What is 6GHz Wi-Fi?

Did you know that following the historic decision by USA’s FCC in April 2020 to release 1200 MHz of bandwidth in 6 GHz space for unlicensed use, UK regulators cleared unlicensed wireless usage in the 6 GHz spectrum to give 6GHz WiFi a huge boost back in July 2020. 

 

This regulatory go-ahead enables your router to broadcast over the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. What does this mean in real life terms? Simply, it means there are now a lot more open airwaves that routers can use to broadcast Wi-Fi signals. This in turn means faster, more reliable connections from the next generation of devices.

 

This is the biggest spectrum addition in over 30 years – In fact, since the FCC cleared the way for Wi-Fi back in 1989. Pretty huge right? It means the space available for routers and other devices have quadruple the amount in this new spectrum. This means a lot more bandwidth for the user and less interference for their devices. 

 

For the past 20 years we’ve had the Wi-Fi Alliance that oversees the implementation of Wi-Fi. This change in the spectrum is the most ‘monumental decision’ during their existence. You’ll be seeing this implementation as Wi-Fi 6E, with more and more enabled devices becoming available. 

 

Will Wi-Fi 6E fix my bad Wi-Fi? 

 

There’s a good chance that spectrum congestion has interfered with your ability to connect to your Wi-Fi network in the past. When there are a lot of devices all trying to connect over the same band of frequencies, some devices will drop out. Have a look at your local area for Wi-Fi networks – If there is a long list, that could be why you’re struggling with a slow connection and less than favourable reliability. This is because there are too many competing signals, which stops your device getting through. It’s hoped that gains in 6GHz performance will last, even when they are more widely used than they are now. 

 

Not only does Wi-Fi 6E offer new airwaves for routers to use, they are also more spacious airwaves that have less overlapping signals which can cause problems on some other Wi-Fi channels. 

 

The new spectrum doesn’t use any of the previous spectrum, yet offers space for up to 7 maximum-capacity Wi-Fi streams which can all be broadcast simultaneously without causing interference with each other. 

 

Here’s the geeky bit… The UK telecoms regulator, Ofcom, made it possible for home Wi-Fi networks to harness 500MHz of radio spectrum frequency in the new 6GHz band, which will significantly boost the speed of licence-exempt indoor home wireless networks via Wi-Fi 6/6E. 

 

What is 6GHz? 

 

Basically, Wi-Fi works by broadcasting over airwaves that are open for anyone to use. Previously, this was over two bands: 2.4GHz and 5GHz. This third band, 6GHz, is quadrupling the available space for traditional Wi-Fi. 

 

What do the numbers mean? 2.4GHz can travel further, but 6GHz travels faster. The main thing however is that the number of airwaves available on the6GHz band is quadruple what has been available before. Exciting stuff! 

 

On a personal ‘how will this affect me’ level, it means that if you live in a block of flats, and you are the first person to get a 6GHz router, then you won’t be competing with anyone for a connection. The great thing is that even as 6GHz routers become more popular, it’s likely that signals will stay faster and stronger than previously as it’s a more spacious spectrum.  

 

Will Wi-Fi 6E be faster?

 

It’s not quite as straight forward as that, but Wi-Fi 6E will sort of be faster. Theoretically, 6GHz Wi-Fi has the same top speed as 5GHz Wi-Fi. The maximum Wi-Fi 6 standard speed is 9.6 Gbps. Now, you’re not going to actuall get that speed in real life, however having access to the new airwaves could well increase your speed. 

 

The available spectrum at 5GHz means that Wi-Fi signals aren’t as large as they could be. Whereas, it’s thought that routers at 6GHz will broadcast at the current maximum allowable channel size. That in itself, means a faster connection. 

 

These new networks could see smartphone Wi-Fi connections hit 1–2 Gbps. You might be wondering how this compares to 5G – Indeed, these are the speeds expected from millimetre-wave 5G. However, that has very limited availability. 

 

Remember that your internet speeds will also always depend on / be limited by your provider. But it could still be a huge jump for connectivity.  

