Boost Your Wi-Fi Speed This Christmas By Not Placing Your Router In This Room

You could be able to increase your internet speed over the Christmas period just by moving your router out of a particular room in your home. 

As schools and businesses slowly come to a close for the Christmas break, you might find your home internet buckling under the increased traffic. Children home from school, friends and family visiting – There could suddenly be many more devices all trying to connect to your Wi-Fi at the same time. 

So making sure your router is placed in the prime position could be vital in making sure Netflix streams don’t buffer, online games don’t freeze and video calls with relatives don’t stutter and fail. 

How Can You Make Sure You Get the Fastest Internet Speeds Possible Over Christmas?

Hands up if you’ve got some kind of new device on your Christmas list? Imagine Santa delivers that new games console, smartphone or smart home gadget – But your Wi-Fi speed and signal can’t handle it.

Have you ever counted how many devices you have in your home that are connected to the internet at any given time? The obvious ones are smartphones, laptops and tablets. But then there’s the TV, online gaming, smart home devices like heating and lighting controls. 

Then add in these new devices and it’s little wonder the Wi-Fi might start to struggle. 

Here are some of our Wi-Fi experts top tips to keep your Wi-Fi quick this Christmas:

  • Never keep your router in a cupboard. We know they’re not the prettiest things, especially if you have an eye for design, but hiding it away in a cupboard is going to affect the strength of the signal
  • Avoid placing your router behind the TV as this can block the signal
  • We know everyone is trying to be savvy with their electric use to keep bills as low as possible, but switching off your router at night isn’t a good idea as it will miss automatic updates (and it won’t save you much money either)
  • Schedule a time once per month to switch the router off and reboot. This can help to clear any issues and keep it working to its full potential
  • Use a tool or app to check what internet speed you are getting. If it doesn’t match what you’re paying for, then give your ISP a call.
  • Place your router in the upright position it’s designed to be in – Not on it’s side or upside down
  • If possible, try to position your router in the centre of your home. This will help to ensure that the signal reaches every room.
  • Try not to place your router near large objects, mirrors or fish tanks as these can all inhibit the signal
  • You might see a decrease in internet speed if you put up your Christmas tree directly over or in front of your router. The lights placed on the tree can, in some cases, negatively affect the signal from the router. You can read more about this here

What Room Should You Never Have Your Router In?

There is one room in the home that has the most potential for causing interference to your router signal and wreaking havoc on your Wi-Fi. And that is the kitchen. This is the worst place you could choose to place your router. 

Your router is consistently beaming out signal the whole time it’s on and connected to your ISP. The kitchen has the highest possibility of interrupting this signal due to the appliances kept and used in there. 

Electronics and metal can cause a lot of problems for your Wi-Fi connection. Appliances like washing machines, fridges and ovens are metal heavy and can block the signal from your router if it is placed too close by. 

Appliances and electronic devices that emit their own signal can also cause interference, like microwaves. If your router is placed near the microwave, you will likely notice a big slow down of Wi-Fi every time the microwave goes on. 

Kitchens are not a good environment for your router, even if your kitchen is in the centre of your home. You will get much better signal strength and speed if you place your router in a room away from large appliances and signal emitting devices. 

Stay Connected This Christmas

Christmas is a time for connection – In real life with those closest to you, and online with those that live further afield. Don’t let your router position and Wi-Fi strength be the reason you can’t connect with loved ones this Christmas. 

Connectivity Alliance – Telecoms Providers Join UK Landowners 

Last week on November 23rd, UK telecommunications providers, infrastructure providers and landowners joined together to form the NCA (National Connectivity Alliance). Why? Well. the main aim is to make collaboration easier on mutual areas of interest as well as aid the rollout of new networks. 

Let’s think about digital infrastructure for a moment – We’re talking about things like trenches for optical fibre cables and mobile masts. It’s easy to see why landowners and digital infrastructure developers might not be on the same wavelength (if you’ll pardon the pun). Previously, landowners would only allow operators to deploy infrastructure on their land in return for high rental fees. This would in turn have a knock on effect for consumers and telecommunications providers as operators would be unable to increase their coverage due to expensive rental fees. 

Back in 2017, the government amended the ECC (Electronic Communications Code) in order to make it more straightforward (and cheaper) for operators to access both public and private land. However, this didn’t have the balancing effect needed and lent instead more in favour of the providers – Some forcing rent of an extremely lower price. 

These lower rents didn’t take into account that landowners had multiple considerations to make like:

  • Facilitating access 
  • Ability to repurpose sites for other ventures (or inability to do so once infrastructure had been deployed)
  • Impact on insurance of any kit fitted to a roof
  • Safety risks for residents near base stations
  • Keeping an area used for deployment in good repair

You can see why this could easily end with disputes in court! Of course, the goal for everyone is to successfully roll out broadband and mobile networks, and the upcoming PSTI bill (Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure) plans to make the changes needed to do just this. 

It’s clear to see that something like the NCA is necessary to help increase collaboration between both landowners and digital infrastructure developers. 

The NCA Chair and Co-Founder is Partner at Blaser Mills Law. Carlos Pierce is thrilled to launch this cross-industry body that will benefit all parties – Including the general public. This new found collective of landowners and digital infrastructure developers will help improve digital connectivity for all. Industry experts bring about best practice, as well as helping landowners to have a deeper understanding of all things digital infrastructure. This combination of education and communication through this NCA collaboration brings an awareness of the needs of all parties in this sector, eventually benefitting the general public. 

The Minister for Digital Infrastructure, Julia Lopez MP, welcomes this new alliance in support of ‘world class connectivity’ for all people across the UK, regardless or whether they live in a city or rural area. Bringing together industry experts and landowners in this way will go a long way in helping negotiations so that all parties are happy. As a result, we can expect this new NCA to boost connectivity, productivity and even the economy. 

