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.

 

 

Our Top Wi-Fi Blogs of 2021

A new year has begun, and no doubt it will bring new technology and wireless improvements with it!

Here at Geekabit, we covered a lot of different Wi-Fi topics last year here on the blog, many of which were steered by the enquiries we were receiving to our Wi-Fi Experts across Winchester, London and Cardiff. We saw a big increase in demand for 4G broadband, particularly for homes in rural areas. Hybrid broadband has also soared in popularity!

We’ve also talked a lot about 5G and Wi-Fi 6 and a few of the products already available on the market. With there still being a heavy focus on working from home throughout 2021, it’s no surprise that reliable broadband and internet speeds at home were still crucial. We even launched our own product – SpeedScore – A great way for estate agents and landlords to accurately identify their broadband speeds.

With all of this in mind, we thought we would take a look back on the last year and see what blogs were most popular with you – Our readers!

#10 – Just making the top 10 reads from 2021 is a blog on the 4G Broadband Teltonika RUT950 router. This device was out top product for 4G broadband installations during 2021 – Click the blog to find out why.

4G Broadband and the Teltonika RUT950 Industrial Cellular Router

#9 – Continuing on the 4G broadband theme, in at number 9 is why 4G broadband could be the answer for all your rural Wi-Fi woes. 2021 brought us many clients desperate for a quicker Wi-Fi service in rural areas, particularly those who had moved out of London but expected the same internet connectivity. If you’re sticking with more working-from-home as we move into 2022, then have a read of this blog to see if 4G broadband could bring you a better connection.

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

#8 – Last year we saw a big buzz around 5G. This blog was all about the Robustel R5020 router – An exciting product offering 5G connectivity at a competitive price.

The Robustel R5020 5G Router

#7 – We can’t talk about 4G broadband without talking about data plans. Joining in on the blog popularity of 4G/5G broadband and pieces of kit was this blog on Unlimited 4G broadband data plans. well worth a read if you’re going down the 4G broadband route.

The Best Unlimited 4G Data Plans for Broadband

#6 – Which brings us nicely to hybrid broadband. This has seen a soar in popularity, and we’re expecting to see a lot more of this in client enquiries over this coming year. But what is hybrid broadband? If you’re wanted unbreakable Wi-Fi for your home or business then this could well be the solution you’ve been searching for.

 

What is Hybrid Broadband?

#5 – 2021 saw Facebook launch it’s own Wi-Fi – But what is it? Hundreds of thousands of businesses are already using it, but if you’re not yet one of them then click the blog below to see what you need to know.

What is Facebook Wi-Fi?

#4 – Anything to do with Ubiquiti always proves a popular blog topic. And with good reason – These devices are one of the staple pieces of kit here at Geekabit. The Ubiquiti UniFi range of access points are always easy to match to our clients needs.

How Do I Choose The Right Ubiquiti UniFi Access Point?

#3 – Wi-Fi 6 was another topic on everyone’s lips last year. This blog on the Amplifi Alien Wi-Fi 6 router was a big favourite of our readers – Could that be because of the ongoing need to work and learn from home?

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

#2 – How do you choose the right wireless product for your home or business? It’s a question often asked so no wonder this blog looking at 3 top wireless products almost made the top spot. If you want to compare UniFi, Meraki and Aruba bits of wireless kit then this is the blog for you.

UniFi vs Meraki vs Aruba

#1 – And here we are at number one. The most popular blog last year was this one on Starlink and what it meant for broadband here in the UK. another interesting read, particularly those living and working in more rural areas, struggling with connectivity.

What is Starlink and what does it mean for UK broadband?

So there you go – Our top ten Wi-Fi blogs of 2021. We’re excited to see what 2022 will bring!

 

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?

 

Can I Use DFS Channels on my Wi-Fi Network?

We’ve recently started to see a rise in customers using DFS channels when operating their Wi-Fi networks, so thought we would write an article all about it in case it’s also helpful for your own network.

What is DFS?

DFS is Dynamic Frequency Selection and is a type of Wi-Fi function that allows WLANs to use 5GHz frequencies (which are reserved for radar, for example, the military, satellite or weather).