 

Can I buy Wi-Fi 6 devices?

 

Here in the UK we started to see Wi-Fi 6 devices creep onto the market in the last year or so, once the Wi-Fi Alliance started offering certification for Wi-Fi 6E. Deployment has been slow and steady, with more Wi-Fi 6 enables devices appearing bit by bit. We’re on course for the next generation of Wi-Fi networks.

 

Wi-Fi 6E enabled devices are most seen in smartphones and then tablets, with TV’s likely to follow suit. We use our phones for almost everything, so it’s no surprise that it’s this device that will be top of the list for Wi-Fi 6E. 

 

How do I know if a device supports Wi-Fi 6E?

 

The most widely used Wi-Fi standard on current devices is probably still Wi-Fi 6, the standard previous to Wi-Fi 6E, which you could still see on the box of a new device. This isn’t such a bad thing – It means that the device supports that Wi-Fi standard and offers efficient Wi-Fi performance. 

 

What you should probably start looking out for when buying a new device is Wi-Fi 6E – It’s this one that is extended into the 6GHz band. All devices, like smartphones, tablets, laptops and routers should have backward compatibility – Meaning they will work with any previous Wi-Fi standard to the one that’s stated on the box. This means that you can enjoy available connections even when Wi-Fi 6E isn’t available. 

 

Be aware that even if you buy a Wi-Fi 6E compatible device, you will enjoy the benefits of that when you use it with a Wi-Fi 6E router. 

 

6GHz will become an integral part of Wi-Fi 6 and future generations of Wi-Fi. This means that at some point, you will have to replace your devices with ones that are Wi-Fi 6E compatible to be able to enjoy all the benefits the extra spectrum has to offer. 

 

Due to the Wi-Fi Alliance certification programme, only efficient Wi-Fi 6 devices will be certificated. 

 

It’s worth bearing in mind that the 6GHz spectrum does have some existing licensed users. This means that particularly in outdoor spaces,  Wi-Fi will have to work around them. Outside, routers will need to use something called an “automated frequency control” system. This ensure that they don’t interfere with these existing 6GHz users. Because that means less space to broadcast, there could be degradation of overall performance in some areas.

 

Does Wi-Fi 6E have anything to do with 5G? 

 

We touched on this earlier, but no, they don’t have anything to do with each other really. It just happens that both of these networks are being spoken about a lot, simultaneously. 5G is everywhere, is it not!

 

We keep saying about Wi-Fi 6E being a new spectrum, but really it’s not new, it’s always been there, it’s just been unlicensed. Now, people can use the 6GHz spectrum without a license in their homes. 

 

This also means that other technologies could try to make use of the 6GHz band, which could in turn take up some of the space that Wi-Fi wants to use. 5G is one of the technologies that could be a rival for the space on the 6GHz band. 

 

There is a possibility that 5G could overlap on the new Wi-Fi 6E spectrum through mobile network carriers. This could in turn lead to interference issues, but it’s a bit early to say. If you’re wondering whether 5G will become dominant and replace Wi-Fi altogether, then we think probably not. There doesn’t need to be a winner or a loser when it comes to Wi-Fi 6E vs 5G – They dont necessarily have to be in competition with one another. The spacious nature of this spectrum means there should be enough room for both. 

 

6GHz Wi-Fi is certainly being revered by the tech industry, so we’re pretty hopeful that Wi-Fi will be the main beneficiary of the newly opened 6GHz spectrum. 

 

How to Remotely Monitor a Robustel 4G Router

In this blog we’re going to show you how you can link the Robustel 4G router with other platforms, so you can monitor your router remotely in real time, in a way that best fits with your business operations. 

 

Who are Robustel?

Robustel are used across various industries including Retail, Healthcare, Transport, Oil & Gas, Manufacturing, Security, Agriculture and Smart Cities. 

 

The design and manufacture of Robustel products provides industrial quality wireless routers, modems and gateways for Wi-Fi, cellular and LPWAN networks. This includes 3G/4G/LTE/5G in cellular networks and Cat-M1/NB-IoT/LoRaWAN/Bluetooth in LPWAN networks. 

