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

Over the past few weeks we’ve been sharing articles about our clients’ experiences with slow, unreliable rural internet connections. We’ve been able to rectify this problem for them with the installation of 4G antennas and routers.

We’re no stranger to the issues rural villages face when it comes to internet connectivity. Over the past few days UK press has reported the beginnings of a potential new solution that could also help those that struggle with standard broadband connections. You may have seen Starlink in the headlines – But what’s it all about?

 

What is Starlink?

Starlink is a satellite broadband internet system from Elon Musk’s SpaceX. It is penned to provide a low latency internet option ideal for rural areas. It will consist of a constellation of small satellites in a low earth orbit, working with transceivers on the ground.

It’s made the press in the last 48 hours for securing a deal with telecoms mast company Arqiva, who will provide ground stations enabling SpaceX to spread its satellite internet service across Britain.

 

How does Starlink work?

As reported yesterday, Arqiva (based in Crawley, Hampshire) will be providing SpaceX with ground transceivers to increase UK coverage. With large ground station dishes at sites in Hampshire, Suffolk, Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire, Arqiva has much of the home counties covered.

These ground stations will help to connected broadband satellites to the fibre network, allowing them to deliver internet signals.

The internet services that SpaceX will provide is direct to the consumer via a satellite dish. Although it’s not currently on offer throughout the UK, initial trials have been carried out in Devon and Cornwall with those taking part having received their dishes in early 2021.

The move to secure ground stations will help enable Starlink to expand its satellite coverage across the UK. They hope to cover much of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland by the end of this year.

 

When will Starlink have UK wide coverage?

Starlink’s network of low-earth-orbit satellites is growing rapidly. There are currently 1000 small satellites in orbit across the northern hemisphere, with plans to eventually have launched up to 12,000. Coupled with the provider’s move to lease ground infrastructure, this could well be an internet option for rural villages by the end of 2021.

 

Is Starlink connected to Project Gigabit?

This week, the government have launched Project Gigabit – A £5 billion government project to improve internet infrastructure and bring next generation gigabit broadband to hard to reach homes and businesses.

Officials from Starlink have been in talks with UK government in regards to how their satellite internet service could be used as a part of Project Gigabit, connecting remote parts of UK countryside to broadband speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second.

The rapid expansion of Starlink’s satellite network could accelerate this project.

 

How much will Starlink broadband cost?

To get set up as a Starlink customer here in the UK, you’ll need to first buy a Starlink satellite dish costing £439. There will then be a monthly subscription fee of £89.

 

How will Starlink’s satellite internet compare to other broadband offerings?

Trial customers that have started using Starlink’s satellite internet service already, have so far enjoyed speeds of 100-200 megabits per second.

If this standard was to be seen across the UK, especially in rural areas, it would be a significant improvement in internet speeds.

 

Are Starlink the only player when it comes to satellite internet service?

Earlier in the year, Arqiva reported to investors that they were actively ‘developing opportunities’ with low-earth-orbit constellations customers.

SpaceX was among those that were named, as well as Amazon and OneWeb so watch this space.

 

Can I get Starlink satellite internet now?

Starlink is currently only offering an initial beta service through trials, both domestically and internationally.

With the news this week in regards to ground stations, it’s expansion is expected to continue rapidly with near global coverage (including the UK) by the end of this year.

 

This week has certainly seen some exciting new developments within the Starlink satellite internet service. We’re keen to see what happens next, and whether their internet speeds will indeed be as fast and reliable as they hope.

But for now, we’re sticking with our 4G solution to rural Wi-Fi problems. If you need reliable internet now, and a slow Openreach connection just isn’t cutting it, get in touch about our 4G broadband option today. You can read more about how we’ve helped rural clients in Hampshire get a reliable 4G broadband connection here.

