PCI: What Is The Difference Between 4G LTE and 5G NR

In this blog we are going to look at the difference between 4G LTE and 5G-NR, specifically in terms of PCI. 

 

What is PCI when it comes to 4G / 5G?

 

PCI is the Physical Cell ID and is one of the most important ways a cell identifies itself in a 4G or 5G wireless network.

The physical layer (or PHY-layer) Cell ID is what determines the Cell ID Group and Cell ID Sector, and it is this that is needed for DL synchronisation. 

DL (Downlink) Synchronisation is the process in which a UE (phone) detects the radio boundary and OFDM symbol boundary. In other words, the exact timing of when a radio frame or OFDM starts. (In telecommunications, orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM) is a type of digital transmission and a method of encoding digital data on multiple carrier frequencies.) 

This DL synchronisation process is done by detecting and analysing the SS Block. From a UE’s (phone’s) point of view, Downlink is the ‘receiving’ transmitting direction. The SS Block (SSB) stands for Synchronisation Signal Block and refers to the synchronisation signal and Physical Broadcast Channel (PBCH) as a single block that always moves together.

 

Why is PCI Planning important? 

 

If you are planning, designing and deploying a 4G / 5G network, then PCI Planning will be one of your most important steps. 

Making sure your network is properly designed with PCI in mind will ensure your network works efficiently and increases how your resources are utilised. 

Excellent PCI planning ensures QoS for those who are subscribed to your 4G / 5G network.

QoS (Quality of Service) is the use of technologies to control traffic on your network, ensuring that the performance of critical applications meets requirements.

The key goal here is to use QoS and PCI Planning to enable your network to prioritise traffic, offering dedicated bandwidth and lower latency.

PCI is one of the technologies used to enhance performance of business applications, WANs and service provider networks. 

Poor planning in this area can result in PCI collisions and conflicts – Which in turn, negatively impact the overall performance of your network.

 

How is the PCI value created?

 

The PCI value is created from two components – PSS (Primary Synchronisation Signal) and SSS (Secondary Synchronisation Signal). 

The PSS is used to obtain the slot, ub-frame and half-frame boundary as well as providing the cell identity within the cell identity group. 

The SSS is used to obtain the radio frame boundary (10ms) as well as enabling the UE (phone) to determine the cell identity group.

After your UE (phone) has successfully decoded the PSS and SSS, it will be able to calculate the PCI. It uses the following formula:

PCI = (3 × SSS) + PSS

 

How is PCI calculated for 4G?

 

PSS has 3 values (0,1 and 2) and is created using the Zad-off Chu sequence.The PSS helps to accomplish slot and symbol synchronisation in the time domain.

SSS has 168 values (0 to 167) and is produced using concatenation (linking together in a series) of 2 m-sequences (max length sequence). The SSS helps to achieve radio frame synchronisation.

The formula to work out PCI for 4G is therefore:

PCI = (3 * 167) + 2 = 503

This means that there are PCI values varying from 0 to 503 LTE, which in turn supports 504 unique PCIs for 4G. 

 

How is PCI calculated for 5G?

 

PSS has 3 values (0,1 and 2) and created using m-sequence. 

SSS has 336 values (0 to 335) and is generated using the product of 2 m-sequences.

In 5G-NR (a new radio access technology developed by 3GPP for the 5G (fifth generation) mobile network), the basic structure of PSS is the same but the number of SSS is increased.

The formula to work out PCI for 4G is therefore:

PCI = (3 * 335) + 2 = 1007

So the PCI values will vary from 0 to 1007. This means that 5G-NR can support 1008 unique PCIs.

 

What does this difference in PCI between 4G and 5G actually mean? 

 

In the simplest terms, 5G-NR has double the number of PCI’s, compared to LTE 4G. 

5G has more Physical Cell IDs (the actual area that the cell antenna on a cell site is covering). Each 5G NR cell has a Physical Cel lD. 5G has 1008 unique possible Physical Cell ID’s, whereas 4G has only 504. 

So if we’re connected to Vodafone on Physical Cell ID No.1, but we could also see Vodafone signals being broadcast out of that cell tower on different cell antennas using Physical Cell ID No,2 and No3, then our mobile device would know to connect to No1. It would get confused if it connected to No.2 or No.3 and impact the quality of service.