 

Robustel customers are provided with EDGE Computing, Cloud Software and end-to-end IoT Solutions to complement the hardware. 

 

If you’re an enterprise or mobile network looking for a competitive edge in the IoT market, then Robustel could be just the thing. They are passionate about long-term relationships with their customers and partners, and work alongside many distribution partners in 120 countries including the UK.

 

Robustel work with businesses across the world in various industries – Solving connectivity problems with scalable, robust and secure IoT solutions. Whether you are just looking for the hardware or a complete  ‘IoT in a box’, Robustel will have a solution. 

 

So where does Geekabit come in, you might be wondering?

 

Well, while Robustel has an excellent interface for remote diagnosis and simple email notifications, it does not provide automated notifications to other platforms, with checks sent to your IT support teams.

 

How can Geekabit help with Robustel 4G router monitoring?

 

Here at Geekabit, we can provide access to our router monitoring software platform for real-time notifications of uptime, downtime, speed issues via:

  • Slack 
  • Teams
  • Text message
  • Automated phone calls

If none of those are sufficient, we can also provide an API connection to automatically import your Robustel notifications to the platform of your choosing.

 

Get in touch

 

If you have or are considering a Robustel router for your use case, but are not sure of the benefits vs a Teltonika router, please speak with one of our Wi-Fi experts.

 

If you think a 4G router will not provide sufficient upload and download speeds for your use case, please get in touch with us here at Geekabit

 

By using the right combination of equipment, external antennas, research and evidence based placement, we can dramatically increase what is possible.

 

Image from Robustel.com – Product shown is the R1520 Dual-SIM Cellular VPN Router.

How to Give Your Wi-Fi Network a Health Check

You might think that once you’ve got your Wi-Fi network all set up and running, then that’s it done. But it’s not! Having a reliable wireless network involves ongoing maintenance and health checks to make sure that it’s performing at its optimum level.

There are plenty of variables in a wireless network that could change. Things like user demand or changes in the radio frequency that could have an impact. Seemingly simple things like rearranging your office furniture, onboarding new employees or using more applications requiring bigger bandwidth can all be negative factors affecting your Wi-Fi network.

Ongoing, regular surveys can help you catch these changes before they start to cause you too many problems.

So what do you need to do to keep your wireless networking functioning effectively?

 

Monitor New Client Devices

Just as when you are in the design and planning stages, it’s vital to know the number of users that are connected at any one time, and what devices they are connecting to the network with. Your network performance depends on this!

This could likely change with company growth or if your business has seasonal staff where connections peak and trough.

It’s also worth bearing in mind how old the devices are. Older laptops, for example, won’t work so well with today’s modern networks. And vice versa!

You can counteract this by semi-regularly updating your devices to align with your network.

Likewise, if your network was originally deployed a while ago, without being monitored or updated it will fail to work with modern devices to their potential.

You need to also monitor the applications being used and ensure that the bandwidth matches the demand. Organisations like schools that now have a plethora of laptops connecting wirelessly to the school network need to have strong, reliable Wi-Fi. Hospitals also have high bandwidth demand with the ‘workstations on wheels’ that are now prevalent.

The more end users you add to your network, the more bandwidth you will need.

In simple terms – Make sure you are monitoring new client devices. Make it your business to keep track of how many devices are connecting to your network and make sure you can meet the Wi-Fi demand consistently. Your business operations depend on it.

App Usage and Progression

As we all know, technology is constantly evolving. Device manufacturers are always striving for the fastest, most powerful offering to stay ahead of their competitors.

This means that apps and software also move fast to keep up. This constant evolution means that you need more and more data with every update. Thus, the requirements of your Wi-Fi network are likely to change and be modified accordingly.

Wireless is often the first choice – If not the only choice! So you need to make sure your business Wi-Fi offering is up to scratch.

 

Physical Changes in the Office Landscape

You might not think too much about rearranging the office, but this could have a significant impact on your coverage area and how your access points function.