What is the benefit of using DFS channels for Wi-Fi?

We’ve written before about how you can improve your Wi-Fi and prevent interference by utilising different channels. The main benefit of using DFS channels taps into this. You can increase the number of available Wi-Fi channels by using DFS channels to use these less-used frequencies.

How can I utilise DFS channels on my Wi-Fi network?

The first thing you need to do if you are wanting to use DFS channels, is to check that your wireless access points and wireless clients support the necessary functionality.

The 5GHz spectrum in the UK is broken into 3 different bands and runs from 5150MHz (5.15GHz) to 5850MHz (5.85GHz). The bands are as follows:

Band A

  • Channels 36 – 64
  • This is used only for Indoor wireless
  • Does not require a license

Band B

  • Channels 100 – 140
  • Can be used both inside and outside
  • Does not require a license
  • Hardware must conform to DFS standards and be DFS enabled

Band C

  • Channels 149 – 161
  • Can only be used outside
  • Requires a license from Ofcom
  • Hardware must conform to DFS standards and be DFS enabled

 

 

Checking DFS Channel Availability

When you enable DFS, the Wi-Fi access points will need to verify that any radar in the proximity is not using DFS frequencies. This is a process called Channel Availability Check and is carried out during the boot process of an AP as well as during normal operations.

Should an AP detect that a local radar is using a certain DFS channel, it will automatically exclude that channel for this list of available ones. This will last for 30 minutes after which time the AP will check again to see if the channel can be used for Wi-Fi transmissions. You’ll be pleased to know that this exclusion of unavailable channels has very little impact on Wi-Fi clients.

DFS channels are not immediately available when an AP boots. This is because the Channel Availability Check can take anywhere between 1 minute and 10 minutes during the boot process.

 

What happens if an AP detects radar use during normal operations?

We know what you’re thinking – What happens if the AP was to detect during normal operations that the channel you are using becomes in use by a proximal radar?

If this happens, then the AP may communicate to its Wi-Fi clients to stop transmitting on that particular channel. The AP will then switch to a different, available DFS channel within the Channel Move Time. This is usually about 10 seconds.

Unlike above, this could affect Wi-Fi clients. An AP won’t always announce that it is changing channels to connected devices. When it switches to the available channel, it will cause those Wi-Fi clients to disconnect from the network and then re-connect to the new channel.

 

Are DFS channels right for my Wi-Fi network?

If you are considering using DFS channels for your Wi-Fi, you need to think carefully about whether business critical operations rely on that connection. If the answer is yes, you might want to avoid enabling DFS and not risk the disconnections caused by DFS frequencies.

 

Can My Christmas Lights Affect My Wi-Fi?

The 1st December means we can officially start talking about Christmas! December 1st also happens to be National Christmas Lights Day which coincides with many people choosing to put up their Christmas tree (if they haven’t already done so!).

So you fight the knot of Christmas lights that you’ve fetched from the loft, stick on the ‘Christmas is Coming’ playlist on Spotify (thank us later) and flick the switch for the moment of truth – And Bublé buffers as soon as the tree lights up. What’s going on?

There tends to be articles that circulate this time of year about how Christmas lights could be interfering with your Wi-Fi. But is it really the Christmas tree lights that’s causing Mariah to falter on that high note?

If you haven’t put your tree up yet, and you’re a bit of a Wi-Fi geek (like us) then why not do a little experiment to see exactly how much your Christmas tree lights affect your Wi-Fi? Test your internet and download speeds before and after putting up the Christmas tree with the lights turned on.

 

Will my Wi-Fi be affected by my Christmas tree lights?

Let’s face it, no one wants to choose between functioning Wi-Fi and a Christmassy home. People need that bit of festive cheer more than ever this year, but we also need to know we can rely on our Wi-Fi to keep us connected with our loved ones over the festive period (and stream all the Christmas movies…).

There are potential Wi-Fi issues that can arise with Christmas tree lights so we thought it was worth running through a few do’s and don’ts to help avoid any internet interference from happening in your home. But first – what’s the reason Christmas lights could cause internet issues?

 

How can Christmas tree lights interfere with Wi-FI?