The user device connects to the one physically nearest. So for example, a Vodafone tower has two cell antennas out the top broadcasting the Vodafone signal across an area, which will overlap to a small degree. A user’s device will always want to make sure it is connecting to the same one. You don’t want to connect to one antenna and back to another – It’s this that ruins the quality of service. So you will always try and connect back to the one you were talking to, which is normally geographically the one closest to you. 

The Physical Cell ID is used to identify each space. We don’t want those numbers to overlap too often, or our devices get confused and don’t know which to connect to. If a device can see a Physical Cell ID of 2, and there’s another cell antenna using an ID of 2, it wouldn’t know which one to communicate with.

It is beneficial to know that 5G-NR has more PCI’s available in the planning stages, to enable a higher quality of service (QoS) for end user devices.



Wi-Fi and Connectivity Options for Village Halls

Did you know that village halls in need of a bit of updating and renovation can apply for a share of a £3m fund, all in honour of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee?

 

This follows the tradition of village hall investments for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897 and King George V’s Silver Jubilee in 1935. 

 

125 lucky village hall recipients will have a share of the £3m fund, which can be put towards renovations and building improvements including Wi-Fi.  

 

You might well be hosting or celebrating in your local village hall for this weekend’s Jubilee celebrations! Village halls are often the heart of communities, bringing people together. It’s vital these hubs stay well connected with strong, reliable Wi-Fi. 

Wi-Fi for Village Halls – A Quick Guide

If you’re a part of the committee that looks after your local village hall, then you’ll know that there is an ever-increasing need for these community buildings to offer broadband and Wi-Fi access to their users. 

 

Not only will this support a wide range of community activities and events, it will also enhance the facilities you can offer as a venue to those who hire your space. 

 

So what do you need to consider to improve digital connectivity for your communities and businesses by making sure your village hall is well connected? 

 

Get a Broadband Connection


Before even thinking about Wi-Fi or broadband, you need to make sure you have a telephone landline. The only exception is if you are able to get cable or fibre access to the hall. You can read more about FTTP in one of our previous blogs here. Make sure that you have a business contract rather than residential, as it will be for public use. 

 

To get a new telephone line, order one through BT.com. After that’s done, you can upgrade to broadband. Always make sure you check with the ISP that you are able to make your internet connection available to the public before placing your order. 

 

If you want to get broadband without a landline, you would need to be able to have a cable, full fibre or mobile broadband connection. More on that later! 

 

Not got an official postal address? Some village halls don’t actually have an official post office address which can cause problems with some ISP’s as they may insist that you have one in order to place an order. If you find this is the case, you can contact the Post Office and request an official address here.

 

Some ISP’s will accept what’s known as an ‘unserved’ building but they may ask to do an initial survey before they confirm your order.  

 

How much will it cost to install Wi-Fi in a village hall?

You will need to incur some costs to get Wi-Fi successfully set up in your village hall. Bear in mind the following likely outgoings:

  • Installation and connection costs for a new telephone line (plus VAT) and broadband connection (if required)
  • Line rental for the telephone line (ongoing costs)
  • Data usage charges from broadband / Wi-Fi use (ongoing costs)
  • Any work required to install the Wi-Fi router in a secure location, plus additional devices that may be needed to boost Wi-Fi signal 

 

You can help keep costs to a minimum by shopping around for the best contract available on price comparison websites. Remember you need a business contract, not a residential one! Make sure you balance out the costs with data usage limits and of course, reliability.

 

Remember though, making improvements with the Wi-Fi in your village hall is investing in its successful future. It’s vital that these community hubs are well connected for their users. And even better if you can get the costs covered by securing part of the £3m Jubilee fund!

 

Security

 

We cannot express enough how important it is to make sure that your Wi-Fi is secure. You should manage and filter the access to your Wi-Fi signal. 

 

If you were to allow unmanaged access to your Wi-Fi, people may use your broadband connection for illegal purposes. By providing the Wi-Fi for this, you could be liable. 

 

Luckily for you, it’s super easy to manage your Wi-Fi security – And definitely not something that should put you off setting up a Wi-Fi connection in your village hall. 