Tweaks like going from open plan to individual offices (or the other way around) will change the way your AP’s perform in your office space.

Interior walls (or lack of them) will affect the radio frequency and how it attenuates. You might be thinking, surely removing partition walls to make an open plan office couldn’t cause Wi-Fi problems. Ut actually it could! The RF will be able to travel further without any attenuating interior walls, meaning it could start contending with other channels and cause interference.

Any physical changes in your office environment need to be surveyed to see if and how it will affect how your Wi-Fi network functions. This means you can make the necessary adjustments before problems arise.

 

Identify Common Causes of RF Interference

Following on from physical changes in your office environment, you need to also be aware of other possible causes of RF interference.

Once possible source of interference on your Wi-Fi network could be noise from neighbouring networks. Other AP’s in range of your coverage area could cause RF interference, especially if their power levels are turned up.

Wi-Fi interference is when you have AP’s that are operating on the same or adjacent frequencies. This can cause interference or contention on these channels, or Overlapping Basic Service Set (OBSS). If your network is experiencing this type of interference, you could see your ability to send or receive data significantly reduce or even completely disabled.

You can also get non–Wi-Fi Interference from devices that use other radio networks. Things like microwaves, monitors, blue tooth or surveillance cameras could all cause interference problems.

 

Your Business Depends on your Wi-Fi Network

If you’ve gone to the effort of designing and planning the optimum network for your business, then don’t waste that work by not monitoring and maintaining it.

Even the best networks will need tweaks and changes over time, to make sure it can keep up with the demands of new users and modern devices.

Regular monitoring or ‘Wi-Fi health checks’ can help identify problems while they’re still small – Allowing you to get them sorted out before they start causing your business serious issues. Don’t wait until the IT department are inundated with calls from frustrated, unproductive employees.

If you think your wireless network is in need of a health check, why not give us a call here at Geekabit? Our wireless experts have the knowledge and expertise to diagnose and solve your Wi-Fi problems, improving the reliability and functionality of your business Wi-Fi.

Why Is Network Design So Important for Reliable Business Wi-Fi?

Wi-Fi is no longer a ‘like to have’ when it comes to successful business planning. It’s vital for businesses to have strong, reliable Wi-Fi in order to business processes to run smoothly.

No matter what industry your business is in – Wi-Fi is crucial. Gone are the days when everything could be wired and cabled. Whether you run a warehouse, a hospital or operate out of an office; Your business needs to run wirelessly.

Organisations tend to have an armada of laptops, tablets, smartphones and other IoT devices that require effective Wi-Fi.

So if the need for a good Wi-Fi connection is so prevalent, why are we still seeing so many businesses struggle with their Wi-Fi network?

The requirements can be demanding, and to be successful a network needs to meet those demands. Plug-in-and-go routers aren’t going to cut it unfortunately. Your business network needs more!

So how can you ensure that your network can be relied upon by your employees every day, so they can do their job productively and efficiently?

It all comes down to the design.

What do you need to consider when designing a Wi-Fi network?

Designing your wireless network gives you the chance to translate your business needs into a Wi-Fi network that will work for you and meet those needs.

So what do you need to consider?

Capacity

You need to think about how many devices will require a Wi-Fi connection. You need to be asking questions like how many employees you have, are there people in addition to employees that will need to connect, how many devices are each of these people likely to have and what type of device are they.

Getting to know how much traffic you will likely have will help you to determine how much bandwidth you need in order to meet consumption needs.

If you don’t get the capacity planning right, you could end up with very unhappy employees suffering with slow internet speeds and an intermittent connection. Neither are conducive to a productive work environment!

Something else to consider is how the capacity changes as you move around your site. Do some locations have a higher capacity demand than others? This information will help you to design a network where access points are distributed according to requirements.

Capacity isn’t just important during the planning stage either. It’s something you will need to monitor so that you can identify when more devices are trying to connect and adapt the network accordingly.

 

Coverage

We’ve talked about capacity and how many devices are likely to connect. Now it’s time to talk about where those users need that connection.

