4G Broadband and the Teltonika RUT950 Industrial Cellular Router

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

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

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

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

 

What’s it all about?

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

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

Connectivity

  • 4G/LTE (Cat 4), 3G, 2G.

 

WAN Failover

  • Automatic switch to available backup connection.

 

Wi-Fi

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

 

Dual Sim

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

 

Ethernet

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

 

RMS

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

 

Security

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

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

 

Why is this product our preferred choice?

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

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

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

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

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

Fun Things to Ask Alexa or Hey Google This Christmas

Wi-Fi has done a lot for us this year. It’s brought family and friends together whilst they’ve had to stay apart. It’s kept teams working alongside each other whilst sitting at their kitchen tables. It’s launched Zoom quizzes, parties, meetings and catch-ups into the living rooms of so many people. It’s kept us connected when we’ve needed it most.

And now it can provide us with a bit of festive fun to lift our spirits too. So many homes around the country now have an Alexa or Google Assistant. Maybe they help you with your shopping lists, tell you when a parcel is arriving or play your favourite tunes. Whatever you use yours for, here are a few fun things you can ask yours this Christmas time.

Our Top 10 ‘Ask Alexa’ favourites this Christmas

From singing songs and telling stories, to settling arguments over festive films, here is a selection box full of our favourite Christmassy things to ask Alexa in 2020.

“Alexa, what’s today’s Christmas treat?” 

Everyday throughout December, up until Christmas Eve, you can ask Alexa for a different Christmas surprise!

“Alexa who’s on the naughty list?”

We don’t think anyone deserves to be on the naughty list this year…

“Alexa how many sleeps until Christmas?” 

If you have children in the house, this might save you from being asked multiple times a day!

“Alexa how ugly is your Christmas jumper?”

Surely it can’t be uglier than mine.

“Alexa sing your new Christmas song”

We all need a sing-song now and again, and Christmas songs are in full swing.

“Alexa do yoga with Santa”

Inhale through your nose, and exhale slowly through your mouth. Enjoy this short, light-hearted yoga routine with Santa himself leading you.

“Alexa tell me a Christmas story”

Sometimes we all need a bit of a distraction. Whether it’s a particularly fraught moment with the kids, or much-needed moment of escape, let Alexa tell you a festive tale.

“Alexa Is Die Hard a Christmas movie?”

I think we all know the answer to this one, but let Alexa settle the arguments once and for all.

“Alexa read ‘Twas the night before Christmas’”

A little something a bit of Christmas Eve magic.

“Alexa where’s Santa?”

Maybe he’s left the North Pole and is en-route to deliver presents… I wonder if his sleigh is enabled with 4G mobile broadband?

“Alexa, play music for a Christmas party”

We might not be allowed the party this year, but there couldn’t be any easier way to help get your bubble in the festive spirit.

 

Our Top 10 ‘Hey Google’ Favourites to ask your Google Home smart speaker

We couldn’t Ask Alexa without also saying Hey Google – So here are a few of our festive favourites if you want to have a Christmassy conversation with your Google assistant over the coming week.

Hey Google, tell me a Christmas joke

This is bound to be a cracker. (Get it?)

Hey Google, do you want to build a snowman?

You’ve got the song in your head now, haven’t you?

Hey Google, interview a reindeer

We never hear from the reindeer, do we? It’s always all about Santa.

Hey Google, What’s the best Christmas song?

It probably won’t be vlogger LadBaby, although he is currently out in front of Jess Glynne for Christmas number one 2020, so who knows…

Hey Google, what do elves eat for Christmas?

They probably don’t get many turkeys in the North Pole.

Hey Google, talk to Santa’s hotline.

No Santa’s hotline is going to save the husbands in tier 4 that saved their Christmas shopping for the days before Christmas.

Hey Google, sing me a Christmas Carol

There won’t be many carollers on the doorstep this year, so why not bring them inside with Google.

Hey Google, give me a Christmas sound

What could this be? Bells? A cork popping? Paper being scrunched? What sounds like Christmas to you?

Hey Google, tell me a Christmas story

Are you sitting comfortably? Then Google will begin…

Hey Google, Merry Christmas ya filthy animal

I think we’ll leave it there.

 

Which one is your favourite? Magic really is in the air, with a little bit of help from your Wi-Fi.

Merry Christmas!

How to Measure RF Attenuation Through a Wall
Are you having problems with your Wi-Fi? Perhaps you didn’t carry out a Wi-Fi survey prior to designing and installing your network – Or maybe you skipped the design bit altogether!

 

Dodgy Wi-Fi can sometimes be put down to attenuation, or loss of signal. The main causes of this are the distance the signal is travelling from the transmitter, and objects in the way like walls.

It’s paramount that when you are designing a Wi-Fi network in a walled environment like an office, that you take into account things like walls and their attenuation values. These values can then be used in the design process, indicating where best to place devices and simulate any potential problems that may arise.

Not all walls are the same. Different materials will have a different attenuation value – Basically, some walls will block Wi-Fi signal more than others. Some may be plasterboard, or using plasterboard as a disguise over another material such as brick, concrete, or other materials.