 

To minimise the risk of inappropriate use, you should:

 

  • Install your router in a secure place where only authorised users are able to physically access it. Don’t let people connect to your router via Ethernet cable as they could make changes.
  • Routers usually display the passwords you need in order to manage and access your Wi-Fi connection. If you think it’s possible for unauthorised users to access this information, then consider changing the User ID and admin password (instructions on how to do this should be in your router user guide).
  • Regularly change your Wi-Fi access password for users. This means that only current users will be able to use your Wi-Fi connection, rather than someone who isn’t authorised or is re-using a password they’ve previously been issued with.
  • Always ensure that the parental control setting is switched on. This prevents access to any unsuitable websites on your Wi-Fi connection. You can use your router manual to set appropriate firewall settings to set the level of restriction required. 

 

 

The router in our village hall doesn’t reach the whole building

 

If you already have a router installed in your village hall, but it’s not reaching far enough and you’re struggling with black spots or slower Wi-Fi in certain places then you may need to extend your Wi-Fi coverage. 

 

This is particularly relevant if you have a large village hall building – The signal just may not be strong enough to reach everywhere it needs to from one router. 

 

We mentioned above that it’s important for the router to be in a secure area so unauthorised people cannot access it. This could mean that it’s been placed in a less than ideal location for signal strength and connectivity. It’s vital to balance the two! 

 

Ideally, you will be able to place the router in a central location, but if that is not the case then you may need to install other devices to extend the signal to other locations within your village hall building. You could potentially use a powerline adapter or a Wi-Fi extender to boost the signal strength and get wider Wi-Fi coverage in the building. 

 

Mobile Broadband for Rural Village Halls

You and your users might not be in London, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t expect the same Wi-Fi connection that you get in urban areas – Despite being in more rural ones. 

 

Unfortunately there are many parts of the countryside that are suffering from a broadband deficit – Indeed, there seems to be a connectivity imbalance across the countryside, with many village halls struggling.

Over the past year particularly, we’ve installed countless numbers of external 4G antennas and routers in rural areas, effectively replacing the broadband through the telephone cable using a data SIM card.

 

You can read more about our 4G Mobile Broadband solutions in a previous blog of ours here

 

If you are wary about whether Mobile Broadband could work in your more rural village hall, then our Cellular Survey could be just what you need. We can map the availability of cellular and data coverage within a building and report the details of phone coverage for 2G, 3G, 4G/LTE and 5G. We can measure the cellular connectivity, data upload and download speeds and the occurrence of dropped and failed calls for all the main mobile network operators. You can read more about this here

 

Want to know more about how Geekabit could help get your village hall connected?

For further information about securing a strong Wi-Fi connection in your village hall, please email our Wi-Fi experts at info@geekabit.co.uk and someone will be in touch as soon as possible.

 

We work out of London, Hampshire and Cardiff, covering community buildings, businesses and larger residential properties. 

 

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.

Enterprise 5G: What You Need To Know 

You may be wondering what 5G means for enterprises. You may well have googled it and landed here! The prevalence of 5G will help to empower businesses – Allowing them to create new experiences and connect in more inventive ways.. 5G will help to change how we work and how we play as well as providing the solution for many problems. Some of them we might not even know about yet! There is a constant buzz in the air surrounding 5G and the excitement of all the possibilities it brings. It might also be causing a bit of FOMO – Businesses will not want to be the ones left behind. 

 

5G is quite often used as a backup for 4G – But those days may soon be over. Businesses will need to start considering using 5G as their primary mobile network, as well as the possibility of using it or their wireless environment – Negating the need for office wiring. 

 

Transformation is happening across all industries – As it tends to do with the introduction of new technology. An ever-changing world! 5G could well be the latest key when it comes to boosting the ambition of your business and increasing the confidence of enterprise customers. 

 

There are 3 main take homes when it comes to Enterprise 5G:

  • This year, the investment in 5G looks strong in enterprises across industries
  • Confidence in the ability to implement 5G successfully is low (only 25% of enterprises feel very confident about effective implementation)
  • Sustainability needs must be met by 5G providers and IoT use

 

The level of current and future spending on emerging technologies is looking healthy, yet there are some significant challenges that industrial 5G needs to overcome. With only a quarter of enterprises feeling confident in their ability to implement 5G successfully, it is vital that 5G providers can help enterprises to get set up. 