Identifying your coverage area allows you to optimise the distance between your wireless transmitters. Getting this right means that you’ll have the right signal strength for the Wi-Fi enables devices trying to connect.

Coverage is split into two – Primary coverage and Secondary coverage. Interweaving the primary coverage area of your transmitters with the secondary coverage of necessary overlaps means that your end users will be able to roam throughout your site without their connection dropping out on their device.

The idea is to find the perfect balance in the number of AP’s you deploy. Too many AP’s not only costs you more money on installation but can also cause interference. Not enough AP’s and you won’t be able to meet your coverage needs.

 

What is the Least Capable, Most Important Device?

It’s important to identify what device is most business critical – And whether that device poses a risk to the rest of your network. You might find that a warehouse scanner, or even an employees laptop, is critical to the needs of the business, but is also the oldest and least technologically advanced device on the network.

You need to identify this device (or devices) and make sure that your network will ensure the device(s) stay online. You can do this by checking the manufacturer specifications and make sure these align with your network offering.

 

Are there any Obstacles on site?

It’s a good idea to walk around your site and identify any potential obstacles to your wireless signal. Sometimes having an actual walk-around sheds more light on potential problems than just looking at a simple floor plan. You need to know exactly how the radio frequency will behave in your specific environment.

Consider things like high or exposed ceilings, columns, large items of furniture, lift shafts, stairwells and even signage.

You should also look to see where access points could be easily installed, and any areas where this would not be possible. This also goes for cabling.

Mitigating the Effects of Wall/ Door Material on Signal Attenuation

In order to mitigate the risks of attenuation, you need to understand what materials could pose a problem to your Wi-Fi signal.

When you are designing your Wi-Fi network, it’s imperative that you identify the physical characteristics of your environment and understand how this can impact your wireless signal.

The amount of signal strength absorbed by walls or doors depends on what they are made from. A rough guide to this would be:

  • Bookshelf – 2dB
  • Drywall – 3dB
  • Exterior Glass – 3dB
  • Solid Wood Door – 6dB
  • Marble – 6dB
  • Brick – 10dB

Having this information specific to your site means you can design a wireless network that works really well.

Call the Experts

If this all seems a bit overwhelming, then call in the experts. That’s what we’re here for! We have all the necessary technology to survey your site and then design and plan a wireless network specific to your business needs. Give our Wi-Fi experts a call today to see how Geekabit can help.

 

Wi-Fi Woes at Home: Could it be your Router?

Wi-Fi is one of those things that we don’t tend to take much notice of – Until it breaks.

Just like when a power-cut stops our electric, or cloudy water comes out the tap – When our Wi-Fi goes down, we notice! Slow or faulty internet might be one of the most frustrating things of all time. There’s nothing quite as annoying – Whether you’re in the middle of a Netflix binge or an important Zoom meeting.

The last time you thought about your internet probably coincided with one of those moments. Maybe it was back when the first lockdown came in and you were suddenly thrust into a world of remote working. Or when schools were closed and you abruptly and unexpectedly became a teacher and had to navigate an online classroom with your children.

Never have we had to rely on our home Wi-Fi networks like we have the last 2 years. The world still looks like a bit of a scary place right now – Don’t let your home network be an added source of stress.

We might have electricians to sort out our electrics and plumbers to sort out our plumbing – But who sorts out our Wi-Fi in our homes? Here at Geekabit, our Wi-Fi experts are here to help you. Most people get sent a router from their broaband provider, plug it in and hope for the best (no judgement here!). But what about when that’s not enough to provide you with a reliable home Wi-Fi network?

We’re going to take you through the basics of Wi-Fi so you can make sure your router is providing your home with the network you need.

So let’s start from the beginning.

Wi-Fi Standards – What are they?

What we understand as Wi-Fi was only named that after the ability for us to connect to other computers and the internet has long been around.

It started out as 802.11 (The first Wi-Fi standard). Not quite the description you’d expect for such a transformative piece of technology! And certainly not a word that lends itself to the general population of internet users.