You can find out more about the NCA and what they’re about by visiting their website, or have a read of their latest press release here

Image from https://www.ncalliance.org.uk

What If Wi-Fi Had Never Happened?

Isn’t it the most frustrating thing when you hit a Wi-Fi deadspot? No connection, nothing, no matter how many times you re-load the page. In this age of working from home and taking the internet with you wherever you go, it’s hard to imagine a time or place when you couldn’t quickly check your emails or have a scroll through Instagram. 

But did you know that Wi-Fi very nearly didn’t happen in the first place? Wi-Fi almost hit its very own deadspot – And wouldn’t that have changed our lives as we know it! Let’s get to the root of Wi-Fi and see how wireless internet came about.

When was Wi-Fi officially launched?

Just over 23 years ago, on the 25th September 1999, Wi-Fi was officially launched. If you think about the fuss that’s made over a new product launch from Apple, then you might have expected the launch of Wi-Fi itself to be a rather flashy affair. 

In reality, it was a bit Big Bang Theory-esque – A convention centre in Atlanta housing 8 technophiles ready to open their jackets to reveal polo shirts emblazoned with the made-up word Wi-Fi. And all in front of a crowd of just 60 people. 

Some of the biggest tech companies, and some smaller ones too, backed the launch enthusiastically. Even the likes of Apple, Dell and Nokia could never have imagined that they were backing such a huge global phenomenon with incredible economic, social and cultural impact across the world. 

It was the summer of ‘99

Think back to the summer of 1999, if you can. The working world was mostly using wired networks via Ethernet cable. LAN’s (Local Area Networks) connected desktop computers at a rate of 10 Mbps. 

Meanwhile, those trying to send emails from home did so to the sound of a modem trying to connect to another modem via repurposed telephone infrastructure. Dial up internet and 56 Kbps dial up modems clanked and clanged their way online. Arguments were had over who needed to use the computer and who needed to use the telephone. 

There were products for WLAN’s (Wireless Local Area Networks) but these were predominantly just for businesses. The IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) official wireless standard specification for these wireless products was 802.11. Not only were these products expensive, they were also 5 times slower than their wired equivalent. 

Despite there being a specified wireless standard, this unfortunately didn’t mean that one standards compliant wireless product would be compatible with another. This was largely due to the fact that there were different ways of interpreting the specification. 

These weaknesses meant that some companies looked elsewhere and chose to support other rival technology alliances – Each with their own aim of becoming the actual standard. 

Wi-Fi’s rival – HomeRF

One of these rival specifications was developed by a consortium of other technology giants – Compaq, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Intel and Microsoft. Their WLAN ‘HomeRF’ was aimed at consumers (rather than businesses) and was backed by over 80 other companies. In comparison to the other standard, the HomeRF products were not only cheaper but could also communicate with each other. 

With a name like HomeRF (short for Home Radio Frequency) it arguably had a catchier name that IEEE 802.11. They didn’t just have their eyes on the consumer market – They also had big plans for expansion and higher speeds for the business market. 

Despite all of this, the second generation of the IEEE standard, 802.11b was heading steadily for its final approval at the end of September. By the end of the year, there were products due to ship from company 3Com (later acquired by HP along with Compaq). Their products were based on the newer, faster standard and set for release before 1999 ended. 

At the time, networking firm 3Com formed WECA (Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance) bringing together 5 strong advocates for IEEE. Their aim was to make sure that any products using the pending second generation standard would all be compatible with each other. 

Originally tipped to be named ‘FlankSpeed’, connectivity as we know it today was trademarked as Wi-Fi. There began the establishment of the rules by which wireless products could be deemed ‘Wi-Fi Certified.’

What if Wi-Fi had not won out against HomeRF?

Wi-Fi won the wireless standard race, but what if HomeRF had in fact taken the lead? There are ways that all might not have worked out as it has. 

If the second generation standard 802.11b had been delayed, then HomeRF may have been able to sneak ahead. It was only due to a compromise between WLAN industry pioneers (and foes) Lucent Technologies and Harris Semiconductor that meant there was no delay. 

What if FlankSpeed was only available at work?

So what if WECA had decided only to focus on business connectivity? That was a discussed possibility. ‘Go anywhere’ connectivity almost wasn’t on the table. And what if ‘FlankSpeed’ had been chosen over ‘Wi-Fi’? 

A big chunk of today’s workforce rely on being able to bring work home with them. And not just home – What about coffee shops, airports, on the daily commute sitting on the train? Nowadays we tend to take work with us wherever we go. 

Had we been using FlankSpeed at the office and HomeRF at home, this would have made things very difficult for anyone working from home. And you can forget about coffee-shop-working and catching up on emails waiting for a plane – It’s possible neither of these public access options would exist. Zones that were not home and the office would have been a no-go (or NoHO) for working online. 

And if you’re wondering about FlankSpeed and Smartphones – That would have been a no as well. The mobile world of online connectivity disappears into the mist, out of grasp. 

Would it have been beneficial to have more than just one wireless standard? 

The benefits of having a singular focus on just the one standard meant that there was more scope for innovation and cost reduction. 

Even if FlankSpeed or HomeRF had gone forth alongside Wi-Fi, it couldn’t have ever become as cheap to run or prevalent and globally penetrating as Wi-Fi. 

Having a universal standard means that retail stores, public spaces and anywhere where we would now expect to be able to connect, could roll it out uninhibited. Had this not been the case, the ability to stream video whilst sipping a coffee or connect to emails whilst sitting on the train may not be available. 

Thinking on a global level, those living in emerging market countries like Nigeria, rely on free Wi-Fi hotspots to be able to connect to the rest of the world. Remote islands like the Bahamas also rely on Wi-Fi to get support following adverse weather conditions like hurricanes. In this way, Wi-Fi provides critical connections all over the world.  

