What’s Different About Wi-Fi 6?

Wondering what all the fuss is about when it comes to Wi-Fi 6? If you’re questioning what the differences are and whether it’s worth making hardware device changes, then read on.

The next generation of wireless standard is here (actually, it’s been here since the end of 2019). Wi-Fi 6, or 802.11ax has the following main differences:

  • It’s faster
  • It provides better performance in congested areas (think anything from your own device-packed home, to stadiums)

We know it informally as Wi-Fi 6 – Wi-Fi versions have now been assigned simple numbers to replace the more complicated code-like names that we saw before.

What are the Wi-Fi Version Numbers?

The new Wi-Fi version numbers are much more user friendly, but for the fellow geeks among us, here are what the new version numbers correspond to, plus (whilst not being officially branded) what all of the old versions would have been.

Wi-Fi 1 – 802.11b (released in 1999)

Wi-Fi 2 – 802.11a (also released in 1999)

Wi-Fi 3 – 802.11g (released in 2003)

Wi-Fi 4 – 802.11n (released in 2009)

Wi-Fi 5 – 802.11ac (released in 2014)

Wi-Fi 6 – 802.11ax (released in 2019)

You might start to see these newer version numbers appear in software when connecting your smartphone, tablet or laptop, to enable you to see which Wi-Fi networks are newer and faster. This is what the Wi-Fi Alliance announced that they would like to be seeing across networks. It’s worth noting that it isn’t mandatory for manufacturers to label their products with Wi-Fi 6 instead of 802.11ax, but we’re hopeful that most will. Re-naming products from 802.11ac to Wi-Fi 5 might be another matter though!

Wi-Fi That’s Faster

As with most technological advances, the latest development in Wi-Fi standard is faster in terms of data transfer speeds. In comparison to Wi-Fi 5, a Wi-Fi 6 router would provide one device with up to 40% higher speeds.

What Makes Wi-Fi 6 Faster?

The reason Wi-Fi 6 can achieve such faster speeds is due to more efficient data coding which thus results in higher throughput. Basically, the radio waves are packed with more data. With each Wi-Fi standard, the ability for the chips to encode and decode the data gets more powerful, hence why Wi-Fi 6 is faster than Wi-Fi 5, and can handle extra work.

You may be aware that we have 2 frequenceis used for networks – 5GHz and 2.4GHz. 5GHz is more commonly used as it is subject to less interference, however 2.4GHz is still a good option for being able to penetrate solid objects. Wi-Fi 6, the new standard, even increases speeds on these 2.4GHz networks.

How Will Wi-Fi 6 Affect the Battery Life on my Device?

Many Wi-Fi 6 enabled devices will have a new ‘target wake time’ feature. This means that an access point can define a specific set of times when devices connected to the internet need to have access to the wireless network. This new efficiency should mean that your Wi-Fi enables devices should have a longer battery life.

Let’s take your smartphone, for example. When the AP is talking to your phone, it can tell it when to put it’s Wi-Fi radio to sleep and when to wave it up to receive the next transmission. Because your device can spend more time in sleep mode, you should find your battery lasts longer.

It also means that devices that connect via Wi-Fi with lower power can benefit from longer battery life.

Wi-Fi That Performs Better in Crowded Areas

We know there hasn’t been much opportunity for it as late, but picture trying to get online at an airport, hotel or live event at a stadium. When an area is as congested with devices as these, you can suffer with slow Wi-Fi and even struggle to connect.

Wi-Fi 6 tackles just this problem. With new technology, superior to previous Wi-Fi standards, it’s purported that Wi-Fi 6 will improve the average speed of each user by at least 4 times. Even in crowded areas with lots of devices.

This isn’t just something that will benefit you when out in public places – It could be a huge help in your home as well. If you have a large family all with multiple devices connected to Wi-Fi, then this could be just the solution to stop the slow-down. Or perhaps if you live in a densely populated place, like a block of flats.

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

There are various features that help Wi-Fi 6 better tackle the problem of heavily crowded networks. Just knowing that a Wi-Fi 6 device connected to a Wi-Fi 6 access point will work better may well be enough for you!

For those who want all the geeky details, here’s what’s going on to make Wi-Fi 6 better for networks with multiple or many devices.

