What is 6GHz Wi-Fi?

Did you know that following the historic decision by USA’s FCC in April 2020 to release 1200 MHz of bandwidth in 6 GHz space for unlicensed use, UK regulators cleared unlicensed wireless usage in the 6 GHz spectrum to give 6GHz WiFi a huge boost back in July 2020. 

 

This regulatory go-ahead enables your router to broadcast over the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. What does this mean in real life terms? Simply, it means there are now a lot more open airwaves that routers can use to broadcast Wi-Fi signals. This in turn means faster, more reliable connections from the next generation of devices.

 

This is the biggest spectrum addition in over 30 years – In fact, since the FCC cleared the way for Wi-Fi back in 1989. Pretty huge right? It means the space available for routers and other devices have quadruple the amount in this new spectrum. This means a lot more bandwidth for the user and less interference for their devices. 

 

For the past 20 years we’ve had the Wi-Fi Alliance that oversees the implementation of Wi-Fi. This change in the spectrum is the most ‘monumental decision’ during their existence. You’ll be seeing this implementation as Wi-Fi 6E, with more and more enabled devices becoming available. 

 

Will Wi-Fi 6E fix my bad Wi-Fi? 

 

There’s a good chance that spectrum congestion has interfered with your ability to connect to your Wi-Fi network in the past. When there are a lot of devices all trying to connect over the same band of frequencies, some devices will drop out. Have a look at your local area for Wi-Fi networks – If there is a long list, that could be why you’re struggling with a slow connection and less than favourable reliability. This is because there are too many competing signals, which stops your device getting through. It’s hoped that gains in 6GHz performance will last, even when they are more widely used than they are now. 

 

Not only does Wi-Fi 6E offer new airwaves for routers to use, they are also more spacious airwaves that have less overlapping signals which can cause problems on some other Wi-Fi channels. 

 

The new spectrum doesn’t use any of the previous spectrum, yet offers space for up to 7 maximum-capacity Wi-Fi streams which can all be broadcast simultaneously without causing interference with each other. 

 

Here’s the geeky bit… The UK telecoms regulator, Ofcom, made it possible for home Wi-Fi networks to harness 500MHz of radio spectrum frequency in the new 6GHz band, which will significantly boost the speed of licence-exempt indoor home wireless networks via Wi-Fi 6/6E. 

 

What is 6GHz? 

 

Basically, Wi-Fi works by broadcasting over airwaves that are open for anyone to use. Previously, this was over two bands: 2.4GHz and 5GHz. This third band, 6GHz, is quadrupling the available space for traditional Wi-Fi. 

 

What do the numbers mean? 2.4GHz can travel further, but 6GHz travels faster. The main thing however is that the number of airwaves available on the6GHz band is quadruple what has been available before. Exciting stuff! 

 

On a personal ‘how will this affect me’ level, it means that if you live in a block of flats, and you are the first person to get a 6GHz router, then you won’t be competing with anyone for a connection. The great thing is that even as 6GHz routers become more popular, it’s likely that signals will stay faster and stronger than previously as it’s a more spacious spectrum.  

 

Will Wi-Fi 6E be faster?

 

It’s not quite as straight forward as that, but Wi-Fi 6E will sort of be faster. Theoretically, 6GHz Wi-Fi has the same top speed as 5GHz Wi-Fi. The maximum Wi-Fi 6 standard speed is 9.6 Gbps. Now, you’re not going to actuall get that speed in real life, however having access to the new airwaves could well increase your speed. 

 

The available spectrum at 5GHz means that Wi-Fi signals aren’t as large as they could be. Whereas, it’s thought that routers at 6GHz will broadcast at the current maximum allowable channel size. That in itself, means a faster connection. 

 

These new networks could see smartphone Wi-Fi connections hit 1–2 Gbps. You might be wondering how this compares to 5G – Indeed, these are the speeds expected from millimetre-wave 5G. However, that has very limited availability. 

 

Remember that your internet speeds will also always depend on / be limited by your provider. But it could still be a huge jump for connectivity.  

 

Can I buy Wi-Fi 6 devices?

 

Here in the UK we started to see Wi-Fi 6 devices creep onto the market in the last year or so, once the Wi-Fi Alliance started offering certification for Wi-Fi 6E. Deployment has been slow and steady, with more Wi-Fi 6 enables devices appearing bit by bit. We’re on course for the next generation of Wi-Fi networks.

 

Wi-Fi 6E enabled devices are most seen in smartphones and then tablets, with TV’s likely to follow suit. We use our phones for almost everything, so it’s no surprise that it’s this device that will be top of the list for Wi-Fi 6E. 

 

How do I know if a device supports Wi-Fi 6E?

 

The most widely used Wi-Fi standard on current devices is probably still Wi-Fi 6, the standard previous to Wi-Fi 6E, which you could still see on the box of a new device. This isn’t such a bad thing – It means that the device supports that Wi-Fi standard and offers efficient Wi-Fi performance. 

 

What you should probably start looking out for when buying a new device is Wi-Fi 6E – It’s this one that is extended into the 6GHz band. All devices, like smartphones, tablets, laptops and routers should have backward compatibility – Meaning they will work with any previous Wi-Fi standard to the one that’s stated on the box. This means that you can enjoy available connections even when Wi-Fi 6E isn’t available. 