HomeRF folded in 2003 – So how did Wi-Fi succeed so quickly? 

As with all well-laid plans, it’s all in the preparation and timing. With the announcement of the name Wi-Fi and the promise of certified interoperability from WECA, companies investing in this new wireless standard had the assurance that their products would all work together. 

In 2000, 86% of Wi-Fi devices were used for business. Wireless connection in businesses was big business in itself, with chipmakers and PC companies quickly hopping off the fence to support and join Wi-Fi. This led tech giants Microsoft and Intel to jump ship from HomeRF to Wi-Fi. Wireless for business soared in popularity ahead of in the home, which gave Wi-Fi chip volume a boost. This in turn led to closing the cost gap between that and HomeRF, leading it to fold in 2003. 

Since then, over the past 2 decades the Wi-Fi Alliance and IEEE have worked together to represent, guide and oversee Wi-Fi and its subsequent standards. 

The IEEE committee continues to roll-out new standards, and the WI-Fi Alliance makes sure that certified products can communicate with each other. 

So the next time you hit a Wi-Fi deadspot, or find that the Wi-Fi is down in your favourite coffee shop – Stop and breathe. Count your blessings that you can take your work with you wherever you go (mostly) and that you can largely connect via Wi-Fi wherever you need it. 

Is the Google Nest Wi-Fi Pro Any Good? 

Now that the deliveries have started to drop, the reviews are beginning to come in for the Google Nest Wi-Fi Pro – And so far they’re rather mixed opinions. So is it any good or not? 

Dubbed as the router for working-from-home and a valid step up from its predecessor – Is the Google Nest Wi-Fi Pro the right mesh router for you?

If you read our recent blog on this, you’ll already know that this latest Wi-Fi device from Google brings together Wi-Fi 6E, Thread and Matter functionality. (Wondering what Matter is when it comes to Wi-Fi? Read this). The Nest Wi-Fi Pro enables you to control your smart home devices through this mesh router.  

Wasn’t Google Nest already a mesh network? Yes. Back in 2016, Google launched it’s first mesh Wi-Fi system, followed by Nest Wi-Fi in 2019. This device topped many lists looking at the best mesh routers – Will the Google Nest Wi-Fi Pro follow in its footsteps?

They don’t come cheap – This latest addition to Google’s collection of Wi-Fi devices is more expensive than those before it. Which would make sense if it’s offering upgraded functionality. But is it worth the upgrade and the price? Let’s take a look. 

Google Nest Wi-Fi Pro – The Pros 

We’ll start with all the most positive things that make this new Wi-Fi device worthy of consideration for your home network. 

Why Does Wi-Fi 6E Compatibility Make a Difference for the Google Nest Wi-Fi Pro?

Perhaps the biggest upgrade from previous products is adding in Wi-Fi 6E functionality for the Google Nest Wi-Fi Pro. What does this actually mean? Let’s get technical for a second. The previous Nest device was compatible only with Wi-Fi 5, aka 802.11ac. This means that the router could only use the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. With added Wi-Fi 6E functionality, the Nest Wi-Fi Pro can use the 6GHz band, giving you access to faster, more reliable internet. 

With the ability to access all 3 radio bands at the same time, the Nest Wi-Fi Pro can provide a combined maximum speed of 5.4 Gbps.

Unsurprisingly the addition of Wi-Fi 6E compatibility means the Nest Wi-Fi Pro will offer faster speeds for other Google products to make the most of – Think the Pixel 6, Pixel 6 Pro and the imminent Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro.  

It’s safe to say that Google are taking this new Wi-Fi standard and running with it, bringing the consumer a faster, more reliable internet connection. 

Google Nest Wi-Fi Pro Offers Sizeable Coverage With Scope to Branch Out

Even the largest of homes can secure a strong Wi-Fi signal with Google Nest Wi-Fi and Nest Wi-Fi Pro. With just the one unit you can gain coverage across 120 metres squared, and with the option to have a total of 5 units that’s 600 metres squared of coverage. This is what helps set Google’s Nest Wi-Fi mesh products apart from the rest. (Google doesn’t recommend exceeding 5 units so as to avoid any Wi-Fi interference). 

So whether you are living in a cosy flat or expansive mansion, the Google Nest Wi-Fi Pro has got you covered. What’s more, if you move into a larger property, it’s easy to add in another unit to scale up the coverage in your new home. 

How Many Connected Devices Can Google Nest Wi-Fi Pro Support?

The number of connected devices supported on the Google Nest WI-Fi Pro has increased to 300 (up from 200 on the previous Nest product). 

Why on earth would you need to support 300 devices on your network? Well that really depends on how large your home is and how many people live there. It’s not just about personal devices like laptops, tablets and smartphones. With the prevalence of the smart home, which this particular product is great for, comes the increase in smart home devices. Think smart light bulbs, smart speakers and any other connected devices you want to control remotely. 

The Google Nest Wi-Fi Pro has the capacity to handle these with ease, whereas a more traditional router might meet its limit rather quickly if you’re building a smart home. Furthermore, this device has the ability to prioritise connected devices so you get the connection where you need it most. With MU-MIMO technology, the Nest Wi-Fi Pro units can also communicate with multiple devices at the same time. 

Google Nest Wi-Fi Pro and Parental Controls

If you have children that use the internet, you’ll know only too well how important it is to have parental control over the Wi-Fi. 

The Google Nest Wi-Fi Pro has parental control software built in for free. This means you can:

  • Put your children on a Wi-Fi schedule e.g. no internet at meal times or after 8pm
  • Use Google SafeSearch technology to block content that is deemed unsafe
  • Edit control settings via the Family W-Fi menu in the app 

The fact that this is built in at no extra charge helps set the Google Nest Wi-Fi Pro apart from its competitors. For example, Orbi mesh routers from Netgear charge a subscription fee in order to set internet time limits and restrictions. 

