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.

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

In this week’s blog we’re going to take a look at the new Wi-Fi 6 router from Ubiquiti – The AmpliFi Alien. With attractive performance features, this router could be great for a busy household working and learning from home as well as the intrepid gamer.

This Tri-Band Wi-Fi 6 router brings a revolutionary Wi-Fi 6 benefit into your home along with an elegant design.

What are the key features of the AmpliFi Alien?
  • Wi-Fi 6 compatible
  • It has a scalable mesh system. This is great for gamers! The Wi-Fi 6 standard Mesh system can easily cover any home, providing 4K/8K UHD streaming and online gaming to multiple users in any room
  • It has true Gigabit mesh
  • An 8×8 super antenna system
  • You could get up to 4 times your current network capacity (compared to an AmpliFi HD)
  • Boost your coverage by up to twice your current network (compared to an AmpliFi HD)
  • Reduce battery drain in mobile devices
  • It has 2.4/5 GHz Wi-Fi 6 and 5 GHz Wi-Fi 5 radios
  • From this single unit, they deliver a total capacity of 7685Mbps and 16 spatial streams
  • Build a virtually unlimited Wi-Fi capacity within your home by easily meshing multiple units over the air
  • It has a convenient touchscreen which displays the network status and provides instant controls
  • The AmpliFi Alien has a single Gigabit internet interface and internal power supply
  • It is integrated with a LAN switch with 4 Gigabit Ethernet ports
  • You can use Wi-Fi 6 for wireless connectivity and the LAN ports for local wired connectivity
  • It takes just one minute to set up using their easy-to-use app.

 

What performance features could make the AmpliFi Alien a good choice for remote working and home learning in a device heavy household?

There’s a lot of households across the UK that are suddenly finding themselves in a network nightmare at home. Families where both parents are working from home, plus multiple children doing home learning lead to multiple Zoom / Microsoft Teams / Google Meet video conferences all needing to happen at the same time. And this can cause some big issues with internet and Wi-Fi. The AmpliFi Alien has some performance features would be enticing for anyone currently in this predicament.

  • The Ubiquiti AmpliFi Alien is optimised to provide your home network with the highest possible performance – Irrespective of how many users or devices are connected at the same time
  • The AmpliFI Alien can eliminate dead spots and increase the total capacity in your home network by 4 times through utilising MU-MIMO and OFDMA for communication across 12 Wi-Fi 6 spatial streams
  • Got a video meeting you just cannot have interrupted by lag or loss of video? The AmpliFi Alien has 5Hz radio with Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) speeds which you can choose to dedicate to performance critical devices
  • Using the above features can help you to avoid competing for bandwidth with any other devices on your home network
Sounding good, but worried you don’t have the technical know-how to set something like this up?

The AmpliFi Alien comes with the AmpliFi App – A simple app that allows you to set up your network in just a minute. It’s user friendly yet full of controls and statistics to enable you to configure the AmpliFi Alien for your environment.

For more information and detailed specifications on the Ubiquiti AmpliFi Alien, head to their website.

What other products are in the Ubiquiti AmpliFi range?

The AmpliFi Alien is the latest router that Ubiquiti have added to their extensive range of Wi-Fi products. You can find out more about their range of products by heading to their website, plus see real-life reviews of how Ubiquiti AmpliFi products have changed home networks for the better including all the stats.

 

We don’t know about you, but we’re pretty excited to see the AmpliFi Alien in action!

 

 

Do you know the difference between mbps and mb?

Data and download speeds are all that we barter for when it comes using the internet nowadays. How much data you have is all the phone companies have left to reel you in with on a new offer. Lets break it all down and look at what the differences are.

A bit is the fundamental unit of information that we use in our computing and also in communications. The word ‘binary digit’ is shortened to form the word ‘bit’.  Therefore, we use bits in all our binary digit computations. The computation and communication here mean the digitals ones.