So what came next? Along came 802.11b (there was a 802.11a but we won’t go into that). Catchy huh! This was the first major revision of 802.11 which came in 1999 alongside the name Wi-Fi. These numbered standards come from the Wi-Fi Alliance – A global group of technology companies who ensure that anything labelled as a Wi-Fi product has been adequately tested as such.

This means that if you buy a product with Wi-Fi, such as a laptop, and you have a functioning Wi-Fi network, then the 2 will be able to connect. That’s the rule!

In the 20 years since we’ve had more revisions and improvements, taking us through more standards: 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n, 802.11ac and 802.11ax. They don’t exactly roll off your tongue do they?

What they have done however, is:

  • Increase the maximum speed
  • Minimise congestion in built-up areas
  • Improve connections when multiple users on different devices are accessing the same network

Wi-Fi Standards and Compatibility

What these complicated names also mean is that even the most technological savvy people don’t have much knowledge about how their home Wi-Fi network actually works. Again no judgement – It’s not your fault!

Without Googling or hunting down hardware – Do you know which of the standards above your home network supports? How about your laptop, tablet or smartphone?

Without also knowing what standard your router runs on, how could you know whether the standard your devices are running on is compatible?

Backward compatibility has its costs. If you have a new router running on the latest standard of 802.11ax, but your laptop is 20 years old with 802.11b compatibility, the laptop can only go as fast as the old standard. It can’t access the benefits of the newer standard that the router supports. Unfortunately, having this laptop connected to the network can cause the whole Wi-Fi system down to its level. For this reason, the default settings on many networks automatically kick off any older devices to stop problems arising for other users.

For this reason, it’s wise to make sure that the Wi-Fi standard that is supported, is common amongst your router and the devices connected to it.

The re-branding of Wi-Fi Standards

Thankfully assessing compatibility will become a lot easier now that the Wi-Fi Alliance has rebranded the Wi-Fi standards.

You might be surprised to find that you are already acquainted with the latest Wi-Fi standards – Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E.

With the branding of these newest standards, comes the relabelling of the older ones. They become:

  • 11 – Wi-Fi 1
  • 11b – Wi-Fi 2
  • 11g – Wi-Fi 3
  • 11n – Wi-Fi 4
  • 11ac – Wi-Fi 5
  • 11ax – Wi-Fi 6

The ones we need to know about and look out for are Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6. Simply put – Your home Wi-Fi network will run better if use routers and devices that support the latest Wi-Fi standard.

We mentioned Wi-Fi 6E. This is the latest Wi-Fi standard which arrived this year. This standard, for the first time since the beginning of Wi-Fi, it uses 6GHz. This band is a new section of the radio spectrum which hasn’t been used by Wi-Fi before. This new standard will minimise interference with other networks and help achieve speeds we haven’t seen before.

Where do routers fit into all of this?

As you have seen, there has been a steady stream of Wi-Fi standards since the internet first emerged.

As with most things technological, improvements are constantly being made. We live in a world where there is always the newest device – Faster, more compact, better this, better that. Always competing with what came before it.

You probably replace your phone quite regularly, especially if you are on a contract or plan. Getting an upgrade is the norm! You may also do the same with laptops and tablets, TV’s and other smart devices around the home.

But do you do the same with your router?

Have you ever stopped to think that the router you’ve had since you moved in is stopping all your new devices from working to their optimum ability?

Your smartphone might support Wi-Fi 6, but that’s no good if your router is ten years old! Could your router be the cause of your home Wi-Fi problems? Slow internet speeds, bottlenecks, buffering?

What’s the point in spending thousands of pounds on the latest phone, tablet, laptop, smart TV etc if you haven’t invested in a router – And instead connect all your top-of-the-range devices to a box you got free from your provider when you moved in nearly a decade ago.

It seems pretty obvious now we’ve pointed it out, but so many of us do this very thing. We’re not trying to shame you – the majority of people don’t consider that their Wi-Fi woes could be a result of an older router.

‘I think my router could be causing my Wi-Fi problems – What do I do next?’

Assuming that the connection coming into your home is not ‘dodgy’ then a new router could be the answer to your Wi-Fi problems.