It’s worth noting that this feature is also available on Google’s previous Nest Wi-Fi product as well. 

Matter and Thread Compatibility on the Google Nest Wi-Fi Pro

Google is really looking ahead with their latest product by including Matter support with this device. Technically it won’t be available from launch, but as we start to see an increase in more Matter-enabled devices creeping into our smart homes, it will make adding new products easier in the future. 

Like Matter, Thread is another network function being spoken about more and more. So it makes sense that the Google Nest Wi-Fi Pro also has a Thread border router built in. We could go into much more detail about Thread but we’ll save that for another time. For now, Thread offers a lower power mesh to your home network, so the ability to connect Thread smart devices in the future will be appealing to many.

Google Nest Wi-Fi Pro: Pros on Price

If you are looking for a simple, stand-alone Wi-Fi 6E router, then a single Nest Wi-Fi Pro unit is probably the cheapest option at a cost of £190. Other competitive alternatives are almost double this price. 

Even if you are looking at getting the pack of three units at £380, then it seems worth the money as you’re getting three units for roughly double the cost of one. That seems like pretty decent value to us. 

Google Nest Wi-Fi Pro – The Cons

So we’ve gone through the reasons why you might want to rush out and upgrade to this latest Wi-Fi product. But what could cause you to pause that thought? Let’s see. 

What’s the Design Like on the Google Nest Wi-FI Pro?

The aim of many modern Wi-Fi products is to make them less ugly. The less you are wanting to hide them away in a cupboard, the better these routers will actually work! But as with all things design wise, this can be hugely subjective. What appeals to the eye of one consumer might cause another one to immediately look away. 

For a mesh network to be effective, the units need to be spread about the home if you want to get the best Wi-Fi coverage. The previous Nest Wi-FI units have a soft, matte finish which some would argue makes it easier to blend in with other decor and not stand out too much. 

The Google Nest Wi-Fi Pro however, has a glossy finish that very much says ‘look at me’ – These are not meant to be hidden away! If you like the look of them and don’t mind making them a feature in your rooms then it’s all good. If you were hoping to let them lurk in a corner out of sight, that might be harder to do with these new units. 

It’s also worth noting that these Google Nest Wi-Fi Pro units don’t come with any mounting hardware, so if you were hoping to mount them to the wall or ceiling that might be rather difficult. On the plus side, they do have a rubber base so they’re unlikely to move around wherever you do place them. 

Does the Google Nest Wi-Fi Pro have Ethernet Ports?

We’ve just talked about the aesthetics of the Nest Wi-Fi Pro, and the lack of Ethernet ports fits into this. The design is minimalistic, hence why there are only two ethernet ports on these units. Of course, you could just add in a switch if you need more, but if you are picking the Nest Wi-Fi Pro based on it’s looks, then adding in a switch and hard wire might detract from the image you are looking for. 

This might not be a problem for many homes – Not many products need to be wired to the router and this device will be much faster than what has come before. However, if you have a security camera for example, you might find that it needs to be hardwired to the router via a hub.

The ports only support gigabit speeds which is a bit of a shame. 2.5GbE is becoming more common in order to offer the best possible speeds between wired and wireless. 

If you really need a router with plenty of Ethernet ports, then the Nest Wi-Fi Pro possibly isn’t the one for you – But worry not, there are other mesh routers available. 

What about Wi-Fi 7?

We know, we know, we’re only just getting to grips with the latest wireless standard Wi-Fi 6E. But Wi-Fi 7 is hot on its heels (as with all new technological developments – There is always something waiting in the wings). 

Wi-Fi 7 is set to arrive at the start of next year, offering consumers even faster internet speeds up to a possible maximum data rate of 5.8 Gbps. That’s more than double what Wi-Fi 6E has to offer! Amazingly, Wi-Fi 7 is set to feel like you’re using an Ethernet connection in terms of speed. That’s pretty impressive.

So whilst the Google Nest Wi-Fi Pro future proofs your network in terms of Matter and Thread, it won’t be compatible with Wi-Fi 7. The next Google development will likely take a few more years, so if you’ve already got a new router or your current Google Nest Wi-Fi is working well for your home then it might be worth waiting for the next Nest Wi-Fi Pro after this one. 

The Google Nest Wi-Fi Pro isn’t Backward Compatible

We all feel a bit more secure in making an upgrade if we know that the new device is backward compatible. We know that our other, older devices are safe and will still be able to function. This was true of the previous upgrade from Google Wi-Fi to Google Nest Wi-Fi. Unfortunately, the latest upgrade to Google Nest Wi-Fi Pro will not be backward compatible, which means that your current/previous units (routers or points for example) won’t be compatible with this new one so you won’t be able to combine the two. 

Whilst this may feel quite frustrating, if you’re considering buying a new mesh router anyway then this could be an ideal opportunity to replace what you’ve got to a completely new network that will offer you faster and more reliable internet as well as future proofing it for imminent Wi-Fi standard updates like Matter and Thread. 

Alternatively, the fact that you can’t link older products with the new might prompt you to buy a new mesh system altogether – Perhaps an Amazon offering to fit with your Alexa! 

Google Nest Wi-Fi Pro – The Verdict?

As we’ve discussed above, there are many pros and cons to consider when thinking about purchasing the latest Google Wi-Fi device. The final verdict really comes down to you and what your network demands are. 

Will this mesh network device work for you and your home? 

Wi-Fi Smart Home Standards: What is Matter?

Last week we blogged about Google launching their Nest Wi-Fi Pro – And we mentioned that this new device would be Matter compatible. 