A byte is the unit of information that is used in digital fields and is equals eight bits. We generally address the memory spaces in terms of bytes and it forms the smallest addressable unit of memory space that is been used in computer related technologies. It is referred as ‘B’ in the digital electronics and we should note that it forms the different notion from that of a bit. So an eight-bit can also be called as a byte or simply with ‘B’.

Notions for Bits and Bytes:
We shall write the above-mentioned notions here, to understand it better.

1 bit = is denoted as ‘b’.
For example, it can be written as 1 b.
It’s bit length = 1.
1 Byte = 8 bits is denoted as ‘B’.
It’s bit length = 8.

The capitalisation of alphabets means a lot in these notions. A bit is simply written as ‘b’ whereas a byte is written as ‘B’. As already noted, what they are and what values they can hold. The letter ‘m’ here means Mega. The value 10is noted simply as Mega so that we can use it in our digital computations with better understandings. When we find a notion as ‘mb’, it means megabits and ‘MB’ means Mega Bytes. So noting the capitalisation of the betters can mean a lot.

The abbreviation ‘mbps’ means megabits per second and it is always used to denote the speed of transmissions. You might have heard it when you opted for a broadband connection. This is what you are sold your broadband on and what you are sold and what you get are two very different things. You can always check the download and upload speeds you are getting online.

Hopefully this will arm you with the information to help you make better decisions in understanding the differences between mbps and mb.

Wi-Fi Frequencies: An Overview

With all of the current and future Wi-Fi frequencies and technologies are really getting confusing, with that in mind theres actually more than you realise. So let’s take a look at what’s out there and what’s coming up, as well as trying to make it as simple as we can.

There are two common well known dominant Wi-Fi frequencies used by 802.11a/b/g/n systems, 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. Almost all modern Wi-Fi devices are made to operate in one or both of these frequencies. These frequencies now dominate most of our homes.

The same basic OFDM technology used by 802.11a in 5 GHz is also used in a 4.9 GHz public safety band. This band is 50 MHz wide it requires a license and is only available in some regulatory domains. There are specific and limited purposes for this band so you won’t see a lot of commercial interest or attention here.

The FCC also opened up 50 MHz of bandwidth in a 3.6 GHz licensed band. OFDM is used here as well. In the US this band requires a license but usage is not limited to certain technologies, so the band will be shared.  There aren’t many benefits to this frequency band and the interference avoidance requirements represent a moderate R&D requirement without much ROI.

You’ve most likely heard about this PHY spec in development. It builds on 802.11n MIMO technology in 5 GHz and seeks to expand on the HT PHY with a few developments that are a natural next step. 802.11n gave us 40 MHz bonded channels. 802.11ac will give us 80 MHz channels and, likely, 160 MHz channels.. 80 MHz bandwidth will get us past the gigabit rate threshold. MIMO will also be expanded to 8×8, but since client devices aren’t adopting that type of power hungry radio anytime in the near future (or ever), 8×8 will be used for MU-MIMO. MU-MIMO allows an AP to transmit simultaneous downlink frames to multiple users (MUs).

VHT 60 GHz (802.11ad) — This PHY opens up a fresh use case for Wi-Fi in the form of very high throughput at short range. There are a lot of challenges getting the kind of range that would be useful to enterprises. We’ll see short-range, high bandwidth applications, but there are still failings to see the exciting benefits that have been touted in the press.

White-Fi (802.11af) — The TV whitespace frequencies between 50 and 600 MHz have also created some exciting buzz in the past several months. There are many articles out there discussing the limitations and benefits of this band. The main issue with this frequency is that contiguous bandwidth is in short supply, so we see a handful of 6 MHz-wide channels, which will yield lower transmission rates than 802.11a/g. The merits of a low frequency are fairly well known; that is, despite the throughput-deficient bandwidth, the range and coverage is advantageous. Rural broadband applications are the evident winner with this technology where coverage is more important than bandwidth and high user density.