 

Be aware that even if you buy a Wi-Fi 6E compatible device, you will enjoy the benefits of that when you use it with a Wi-Fi 6E router. 

 

6GHz will become an integral part of Wi-Fi 6 and future generations of Wi-Fi. This means that at some point, you will have to replace your devices with ones that are Wi-Fi 6E compatible to be able to enjoy all the benefits the extra spectrum has to offer. 

 

Due to the Wi-Fi Alliance certification programme, only efficient Wi-Fi 6 devices will be certificated. 

 

It’s worth bearing in mind that the 6GHz spectrum does have some existing licensed users. This means that particularly in outdoor spaces,  Wi-Fi will have to work around them. Outside, routers will need to use something called an “automated frequency control” system. This ensure that they don’t interfere with these existing 6GHz users. Because that means less space to broadcast, there could be degradation of overall performance in some areas.

 

Does Wi-Fi 6E have anything to do with 5G? 

 

We touched on this earlier, but no, they don’t have anything to do with each other really. It just happens that both of these networks are being spoken about a lot, simultaneously. 5G is everywhere, is it not!

 

We keep saying about Wi-Fi 6E being a new spectrum, but really it’s not new, it’s always been there, it’s just been unlicensed. Now, people can use the 6GHz spectrum without a license in their homes. 

 

This also means that other technologies could try to make use of the 6GHz band, which could in turn take up some of the space that Wi-Fi wants to use. 5G is one of the technologies that could be a rival for the space on the 6GHz band. 

 

There is a possibility that 5G could overlap on the new Wi-Fi 6E spectrum through mobile network carriers. This could in turn lead to interference issues, but it’s a bit early to say. If you’re wondering whether 5G will become dominant and replace Wi-Fi altogether, then we think probably not. There doesn’t need to be a winner or a loser when it comes to Wi-Fi 6E vs 5G – They dont necessarily have to be in competition with one another. The spacious nature of this spectrum means there should be enough room for both. 

 

6GHz Wi-Fi is certainly being revered by the tech industry, so we’re pretty hopeful that Wi-Fi will be the main beneficiary of the newly opened 6GHz spectrum. 

 

Which is best for my business – FTTP or a Leased Line?

 

Let’s face it – These days, business flow depends on connectivity. 

 

With remote working now more prevalent than ever before, there is a significant business need for straightforward online collaboration. Not to mention business critical operations and organisational efficiency. 

 

For a successful business, you need a reliable, strong connection that doesn’t buffer or drop out during vital video calls and digital team meetings. 

 

What’s the point in having top of the range tech and dedicated employees if you don’t have the broadband speed to keep up with their communications or computers?

 

There is nothing less motivating than slow internet – Lagging video, audio that’s out of sync, calls that drop out, pages that load slowly. It makes us feel frustrated just thinking about it! 

 

And whilst it might not sound like much – That 30 seconds of delay here and there throughout the day could actually add up to a lot of lost productivity across an organisation in just one week. 

 

So what’s the solution? For any small business, it’s really down to two options – FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) or a leased line. But which one is best for your business?

 

What is FTTP and how does it work?

 

As we said above, FTTP is Fibre to the Premises. It means an internet connection that is designed for small businesses and consumer use.  

 

FTTP works by sending data over a fibre optic cable from the exchange to the user’s premises. FTTP relies on already existing broadband infrastructure, which means that users share the bandwidth. This could lead to slower connection speeds and unreliability during peak times. 

 

An FTTP service is asymmetrical, meaning that the upload and download speeds are not the same. 

 

What is a leased line and how does it work?

 

A leased line, or fibre leased line, is a dedicated fibre optic service. It has a fixed bandwidth and is provided directly to the premises. Unlike FTTP, a leased line connects directly to the public internet. This means there is no shared infrastructure – thus the data’s journey is very different. 

 

Due to leased lines being dedicated, it won’t be affected at peak times because the bandwidth is reserved exclusively for that user. A leased line also uploads data at the same time as it downloads – Useful for sending large files or if you use VoIP telephones throughout the business. 

 

How do FTTP and Leased Line compare? 

 

Let’s take a look at how FTTP and Leased Line compare to each other in terms of use and functionality. Depending on how these fit with your business, you should hopefully be able to identify which would work better for you and your business operations. 

 

Speed and Bandwidth for FTTP vs Leased Line

 

Using an FTTp service, your highest download speed will be in the range of 300mbps and 1Gbps. Remember, in this scenario you share the infrastructure with other users, which means that during busy periods your bandwidth is likely to be compromised. Generally speaking you are looking at about 32 customers on an FTTP service. 

 

On a Leased Line, all of the bandwidth is there for you to use. The connection speeds on a Leased Line could be up to 10Gbps, with the same upload and download speeds. This is particularly useful for high-demand users, who could struggle on an asymmetrical FTTP. 

 

Traffic on a FTTP vs Leased Line

FTTP services can have a monthly data transfer quote which means it would be important for you to stay on top of your data usage. 

 

A leased line has availability 24/7 all year round, which means you have unlimited data transfers. 