The majority of households have a pretty straightforward set of needs when it comes to Wi-Fi coverage. A simple change, such as a pair of Wi-Fi 6 ‘mesh routers’, could be just what you need to to provide a bit of extra bandwidth and even cover those annoying ‘black spots’. Esepcailly if one of those happens to be out in the garden where you desperately tried to catch a bit of sun whilst working from home during the summer!

For the cost of skipping the latest smartphone upgrade, you could fix the Wi-Fi problems for your entire household.

No more buffering mid Netflix binge. No more dropping out of video calls and online meetings. No more being ‘that colleague or friend’ that causes the tech problems.

This one small switch could be far more beneficial that upgrading your devices or doubling your monthly BT bill.

What if replacing your router could give all your Wi-Fi devices a new lease of life in your home?

 

What’s the difference between LTE and 5G?

There has been much hype surrounding 5G, relentlessly for years. Now as part of a global rollout we see 5G available in most major cities as well as some towns and more rural areas. Soon enough, we’ll be using 5G just as we use 4G as the standard.

But 5G is still new to the wireless scene. And for some, the question is – Do we really need 5G when we’ve got LTE?

Many of us are still depending on long-term evolution technology. Indeed, there are only a few areas in the UK that don’t have any LTE presence.

What is LTE?

LTE was first launched back in 2009, and whilst it took a number of years to become part of our national connectivity fabric, it is still now a standard for wireless communications.

The reason for its staying power is down to its reliability and stability – Leading many wireless users to wonder if they even need to move over to 5G.

What is the difference between 4G LTE and 5G?

It was necessary to identify LTE as an element of the 4G standard as many telecoms companies weren’t actually able to provide 4G speeds due to infrastructure. The regulator ITU-R (International Telegraph Union Radiocommunication) established LTE as a standard to show the progress being made towards true 4G.

The download/upload speeds of a particular standard can be different in theory and in practise. Whilst in theory, 4G LTE can achieve data transfer speeds of up to 150Mbps for downloading content and 50Mbps for upload speeds, in practise is is more likely to be 20Mbps and 10Mbps respectively.

These figures will vary depending on:

  • Location
  • Network deployment
  • Traffic

How does 5G compare to 4G LTE in terms of download speeds?

5G connectivity offers theoretical download speeds of up to 10Gbps. A pretty staggering difference! Of course in practise, it may not reach this, but even real-world examples seem to still be dwarfing the speeds of 4G LTE.

Why does 5G reach higher speeds?

5G uses a different spectrum to 4G – Called mmWave which are high-frequency bands. The higher speeds are mostly reached because these high frequency bands support more bandwidth than the ones that LTE uses. This means that more data can be transferred at once.

5G can also use frequencies above low-band but lower than 6GHz. Despite these not supporting the highest possible speeds, they will still outclass 4G LTE. It’s worth noting that 5G coverage could be further expanded by using connectivity below 6GHz, especially as walls and surfaces can block mmWave frequencies.

Basically, 5G uses a different spectrum to 4G LTE and thus:

  • Delivers stronger, faster connections
  • Has a higher capacity for traffic
  • Has low latency (1ms)

Sounds too good to be true doesn’t it! It’s worth remembering that the rollout of 5G is still in its infancy, and therefore coverage is still limited. Before the big networks like EE, Three and Vodafone can deliver the top scope of what 5G has to offer, more work needs to be done.

So should we be choosing LTE or 5G?

As with most techy things, there are lots of factors, such as:

  • Your budget
  • Where you’re based
  • What your connectivity needs are – Personal or business

The more countries adopt and expand their 5G infrastructure, the more 5G-friendly hardware we will start to see. The best way to know whether to choose LTE or 5G is seeing what is on the market and whether it meets your needs.

You may find that some of the 5G devices available don’t have a 4G alternative. You may also find that they are rather on the pricey side! So definitely shop around.

Of course, the more 5G devices we see on the market, the more we will see the prices start to come down. So the time for adopting 5G over LTE may not be quite yet. Patience could also serve you more of the promises 5G has to offer – The more the 5G coverage continues to expand, the higher the speeds and the more consistent the connection to mmWave networks.