Could 4G Broadband Be The Answer to Threat of BT Strike?
Working-From-Home Fears Due To BT Strike

For the first time since 1987, BT are facing nationwide industrial action due to a ballot regarding job cuts and site closures. The Communication Workers Union is due to hold a ballot soon, which could have an enormous impact on the network if a yes vote is returned.

Through this ongoing pandemic, effective internet has kept us connected with colleagues as well as loved ones. It’s held businesses together through the rise of working from home, and it’s kept part of the economy going throughout lockdown restrictions. As a nation, we’ve realised how vital a good internet connection is.

Most of the UK’s broadband network consists of BT, EE and Openreach, serving millions of homes across the nation. If, in late Spring, a strike goes ahead this could mean big problems for people who are working from home and reliant on their broadband connection.

Assuredly, they will only strike if they feel they absolutely must – They don’t want to disrupt services across the country to people’s internet unless they feel they have no other choice to protect their workers and service.

What does the possible BT strike mean for those working from home?

Nationwide industrial action by BT staff could have a huge effect on those working from home, who are relying on a dependable internet connection. Is there anything worse than trying to get some work done with a slow internet connection, or a meeting via video call dropping out every 2 minutes?

The pandemic and lockdown restrictions has meant that almost 50% of the working population have been working from home during the pandemic (ONS).

These workers are relying on their home broadband connection to be able to continue doing their jobs.

As we’ve seen from the challenges of home-learning and home-working, those who are currently based at home need a connection that can support both upload and download speeds in order to partake in video conference calls like Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meet.

Not only is home internet needed more than ever, but the quality of the connection is also more vital then it has been previously.

What alternatives to Wi-Fi would be unaffected by a BT strike?

If you are worried that your home internet connection could be affected by the posed threat of BT industrial action, there are thankfully alternative methods of getting internet into your home.

We have seen an influx of 4G broadband installations and enquiries. Whilst these have mostly been from areas in rural Hampshire where standard internet connections are unreliable and slow, 4G broadband is an excellent way of backing up your existing internet connection.

Why 4G broadband?

4G broadband is the idea solution to patchy, unreliable Openreach internet connections. It can also be an excellent back-up solution should your standard Wi-Fi connection go down or become unavailable.

4G signal is received via an external 4G antenna and emitted into your home through a 4G router using a sim based data plan.

Here at Geekabit, we have a 4G testing pole so that we can accurately estimate 4G internet speeds in your location before installing a new antenna and router.

How could 4G broadband help if my internet is affected by BT industrial action?

Our expert Wi-Fi engineers are skilled in providing 4G broadband services for hire. We are experienced in providing an ideal internet solution for scenarios such as building sites, TV filming and temporary cabins. It’s also a great interim option for people moving house and between service providers when they first move in to their new home.

This makes 4G broadband the perfect alternative if your internet was to be affected and your home-working situation compromised.

If you would like more information on our 4G broadband hire options, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our Wi-Fi experts here.

If you are already experiencing internet problems in a rural area, then 4G broadband may well be the answer. You may be interested in previous blogs we’ve written regarding this – Or for more information, please see our website.

 

You can read more details on the threat of BT industrial action via The Guardian.

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

Over the last year, we’ve been inundated with requests from people looking for a different and more reliable source of broadband service.

Many people are moving out of London into more rural areas and expecting the same internet connectivity as they would have in urban areas.

They soon realise that many parts of the countryside are suffering from a broadband deficit and there’s a connectivity imbalance across the countryside.

We’ve installed countless numbers of external 4G antennas and routers, effectively replacing the broadband through the telephone cable, with a data SIM card.

This simple solution has meant that people who couldn’t Zoom for work at home now can, children can do their schooling online through Google classroom and Teams, and the dreaded buffering of Netflix binging no longer happens.

Not only is this solution perfect for those at home, but it works excellently for temporary offices too, such as those in construction, archaeology and film and TV work.

We thought we would share a couple of case studies from some recent 4G installations that have seen a hugely positive affect on their connectivity since making the switch.