 

Price of FTTP vs Leased Line

There is a significant difference in price when it comes to FTTP and Leased Line. 

 

The cheaper option is FTTP. This is because it’s a shared service, and more specifically aimed at residential properties and small businesses. You would likely be looking between £30 and £60 per month, which of course depends on the provider and the speed of the broadband you choose. For a new FTTP installation, it would take about 10-15 days. 

 

For Leased Lines, you would be looking at a cost of about £150 per month for lower bandwidths. Not only is it up to 5 times the cost of some FTTP, you may also incur additional charges (construction charges) which can push the price up more. Installation wise you would be looking at about 60-90 days to get things set up. 

 

Service Level Agreements for FTTP vs Leased Lines 

 

Whichever service you go for, you will have an SLA. The SLA for a Leased Line will be more thorough – For example, any fault on the line that needs fixing will be repaired within 5 hours. In comparison, a fault on FTTP could take 2 days to fix. 

 

An SLA will also lay out the speed of a Leased Line, which you can then be compensated for if it is consistently slower. This isn’t something you can do with FTTP. 

 

A Leased Line also comes with 24/7 support, whereas support for a FTTP line will be within business hours. 

 

Reliability of FTTP vs Leased Lines

 

As we mentioned above, when using an FTTP line, you could notice an adverse chane in connection during peak times. Leased Lines will never experience this problem (unless there is a fault) so you are less likely to have the connection drop out. This means that a Leased Line is the more reliable connection of the two. 

 

Availability

 

Leased Lines are available throughout the UK, but of course their accessibility depends on whether you can afford the cost. 

 

Whilst FTTP is a cheaper option, it is only available to approximately 94% of the UK.

 

Contracts

 

Contract options for these lines are as follows:

  • FTTP – 12 months, 18 months or 24 months, 
  • Leased Line – 12 months, 36 months, or 60 months 

 

It’s worth noting that if you choose a 12 month Leased Line contract, you’ll be paying more each month to spread the installation cost. 

 

So Which One is Best – Leased Line or FTTP?

 

If you own a small business, run a charity or are a residential consumer, then FTTP will likely meet your needs. 

 

Generally speaking, if you are one of these types of consumer then you won’t be needing service 24/7 all year round. You are also less likely to be transferring huge amounts of data too. And it’s the cheaper option! 

 

For larger businesses and organisations that rely more on a reliable connection, then a dedicated Leased Line service with a thorough SLA could be the better choice. You will then have peace of mind that your broadband is sturdy, and should something go wrong with it you’re backed up by a speedy resolution. Keeping disruption to your organisation to a minimum! 

 

Get In Touch

 

If you are feeling unsure about what could be the best internet service for your business and would like to discuss your connectivity needs, then get in touch with one of our Wi-Fi Experts today. We operate out of Hampshire, London and Cardiff and can help you to make sure that your connectivity meets your business or residential needs – Both in terms of connection but cost too. 

 

Wi-Fi Site Surveys – Validate Your Wi-Fi Design

You could have the most expertly designed Wi-Fi network, but without a Wi-Fi Site Survey, how will you know it will actually work as intended?

When it comes to designing and installing a wireless network, the most important thing is that it meets the demands of your users. 

The great thing about a Wi-Fi Site Survey is that can test your wireless network when it’s in the design stages and predict whether it will work or not, as well as within an already deployed network that needs some changes or additions made. 

Driving your Wi-Fi network design choices and deployment with data removes the risk of your wireless network failing to meet the needs of your enterprise. 

Gone are the days where a surveyor is laden down with computer setups, trudging around like a donkey. Nowadays it’s all the latest tech and we can carry out a Wi-Fi Site Survey with just the phone in our pocket. 

Validating your Wi-Fi network has never been more straightforward. Good news if you’re about to be designing your Wi-Fi network! Not only that, but it also makes it easier and quicker for businesses to be able to survey their Wi-Fi on a regular basis, ensuring that they continue to operate reliably. This is particularly important for anything that is business critical. 

 

What is a Wi-Fi Site Survey?

Well first things first – You might be wondering what actually is a Wi-Fi Site Survey? The purpose of a site survey is to visit the network premises and capture Wi-Fi signal and spectrum data. It also allows you to investigate the best places to mount access points and identify accessibility for necessary cabling. 

Getting a Wi-Fi site survey can test out a predictive Wi-Fi design before you deploy it on the network as well as check that any changes or additions to an existing network will work effectively. 

Why would I need a Wi-Fi Site Survey?

There are a few different scenarios where we would recommend a Wi-Fi Site Survey. 

  • Wi-Fi Design Site Survey – This survey is carried out on site before you’ve started to design your wireless network. Performing a Site Survey at this point allows you to create a predictive Wi-Fi network using data captured on the survey, including RF conditions, neighbouring networks, available/ congested channels, interference and accessibility for mounting AP’s.

     

  • Pre-Deployment Site Survey – Once you’ve designed your Wi-Fi network, you can use a Wi-Fi Site Survey to test your design and simulate the performance of antenna and access points. This data is acquired by placing an AP in the relevant location(s) and then analysing the Wi-Fi, making sure that the network would function as predicted in the design.