Christmas lights emit a very weak electromagnetic field which can theoretically interfere with the radio waves being transmitted from your router, thus affecting your Wi-Fi speed. If the lights were to transmit electromagnetic radiation at or around the same frequency, then it is possible that they could slow down your Wi-Fi.

Between the LED or lamp being completely on or off, it can exhibit negative resistance which in turn causes radio energy. This happens less with modern day lights than older ones though (see below for more info on this).

Is your tree lit up to give a soft glow, or does it look like something fresh out of Blackpool illuminations? The more lights you have, the stronger the electromagnetic field will be.

And the closer the router is to the lights, the higher the chance of interference.

So what can you do to ensure that your beautifully decorated Christmas tree doesn’t knock off your Netflix binge of Christmas movies?

 

Geekabit’s Top Tips to Prevent Wi-Fi Interference this Festive Season

 

Rule #1 – Don’t place things on top of your router

Just don’t do it. This doesn’t just go for decorations, but in general. We can’t stress this enough – Don’t put anything on top of your router.

This includes Christmas lights – No matter how festive they look! Don’t put Christmas lights or anything else directly on top of, or too close to, your router.

Whilst it has been reported that routers that were placed too close to Christmas tree lights could be negatively affected by signal interference, if they’re not directly next to each other or on top of each other, it should be fine.

 

Rule #2 – Use a main plug socket

We get it – Christmas is one of those times of year when you’re struggling for socket space and digging out all the extension cables you can find to be able to power Christmas tree lights and all kinds of other lit decorations.

But don’t be tempted to unplug the router and plug it into the extension cable. It will work a lot better, and faster, if it’s plugged into a main socket.

 

Rule #3 – The more modern the lights, the better

There are generally 2 types of light whose qualities have the potential to cause interference.

Older types of Christmas lights that are arranged in a string of low voltage lamps in series with each other and are designed to blink can cause radio interference which can lead to dips in Wi-Fi speed.

More modern Christmas lights use solid-state LED’s and have an external control for flashing which don’t create radio noise. However, it’s worth noting that some LED’s have a chip inside the bulb to control the blink and these devices can also cause interference.

On the whole though, modern lights are definitely less likely to cause you a Wi-Fi problem, so maybe save yourself the annual horror of trying to untangle your 10 year old string of lights and treat yourself to some new ones.

 

Rule #4 – Don’t put your router in ‘high traffic’ areas

Tis the season for family gatherings, friend get-togethers and all sorts of festive shenanigans. Not to mention the big man in red tumbling down the chimney! Humans are great signal absorbers, so put the router in a place where it won’t get blocked by partying people or round bellies that shake like jelly.

 

Did you do the Wi-Fi speed test before and after? We’re pretty sure the results will be rather negligible but we’d love to hear your results!

 

SpeedScore by Geekabit

Your internet speed has never been so important. Connectivity is as important as electricity, water and gas to a home or business. Decisions are made based on the speed you can offer, yet connectivity is often overlooked until it’s too late.

House buyers, tenants, hospitality customers and even employees are getting more tech savvy and starting to ask questions about internet speeds and reliability.

With a decade of providing connectivity solutions to UK markets, we have launched our innovative Internet Connectivity Measurement Platform.

SpeedScore by Geekabit gives you a variety of tools to help provide an independent certification of your internet speeds and connectivity.

Most internet speed tests are not accurate, as they become affected by the use of Wi-Fi, old devices and different test endpoints. You can’t expect them to provide the same results test after test due to a variety of factors.

Our hardware and software is different, resolving these issues and providing a balanced and independent view. We have no affiliation with any connectivity provider or hardware manufacturer, allowing us to create a truly impartial scheme based on scientific measurement and reporting.

Who is SpeedScore for?
Perfect for Estate Agents looking to prove internet connection speeds in properties for sale, landlords looking to provide accurate broadband measurement for potential tenants, and hospitality hosts giving confidence to those looking for a connected stay.

What does SpeedScore include?
The core platform consists of the SpeedScore ConnectBox – plugged directly into your broadband router (available for purchase or hire) and the SpeedScore Platform and App. You can show live scores within your own online marketing, provide exportable reports and download certificates to provide an independent and balanced view from our experts.