It is also worth mentioning 900 MHz. Back in the 1990s, 900 MHz was a popular pre-802.11-Wi-Fi frequency. It is an unlicensed ISM band. This is a semi-popular broadband frequency with decent range and limited throughput. Many vendors use proprietary PtP and PtMP solutions here for wireless distribution, but they are not defined by 802.11 and they are not designed for client access.

Wi-FI frequencies in brief:

  • 50-600 MHz TV Whitespace — Good range, low capacity.
  • 900 MHz — Proprietary PtP and PtMP. Decent range, slow rates.
  • 2.4 GHz — Well-known and used.
  • 3.6 GHz — Little-used, licensed band.
  • 4.9 GHz — Licensed public safety band.
  • 5 GHz — Well-known and used, the future of Wi-Fi.
  • 60 GHz — Short range, very high throughput.
Siklu EtherHaul-2X00 Series

1 Gbps connectivity between two sites is sometimes necessary and an E-band set of radios that work within a 70-80 Ghz frequency is a viable solution.  The benefits of these radios are vast and varied.  Being relatively cheap makes them popular and this coupled with the fact that they are easy to deploy and manage makes them a Wi-Fi winner.

Siklu have created a solution in an E-band set of radios that will provide 2 Gbps connectivity over up to 7kms.  This wider channel width solution is able to work at lower modulations which makes it a great option compared to others on the market.  The EH -2X00 delivers 2Gbps full duplex point to point wireless connectivity making it robust and futureproof.

Being small in size, the tiny footprint allows easy site acquisition and an easy installation.  Moreover, the E-band spectrum is uncongested and offers a quick licensing process compared to other options.  Spectrum protection is maintained whist the cost is still relatively cheap.

The EH-2X00 series offers a great price per MB but alongside this its lower installation costs make it unbeatable in price.  The new model is based on an evolved version of a Siklu’s field proven platform making it extremely reliable.  This reliability cuts the cost of site visits which contributes to its exceptional value for money.

With 16 non-overlapping channels available to it, the EH-2X00 is able to deploy dense networks over greater distances and offers a great solution for those looking for 1Gbps between 2 sites.

Coffee shop cyber-security – how high is the risk?

It’s fair to say that the media has a way of taking an idea and running with it, which can often create hysteria.  This week we’ve been reading a lot of stories about internet security in public spaces and have been questioning the findings.

 

Ipass have just published their 2017 security report and the findings have been interesting.  Coffee shops have been flagged up as public networks where hackers can most easily access other people’s data.  The findings stated that CEO’s present the greatest security risk to businesses as they are often working remotely and therefore connect to public wi-fi which could pose a risk.  Of course, CEO’s are in possession of valuable information and so the risk to a business could be colossal. Interestingly, the report states that many organisations have stepped up their security measures and don’t allow employees to connect to public networks due to concerns about internet safety.

 

These findings have not only raised questions for businesses but have also raised questions about our everyday safety and how reliable public wi-fi really is.  However, there are ways to ensure that you are always secure.  VPN’s can help to create a safer connection by encrypting information travelling to and from a device.  Using a VPN can inhibit these attacks and keep your information safe so we thoroughly recommend looking into that as an option.  The reports are interesting and raise valid points about cyber security.  However, it’s always worth bearing in mind that there are ways to reduce your risk.  Get in touch to find out more!

 

Read the full report here:

https://www.ipass.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/iPass-2017-Mobile-Security-Report.pdf

Battle of the best connection

This week, our interest in maintaining incredible internet connection has lead us to finding out which countries Wi-Fi is performing best.

 

And the results have been interesting…

 

Rotten Wi-Fi’s latest findings show that the UK is surprisingly quite far behind other countries in terms of interest speed.  Public Wi-Fi has become a pretty essential part of everyday life for most of us and the demand has certainly increased in recent years.  Interestingly the UK falls behind countries such as Lithuania and Switzerland when comparing the average download speed.