     

  • Post-Deployment Wi-Fi Site Survey – The role of this Wi-Fi Site Survey is to identify whether a deployed network is working as intended. That means meeting performance expectations laid out in the predictive stage of the wireless design.

     

  • Health Check Wi-Fi Site Survey – The best networks carry out regular ‘health checks’ to make sure everything is functioning as it should. This means that any changes you need to make to your network are proactive rather than reactive. Why wait until your end users are experiencing Wi-Fi problems that could produce a costly Wi-Fi outage? A Wi-Fi Site Survey at this stage can help pick up any issues with interference, coverage and capacity, nipping any potential problems in the bud.

     

  • Troubleshooting Wi-Fi Site Survey – This is the Wi-Fi Site Survey you would carry out if you were already experiencing problems. A more reactive survey in which you can identify the underlying cause of the problems your end users are reporting. You can then go back to the design stages and re-deploy your wireless network for more effective working. 

Why is a Wi-Fi site survey important to validate your wireless network after the design stage? 

 

As we said above, by carrying out a Pre-Deployment Wi-Fi Site Survey, you can test the predictive Wi-Fi design before installing it. Validating your wireless design with a site survey gives you peace of mind that the network you are deploying will work effectively. Any potential niggles can be identified, and designs can be amended before you’ve started the deployment. 

 

No one wants to have run cables and installed AP’s only to find that they work much more effectively in a different location! It’s also very handy to find out any potential causes of interference so you can take steps to avoid them. 

 

You could think of a Wi-Fi Site Survey as a bit of an insurance policy. It’s the smart way to avoid mistakes and ineffective networks, not to mention time-consuming and costly re-design processes should a wireless deployment fail. 

 

A predictive Wi-Fi design is great, but it’s not final. It’s not ready until you’ve tested your design with a validating Wi-Fi site survey. 

 

So what things would a Wi-Fi Site Survey identify to validate your wireless design?

By completing a Wi-Fi Site Survey, you would find out the following:

  • Accurate floor plans – If you haven’t set foot on site, then you are placing an awful lot oftrust in your CAD floor plan being accurate. By actually being on site and carrying out a survey, you can make sure that the distances in the design are correct and walls, stairwells and lifts are all where you expect them to be. If your whole Wi-Fi design is based on a floor plan that’s out of date, your predictive design is unlikely to fare well in the real world.

     

  • Signal attenuation and wall types – Completing a predictive Wi-Fi design using your ‘best guess’ is not really going to cut it. It’s actually really important that you know where walls are and what they are made of. Getting on site for a survey means you can check wall attenuation (ie. how much signal you are losing through the walls). Checking this information enables you to make sure that the RF measurements in your design are correct and confirms that your Wi-Fi design will work (or allow you to make the necessary changes to your design to make sure it does).

     

  • Access point locations – There is nothing quite like a Site Survey for identifying where AP’s need to be located. Carrying out the Wi-Fi Site Survey lets you check your predictive plans in a live environment. For example, checking the locations are free of obstacles (like ducting) and modifying your design if needed. It’s so important that you use this stage to test your predictive wireless design and make any changes needed to optimise it further.

     

  • Neighbouring networks – A predictive Wi-Fi design can’t know how neighbouring networks and local RF noise would affect the network. A Wi-Fi Site Survey can pick up instances of interference, and allow you to make sure your network design has peak performances and avoids neighbouring interference. 

 

What do you need for an accurate Wi-Fi Site Survey?

The Wi-Fi Site Survey is your chance to see how your network design could come to life. Really, the testing is the fun part! The most important parts of a successful Wi-Fi Site Survey are:

  1. An accurate floor plan – Make sure the measurements are correct. It’s vital that you are scaling your floor plan if you want your design and validation to be precise. Even seemingly small mis-scaling can make your plan inaccurate by many metres. Not helpful at all!

     

  2. Utilise available tech – There are lots of tools out there to help you. Using an all-in-one diagnostic measurement device can help you make sure that your design and site survey are as accurate as possible, giving your wireless network a professional result. It also helps you to carry out your Wi-Fi Site Survey a lot faster.

     

  3. What channels are you scanning? – There’s no point scanning channels you don’t care about. It’s just a waste of time. If you have no 2.4GHz access points or radios, then you don’t need to bother scanning those channels. And the fewer channels you have to scan, the faster your site survey will be!

     

  4. Make sure your data is accurate – The aim of your Wi-Fi Site Survey is to capture data that is going to either validate or help you make changes to your wireless design. Therefore, it’s imperative that you are capturing data accurately. If whilst walking, your path looks like you’ve walked out a window or got stuck in a wall then you need to re-establish your location. Otherwise the data you are capturing won’t be accurate, or helpful!

     

  5. Measure attenuation on both sides of the wall – To identify how much signal is being lost to obstacles like walls, you need to measure the attenuation on both sides of that obstacle. By measuring on both sides of the wall, you make sure that you are capturing all the data you need.

     

  6. What survey method do you need for your environment? – There are a few different survey methods so make sure you are using the one that is going to give you the most reliable data.