 

Case Study – A Rural Home in Bishops Waltham

Wi-Fi Issue: This charming rural home in Bishops Waltham struggled with only 2-3mb download speed and 0.5mb upload speed through their BT Openreach line. As the Director of a large London bank, this unreliable connection meant she couldn’t work from home.

Our 4G Broadband Solution: We installed a 4G antenna and router, and she’s now getting perfect 60mb download speeds with 20mb upload speeds. This means she then didn’t have to travel into London so often.

Case Study – A Garden Landscaping Company in New Alresford

Wi-Fi Issue: This garden landscaping company recently moved their office to a rural location without any internet or traditional phone line. Their new office was a converted shipping container which, as it is made of metal, meant that their phones wouldn’t work quite so well for internet speed.

Our 4G Broadband Solution: Our 4G external antenna solution means they now get 40mb download and 20mb upload speeds within their new office.

Case Study – A Large Metalwork Company in Rural Dorset

Wi-Fi Issue – This metalwork company was having trouble with 3-5mb download speeds and less than 1mb upload speeds. This was the maximum possible speed in their area. Having asked  BT Openreach to extend fibre to their premises, they found out it would not only have cost them hundreds of thousands of pounds, but also ruined a beautiful part of the countryside. (If you watch The Crown you may well have seen it!) The poor internet connection meant that contacting their London based clients over Zoom was very difficult, and often required them to do so from their home instead or office.

Our 4G Broadband Solution: Using our 4G router and external antenna, they now receive 70mb download speeds and 30mb upload speeds. This means they can now easily maintain contact with their clients without having to travel back to their homes for a good quality Zoom call. It also means they can employ more people onsite and increase employment in the local community without moving their office to a larger town.

 

If any of these problems seem familiar to you, whether it’s your home connection or business, perhaps now is the time to get in touch and let us see if we can help.

These 3 examples are just a handful of the successes we’ve seen from clients moving from a slow BT Openreach connection to a faster 4G broadband option.

 

How can you be sure that 4G broadband is the right option for you?

It’s okay to feel nervous, we understand how frustrating a slow connection can be. We can come and assess your property to see whether a 4G broadband option would be viable for you with our new 4G antenna testing pole. This bit of kit means we can get an accurate representation of how our 4G routers and eternal antennas can solve your broadband connectivity problems.

For more information on our 4G broadband service, head to our website. You can also get in touch with one of our Wi-Fi experts who will be happy to discuss your requirements.

 

Don’t let a slow BT Openreach connection hold you back. Whether it’s for Zoom calls to keep in touch with colleagues, WhatsApp video calls with friends and family, or nightly Netflix binges – You deserve a connection that doesn’t freeze, buffer or drop. Call in the Wi-Fi Experts today.

The Robustel R5020 5G Router

We’ve talked a lot in recent weeks about 4G broadband and how it can solve many Wi-Fi issues in rural areas and homes with a slow BT Openreach connection.

But of course, the question on everyone’s lips when we talk about 4G routers and mobile broadband is ‘when will there be a 5G router?’

One product we’re feeling particularly excited about is the Robustel R5020. This router is touted to be offering next-generation cellular connectivity at a competitive price.

The R5020 will enable rapid deployment of high speed IoT applications in sectors such as Transportation, Enterprise Connectivity and Digital Signage.

In a compact industrial unit, the R5020 will offer 3G, 4G/LTE and 5G band coverage.

What are the key features?  

Here are the key features of the Robustel R5020 5G router.

A router with 5G capability

As Robustel’s first 5G capable router, the R5020 will also be capable of supporting 4G and 3G bands.

 

A stable operating system

Powered by their tried and tested CPU platform, the R5020 uses their mature and stable in-house Operating System RobustOS. This OS is fully programmable with a fully documented Software Development Kit. It also comes with a free cloud management platform (RCMS).