 

So what do our 5G providers need to know? Well they need to know what enterprises are thinking when it comes to 5G implementation in order for them to become trusted business partners. 

 

There are several key insights that need to be considered for Enterprise 5G. 

 

Adoption of 5G is not guaranteed


Just because the intention to invest in 5G is there, doesn’t mean it’s a given. The future looks bright in terms of enterprises adopting emerging technologies over the next few years, with investments likely to rise.  The intention to invest in 5G is highest amongst enterprises adopting new technologies. 17% have already invested, and 56% plan to invest in the next 1-3 years. Only 12% are not planning to invest whilst they monitor technological changes.

It seems that organisations are mostly interested in 5G for its use in helping them to meet their sustainability goals as well as improving supply chain management.

This doesn’t mean that 5G implementation is guaranteed. Indeed, just because 5G is becoming more mainstream, doesn’t mean that all organisations are going to stay receptive to it. Asian companies planning to invest in 5G is actually down 10% in comparison to last year.

 

Enterprise 5G Vision Becomes Defensive

 

The mindset towards 5G and IoT is prizing efficiency and optimization instead of entering adjacent markets and driving top-line growth. The top priority of enterprises when it comes to IoT is operational efficiency. Similarly, less enterprises want to spend on IoT for new products and services. 5G application uses for VR and AR seem to be diminishing.

We also need to look at Environmental, Social and Governance consideration as although these are fueling interest in 5G, they are also necessitating new demands on tech providers. Sustainability is a hot topic at the moment, and almost 50% of businesses don’t feel their sustainability needs are being met by 5G vendors.

 

New ways of buying and deploying 5G are well received by enterprises

 

Enterprises seem very receptive to 5G solutions, with over three quarters of businesses interested in using private networks to support the implementation of 5G. Furthermore, 50% of businesses thought that purchasing private network capabilities was an important 5G investment strategy. The reasons being that it provided more control of their network and improved reliability.

It would seem that the lack of confidence in 5G implementation could lead to businesses purchasing 5G through a MVNO (mobile virtual network operator). This implies that the relationship between telecommunications operators and enterprise customers could be in jeopardy. They need to ensure that 5G offerings are offered with easy market strategies.

 

Focus on 5G’s relationship to other technologies, with less attention on cyber risks

 

It looks like one of the top priorities for businesses is looking at the relationship of 5G with other technologies. It would be beneficial for enterprises to receive ongoing information and education on emerging technologies and how they relate to each other for their business needs. Not understanding the relationship between 5G and other emerging technologies could cause challenges.

Rather incredibly, less than a quarter of businesses viewed reducing the risk of cyber threats a priority in terms of IoT and 5G. We cannot stress enough how vital it is for enterprises to design their 5G and IoT deployments with security in mind. This is not a blind spot that can be ignored.

 

Telecommunication operators are falling behind network vendors



Enterprises are supporting their 5G deployments with their technology and telecoms providers, often following selection criteria based on price. Pricing seems to even come above the speed of execution.

It seems that enterprises don’t just want a technology supplier – They want a transformation partner. And who the experts are in this area is fairly evenly split between application and platform vendors and professional services firms. Hot on their heels are network equipment vendors! Less than a fifth of enterprises view telecommunication operators as experts in digital transformation. Whilst trusted as IoT experts, they need to prove their ability to deliver new connectivity transformations.

 

Ambitious ecosystem strategies for enterprises

 

Enterprises are wanting to take advantage of new technologies and ecosystem collaboration is one route towards these new skills and knowledge. Much of their 5 year growth is based within business ecosystem collaboration. There is a growing emphasis on developing cross-sector partnerships as well as shortening the time between new products and services, and revenue. These are ambitious drivers of ecosystem strategies.

Perhaps the most important takeaway from all this is that nearly three quarters of businesses are prioritising suppliers that can offer the relevant ecosystem relationships as part of their 5G capabilities. This means that any 5G provider needs to meet their customers needs and expectations by tapping into these fast-changing corporate ecosystems.  

 

 

Get in touch

 

If you’re struggling with wired broadband, and not getting the reliable internet connection you need in your business, then 5G could be a fantastic option for you.