Wi-Fi 6 technology is able to create a large number of sub-channels within one wireless channel. Date intended for each individual device can be carried by each sub-channel. This technology is called Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA). Essentially this means that a Wi-Fi 6 enabled access point can talk to more devices at once.

Wi-Fi 6 also has improved MultipleIn/Multiple Out (MIMO). Again, this lets the access point talk to multiple devices at once through multiple antennas. The difference between this and Wi-Fi 5, is that while the latter enabled an access point to talk to multiple devices at the same time, it couldn’t allow the devices to respond at the same time, thus slowing things down. The new improved MIMO on Wi-Fi 6 is a multi-user version (MU-MIMO) which enables devices to respond to the access point at the same time.

Let’s look at another potential scenario. Wireless access points that are locating close to one another may transmit on the same channel. This means that the radio needs to listen and wait for a clear signal before it can reply. Wi-Fi 6 uses spatial frequency re-use which allows you to configure Wi-Fi 6 wireless access points with different Basic Service Set (BSS) colours, which consists of a number between 0 and 7. The device can then determine whether a particular channel has a weaker signal, and thus ignore it and transmit without waiting. This is another way in which Wi-Fi 6 will improve wireless performance in congested areas.

These are just a couple of the improvements to be seen from the new Wi-Fi 6 standard. There are many more, smaller enhancements which will improve the speed and performance with Wi-Fi 6.

How Do I Know If Something has Wi-Fi 6?

Luckily, thanks to this handy article, you’re now familiar with all the technical names of the different Wi-Fi standards, so you’ll know exactly what to look for. Right? Don’t panic! We’re only kidding. Thanks to the new versions, it’ll be easy for you to find devices that are certified Wi-Fi 6 (rather than hunting around for 802.11ax!). Device manufacturers are able to say whether their product is Wi-Fi 6 or Wi-Fi 5.

You may also start to see a logo saying ‘Wi-Fi 6 Certified’ on relevant devices. This means that the product has gone through the Wi-Fi Alliance’s certification process. The old Wi-Fi Certified logo simply told you it was Wi-Fi Certified, rather than what generation of Wi-Fi a product was. The new logo will make it clear if it is Wi-Fi 6. So there will be no need for trawling through product specifications!

When Can I Get Wi-Fi 6 Enabled Devices?

The new Wi-Fi 6 standard was finalised in 2019, with hardware being released in the latter part of the same year and into 2020. So you should be seeing Wi-Fi 6 enabled products in the market now. It’s shouldn’t be something you need to put too much thought into – As new routers, smartphones, tables and laptops are released into the market, they will just start to come with this new Wi-Fi 6 technology.

It’s worth remembering that to benefit from the improvements on the new Wi-Fi 6 standard, you need both the sender and receiver devices to support this latest generation of Wi-Fi 6. Whatever the connection, it will only operate in the mode that your device supports. For example, you may have a Wi-Fi 6 enabled router, a Wi-Fi 6 enabled smartphone, but a laptop that only supports Wi-Fi 5. You’ll see the advantages of Wi-Fi 6 on your smartphone, but the laptop will only work at Wi-Fi 5 capacity.

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!

 

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!

 

 

Optimise Your Home Network for Remote Learning and WFH

Got network issues at home? Haven’t we all. Suddenly the majority of households are relying on their Wi-Fi a lot more.

 

Many of us are now working from home – We’re sat on Microsoft Teams, Google Meet or Zoom. Video calls for work aren’t the only thing clogging up your network – Odds are you’ve also got children sitting on virtual lessons, learning remotely.

We’ve gone from using our broadband to stream movies, scroll social media, send some emails and play games to families all using the bandwidth at the same time for multiple video conferencing all at once. Plus all those leisure activities on top!

So what can we do about it?

Understand Your Bandwidth

Here’s a little metaphor for bandwidth, in case you’re not familiar. Imagine you’re drinking through a straw. If you’re slurping on a diet coke, then it’s a simple suck. If it’s a milkshake you’re drinking then you’re either going to need more suction, or a bigger straw. Coke is speedy, milkshare can be slow.

If you’re sending a quick text-based email, it won’t need much bandwidth. If you want to press play on a 4K video and watch it immediately, then you’re going to need a bit more bandwidth.

Right now, with Zooms and other video conferencing taking centre stage in our home networks, we’re needing both upload and download bandwidth. For effective video conferencing you need both upload and download bandwidth capacity (you’re watching and transmitting video at the same time so you need Mbps both up and down).