Prove your internet speed and connectivity status, when and where you need it with SpeedScore by Geekabit.

We have limited availability for the first rollout of our platform, and are looking for a final few customers for our initial shipping batch. If you would like to take part, please email .

The Fundamentals of a Wireless LAN

We were going to call this blog ‘WLANs for Dummies’ but that seemed a bit harsh so we settled on the fundamentals of a wireless LAN instead.

A wireless LAN, or WLAN, might seem complicated on the surface but actually it really just follows simple laws of physics. If you can understand these and follow them, then there shouldn’t be any reason why you can’t achieve high performance and scalability for your WLAN.

If you can understand the basics of wireless physics, then you can start to plan your WLAN for a successful deployment. It will also help you to troubleshoot an existing WLAN exhibiting issues.

How Does Data Travel Through a WLAN?

First things first – Let’s look at wave properties.

Data transmits, or travels, from one point to another – e.g. between wireless access points – via electromagnetic waves. This energy travels at the speed of light and operate at different frequencies.

The frequencies of these electromagnetic waves are defined by how many periodic cycles are completed by second.

For example:

How is Frequency Measured?

As we said above, frequency is how many wave cycles are completed per second. This is measured in Hertz. A 2Hz waveform is 2 completed wave cycles in a period of 1 second.

How Does Frequency Affect a WLAN?

A phenomenon called Free Space Path Loss is something that causes signal loss when a waveform travels from one point to another. This is what affects how well data travels across a wireless network.

Different wavelengths (frequencies) experience difference signal loss. The lower the frequency, the longer the wavelength, and the longer the wavelength, the further it can travel before signal gets lost.

For example, 2.4GHz have longer wavelengths than higher frequencies like 5GHz.

How is Wi-Fi Signal Loss Measured?

We measure the energy that is associated with received wireless signals in Decibels (dB). We can also measure loss of signal in this way.

Decibels are logarithmic. On the linear domain, when you add decibels it grows exponentially and when you subtract decibels it reduces exponentially.

The 3dB rule

Every 3dB change, there is a doubling of energy (if increasing) or a halving of energy (if decreasing).

As a ratio, this would look like:

If we had the wireless signal energy at
1:10dB

Then doubling it would be
2:13dB

Remembering this rule can help with both analysing the energy associated with wireless signals as well as predicting it.
Similarly, if you add or subract 10dB, it changes by a factor of 10.

The Relationship Between Frequency and Wireless Signal

Let’s take a look at 2.4Ghz and 5GHz frequencies or waveforms. 5GHz is a higher frequency, so has more wavelengths in a given time period. 5GHz has more wireless signal loss (attenuation) than 2.4GHz, and thus is better for high-density areas. 2.4GHz has less wavelengths in a given time period and is better suited for wider coverage. Bear this in mind when you are planning or troubleshooting a wireless network.

How is Wireless Signal Affected by Different Materials?

In an ideal world, you would have a clear line of sight between your wireless points. In reality, this is rarely the case and you will often find things that get in the way and stop the wireless signal from traversing effectively across your network.

Different materials will affect wireless signals and attenuation in different ways.

Materials such as concrete will cause more attenuation of wireless signal than wood.

In scenarios where wireless signals can propagate (the action of spreading) normally, there is no interference from other materials. However, there are some things that can alter the propagation of a wireless signal, causing it to behave differently and potentially become unreliable.

For example, a WLAN environment with metal surfaces may encounter unpredictability with wireless signal due to it reflecting off the metal.
Wireless signal can also be absorbed by certain materials like water or people, causing the signal to falter.

Being mindful of materials during the WLAN planning stage can help ensure the environment doesn’t hinder your wireless network and you have reliable connectivity results.

Co-Channel Interference

Different materials aren’t the only thing that can interfer with wireless signals.

Due to the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frewuency bands being unlicensed, there are no restrictions on people when extending wireless networks with access points.

This means that they can become crowded as well as channels not being assigned efficiently. Both of these issues can cause co-channel interference.