 

It can feel like a big jump to give up on your wired broadband connection and opt for 5G – Which is where our Cell Coverage survey comes in.

We can tell you exactly whether 5G broadband would work for you, and which network would be most reliable.

 

Give our Wi-Fi experts a call or email us today!

 

How do I get reliable Wi-Fi in my garden? 

Hello Spring heatwave! Hampshire, as well as other parts of the UK, have been treated to a bit of a March heatwave this week with sunny days that are feeling really warm. Finally! And now that many more of us find ourselves working from home more often, we wouldn’t be surprised if you’re trying to figure out a way to get all your gear out into the garden and Wi-Fi working well. 

 

Whether you’re soaking up the sun during Zoom meetings or attempting to escape the same 4 walls with some fresh air whilst answering emails – You’re going to need a strong, reliable Wi-Fi connection in your sun-soaked Hampshire garden. 

 

And no, it’s not okay to steal your neighbour’s Wi-Fi – Even if you know their password!

 

So, if you’re trying to make the most of the sunshine that Hampshire currently has on offer, then here are our top tips for getting strong, reliable Wi-Fi in your garden. 

 

Use an Access Point


Our first recommendation would be to run an ethernet cable out to the garden area and install a new access point. 

 

Many of our Hampshire based clients have homes where this option has worked really effectively. There are other options (see below) but this would always be our preference and recommendation when being asked how to get Wi-Fi in your garden. 


Where is your router? 

 

Is your router in the best place? You could try moving your existing router to see if a change of location improves the signal you get in your garden. 

 

We’ve visited many Hampshire homes where the router has been situated at the front of the house, most commonly in the front room next to the smart TV or telephone. This location makes it unlikely for the signal to be able to reach your back garden. 

 

Consider where you access the internet the most, and whether you could move your router to a different location that would work for both the house and the garden.

 

Extend your Wi-Fi range with a repeater 

 

If the range of your router won’t reach the garden from a suitable location inside the house, then there are ways you can extend it. A repeater is one possible solution, and works particularly well in larger homes. Some of our Hampshire based clients have found that a repeater has solved their Wi-Fi woes when it comes to getting a reliable signal in the garden. 

 

The pros – By placing a repeater in range of the garden, you can make your Wi-Fi go further. It’s cost effective and easy to configure. 

 

The cons – It works by mimicking your existing network and creating a new one. You would have to manually change the connection on your device when you move between the garden and the house. This option can also half your bandwidth, resulting in slower internet speeds.

 

Extend your Wi-Fi range with an extender

 

By using an extender, you can extend the range of your router by plugging it in at a position where it will provide coverage to your garden. 

 

An extender is cabled and takes internet signal directly from the router and emits it from a better location. Despite being slightly more expensive and a bit more complicated to configure than the repeater, our resident Wi-Fi expert says, 

 

One of the biggest benefits of an extender is that it is connected using a wired connection, so there is no need for a wireless signal to operate it. This also means that the bandwidth stays at its full potential.

 

We’d recommend that you consider calling in the experts if you’re considering this option – And we reckon our clients that are currently enjoying Geekabit installed Wi-Fi extenders in their sunny Hampshire hotspot would say the same! 

 

Mobile Tethering

If your smartphone has good reception outside, then you can use its Wi-Fi hotspot and tether that to your laptop or other device to use its connection. 

 

However, it’s worth bearing in mind that the data you use will come off your monthly allowance, and if you go over it can be rather a costly mistake.

 

This option is probably more suited to those ‘one-off’ moments – Perhaps to tide you over while you wait for one of Geekabit’s Wi-Fi experts to come and sort out a more long-term Wi-Fi connection in your garden. 

 

Get in touch

 

So there you go, some of our top tips on how to get Wi-Fi in your garden so you can enjoy the Spring sunshine whilst working from home!

 

If you’ve tried the options above and still no joy, don’t be afraid to call in the experts! Our Wi-Fi experts are on the other end of a phone call or email and are happy to help get your Wi-Fi working as it should. 

 

We work out of Hampshire, London and Cardiff and are really passionate about getting people the Wi-Fi connection they deserve. 