 

Applications

The R5020 is designed for use by various applications.

In-vehicle applications

  • Passenger Wi-Fi
  • CCTV de-brief
  • Ticketing
  • Other similar “onboard” requirements

Potentially increase internet speeds in these scenarios with the R5020, as well as future-proofing your current installations by making them 5G compatible. The R5020 has achieved E-Mark* certification for in-vehicle use, and supports GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) positioning. There is also a version to protect vehicle batteries with vehicle ignition sensing when the engine is turned off.

Broadband Failover

  • As well as a 5G Router, the R5020 can be configured to use Ethernet or Wi-Fi as the primary internet source. Should there be an outage on either of these, it can then failover to 4G or 5G.
  • If your business is a shop or small office, this can provide a good degree of connectivity resilience at a reasonable cost.
  • It can provide sufficient bandwidth for multiple users.
  • Core networks can utilise connections from IPSEC (Internet Protocol Security), DMVPN (Dynamic Multipoint VPN) and Open VPN (Virtual Private Networks) protocols.

Primary Broadband

  • You might think that using mobile broadband would be a pricey alternative, but mobile networks are now offering unlimited 5G tariffs at reasonable prices.
  • This means that hundreds of Mbps internet are available over the air.
  • There are many technical and commercial scenarios that make a wireless internet connection a favourable option, and mobile broadband offers another level of connectivity on top.

 

For more information on this product, or to register your interest in it when it’s available, head to their website.

If you would like more information on how 4G broadband could make a difference to your connectivity, please get in touch with our Wi-Fi experts here at Geekabit. We have a 4G antenna testing pole so we can assess whether 4G would be a viable option for your premises.

 

 

*An e-Mark proves your vehicle or component complies with the relevant EU/ECE regulations and can be sold in the EU, as well as other regions which have signed up to the ECE vehicle regulations. EU type approval is mandatory for whole vehicles as well as a range of automotive systems and components

The Best Unlimited 4G Data Plans for Broadband

We’ve talked quite a bit recently about the demand we’ve seen for 4G broadband, especially in more rural areas around Winchester and Hampshire.

In previous weeks we’ve shared our favoured pieces of kit for 4G routers. This week we’re going to talk a bit about the data plans needed for 4G broadband.

Many of our clients ask us about the best unlimited data sim plans for their 4G routers. For people swapping from traditional broadband over to 4G, this is next on the list of ‘need to know’ following hot on the heels of coverage.

We are pleased to be able to offer our clients an unlimited 4G data plan solution through Utility Warehouse.

Who are Utility Warehouse?

 

Whilst they may not be as well known as some of the big networks, Utility Warehouse uses the EE network which you all will have heard of.

Wherever there is good 4G signal with EE, we can provide a superior external antenna and mobile router to give you better upload and download speeds.

Did you know the emergency services use EE?

EE is the network currently used by the emergency services for their radio communications. It is one of the most reliable networks that you can use.

What’s the deal?

Other networks are of course available, however they often cost a little more as well as locking you in to a longer contract.

Our deal with Utility Warehouse is only on a 30-day rolling contract, which gives you the peace of mind that you can enjoy unlimited data whilst not being locked into a lengthy contract.

Is your home suffering from a slow BT Openreach connection?

Slow internet is frustrating at the best of times, but add in the stressors of working from home, remote learning and Zoom calls dropping in and out and you’re bound to be tearing your hair out.

For homes suffering from a slow Openreach connection, the speeds offered by Utility Warehouse Mobile will solve many of the issues you’re facing.

Can you get 5G through Utility Warehouse?

Many devices are crossing over to 5G so it’s natural that the question of whether something is 5G compatible is on your lips.

At the moment, 4G is the only option through Utility Warehouse, although we understand that 5G will hopefully be added in early Spring.

Want to find out more?

If you would like more information on the 4G Broadband service we can provide through Utility Warehouse, please contact us directly.