    Stop and Go – This is used in environments that are hazardous or particularly challenging. This one collects the least amount of data, but it’s important that you remain aware of your surroundings.

    Continuous – Lots of clicks on this one! It’s the traditional means of collecting Wi-Fi Site Survey data, but requires lots of attention at all times. You must click when you start, turn, change pace and of course, when you stop!

    Autopilot – This one is the Wi-Fi expert’s favourite. It’s quick and accurate. Using this one means you don’t have to manually click as you are walking through the site map. All you need to do for accurate results is make sure that the first calibration is accurate.

    GPS – If you are working outdoors with no key reference points then this Wi-Fi Site Survey is a great option. All you’ll need is a GPS-enabled mobile device with a SIM card. 

Trust the Experts

If Wi-Fi Site Surveys have got your head in a spin, then why not leave it to the experts? Our trained Wi-Fi professionals here at Geekabit are experts when it comes to wireless site surveys. 

Operating out of Hampshire, London and Cardiff, our Wi-Fi experts are on hand to assist with all stages of Wi-Fi deployment – From the initial design and Pre- and Post-Deployment Site Surveys to Health Checks and full installations. 

Get in touch with our friendly team today and we’ll be more than happy to help. Or head to our website to find out more about the Wi-Fi Site Surveys Geekabit have to offer. 

 

Wi-Fi to Fall in Love With

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

 

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

 

Ensure a Secure Connection 

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

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

 

Some Things Are Best Kept Private

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

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

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

 

Don’t Risk Getting Held to Ransom

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

 

Stop the tears from streaming

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

 

It’s not you, it’s me

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

 

Turn yourself on

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

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

 

Not feeling a connection?

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

 

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

 

How to Give Your Wi-Fi Network a Health Check

You might think that once you’ve got your Wi-Fi network all set up and running, then that’s it done. But it’s not! Having a reliable wireless network involves ongoing maintenance and health checks to make sure that it’s performing at its optimum level.

There are plenty of variables in a wireless network that could change. Things like user demand or changes in the radio frequency that could have an impact. Seemingly simple things like rearranging your office furniture, onboarding new employees or using more applications requiring bigger bandwidth can all be negative factors affecting your Wi-Fi network.

Ongoing, regular surveys can help you catch these changes before they start to cause you too many problems.

So what do you need to do to keep your wireless networking functioning effectively?

 

Monitor New Client Devices

Just as when you are in the design and planning stages, it’s vital to know the number of users that are connected at any one time, and what devices they are connecting to the network with. Your network performance depends on this!

This could likely change with company growth or if your business has seasonal staff where connections peak and trough.

It’s also worth bearing in mind how old the devices are. Older laptops, for example, won’t work so well with today’s modern networks. And vice versa!

You can counteract this by semi-regularly updating your devices to align with your network.

Likewise, if your network was originally deployed a while ago, without being monitored or updated it will fail to work with modern devices to their potential.

You need to also monitor the applications being used and ensure that the bandwidth matches the demand. Organisations like schools that now have a plethora of laptops connecting wirelessly to the school network need to have strong, reliable Wi-Fi. Hospitals also have high bandwidth demand with the ‘workstations on wheels’ that are now prevalent.

The more end users you add to your network, the more bandwidth you will need.

In simple terms – Make sure you are monitoring new client devices. Make it your business to keep track of how many devices are connecting to your network and make sure you can meet the Wi-Fi demand consistently. Your business operations depend on it.

App Usage and Progression

As we all know, technology is constantly evolving. Device manufacturers are always striving for the fastest, most powerful offering to stay ahead of their competitors.

This means that apps and software also move fast to keep up. This constant evolution means that you need more and more data with every update. Thus, the requirements of your Wi-Fi network are likely to change and be modified accordingly.

Wireless is often the first choice – If not the only choice! So you need to make sure your business Wi-Fi offering is up to scratch.

 

Physical Changes in the Office Landscape

You might not think too much about rearranging the office, but this could have a significant impact on your coverage area and how your access points function.

Tweaks like going from open plan to individual offices (or the other way around) will change the way your AP’s perform in your office space.

Interior walls (or lack of them) will affect the radio frequency and how it attenuates. You might be thinking, surely removing partition walls to make an open plan office couldn’t cause Wi-Fi problems. Ut actually it could! The RF will be able to travel further without any attenuating interior walls, meaning it could start contending with other channels and cause interference.

Any physical changes in your office environment need to be surveyed to see if and how it will affect how your Wi-Fi network functions. This means you can make the necessary adjustments before problems arise.

 

Identify Common Causes of RF Interference

Following on from physical changes in your office environment, you need to also be aware of other possible causes of RF interference.

Once possible source of interference on your Wi-Fi network could be noise from neighbouring networks. Other AP’s in range of your coverage area could cause RF interference, especially if their power levels are turned up.

Wi-Fi interference is when you have AP’s that are operating on the same or adjacent frequencies. This can cause interference or contention on these channels, or Overlapping Basic Service Set (OBSS). If your network is experiencing this type of interference, you could see your ability to send or receive data significantly reduce or even completely disabled.

You can also get non–Wi-Fi Interference from devices that use other radio networks. Things like microwaves, monitors, blue tooth or surveillance cameras could all cause interference problems.

