wi-Fi 6 indoor access point is equipped with Qualcomm’s latest chipset and features AX technology, which deepens and expands the capabilities of Wi-Fi as well as fortifying SMB networks. The new 802.11ax technology builds upon real-world deployment of 11ac. As next-generation Wi-Fi, 11ax is no longer just about speeds but also about stronger, steadier, and more efficient wireless connections.

This is a 2×2 access point and a 4×4 model will be launched soon.

 

With thanks to https://mightygadget.co.uk/the-best-wi-fi-6-routers-available-in-the-uk-right-now/

Free Hotel Wi-Fi And How to Protect Your Personal Data

It’s August, the holiday season is in full swing and holiday makers everywhere are taking some time off from the daily grind and heading for some R&R to re-charge. Whether you’re off on a staycation or venturing abroad, if you’re due to stay in a hotel with free Wi-Fi then don’t rejoice just yet!

I think it’s safe to say that Wi-Fi is one of the top things we check when we book something and when we first arrive at our destination. Is there Wi-Fi? Is it free?

Even with the best of intentions of having a digital detox whilst on holiday, the temptation to just post one photo of the pool with the caption ‘Enjoy your Monday’ with a cocktail emoji is just too much.

And those among us who have greater willpower might even get caught out – Did I pay that credit card bill? Did I send that money over to Joe that I owed him? Should I just transfer over a bit more money from savings incase we need it on holiday?

Posting on Instagram is maddening for your friends, but not particularly dangerous to you, whereas logging in to online banking using free, unprotected hotel Wi-Fi could be a disasterous start to your holiday.

So you’ve checked in and heard the words ‘Free Wi-Fi’. At this point there tends to be two camps of people – Let’s call them dogs and cats.

Dogs are trusting souls who like to see the best in everyone, especially that oh-so-helpful receptionist that’s offering them a bone, umm I mean free Wi-Fi, without having to faff around with passwords. Digital technology is all a little bit baffling to dogs so as they sit with their head tilted to one side, they fetch their phone and log straight in, afterall, who would be interested in what they were doing online anyway?

The cats are entirely more suspicious and paw anxiously at said receptionist, wondering if she realises that she’s offering a potentially dangerous service to her guests. Rather than see the best in people, they assume the worst, and a free Wi-Fi network without password protection smells very much like a rat to these fiesty felines.

Whether you’re a dog person or a cat person, it’s the cats that will prevail in this situation – They are absolutely right to be suspicious and cautious. While the dogs are happily offering up their personal data without even realising, the cats are consciously choosing to not share anything remotely confidential.

Unfortunately in today’s digital world, there are hackers everywhere, and hotels are one of their biggest targets. Even the big name hotels have had data breaches. The main focus of these hackers is the Property Management Systems used for reservations, issuing room keys and storing credit card data. But that’s not to say that there aren’t hackers lurking, waiting for you to send your online banking details out into the ‘public’ domain via the hotel network.

So why exactly are hotels such a hot target for hackers? Well, technically speaking, their systems can be quite easy to penetrate so there’s the first hook. The second is in the name – hospitality. Hotels are trying their best to anticipate and satisfy the need of their potential guests and Wi-Fi is way up there on the list. Guests not only expect there to be Wi-Fi, but they expect to get it for free.

There’s nothing more frustrating and off-putting than long signing in procedures and faffing about with passwords when all you want to do is just log on. And while these procedures would be there to protect you, hotels seem to deem it more hospitable to get you connected as hassle-free and quickly as possible with no fumbling around with passwords.

So not only, from a hackers point of view, can hotel booking records be potentially easy pickings, but they also get the added cherry on top from dogs sending over their personal information using unsecure Wi-Fi networks.

So what can you actually do to protect yourselves?

Whether you’re a dog or a cat, the answer is a Virtual Private Network.

You would need to invest in, and install, the VPN on any device travelling with you that can connect to Wi-Fi.

What is a VPN?

A virtual private network functions as an encrypted tunnel to a special server located somewhere on the internet.

So, for example, you want to connect to your online banking to pay that bill or post that pool selfie on Instagram, the VPN connects to those websites on your behalf.

The traffic between the website and the VPN is encrypted so anyone snooping on your data with the intent to hack only sees a load of gobbledegook.
Thus, it’s safe to use the hotel Wi-Fi and indeed any network wherever you are – Cafes, restaurants, shopping malls etc.

What’s the downside?

If it’s so simple to protect ourselves, why doesn’t everyone do this? Well, money. Nothing in this life comes free! To have this kind of unlimited protection does come with an annual fee.

There are some free services but there will be restrictions on how much data you can use and the number of devices.

 

So, be more cat. And if you know you can’t resist connecting to the Wi-Fi whilst on holiday, then at least consider getting a VPN. Happy holidays!