You can also find out more about our Utility Warehouse service offering by clicking here: https://uw.co.uk/?position=F62402

If you’re unsure about making the switch to 4G broadband or you’re not sure if it would be right for you and your home, have a read of our website. You can also give us a call – Our Wi-Fi experts would be happy to chat through the options and ascertain whether 4G broadband could solve your Wi-Fi woes. You can reach our Hampshire office on 01962 657390 – We look forward to chatting with you!

 

4G Broadband and the Teltonika RUT950 Industrial Cellular Router

If you live in a rural area, you may know only too well how slow the BT Openreach service can be. And we all know how frustrating patchy Wi-Fi can be, especially when so many of us are currently relying on it for work, home learning and socialising.

We’ve had quite a few clients recently that have asked us to install 4G broadband as a more reliable alternative to the slow BT Openreach service they’ve had previously.

The really great thing about 4G broadband is that we can use our equipment to test whether it will work for you before fitting any kit.

It’s becoming a more popular choice for home Wi-Fi networks, so we thought we would share with you our top product for 4G broadband installations – The Teltonika RUT950 4G LTE Wi-Fi Dual-SIM Router.

 

What’s it all about?

Here’s where we’re going to get technical. To skip past the tech jargon, scroll to the next section where we explain why the Teltonika RUT950 is our preferred choice for 4G broadband installations.

This industrial cellular router can be used both as a backup in-case your normal broadband fails, or as your main internet source. It guarantees a reliable internet connection with high data throughout (the amount of successfully moved data, usually in Mbps) and data redundancy (permits the correction of errors).

Connectivity

  • 4G/LTE (Cat 4), 3G, 2G.

 

WAN Failover

  • Automatic switch to available backup connection.

 

Wi-Fi

  • Wireless Access Point with Hotspot functionality. This router can support upto 100 simultaneous connections. Perfect if you’re currently a family of 2 working parents sitting on Zoom calls with 2 teenagers needing to be on virtual lessons via Teams! You can also balance your internet traffic over multiple WAN connections.

 

Dual Sim

  • With auto failover, backup WAN and other switching scenarios. If one SIM has a weak signal, reaches its data limit, has no network or network is denied, the data connection fails, or the SIM becomes idle, the router will automatically switch to the other SIM to limit disruption to signal. Custom data limits can be set up for both SIMs.

 

Ethernet

  • X4 Ethernet interfaces with VLAN (Virtual LAN) functionality. Ethernet adaptions can come in really handy, especially at the moment when households are fighting over their connection.

 

RMS

  • Compatible with Teltonika remote management system, which makes for simple and secure monitoring by us, for you and your network.
  • RutOS is a unified operating system that works across all of the Teltonika Network routers. Being powered by RutOS makes this cellular router highly secure and easily customisable.

 

Security

  • Unlimited configuration and pre-configured firewalls. WPA2 Enterprise (Wi-Fi Protected Access – Still considered the gold standard for wireless network security). Attack prevention. Mobile quota control.

For more detailed information and the complete specification on the Teltonika RUT950 Industrial Cellular 4G LTE Wi-Fi Router, you can head to their website.

 

Why is this product our preferred choice?

This 4G router enables us to have remote access to the network. This means that should any problems arise, we can provide support to our clients from where we are, rather than having to go to their premises.

The Dual-SIM functionality means that there is a backup should one of them fail, giving the client resiliency and reliability.

The units are powered by an operating system called RuTOS. This interface, a little bit like the way you use your smartphone, means that the manufacturer can send through newsletters and updates when new features have been added to the operating system.

Essentially, it’s a really powerful bit of kit, and well trusted by our Wi-Fi experts and engineers.

If you are struggling with a slow BT Openreach connection and would like to find out more about 4G broadband, head to our website. Or you can give our Wi-Fi experts a call and we can chat through whether 4G would be a good option for you.