Try doing a speed test (upload and download). To handle 2 or 3 Zooms at once, you’ll need around 11Mbps upload speed. Yo can also talk to your ISP to check how much upload bandwidth you have on your current plan. .

What Is Your ISP Giving You?

The more capacity you have, the bigger your bill will be.

If you are really struggling with your network, then consider chceking your plan with your ISP, and if needed, upgrade it to include more upload bandwidth. It’s also worth noting that you should also make sure that your ISP is capable of delivering these bandwidth promises. Most speeds to vary and are rarely guaranteed.

You may also want to check whether your ISP is ‘throttling’ you. If you are using (or trying to use) too much data, they may be restricting how much milkshake gets through your straw by biting on the end of it. Sometimes there is the option to pay a fee to stop them throttling you.

QUICK TIPS
  • Check your plan with your ISP
  • Consider upgrading bandwidth, if possible
  • Check you’re not being throttled
  • Check if your ISP offer dedicated fibre lines to each house or whether it’s shared between a cluster of homes

What If You Can’t Upgrade Your Plan To Get More Bandwidth?

Sometimes it’s not as straight forward as just upgrading your plan. It may be too expensive, or it may not even be possible in your location. Thankfully there are some things you can control within your home.

Let’s think about the devices that may be taking up bandwidth, but may not be needed all the time.

  • Smartphones – If you’re working on a video call or doing remote learning, then you probably don’t need your phone. It’s always doing things in the background. Switch them to Airplane mode when they’re not being used, or you know there are several of you trying to use video.
  • Smart TV’s – Let’s face it, Netflix and productivity don’t really go hand-in-hand (unless your Toddler is watching it while you work!). Any TV’s that are not in use, need to be powered down (not in sleep mode).
  • Wi-Fi enabled smart devices – Our homes are full of these nowadays. Anything using WI-Fi and running in the background can be switched off to try and save as much bandwidth as possible.
QUICK TIPS
  • Create a video schedule for your family and try where possible to avoid conflicts (both online, and offline…)
  • Schedule back-ups and auto-updates for during sleep time
  • Ban Netflix etc at capacity-critical times

What if none of this helps much – What then?

Consider Getting Wired

There is another way to optimise your home network – And that’s to run wires with ethernet cables.

A wired connection is always going to provide you with more reliability. It’s usually faster than wireless too!

We’re not suggesting installing wires all over your house – The situation we find ourselves in currently is only temporary. But if you’re happy to run cables along your skirting boards for a couple of months then great!

QUICK TIPS
  • If you can work close to your router then you can keep costs down by using a simple and relatively short ethernet cable from router to laptop.
  • If there’s no improvement when wired in, consider checking if your router is working how it should be.

For more ways to troubleshoot Wi-Fi problems at home, check out our previous blogs. You might find these ones particularly helpful!

Troubleshooting Your Home Wi-Fi

When Should I Use an Ethernet Cable?

Common Wi-Fi Problems and How to Fix Them

 

Customer focus: Southern Storage

The Issue
As a warehouse and storage facility, it’s necessary for the team to be able to use their barcode scanning guns to identify the location and correct picking of items, constantly throughout the work day.

They found that their existing Wi-Fi system was not providing coverage in all the aisles and racks at many points in their warehouse, meaning staff had to return to a central area or corridor to check they had picked the right item, wasting time and creating potential mistakes.

With the delivery of new barcode scanners it was also necessary to ensure that the network would work to the best possible speeds.

What We Did
Having reviewed the existing installation, we found that access points broadcasting the Wi-Fi channels were incorrectly placed, often sending the main strength of the signal upwards into the roof as opposed to down to the working areas, and nowhere near the corridors.

The network was a mix of various home quality Wi-Fi extenders and domestic access points, with overlapping channels on a variety of frequencies that caused interference and packet loss constantly.

We replaced the existing access points with outside quality (warehouses are cold!) Ubiquiti Uni-Fi AP’s, and arranged the channels to ensure no interference and better utilisation of the free frequencies available.

These were installed correctly to ensure full coverage in all areas of the warehouse, and the power set correctly to ensure the barcode scanners successfully move between the AP’s seamlessly.

Take a look at what they do at Southern Storage https://southern-storage.co.uk/