If you keep up with all the latest gadgets and gizmos and pride yourself on your smart home then you’ll have probably been hearing quite a bit about Matter. Especially from the likes of Google, Amazon and Apple. 

If you’re keen to keep your smart home updated with up to date tech and new features, then you might be eager to upgrade to Matter compatible devices.

But what exactly is Matter when it comes to Wi-Fi? And do you need to be rushing out to buy the latest smart home tech to future-proof your devices?

What is Matter in Wi-Fi?

Essentially, the aim of Matter is to provide a protocol that offers interoperability across different ecosystems, offering standard data models for smart home devices. 

If you’re reading this, then it’s likely you have a smart home or are intending to ‘smarten up’ your home with some of the latest gadgets. Think smart bulbs for your lighting, heating controls, TV, music, etc. You’ll also likely have a Google Home, Amazon Alexa, or Apple HomeKit – Which means when you buy smart home devices, you’re checking if they’re specifically compatible to your smart assistant. Is this smart bulb compatible with Alexa? 

In essence, this newly-launched networking protocol – Matter – will ensure that all your smart home accessories work across all the smart home platforms. Or major ones at least. Instead of having to check if something is compatible with Google Home, all you’ll need to do is check for the Matter label. 

You do need to bear in mind however that depending on the platform of your choice, you may need to wait for software updates to enable Matter. 

But what actually is it? What is Matter? Matter is an IP based technology, formerly known as Project Chip (Project Connected Home Over IP). Using Matter, it’s possible to create a mesh network which doesn’t need to connect to the cloud. This means that whether or not your smart accessories connect to the internet or have a hub, if you are physically there in the home then you should be able to ‘turn the lights on’ with Matter and it work with as little as your phone. 

Where we have connective technologies such as Ethernet, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, Matter operates as an application layer on top. This makes mesh functions possible. 

Is Matter a big deal for Wi-Fi and smart homes?

As we intimated above, when you’re shopping for a smart home device or accessory it can all seem a little bit fractured. Does Alexa support this device? Is this accessory compatible with Google Home? 

Whilst many devices and accessories cross over and work with various platforms, that isn’t always the case and we definitely need to be checking compatibility before making a purchase. 

When you’re shopping for a smart home platform, device or accessory, the ones you want might not all marry up. You might love the features of one platform, but not be as impressed by the accessories on offer and the specs of compatible devices available. And that can feel pretty frustrating. 

This is where Matter will be really handy for the smart home industry as a whole – For you as a consumer as well as the smart home manufacturer. 

Matter will mean that you will have a wider range of product options, as well as more reliable connectivity within your home. And that’s a huge thing. 

If you have a smart home, you will likely have smart devices and accessories located all over the house in different rooms – Maybe even outside! If these locations don’t have a strong, reliable signal then you’ll find your devices ‘dropping out’. If you have a home jam-packed full of smart devices then you could even find that your router is overloaded and the Wi-Fi doesn’t work as effectively. Although this is unlikely with Wi-Fi 6, you don’t want a smart home full of devices that can’t work effectively due to the Wi-Fi. 

But accessories using Matter, particularly on a Thread network, helps reduce these connectivity problems. 

Which manufacturers will be compatible with Matter in the UK?

The body behind the Matter standard is the CSA (Connectivity Standards Alliance). Amongst the members of this alliance, you will find the big players of the smart home world like Google, Amazon, Apple and Samsung. 

Google seems to be leading the way when it comes to Matter compatibility here in the UK. As we mentioned in last week’s blog, Google is already launching their Matter compatible device through the Nest Wi-Fi Pro. 

We fully expect others to fully suit very soon, with the tech world eagerly awaiting the necessary software updates by the end of this year. 

Next year we will start to see the tech world pick up the pace with device development to match the Matter spec, with the launching of more and more Matter compatible accessories. 

If you can’t envisage your home without it’s smart element and worry about Wi-Fi coverage disrupting your smart home functionality, then Matter could give you the peace of mind you’re looking for to keep those concerns of operating things without internet at bay. 

Whilst Matter compatibility would future-proof your devices, if you’re happy to choose current devices and accessories that are compatible only with your chosen platform then they will continue to work just the same even once Matter is available. 

We’re excited to see what Matter will have to offer the smart home industry!

Google Launches Nest Wi-Fi Pro

Earlier this month, Google released the latest Nest version of their consumer-grade router. The Google Nest Wi-Fi Pro will not only have Wi-Fi 6E functionality, but also be compatible with Matter IoT. With the Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA) releasing the Matter 1.0 specification on the same day, it will be interesting to see what this means for the Google Nest Wi-Fi Pro and how the Matter certification program will deliver better interoperability between IoT devices in the smart home. 

We’re guessing if you’ve landed on this blog that you are familiar with the Google Nest line of products, but just in case you’re not – Google Nest is perhaps one of the most lucrative and accomplished Wi-Fi mesh products on the market. 

The launch of this latest version brings the Google Nest up to date with Wi-Fi 6E technology and is currently available for order. 

Google Nest Wi-Fi Pro – The Tech

The traditional router is a singular device and whilst it can offer great signal in the room it’s installed, it can get patchy the further out you try to connect, even in just the standard home. 

Where Google Nest Wi-Fi differs is that it is a scalable system, giving a consistent, strong signal across the entire home. Not only that, but each Nest Wi-Fi point is also a Google speaker with Google Assistant.

How Does the Google Nest Wi-Fi Pro Work?

There are two main devices to this system – The router and the point. The router plugs directly into your modem and creates your network, with a strong and reliable signal. 

The point works alongside the router to extend the coverage without losing any strength. This is where it becomes scalable – Depending on the size of your home, you can choose to install these Wi-Fi points in various locations and rooms to make sure the Wi-Fi stays fast everywhere. 