 

Wi-Fi to Fall in Love With

Wi-Fi really can be a love-hate relationship, can’t it? When we feel a strong connection then everything is plain sailing. But the minute that connection seems lost, the frustration creeps in. 

 

To keep your relationship with Wi-Fi healthy, here are some top tips. 

 

Ensure a Secure Connection 

Every good relationship relies on that feeling of security. Wi-Fi is no different. A survey found that despite 91% of respondents believing that public Wi-Fi wasn’t secure, 89% still chose to continue using it. 

It’s always a good idea to wait until you’ve found the right network before you start sharing personal information. If you’re using public Wi-Fi, always make sure it has strong security policies and infrastructure – Especially if you are sharing sensitive information on their network. 

 

Some Things Are Best Kept Private

Whether it’s Valentine’s Day or any other day of the year, some things are just better kept private. 

If you are connecting to a public Wi-Fi network, you should not be using credit or debit card information or sharing any bank details. Yes, that means no shopping! 

If you find yourself able to connect with other users in their network, for example through AirDrop, then you should disconnect. If you want to confirm that the network you are connected to is in fact the provider you think it is, you can check and verify the DNS name by checking the public IP address of the network. 

 

Don’t Risk Getting Held to Ransom

You have to guard your heart sometimes – And you should be guarding your devices too. More and more people are being targeted by ransomware nowadays. And most of those people are paying the ransom in order to get back their data. It’s not just your laptop that can be affected – Any phone or smart device can also be vulnerable. You could be looking at a cost of around £500 – Don’t let them fool you and swindle you out of your hard earned money. 

 

Stop the tears from streaming

If you’re currently relaxing in a hotel room about to start a romantic Valentine’s Day movie on Netflix, then be prepared for some buffering. Any kind of streaming service is a rather big challenge for hotel networks or similar. It needs to have the Wi-Fi to match the demand! And we’re sure that’s not the only performance issue that hotel room has seen. If you’re sitting on the other side of the bed, and it’s your hospitality venue that’s struggling with Wi-Fi performance issues, get in touch with our Wi-Fi expert here at Geekabit and we’ll see how we can help get your Wi-Fi from heartbreaker to love at first sight.

 

It’s not you, it’s me

If you got hacked, who would you blame? Yourself, the Wi-Fi provider or the hacker? Research suggests that 56% of people would blame the Wi-Fi provider / venue but 85% would blame themselves. When you connect to a Wi-Fi network, are you confident that it’s safe? It’s very important to make sure you have the information and tools you need to stay vigilant and safe online. 

 

Turn yourself on

Wi-Fi gives us the ability to turn on so many different things these days. From switching on the lights to turning up the heat for when we get home – All from our phones!

You could even dim the lights for a romantic moment… Who needs a wingman when you’ve got strong Wi-Fi?

 

Not feeling a connection?

If your Wi-Fi is leaving you feeling frustrated and disconnected, then get in touch. Our Wi-Fi experts have the knowledge and skills to diagnose the problems with your Wi-Fi network, and deploy what’s right for you. 

 

After all – All you need is love, and Wi-Fi. 

 

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.

 

A Simple Guide to Help You Plan Your Marina Wi-Fi

Most businesses make it their mission to provide their guests and customers with a reliable wireless connection – It’s vital for a successful guest experience across industries.

If you are in the process of upgrading your marina site, then the dependability and consistency of the available Wi-Fi should be part of your upgrade plans.

The optimum Wi-Fi offering should enable near continuous connectivity throughout your site. It’s imperative that guests moving around your marina don’t have their connection drop out.

Strong, reliable Wi-Fi isn’t an amenity that guests will compromise on. It’s become an expectation in everyday life, regardless of location or industry. Both potential and existing boating customers will want a good internet connection.

Perhaps you’re thinking that most boaters are there for leisure rather than business, so maybe a reliable internet connection isn’t the be all and end all. However, studies have shown that nearly 70% of holiday-makers within employment choose to take a smart device along with them on their break specifically to enable them to connect to work.

This is just one of the many reasons that your marina needs to be able to offer customers reliable Wi-Fi services.

So what questions do you need to be asking yourselves when starting to plan your marina’s WI-Fi network?

Here are some things to consider during the Wi-Fi Planning and Design phase.

 

Where is the ISP entry point?