When planning your WLAN it’s important to take these issues nito consideration and plan your wireless network accordingly so as not to risk problems with wireless signal later down the line.

You want your WLAN to be as effective and efficient as it can possible be, which takes planning and wireless network knowledge.

Whilst the 2.4GHz is popular due to its propagation qualities due its waveforms passing through materials like walls more easily and reaching end users at a long distance. This however has meant that its become crowded with competing devices such as cordless telephones, baby monitors and bluetooth devices. This saturation can cause problems with your wireless signal.

In comparison, the 5GHz spectrum has greater availability and relaxed transmission power giving it more flexibility when it comes to wireless networks.

The 2.4GHz band has only 3 channels without any overlap, whereas the 5GHz has 24. This is another reason why the 5GHz band is favoured for high-density WLAN environments.

Understanding Frequency Channels

To ensure you can maximise the performance and scalability of your WLAN, you need to understand how these channels operate and use that knowledge to avoid co-channel interference.

Let’s take an Access Point as an example. An AP will have a specific bandwidth through which it will transmit and receive signals to and from other points. The channel assigned to the AP will be appropriate for the centre frequency of the first 20MHz channel used by the AP.

This bandwidth is specifically the frequency range over which the data signals are transmitted. Peak transmission and power is spread over the range of that bandwidth, with it dropping off at the edges.

These edges are then at risk of meeting other nearby wireless networks and are prone to interference from the ‘noise’ of these other networks.

It’s important to use what you know about channels to prevent the reduction of wireless signal speed and loss of scalability of your wireless network.

In order to minimise interference between neighbouring access points, choose to assign them with non-adjacent channels. Following this will make it easier to scale your network. If you don’t follow this principle, you will likely encounter problems with latency and throughput.

The best way of reducing interference when assigning WLAN channels is to carry out a Wi-Fi site survey. This involves analysing the noise levels across the spectrum so you can make informed decisions for your wireless network.

Call The Experts

If this all sounds a bit complicated, then why not give us a call here at Geekabit? We have Wi-Fi expert engineers working out of Hampshire, Cardiff and London who can take care of all your Wi-Fi woes.

From Wi-Fi site surveys, to planning and installation, we’ve got your WLAN covered. GIve us a call or drop us an email to see how we can help keep you and your business connected.

Ubiquiti Wi-Fi Expert Help

Here at Geekabit, we love Ubiquiti – It’s no secret. We’re often asked what bits of Wi-Fi kit are our favourites, and Ubiquiti is definitely one of them. We use Ubiquiti wireless devices so much that we consider ourselves a bit of an expert when it comes to Ubiquiti Wi-Fi installations. We’ve done quite a few blogs sharing our expert knowledge of Ubiquiti Wi-Fi devices, so this week we thought we’d do a quick round-up on some of the things we’ve touched on.

Let’s start with how Ubiquiti UniFi could help your business. This blog was the first in a series of three looking at the benefits of Ubiquiti UniFi in a business setting. If excellent, reliable Wi-Fi is critical to your business operations, then this is well worth a read.

[Part 1] What is Ubiquiti UniFi and How Could It Help Your Business?

In the above blog, we looked at what Ubiquiti UniFi actually was and how it could function as a network in your business. This next one focuses in on the Controller and UniFi Cloud Key and their expert Wi-Fi function within an effective wireless network.

[Part 2] Ubiquiti UniFi – The Brains

The third in that series of blogs looked at the elements that complete the Ubiquiti UniFi network and how they could provide you with a better connected business. After the last 18 months, we’ve all seen how vital it is to have a reliable connection. This series of 3 blogs on Ubiquiti UniFi highlights how these interconnected devices could be the ideal solution for keeping your business well connected.

[Part 3] Ubiquiti UniFi – The Elements

Ubiquiti Access Points are a staple in our Wi-Fi toolkit. We’re confident that their selection of access points are straightforward to match to our clients needs and satisfy your end users. For a blog that takes you through choosing the right Ubiquiti access point for your business, check out the link below.

How Do I Choose The Right Ubiquiti UniFi Access Point?