Plus – They are also a smart speaker, so you can use your Google Assistant wherever you are in your home, from playing your favourite music to setting a timer for dinner. 

There is a fantastic visual representation of just what the Google Nest Wi-Fi Pro can do on the product page of their website. 

Most houses now have at least an element of being a smart home. Our demand and consumption for good Wi-Fi at home is at an all time high – Whether it’s working from home via video conferencing, streaming the latest Netflix binge-worthy programme or connected to online gaming. Perhaps even all of them at once! 

The Google Nest Wi-Fi Pro router and Wi-Fi point together enables up to 200 devices to connect at any one time, with the strength and speed to handle multiple 4K videos. 

The Google Nest Wi-Fi Pro features boast the ability to:

  • Connect – Keep buffering at bay whatever room you’re in by automatically connecting you to the nearest Wi-Fi point
  • Optimise – Automatically uses the clearest channel available to offer the fastest band, avoiding congestion
  • Update – Your Wi-Fi will even improve over time due to regular software updates
  • Secure – The Nest Wi-Fi router has an advanced security chip to help protect your network along with automatic updates

And all this controlled from the Google Home app in the palm of your hand. Not just your network, but also parental controls, privacy settings, device prioritisation and even speed checks. Pretty nifty.

Google Nest Wi-Fi Pro – The Aesthetics

This newly launched Google Nest Wi-Fi Pro has a sleek, smooth looking egg shaped design. 

These products were designed with your home in mind – No more hiding an ugly router away out of sight. This is a Wi-Fi device you won’t mind having on show. 

Neutral in colour, they also have a soft under glow when they are ready to help answer those Hey Google requests. 

The Google Nest Wi-Fi Pro is aesthetically inspired by ceramic objects, with the aim to blend right in with your home wherever the router or points need to be located.

Google Nest Wi-Fi Pro – Wi-Fi 6E Capabilities

We’ve been banging on about Wi-Fi 6E here on our Geekabit blog – And for good reason! The Wi-Fi world is excited at this new version and the improvements it will bring. 

So it’s no surprise really that we’re seeing Google launch their new Nest Wi-Fi Pro with Wi-Fi 6E functionality. Devices with this capability will become more and more prevalent, and we’re happy to see products like this appearing on the market already. 

Google Nest Wi-Fi Pro – Ready for Matter 

Taking the tech a step further, this newly launched Google Nest Wi-Fi Pro is also ready for Matter.

Very exciting – But what does that actually mean? 

Well, with the CSA only releasing Matter certification information on the same day the new Google Nest device was released, it’s not that obvious what this means just yet. 

This is a new standard – It is Matter 1.0 afterall. But a very exciting new standard indeed. The fact that the new Google Nest Wi-Fi Pro says it is ready for Matter means, at this stage, that their products are interoperable IoT devices. Google states that all of their Nest devices will be upgraded to be Matter controllers, with Amazon likely to follow suit with their devices. 

The CSA are holding a launch event for Matter in less than a fortnight’s time on the 3rd November, so we will be bringing more to you on Matter and what it means for Wi-Fi very soon.  

How Can I Test My Broadband Speed?

Are you paying for 70Mbps but only getting 1Mbps? If you’ve checked your router and everything seems in order there, then you might want to be reliably checking your broadband speed as well as your Wi-Fi. 

When you obtain broadband from an Internet Service Provider (ISP), they are responsible for getting their broadband service to your home as far as the router. That’s where their responsibility ends. After that, your Wi-Fi is up to you. 

A speed checker won’t check the speed of your Wi-Fi inside your home, but rather the broadband speed that is delivered to your premises before going through your router. 

It’s worth remembering that you will often be offered broadband speeds of ‘up to’ a certain Mbps – That means that roughly 10% of customers will get that speed, but many more will get lower. 

What is broadband speed affected by? 

There are lots of factors that affect broadband speed. 

  • The distance the property is from the exchange
  • The wiring (quality, number of joints)
  • Router quality
  • Time of day broadband is being used (How many people are vying for bandwidth at the same time)

When you are measuring broadband speed, it can also be affected by the router and the computer being used to test. 

The best way to get an accurate measure of your broadband speed is by connecting a device to the router using an Ethernet cable. Internet connections via Ethernet cable are faster and more reliable than Wi-Fi, so will give you a more reliable measure of broadband speed. 

To test your broadband speed, turn off the Wi-Fi on your device and then plug it directly into the router using an Ethernet cable. 

Remember that your ISP can’t do anything about your internet speed from your router onwards. By measuring the speed through an Ethernet cable, you can see how fast it’s coming in at. You are likely to measure a much lower speed using a device on the Wi-Fi. If the speed you measure via Ethernet cable is close to your Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) speed, then you’re doing alright. But you can’t expect to get the same speeds on a device using the Wi-Fi like your tablet or phone. 

How can I test my own broadband speed?

There are two types of speed tests you can do – Casual and Serious. 

How to Do a Casual Broadband Speed Test

Go to any broadband speed checker on your browser – You can find them on Google. You can run the test directly through your browser. 

How to Do a Serious Broadband Speed Test

This one is a bit more involved. 

  1. Turn off your PC / laptops Wi-Fi connection 
  2. Connect the PC / laptop to the router using an Ethernet cable
  3. Turn off any other devices that are using the internet connection (e.g. TV’s, smartphones etc
  4. Restart your router
  5. Restart your PC / laptop and keep any unnecessary programmes closed down (that includes anti-virus software)
  6. Open a clean browser window and go to your chosen broadband speed tester

What results should I be getting? 

To check if the results seem reliable, you can use different browsers and see if there is a difference, for example, between Edge and Chrome. If you are getting approximately the following speeds on the below connections, then you don’t have any major problems.