You will need to consider where on your site the Internet Service Provider’s equipment is. Where this entry point is, affects what you will need to deliver the internet to your customer device. You may need Ethernet cabling, network Power-over-Ethernet Switches and/or Wireless Access Points to get the internet service delivered from the ISP entry point to the client device.

How far away is this ISP entry point from the area you need to cover?

Knowing this distance will help you work out the coverage area and what equipment you will need to get the internet from the ISP entry point to the end user, and where best to place this equipment. It will also help you to identify the type of network devices you will require.

How much bandwidth are you receiving from your ISP?

You will need to know the amount of bandwidth you are getting from your ISP in order to work out the maximum internet speed you will be able to offer your employees, boaters and guests. The more bandwidth you have, the more guest devices you can connect to, and thus the higher the quality of Wi-Fi service you will be able to offer your customers.

Do you know how many users you are likely to have?

Having an accurate estimate of how many users / devices you are likely to have connected at one time will help you to determine how many Access Points you will need throughout your marina. The higher your average number of users, the more Access Points you will need.

Is quality of service important to you?

We are assuming that you’re doing this exercise not just to tick a box, but because you really care about the quality of the internet you’re providing to your customers. Knowing how much access you want to offer your staff, boaters and guests will help you work out how to place your Access Points. There are two main services to look at here.

The first is a Hotspot Service. This is where Wi-Fi services will only be available in specific areas. Any guests wanting to connect to your Wi-Fi services will need to go to those specific areas. These could be the clubhouse, café or other areas of recreation.

The other service would be virtually everywhere. This would include on the dock as well as their boat and throughout the entire marina.

The Access Point requirements for these services would be rather different.

Is there any likely interference from buildings?

It’s wise to consider what your buildings are made of, as some materials could be obstructive to wireless signals. Are they made of wood or concrete or metal? What about the walls, ceilings and doors? Think about how this will affect the wireless signal, and make your Access Point placements accordingly.

How far do your current Ethernet cables go?

If you already have Ethernet cables running, how far do they go? Do they go to the docks or the ends of the docks? If you already have proper, shielded Ethernet cables to your docks then continuing on a wireless service from here is pretty easy. If Ethernet cabling is something you are currently considering, then it could be worth your while doing this to the end of your docks to make further Wi-Fi deployment smooth sailing.

If you don’t have ethernet cabling to the docks, and this isn’t something you want or can do, then a secure wireless link could be the option for you. This link or wireless bridge will carry the signal on to a designated location. The devices on each side of the link or bridge are linked to another device – This could be a network switch, camera or router.

Is a surveillance system part of your marina upgrade plans?

If you are planning to implement a new network-based surveillance system or expand an existing one, then you will need to consider the bandwidth usage of your entire site. The higher resolution your surveillance cameras, the more bandwidth they will need, so do consider how clear you need the surveillance to be e.g. facial recognition, number plate visuals etc.

Surveillance systems can provide comfort and security for both staff and customers, and it’s more commonplace to see them as a part of a marina than to not. Footage from this system could provide you with evidence of liability, vandalism and theft.

How many docks do you want to provide Wi-Fi access to?

You need to work out how many docks you would like to provide with wireless internet access. Will it be some of the docks or all of them? Knowing this number will help you identify how many Access Points you will need. It will also determine where the AP’s need to be placed. You may also need additional wireless links or bridges. Knowing how many docks you are providing with Wi-Fi will also help you to work out an estimate of the average number of users at a given time using your network.

Are your boaters likely to try and connect to your network on board their boat?

You need to know whether your boaters have on-board devices that they are likely to want to connect to your network. Whether or not your Wi-Fi network is deemed successful will often be determined by the experience of your end user. If your customer suffers intermittent coverage and dead spots, then your Wi-Fi network is not doing what it’s intended for.

 

Taking these things into consideration will help you to successfully carry out your site planning. You need to know that the service you provide is enough for the demand.

If this all seems a little overwhelming, then why not leave it to the professionals? Our Wi-Fi experts have the expertise and knowledge to successfully carry out a Wi-Fi Site Survey of your marina, and then design and deploy a Wi-Fi network according to the necessary specifications.

To chat through the options for your marina, give our Wi-Fi experts a call today.