Of course, Ubiquiti isn’t the only provider out there. How does it compare to some other top options on the wireless device market? See how it stacks up against popular choices from Meraki and Aruba.

UniFi vs Meraki vs Aruba

With all the Wi-Fi 6 hype, you might be wondering what the choices are in terms of Ubiquiti Wi-Fi 6 products. In that case, you’ll probably want to have a read about the Amplifi Alien – The new Wi-Fi 6 router from Ubiquiti.

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

If you have a large area to cover with your network range, then mesh could be the right option for you. Mesh is essentially like a interconnected grid or net of access points that all communicate with each other, ensuring that even if one goes down you don’t drop your connection. If this sounds like something that could work for your business Wi-Fi network, have a read of the blog below explaining Ubiquiti UniFi Mesh models.

Ubiquiti UniFi – What are Mesh and Mesh Pro Models?

The latest from our Ubiquiti blogs is the range of Ubiquiti airMAX products. With something to match every business Wi-Fi need – from a functional perspective to design aesthetics – This blog will take you through the Ubiquiti airMAX device choices.

Which Ubiquiti airMAX product should I choose?

If you need Ubiquiti Wi-Fi expert help then give us a call here at Geekabit. Our Wi-Fi experts operate out of London, Hampshire and Cardiff and are all competent in Ubiquiti wireless devices.

To get in touch, give us a call or drop us a message.

 

What is Hybrid Broadband?

Is hybrid broadband the answer to your Wi-Fi woes?

It’s safe to say we all want unbreakable Wi-Fi. That’s what we strive to give our home and business clients – Especially ones with Wi-Fi woes!

Despite ‘Freedom Day’ happening earlier this week, many companies, employees and schools are still accessing work and learning from home. That means Zoom calls and Microsoft Teams meetings are here for a while yet. If you’ve ever had you Wi-Fi connection stutter and freeze during an important call or meeting, you’ll understand the frustration that comes with unreliable Wi-Fi.

You may not have experienced dodgy Wi-Fi but are you confident that your Wi-Fi is unbreakable? If the answer isn’t a firm yes then you might be interested to find out more about hybrid broadband and how it could help improve the reliability of your Wi-Fi connection.

You might have seen some TV adverts from BT and Vodafone, publicising their hybrid broadband offerings. But what actually is it?

What is hybrid broadband?

The idea behind hybrid broadband is a bit like a safety net. If your standard broadband connection starts to struggle or fail, it is backed up by a mobile connection via a 4G or 5G network (depending on carrier).

Basically, it provides a complete Wi-Fi service via a fixed landline and mobile provision all in one.

BT’s hybrid broadband Hybrid Connect works via their SmartHub2 router, not only using their broadband service but also offering a 5G back-up via their cellphone carrier EE. You don’t need to be a subscriber of both – Just a BT customer.

This means that should your broadband connection go down – Perhaps because of vandalism of the street-side cabinet, or extreme weather – Then you will still be able to get online via the 5G network.

All internet devices that are connected to your router would automatically switch over to the alternative mobile internet connection in under 90 seconds if a problem was detected with the broadband.

With the ability to purportedly support up to 250 devices at a fast enough speed, this could be a great solution if you and your business operations are heavily reliant on being connected to the internet. Which is a lot of us currently!

Is hybrid broadband guaranteed to work?

Well, unfortunately no. Hybrid broadband is only as good as your 4G / 5G reception. Automatically switching to a 4G network with no reception isn’t going to keep you reliably online!

The good thing is, there is something you can do about this.

If your home 4G connection isn’t as strong as you would like, you will need to make sure your router has suitable external antenna reception. Geekabit can help with this for both home use and business customers!

We’ve helped a lot of customers recently, especially those in rural areas,to  get excellent 4G coverage to boost their Wi-Fi strength.

Here at Geekabit we have the expertise and tech kit to make sure that your antenna is placed in the best place possible for a reliable and strong 4G connection.

You can read more about how we can help with 4G broadband here.

If you think that 4G broadband might be the answer for your home or business Wi-Fi then get in touch with us today – Our Wi-Fi experts from Hampshire, Cardiff and London will be pleased to chat through the options with you.