ADSL connection – 7Mbps

ADSL2 connection – 12-16Mbps

FTTC connection – 30Mbps

Cable connection – 50Mbps

Mobile broadband connection – 20Mbps 

Remember that the results can vary and can be affected by:

  • The server
  • The local exchange
  • The internet itself
  • And more! 

It may also be worth testing the speed at varying times of day and see what you find. 

How do I know which broadband speed checker to use?

For the best results, you should use a local service with the lowest latency or ‘ping’ rate. 

According to the Guardian, the three best speed checkers were:

I’ve tested my broadband speed and it looks fine – So why am I having issues? 

Maybe you’ve got a Wi-Fi problem rather than a broadband speed problem. 

If your device works better when it’s closer to the router, then perhaps the problem is the signal strength, and getting that signal to where you are wanting to use your device most. 

If your Wi-Fi is just slow in general, it could be that your router is the problem. If your ISP won’t upgrade the one you currently have, then maybe you could replace it with an alternative and upgrade it? 

The problem could even be your device itself! See if a friend or family member has a different / newer device that you could test on your Wi-Fi and see if you encounter the same problems. 

Who can help with broadband speed tests and Wi-Fi issues?

If all of the above feels a bit confusing or if you’ve carried out the test but don’t understand the results then don’t panic! Here at Geekabit, our Wi-Fi experts are currently developing our own best-in-class solution for supporting people who wish to record and verify their internet speeds. Coming soon!

How Can I Keep My Home Office Wi-Fi Secure?

A couple of years ago, the most you did with your Wi-Fi might have been a Netflix binge, a bit of online shopping and perhaps some gaming. But now, a big percentage of the workforce are working from at least part of the time. 

With the pandemic brought the rise of hybrid working and all of a sudden, people needed strong, reliable Wi-Fi at home so they could continue to work throughout lockdowns. But what about security? 

Just as you wouldn’t want your card details stolen online, your boss probably doesn’t want confidential information at risk on your home network. They won’t want their devices flooded with spyware and malware either! 

So what can you do to keep your home Wi-Fi network secure so you can continue working from home? 

Here are some top tips to help keep those hackers, scammers and cybercriminals at bay, and protect your network and all the devices connected to it. 

How to keep your home Wi-Fi network secure

1. Re-name your home Wi-Fi network

Your wireless router will automatically broadcast your default SSID (service set identifier) in  the list of available wireless networks close by. It is usually listed by the manufacturer or service provider’s name e.g. Sky. This gives hackers a headstart when it comes to breaking into your network, so it’s always a good idea to re-name it. Make sure you choose a name that doesn’t give away any personal info, such as your surname or house number. 

2. Choose a strong, unique password for your wireless network 

Did you know that hackers can make educated guesses when it comes to default passwords, especially if they know the name of the manufacturer of your router? Scary right. Make sure you change the default password to something strong and less easy to guess. You want it to be at least 20 characters long, and include letters, numbers and symbols. The more difficult you make the password, the trickier it is for hackers to get into your network. 

3. Enable network encryption

Most routers come with a feature called encryption, but they tend to come with this turned off. You can help to secure your home WI-Fi network by turning this feature on in settings. You should turn this on as soon as your router has been installed by your broadband provider. The most recent and effective encryption currently available is ‘WPA2’. 

4. Don’t broadcast your network name – Turn this feature off 

We touched on this above when we talked about changing the default name. You can go a step further and not broadcast your wireless network publicly at all. When a person looks up available local networks on their device, your network won’t be visible if you disable name broadcasting. This means that your Wi-Fi is invisible to anyone who doesn’t know how to go looking for it. There’s not many reasons why you would need to publicly display your home wireless network, unless you want to be sharing it with your friends and neighbours! 

5. Keep up with the latest software updates

As with any firmware, software can have vulnerabilities. Thankfully, these are usually swiftly rectified and shared via updates by the manufacturer. By staying up to date with software for your router you can make sure that it has the highest level of security. Hence helping to prevent hackers getting access to your home Wi-Fi network. 

6. How good is your firewall?

If you want to protect your computer or other device from malware, viruses and other cyber attacks then you need a firewall. You’ll find that most wireless routers come with a firewall built in – But do make sure that this function isn’t turned off. No firewall on your router? You’ll want to make sure that you download a decent firewall onto your system to act as a guard to anyone attempting to access your wireless network with ill intent. 

7. Use VPNs to access your network

A virtual private network is a really effective way of keeping your online communications private and secure. You can use your devices on your home Wi-Fi network and connect to a VPN which then checks your credentials and links with another server. Once both sides are authenticated, all your internet communication becomes encrypted – Which means no outside prying eyes can see or access what you’re up to. 

How secure is your home Wi-Fi network? 

It is so important to keep your home wireless network secure – Perhaps now more than every before with the amount of employees working from home. 

You should know exactly how secure your home Wi-Fi network is, and the steps you can take to ensure it is as secure as you can possibly make it. 

You should be aware of all the devices that connect to your home network and ensure that they all have reliable security software installed. That way all of the devices across your home Wi-Fi network will be protected from viruses and spyware, and thus protecting any sensitive information you may be sharing for work. 

How 4G / 5G Can Keep Railway Networks Connected

4G and 5G mobile broadband technology could be just the answer to the issues that arise from more traditional railway networks. 4G/5G can offer a more reliable connected railway system, allowing strong communication between different devices and employees. Thus, improving the user experience for both potentially frustrated colleagues trying to stay in control of routine maintenance and discouraged commuters put off from making their journey as a passenger. 

A 4G/5G connected railway network can connect trains with other devices and equipment as well as providing links to tracks, stations and operations providing a unified network with clear communications. 

What are the benefits of 4G/5G connected railways? 