 

Your Business Depends on your Wi-Fi Network

If you’ve gone to the effort of designing and planning the optimum network for your business, then don’t waste that work by not monitoring and maintaining it.

Even the best networks will need tweaks and changes over time, to make sure it can keep up with the demands of new users and modern devices.

Regular monitoring or ‘Wi-Fi health checks’ can help identify problems while they’re still small – Allowing you to get them sorted out before they start causing your business serious issues. Don’t wait until the IT department are inundated with calls from frustrated, unproductive employees.

If you think your wireless network is in need of a health check, why not give us a call here at Geekabit? Our wireless experts have the knowledge and expertise to diagnose and solve your Wi-Fi problems, improving the reliability and functionality of your business Wi-Fi.

Why Is Network Design So Important for Reliable Business Wi-Fi?

Wi-Fi is no longer a ‘like to have’ when it comes to successful business planning. It’s vital for businesses to have strong, reliable Wi-Fi in order to business processes to run smoothly.

No matter what industry your business is in – Wi-Fi is crucial. Gone are the days when everything could be wired and cabled. Whether you run a warehouse, a hospital or operate out of an office; Your business needs to run wirelessly.

Organisations tend to have an armada of laptops, tablets, smartphones and other IoT devices that require effective Wi-Fi.

So if the need for a good Wi-Fi connection is so prevalent, why are we still seeing so many businesses struggle with their Wi-Fi network?

The requirements can be demanding, and to be successful a network needs to meet those demands. Plug-in-and-go routers aren’t going to cut it unfortunately. Your business network needs more!

So how can you ensure that your network can be relied upon by your employees every day, so they can do their job productively and efficiently?

It all comes down to the design.

What do you need to consider when designing a Wi-Fi network?

Designing your wireless network gives you the chance to translate your business needs into a Wi-Fi network that will work for you and meet those needs.

So what do you need to consider?

Capacity

You need to think about how many devices will require a Wi-Fi connection. You need to be asking questions like how many employees you have, are there people in addition to employees that will need to connect, how many devices are each of these people likely to have and what type of device are they.

Getting to know how much traffic you will likely have will help you to determine how much bandwidth you need in order to meet consumption needs.

If you don’t get the capacity planning right, you could end up with very unhappy employees suffering with slow internet speeds and an intermittent connection. Neither are conducive to a productive work environment!

Something else to consider is how the capacity changes as you move around your site. Do some locations have a higher capacity demand than others? This information will help you to design a network where access points are distributed according to requirements.

Capacity isn’t just important during the planning stage either. It’s something you will need to monitor so that you can identify when more devices are trying to connect and adapt the network accordingly.

 

Coverage

We’ve talked about capacity and how many devices are likely to connect. Now it’s time to talk about where those users need that connection.

Identifying your coverage area allows you to optimise the distance between your wireless transmitters. Getting this right means that you’ll have the right signal strength for the Wi-Fi enables devices trying to connect.

Coverage is split into two – Primary coverage and Secondary coverage. Interweaving the primary coverage area of your transmitters with the secondary coverage of necessary overlaps means that your end users will be able to roam throughout your site without their connection dropping out on their device.

The idea is to find the perfect balance in the number of AP’s you deploy. Too many AP’s not only costs you more money on installation but can also cause interference. Not enough AP’s and you won’t be able to meet your coverage needs.

 

What is the Least Capable, Most Important Device?

It’s important to identify what device is most business critical – And whether that device poses a risk to the rest of your network. You might find that a warehouse scanner, or even an employees laptop, is critical to the needs of the business, but is also the oldest and least technologically advanced device on the network.

You need to identify this device (or devices) and make sure that your network will ensure the device(s) stay online. You can do this by checking the manufacturer specifications and make sure these align with your network offering.

 

Are there any Obstacles on site?

It’s a good idea to walk around your site and identify any potential obstacles to your wireless signal. Sometimes having an actual walk-around sheds more light on potential problems than just looking at a simple floor plan. You need to know exactly how the radio frequency will behave in your specific environment.

Consider things like high or exposed ceilings, columns, large items of furniture, lift shafts, stairwells and even signage.

You should also look to see where access points could be easily installed, and any areas where this would not be possible. This also goes for cabling.

Mitigating the Effects of Wall/ Door Material on Signal Attenuation

In order to mitigate the risks of attenuation, you need to understand what materials could pose a problem to your Wi-Fi signal.

When you are designing your Wi-Fi network, it’s imperative that you identify the physical characteristics of your environment and understand how this can impact your wireless signal.

The amount of signal strength absorbed by walls or doors depends on what they are made from. A rough guide to this would be:

  • Bookshelf – 2dB
  • Drywall – 3dB
  • Exterior Glass – 3dB
  • Solid Wood Door – 6dB
  • Marble – 6dB
  • Brick – 10dB

Having this information specific to your site means you can design a wireless network that works really well.

Call the Experts

If this all seems a bit overwhelming, then call in the experts. That’s what we’re here for! We have all the necessary technology to survey your site and then design and plan a wireless network specific to your business needs. Give our Wi-Fi experts a call today to see how Geekabit can help.