Since 2019, we’ve seen prices start to come down as competition in the market starts to heat up, but 5G is still costly. If you have a big budget then you could just go for it now, but we feel like the overall coverage, packages and prices will continue to rapidly improve. We’re inclined to hold out a bit longer and stick to LTE for the time being.

What about 5G for business?

If your business relies on heavily on connected sensors and other similar IoT networks then 5G may be the network you’ve been waiting for. The bandwidth and low latency that 5G could bring to your business cannot be easily ignored.

Think driverless cars navigation and smart sensors – 5G could well be the communications technology that will enable some great and creative deployments.

What are the health concerns associated with 5G?

With 5G comes questions about whether it could harm our health. Do you remember when mobile phones were beginning to emerge into mainstream use and there was much anxiety about what the radio waves were doing to our health? Mobile telephone has never been without concerns, but 5G seems to have evoked more than its fair share of health worries.

The installation of 5G masts have been banned in multiple UK locations. And it’s not just parts of the UK that are opposed to 5G – Back in 2017 180 scientists from 36 different countries made a public appea to the EU to pause their plans of 5G expansion whilst investigations were carried out looking at the long-term effects on human health.

Whilst both 4G and 5G use radio waves, 5G uses higher frequency waves. It’s these high frequency waves that provide better network capacity and speed.

Studies that have looked into any potential health risks from 5G haven’t seemed to identify any specific danger from 5G.

What is the future for LTE and 5G?

With the rise of 5G comes potentially society-changing connectivity – Like self-driving cars.

But technological advances can be slow if not steady. Whilst there is definitely potential for 5G to take over, it could take considerable time for 5G-enabled devices to really take hold of the market. Even from the likes of Apple!

There is still space for 4G LTE in our networks, and whilst it may be 5G’s predecessor, it’s not going anywhere just yet.

Research from Ericsson suggests that the dominant cellular network technology seen in most regions globally is still 4G LTE. 78% of mobile subscriptions in Western Europe in fact! Just because the 5G rollout is well underway, doesn’t mean that everyone will immediately jump ship and drop 4G LTE. It’s expected that 4G LTE will still be the dominant network even 5 years from now.

By 2026 Western Europe is predicted to be using 5G in 69% of all mobile subscriptions. However, Ericssons findings suggest that even as 5G usage surges, 4G LTE won’t automatically decline. It’s even predicted that 4G LTE availability will grow, with global coverage of 95% by 2026, with 5G only seeing 60% in those 5 years.

There is no denying that 5G is the future for telecoms. But by the time we are all accustomed to using it, 6G might well be on the way! Despite 5G becoming more prevalent as time passes, we still think there’s no need to be abandoning 4G just yet.

Can My Christmas Lights Affect My Wi-Fi?

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

How can Christmas tree lights interfere with Wi-FI?

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

Rule #2 – Use a main plug socket

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

SpeedScore by Geekabit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Fundamentals of a Wireless LAN

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

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

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

How Does Data Travel Through a WLAN?

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

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

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

For example:

How is Frequency Measured?

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

How Does Frequency Affect a WLAN?

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

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

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

How is Wi-Fi Signal Loss Measured?

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

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

The 3dB rule

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

As a ratio, this would look like:

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

Then doubling it would be
2:13dB

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

The Relationship Between Frequency and Wireless Signal

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

How is Wireless Signal Affected by Different Materials?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Co-Channel Interference

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Understanding Frequency Channels

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Call The Experts

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

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

Ubiquiti Wi-Fi Expert Help

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

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

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

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

[Part 2] Ubiquiti UniFi – The Brains

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

[Part 3] Ubiquiti UniFi – The Elements

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

How Do I Choose The Right Ubiquiti UniFi Access Point?

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

UniFi vs Meraki vs Aruba

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

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

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

Ubiquiti UniFi – What are Mesh and Mesh Pro Models?

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

Which Ubiquiti airMAX product should I choose?

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

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