Whatever the material, it’s important to identify what it is and how successfully a signal can get through. Here’s how you can go about measuring the attenuation of  a wall.

 

What you will need:
  • Something to generate Wi-Fi. This could be the hotspot function on your smartphone, a WLAN Pi in hotspot mode powered by a USB, or a battery pack powered Enterprise grade AP. You need to be able to control the transmitting power and the channel so that your measurements will be consistent.
  • A device with which you can measure Wi-Fi. This can also be done with a smartphone through AirPort Utility on iPhone or Aruba Utilities on Android. You could also use an AirCheck G2 or an Ekahau Sidekick. The device you choose will need to enable you to scan only the channel your Wi-Fi generating device is on.

 

What to do:
  1. Identify the wall you are wishing to test.
  2. Place the Wi-Fi generating device at least 4m from the wall, with nothing in-between the device and the wall.
  3. On the measuring device, set the channel to only the scan the channel that your generating device is using.
  4. Point the measuring device towards the generating device on the near side of the wall, making sure that there is a direct line of sight between the devices. Make sure you do not sit or stand between them.
  5. Take a few sets of measurements and make a note of the values. Identify the average for the near side of the wall. You could call this A.
  6. Next, move the measuring device to the other side of the wall, directly in line with where it was before. Again, point the measuring device towards the generating device.
  7. Just like before, take a few sets of measurements and make a note of the values. Identify the average measurement for the far side of the wall. You could call this B.
  8. Work out the wall attenuation: A – B. Make a note of this and document it.

 

Now you know how much the wall is (or isn’t) blocking the Wi-Fi signal. This can help you identify the best positions for devices like routers and access points when designing and installing your Wi-Fi network.

Thinking this all sounds a bit complicated? Luckily for you, our expert Wi-Fi engineers here at Geekabit are pros at carrying out this sort of investigation. We offer site surveys, Wi-Fi design & planning and Wi-Fi installation.

If you already have a Wi-Fi network set up, but have a sneaking suspicion that a particular wall might be causing you problems then we can also help diagnose any Wi-Fi issues in an already established network.

Get in touch with us today to see how our Wi-Fi experts can help you.

Three types of Wi-Fi wireless network
There are three main types of wireless network – How do you know which wireless network is right for you?

Here we’re going to talk about three wireless networks to help you identify which would work best for your business.

We’ll be looking at centralised deployment, converged deployment and cloud-based deployment to see which one suits different types of applications.

Centralised Deployment

The most common wireless network system is centralised deployment. These lend themselves well to environments where buildings and networks are all in close proximity. This type of deployment brings the wireless network together which helps to facilitate advanced wireless functionality. It also enables easier upgrades. Wi-Fi controllers in these networks are based on-site, installed in a location at the centre of the network.

Converged Deployment

This type of wireless network works well for smaller environments such as an office building. They offer a consistency for both wireless and wired connections due to combining them both onto one network device. This device is an access switch which acts as both a switch as well as a wireless controller.

Cloud-Based Deployment

This deployment is ideal for networks that cover multiple locations. Devices connected on the premises of these different locations are managed by cloud software which via a dashboard, enables full visibility and management of said devices.

Once you’ve identified which network your business needs, you can then go about designing it. A site survey is invaluable at this stage, and enables a theoretical map to show up any potential problems before installation goes ahead.

If you need some assistance with your wireless network at any stage – From Wi-Fi site surveys, wireless network design, Wi-Fi installation or help with a current Wi-Fi network – Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today. Our expert Wi-Fi engineers are here to help, and are still working out of our Hampshire and London bases.

 

 

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/

WiFi Faces Technical Challenges

The emerging wireless standard promises better WiFi but the promise introduces significant complexity.

IEEE 802.11 standards (g, a, n, ac) delivered WiFi performance improvements out of the box. They focused on progressively increasing the data rate over the wireless link. All that was needed to take advantage of any new standard, was a radio chipset that incorporated the new radio and MAC enhancements.

The situation is different for the upcoming 802.11ax standard. The focus of 802.11ax is not on increasing the data rate but on improving the overall wireless network performance. This introduces significant new radio and MAC enhancements such as OFDMA and BSS colouring.

Ranking high among the issues is a transmission-scheduling mechanism. The downlink transmission scheduling in WiFi has been a simple FIFO (First In First Out) system. 802.11e introduced a small variation regarding the maintenance of multiple transmission queues for different priority classes.

However, 802.11ax introduces significant complexity in wireless transmission scheduling due to its OFDMA and MU-MIMO enhancements.

  •  With MU-MIMO, there is now an option to transmit a single wireless frame to a single client or concurrently transmit different wireless frames to multiple clients using multi-user beamforming.
  • With OFDMA, there is now an option to transmit a single wireless frame to single client using traditional OFDM or concurrently transmit different wireless frames to multiple clients using subsets of channel width.
  • 802.11ax introduces multi-user transmission in uplink direction too. The AP needs to schedule multiple clients for concurrent uplink transmissions according to their requirements.

These methods need to take into account service requirements of traffic flows, radio conditions on the channel, client capabilities and client state feedbacks. It is no easy feat to come up with scheduling mechanisms that will work in most practical scenarios with relative ease of configuration and fine tuning.

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.
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.