 

A Simple Guide to Help You Plan Your Marina Wi-Fi

Most businesses make it their mission to provide their guests and customers with a reliable wireless connection – It’s vital for a successful guest experience across industries.

If you are in the process of upgrading your marina site, then the dependability and consistency of the available Wi-Fi should be part of your upgrade plans.

The optimum Wi-Fi offering should enable near continuous connectivity throughout your site. It’s imperative that guests moving around your marina don’t have their connection drop out.

Strong, reliable Wi-Fi isn’t an amenity that guests will compromise on. It’s become an expectation in everyday life, regardless of location or industry. Both potential and existing boating customers will want a good internet connection.

Perhaps you’re thinking that most boaters are there for leisure rather than business, so maybe a reliable internet connection isn’t the be all and end all. However, studies have shown that nearly 70% of holiday-makers within employment choose to take a smart device along with them on their break specifically to enable them to connect to work.

This is just one of the many reasons that your marina needs to be able to offer customers reliable Wi-Fi services.

So what questions do you need to be asking yourselves when starting to plan your marina’s WI-Fi network?

Here are some things to consider during the Wi-Fi Planning and Design phase.

 

Where is the ISP entry point?

You will need to consider where on your site the Internet Service Provider’s equipment is. Where this entry point is, affects what you will need to deliver the internet to your customer device. You may need Ethernet cabling, network Power-over-Ethernet Switches and/or Wireless Access Points to get the internet service delivered from the ISP entry point to the client device.

How far away is this ISP entry point from the area you need to cover?

Knowing this distance will help you work out the coverage area and what equipment you will need to get the internet from the ISP entry point to the end user, and where best to place this equipment. It will also help you to identify the type of network devices you will require.

How much bandwidth are you receiving from your ISP?

You will need to know the amount of bandwidth you are getting from your ISP in order to work out the maximum internet speed you will be able to offer your employees, boaters and guests. The more bandwidth you have, the more guest devices you can connect to, and thus the higher the quality of Wi-Fi service you will be able to offer your customers.

Do you know how many users you are likely to have?

Having an accurate estimate of how many users / devices you are likely to have connected at one time will help you to determine how many Access Points you will need throughout your marina. The higher your average number of users, the more Access Points you will need.

Is quality of service important to you?

We are assuming that you’re doing this exercise not just to tick a box, but because you really care about the quality of the internet you’re providing to your customers. Knowing how much access you want to offer your staff, boaters and guests will help you work out how to place your Access Points. There are two main services to look at here.

The first is a Hotspot Service. This is where Wi-Fi services will only be available in specific areas. Any guests wanting to connect to your Wi-Fi services will need to go to those specific areas. These could be the clubhouse, café or other areas of recreation.

The other service would be virtually everywhere. This would include on the dock as well as their boat and throughout the entire marina.

The Access Point requirements for these services would be rather different.

Is there any likely interference from buildings?

It’s wise to consider what your buildings are made of, as some materials could be obstructive to wireless signals. Are they made of wood or concrete or metal? What about the walls, ceilings and doors? Think about how this will affect the wireless signal, and make your Access Point placements accordingly.

How far do your current Ethernet cables go?

If you already have Ethernet cables running, how far do they go? Do they go to the docks or the ends of the docks? If you already have proper, shielded Ethernet cables to your docks then continuing on a wireless service from here is pretty easy. If Ethernet cabling is something you are currently considering, then it could be worth your while doing this to the end of your docks to make further Wi-Fi deployment smooth sailing.

If you don’t have ethernet cabling to the docks, and this isn’t something you want or can do, then a secure wireless link could be the option for you. This link or wireless bridge will carry the signal on to a designated location. The devices on each side of the link or bridge are linked to another device – This could be a network switch, camera or router.

Is a surveillance system part of your marina upgrade plans?

If you are planning to implement a new network-based surveillance system or expand an existing one, then you will need to consider the bandwidth usage of your entire site. The higher resolution your surveillance cameras, the more bandwidth they will need, so do consider how clear you need the surveillance to be e.g. facial recognition, number plate visuals etc.

Surveillance systems can provide comfort and security for both staff and customers, and it’s more commonplace to see them as a part of a marina than to not. Footage from this system could provide you with evidence of liability, vandalism and theft.

How many docks do you want to provide Wi-Fi access to?

You need to work out how many docks you would like to provide with wireless internet access. Will it be some of the docks or all of them? Knowing this number will help you identify how many Access Points you will need. It will also determine where the AP’s need to be placed. You may also need additional wireless links or bridges. Knowing how many docks you are providing with Wi-Fi will also help you to work out an estimate of the average number of users at a given time using your network.

Are your boaters likely to try and connect to your network on board their boat?

You need to know whether your boaters have on-board devices that they are likely to want to connect to your network. Whether or not your Wi-Fi network is deemed successful will often be determined by the experience of your end user. If your customer suffers intermittent coverage and dead spots, then your Wi-Fi network is not doing what it’s intended for.

 

Taking these things into consideration will help you to successfully carry out your site planning. You need to know that the service you provide is enough for the demand.