 

Although we do come in behind Lithuania, Singapore, Denmark and Switzerland in terms of internet speed, we are placed ahead of the USA and Germany.  In fact, the USA and Germany haven’t been doing so well in recent years and their internet speed hasn’t made the top 20 until this year.  The latest findings show that countries such as Latvia, Hungary and Estonia are still ahead of Germany and the USA in terms of download speed.

 

Lithuania tops the charts with the fastest public Wi-Fi, followed closely by Denmark.  Fast and effective public Wi-Fi is hugely important in the modern day and we’ll be interested to see if the UK can develop their Wi-Fi speed to keep up with the demand in the coming years.
Data source: www.rottenwifi.com; November 2016

Image Credit: Alto Digital

Dreaded Dead Spots

We’ve all been there.

 

You’ve set out to do some work in a coffee shop and after ordering your coffee and finding the perfect corner to settle down in you realise the Wi-Fi doesn’t work there.  ‘Typical’ you think as you pace around with your device in hand trying to find a connection.

 

This week we’re trying to discover what it means to have a Wi-Fi dead spot and how to avoid these cursed spaces.  

 

There can be so many reasons for these dead spots but the main ones are building interferences ie – thick walls or awkwardly placed Wi-Fi access points that can’t reach certain areas.  With that in mind, it can be quite easy to fix these mysterious dead spots which makes it all the more frustrating when you come across one.

 

If you find a dead spot in your home or business space the first thing you can do to try and close up these dead spots is to re-position your access point.  Often central locations suit access points best, where they can get away from thick walls or fire exits which can all interfere with signal.   

 

That brings us to our second suggestion – removing obstructions and ensuring that your access point is free of any interference.  Often clients don’t realise how easy it can be to eliminate these obstructions from the area.  If you identify anything near the access point that you think could be causing problems then remove it and see if the dead spot remains – in most cases dead spots require a trial and error approach. Other electronic devices and thick metals can be a source of interference that often go overlooked but it’s worth getting to the bottom of the issue and ensuring that you try removing as many obstructions as possible to see if that affects the dead spot.
If you need more advice on how to avoid these frustrating dead spots then don’t hesitate to get in touch.  It’s always helpful to get an expert opinion if the problem persists.

Wearables wreaking havoc

This week at Geekabit we’re talking about wearables.

Wearables are the newest fitness craze and it seems that social media is full of people uploading their data.  Everyone is tracking their heartrate and their steps these days and we’re not complaining.  Wearables are a great advance in technology that can benefit health so we’re all for the latest craze.

However, we are not for the congestion that has inevitably increased since wearables became a ‘thing’.  Wearables are often Wi-Fi enabled, however ones that aren’t can really cause problems since the Bluetooth that they operate off of uses the same 2.4Ghz frequency as most Wi-Fi services.

The initial cause of disruption is just the fact that people have gone from having one device to having two or three which puts pressure on the network.  Not only that but as we previously mentioned, there is the danger that your 2.4Ghz band will get congested by wearables operating using Bluetooth.  As people become more and more attached to their wearables and start to take their data seriously, it is becoming hugely important to have a Wi-Fi service that can handle the demand.

Luckily we know a few tricks that can help solve these issues and make sure that your customers don’t get frustrated by the congested W-Fi.  An easy way to solve the congestion is ensure that fewer devices are operating on the network, as every device is using up bandwidth.   It might pay to get a separate network for personal use or for employees if your network is based in a place that is used by both customers and employees.  As always with these things, a survey is a great idea.  A Wi-Fi survey will tell you exactly what is going on with your network and how much it can take vs what pressure is being put on it.  This is hugely helpful to any business experiencing Wi-Fi problems which have potentially come about by increased pressure on the network from wearables.

If you think that your network is being affected by  wearables then don’t hesitate to contact us to gain some useful advice on how to solve these issues.