As you can imagine, there are many benefits of using 4G/5G to connect railway networks. 

Maintenance

For technicians, engineering managers and other train maintenance staff, a connected system within the units themselves can help shed light on any future or potential problems with that particular unit and ensure timely maintenance before a breakdown occurs.

A railway network connected with 4G/5G may even find that their operational costs lessen through improved communication and streamlined processes. 

Revenue Opportunities 

Having reliable connectivity on trains opens up new revenue streams. Many passengers rely on a strong connection whilst travelling to continue with work, especially in this digital age of hybrid working. 

The more reliable the internet on your rail network, the better the user experience will be for passengers, which will in turn increase the likelihood of repeat travellers. 

Commuters may have a choice in how they get to where they’re going – Whether that’s rail, bus, driving, cycling or walking. If sitting on the train, connected to a reliable network, means that they can tie up any loose ends from their day before getting home then that could be just the reason they choose rail. 

Why do we need 4G/5G connected stations in our railway networks?

A fast, reliable 4G/5G network at our railway stations offer more efficient service and enhanced security. 

Efficient Service

Digital kiosks can help to reduce queues and offer passengers a quick way of buying their tickets when they are in a rush and don’t need any additional assistance. High speed 4G/5G networks ensure that these digital kiosks can get relevant updates in real-time, checking arrivals and departures status. 

Enhanced Security

4G/5G video surveillance means rail networks can monitor and track any suspicious behaviour anywhere on the train station or depot premises – Even without wires or Wi-Fi / ethernet connections. 

The 4G/5G network can transmit the data anywhere it is needed, providing timely monitoring and interventions where necessary. 

This type of data is invaluable for railway managers who can analyse what is collected from different locations and use these insights to improve operational efficiency, safety and the passenger experience. 

4G/5G Connected Trains

Passenger Experience

Not only do 4G/5G connected trains improve the passenger experience, they also open the door for more revenue opportunities. Selling data plans to your passengers and offering them access to reliable 5G Wi-Fi hotspots on trains means commuters can connect their mobile devices and laptops to a strong, reliable internet connection for the duration of their journey. 

Operations

The more reliably connected the train is, the more efficient the operations. 

Operations managers can effectively monitor the status of trains in operation by relying on accurate, real-time GPS tracking. Likewise, train operators can communicate with operations if any issues arise. Various colleagues on the railway system connected to the same reliable 4G/5G network improves communications.

Particular parts of the train can be fitted with sensors that are connected to the network. This means that the technology itself can communicate with the maintenance teams and notify when that part needs to be repaired or replaced. This helps to reduce the costs associated with delayed or cancelled trains due to unscheduled maintenance and improve service. 

Using smart cameras connected to the 4G/5G network means that train security can rely on high-speed wireless communication, particularly in locations tricky to monitor or wire to. They automatically record footage as well as identify potential suspicious activity and provide alerts to members of staff. 

Why Use 4G/5G for Connected Railway Networks?

4G/5G networks offer an ideal model for railway networks as they offer super-fast speed, low latency and reliability. 

It’s important to ensure that the 4G/5G connection available will be stable and of good quality. This is where 4G/5G testing comes in. 

Here at Geekabit we can provide 4G/5G mobile signal testing to check coverage and performance both in static locations and on the move. We can also determine which Mobile Network Operator would offer the best coverage for your user location(s). 

Geekabit can carry out a 5G survey along London roads, parts of the capital’s transport network and throughout leisure facilities in London and the surrounding areas. Other locations may be available on request, please feel free to contact us on info@geekabit.co.uk.

In today’s world, we don’t just stay in one place – Even while we’re working. We take our need for connection wherever we go – And it needs to be strong and reliable. Gone are the days where we are tethered to a desk – We need the 5G mobile coverage to be available on the go. Whether we are using a smartphone, tablet or other internet enabled device, we need to stay connected – And we need to know that the signal will be strong and reliable. 

Geekabit’s 5G survey can tell you how strong the cellular coverage is in certain areas of London, and which networks would work best for those locations. This information is invaluable.

Average Internet Speeds Double in 4 Years for Home Networks  

Recently released figures show that home broadband has evolved rapidly over the last 4 years. Between 2018 and 2021 home networking speeds increased by 108%, with the number of connected devices within the home also jumping 137% between 2015 and 2021. 

What devices consume the most data per month within the home? 

With the increase in the number of connected devices in our homes increasing so much over the past few years, let’s take a look at which ones consume the most data. 

Whilst at home, the device that consumes the most data is our Smartphones at 96.3 GB per month. Next were Streaming TV’s and Set-top boxes (like Apple TV or Fire) at 78.3 GB and 63.3 GB per month respectively. Games consoles and laptops were also in the top 5, consuming 35.7 GB and 30.3 GB per month. 

Growth of Home Networks

The figures released indicated that there was an increase in traffic as well as the number of connected devices. A span of 35 million homes saw connections of 1.3 billion Wi-Fi devices.

The speed of home broadband has also increased from an average of 152 Mbps to 317 Mbps – That’s an increase of 108% between 2018 and the end of last year. 

IoT devices has more than tripled alongside the doubling of the number of overall connected devices. Between 2015 and 2021, these devices increased by 137%. 

Unsurprisingly, it’s smartphones that consume the most data within our homes, followed by streaming TV’s and set-top boxes.  

Faster, Smarter Home Networks

Everything in the Wi-Fi industry moves fast. Only last week we were talking about Wi-Fi 7, and we’ve barely got our hands on Wi-Fi 6 yet! 

There’s been rapid growth in Smart Home devices, which makes the increase in connected devices unsurprising. Manufacturers are always looking to make their devices faster and smarter in the way that they work. 

Consumers are expecting a home network that serves their need for immediate, secure and reliable connectivity – with the devices to match.