If this all seems a little overwhelming, then why not leave it to the professionals? Our Wi-Fi experts have the expertise and knowledge to successfully carry out a Wi-Fi Site Survey of your marina, and then design and deploy a Wi-Fi network according to the necessary specifications.

To chat through the options for your marina, give our Wi-Fi experts a call today.

How Do Wireless Directional Antennas Work?

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

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

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

Remote Wi-Fi Links – 3 Requirements

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

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

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

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

Antenna Angles

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

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

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

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

Types of Wireless Directional Antenna and Their Uses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Is Wi-Fi 6 Worth It?

In our last blog we spoke about your home Wi-Fi network and how your router could be the root cause of all your Wi-Fi woes.

We also touched on the Wi-Fi standards and what they have recently been re-branded as – With the latest being wi-Fi 6 (and Wi-Fi 6E).

And that’s exactly what we’re going to talk about this week – Wi-Fi 6. If you’re wondering what all the all the fuss is about when it comes to Wi-Fi 6 and whether it’s really worth it then read on.

Perhaps you are questioning what the differences are and whether it’s actually worth making hardware device changes. Or maybe you’ve got a cool new gadget for Christmas, but you’re wondering if it’s lack of Wi-Fi 6 compatibility will hold you back. This is the blog for you!

The next generation of wireless standard is here (actually, it’s been here since the end of 2019). Wi-Fi 6, or 802.11ax if you want it’s technical name, 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’re casually calling it Wi-Fi 6 but it actually has a more code-like name – Just to make everyone feel like they need a degree in wireless networks to know what we’re talking about.

Thankfully the Wi-Fi Alliance came to their senses and came up with some more friendly, easily accessible names for those of you that don’t consider yourselves Wi-Fi experts!

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)

Got some new tech for Christmas – Perhaps a new phone, tablet or laptop? You may see these newer version numbers on the packaging, letting you know what networks they are compatible with.

You might also see them appear in software when connecting your smartphone, tablet or laptop. This information lets you know which Wi-Fi networks are newer and faster.

Whilst this is what the Wi-Fi Alliance said they wanted to be seeing across networks, it’s worth noting that it isn’t actually mandatory for manufacturers to label their products with Wi-Fi 6 instead of 802.11ax.

But we are really hoping that most of them will so that even those that aren’t super tech-savvy will be able to make informed decisions when it comes to compatibility.

We’d also like to see products re-named from 802.11ac to Wi-Fi 5, but we won’t hold our breath.

But back to our original question – Is Wi-F 6 actually worth it? Let’s take a look at some of the differences we should be able to see when it comes to Wi-Fi 6.

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 frequencies 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.

Wi-Fi 6 That Improves the Battery Life on a 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 deviced 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 wake 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 it’s a been a bit hit and miss lately when it comes to travel and events. But try and remember a time when you were waiting at an airport, trying to get online. Or maybe at a hotel or live event like in a stadium. When an area like these are congested with devices, you can suffer with slow Wi-Fi or even struggle to connect in the first place.

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. Think remote working and online learning – Multiple Zooms all at the same time! It should also help anyone who lives in a more densely populated place, like a block of flats.

How Does Wi-Fi 6 Tackle Congestion from Multiple Devices?

Talk of further lockdowns, more remote working and back to online learning for school children could be enough to spur you into searching out Wi-Fi 6 compatible hardware.

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! But there are various features that help Wi-Fi 6 better tackle the problem of heavily crowded networks if you want to understand more of the technical side.

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 Compatibility?

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?

Wi-Fi 6 is here!

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 shouldn’t be something you need to put too much thought into – As new routers, smartphones, tablets and laptops are released into the market, they will just start to come with this new Wi-Fi 6 technology.

 

You mentioned Wi-Fi 6E earlier – what’s that?

As we well know, technology is constantly moving forward to be better, faster, more reliable.

Just as Wi-Fi 6 has superseded Wi-Fi 5, Wi-Fi 6E is just the next upcoming Wi-Fi standard. An extension of Wi-Fi 6, Wi-Fi 6E enables the operation of features in the unlicensed 6 GHz band. This is in addition to the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands which are currently supported.

 

So is Wi-Fi 6 really worth it?

We’ll let you make your own minds up.

We think Wi-Fi 6 will certainly bring stronger, faster Wi-Fi, with unrivalled solutions for busy, congested networks.

With technology, it’s nigh on impossible to always have the top-of-the-range device for very long before another one is launched. (Hello, Wi-Fi 6E!)

With Wi-Fi standards, you know that the latest one will offer faster speeds and stronger connections. But that’s not to say that the standard before can’t still offer useful features.

As more Wi-Fi 6 devices are released on the market, we can slowly replace the wireless devices we own. But we wouldn’t necessarily recommend that you rush out and replace all your hardware with Wi-Fi 6 enabled alternatives. Wi-Fi 5 will function just fine for the time being.

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.

Did you receive any Wi-Fi 6 enable devices for Christmas?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So let’s start from the beginning.

Wi-Fi Standards – What are they?

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

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

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

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

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

What they have done however, is:

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

Wi-Fi Standards and Compatibility

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

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

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

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

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

The re-branding of Wi-Fi Standards

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where do routers fit into all of this?

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

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

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

But do you do the same with your router?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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