Rethinking Networks for the New Normal

The COVID-19 pandemic has left no sector untouched in terms of the strain placed on networking and ways of working. Organisations of all types have had to overhaul processes and platforms to cope with the majority of staff – if not all staff – working remotely from home.

post-covid networking

This has placed pressure on the fundamental elements of networking, as well as highlighting the importance of less prominent ones pre-pandemic. The post-COVID-19 working world will undoubtedly focus more heavily on high performance VPNs, firewalls, end-user security, AV software and agile, connected devices among other elements.

Our partner, Extreme Networks, recently endorsed a report by ZK Research, looking into the long-term implications of international remote working on networks and connectivity. You can read this by clicking on the e-book below.

If you’d like to discuss network resilience and performance with our engineers, Contact Redway Networks to get in touch.

 

Rethinking the Network

Rethinking the Network in the Post-Pandemic Era

How it feels to be in love with your WiFi

One of the most important working relationships these days is with our wireless whether we’re at home, at work, or somewhere in between. In an ideal world, it’s a happy relationship which gives each party what it needs, but – as in reality – we see so many relationships that aren’t supportive, reciprocal, or stable.

If you’re one of the unlucky ones feeling spurned by your network, here’s what it’s like to be head-over-heels in love with your WiFi.

You can count on it during the tough times

Weariness of speed dating is well and truly in the past

You feel safe

You can grow together

You never feel alone

Being in a loving relationship with your WiFI might sound like a breeze, but a few words of warning…

Beware the 7-year itch

Love takes work

If you’re not in love with your WiFi, we hope this article has convinced you to give love another go by contacting our engineers for advice – there are plenty more wireless solutions in the sea!

There’s a lot of hype around the next WiFi standard 802.11ax more commonly known as WiFi 6.  Sometimes new technologies don’t live up to expectations, but that’s not the case with  WiFi 6. WiFi 6 is the first WiFi standard designed with the premise that WiFi is the primary connection for devices rather than a network of convenience.  So in essence WiFi 6 is a different kind of WiFi.

Its arrival has even prompted the WiFi Alliance to change the way in which older WiFi versions are discussed. Confusing names such as ‘802.11ac’ or ‘802.11n’ are out, replaced by a simplified number for each iteration, from ‘WiFi 1 (802.11b, released in 1999!) all the way to the new ‘WiFi 6’. This will make it much clearer for consumers to see how new software (and likely hardware too) is when purchasing.

Many of the enhancements to WiFi 6 came from the world of LTE and 4G, which addressed these challenges long ago. If it can be summed up in a few words, we’d say ‘much faster, less congested’. But how?

Speed

Thanks to improvements to technology such as MU-MIMO which packs more data onto the same radio waves, WiFi 6 will be much faster than older iterations. This will bring about lowered latency times and less of a delay when data is sent. This will reduce load time and help to minimise disconnect issues. Even without increasing the speed of your internet, WiFi 6 should increase the speed at which data can be displayed on your connected devices. Intel reported that faster throughput will mean that WiFi 6 is up to 40% faster than WiFi 5.

Battery Life

Access points can instruct devices when they will need to receive transmissions, and when they can put their WiFi radio into sleep mode, conserving energy. This new feature will lead to longer client battery life.  It will also open the door to a wide-range of applications that could not have been hosted on WiFi in the past, many of which might function in ‘low-power’ modes.

Density & Capacity

WiFi 6 will champion congested environments thanks to improved functions. OFDMA (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access) allows a wireless channel to have sub-channels, each carrying data to different devices simultaneously. Although this isn’t necessarily new tech, what is unique to WiFi 6 is that the access point can also receive responses from multiple devices simultaneously. When this is coupled with devices waiting less time to transmit signals, the result is speed that is four times faster in dense or congested spaces.

This function alone is groundbreaking for organisations looking to stay ahead of the competition, especially those using high-density networks in large offices, warehouses, universities, stadiums, shopping centres and many others.

Should I Upgrade to WiFi 6?

Since WiFi 6 is almost upon us, your organisation needs to consider the benefits of an upgrade. If you’re unsure whether to invest in WiFi 6 or not, Extreme Networks’ webinar on Best Practices for WiFi 6 Design & Deployment aims to help. It discusses when your organisation should make the jump, when to hold fire and wait, as well as some ideas for improving your current WiFi network while you’re waiting.

As with all things WiFi, expert planning and implementation are vital to ensure your organisation reaps the benefits of an investment in WiFi 6. If you would like more information about how Redway Networks can help you improve your wireless connectivity, or if you are considering an upgrade to WiFi 6, contact us today.

 

Wireless networks.  Made simple.

Wireless technology is changing at an incredibly rapid pace. The way we use the internet has completely and radically altered the lives and businesses of billions of people over the globe. But what does the future of WiFi hold? We’ve brought together 3 of the biggest trends in the future of WiFi:

1. The Internet of Things

Over the last few decades, we’ve seen WiFi being used from only a handful of large, bulky computers to a plethora of slim, powerful laptops, tablets, and most of all smartphones. In recent years, we’ve also seen other devices (such as printers, home assistants, wearable tech) connect to WiFi networks to improve the ease with which we work, study and play.

This expansion of connected devices has been dubbed ‘The Internet of Things’; a network of essentially any product you can think of imbued with wireless connectivity. Although this concept is no newcomer, what is only emerging now is a generation of tech that changes our lives quite considerably.

Already on the market are home appliances such as fridges, kettles and printers that can automatically reorder your groceries, boil up water on demand, or buy fresh ink. The concept of a truly connected, ‘smart home’ may feel futuristic, but in reality it is already becoming a way of live (albeit in a piecemeal way). As the adoption curve follows its arc, we expect daily life to change quite drastically as this new tech becomes more mainstream, and its benefits are more touted.

WiFi will be the conduit for this change, since it is the automatic choice for supporting the higher bandwidth requirements of this next-gen tech.

2. Ever-increasing speed and reach

One trend we can all bank on is increased browsing speed. We’ve witnessed the demands on WiFi networks explode, both in terms of the number of users connected, and the amount of data each connected device downloads per millisecond (think your trusty 3210 vs the latest iPhone). In line with this demand, we’ve also witnessed speeds skyrocket, from struggling to download a small image file to millions of people streaming HD video (8K looms), social media and the rise of gaming.

In addition to personal use, businesses have been heavily investing in wireless connectivity for many years, achieving improved efficiency, accuracy and a superior customer offering. All this additional traffic has – over the last decade – caused a growing concern over levels of congestion and associated limitations on performance.

It was estimated that by 2020, WiFI networks would be struggling to handle traffic demands due to the spectrum being too busy. Enter WiFi-6. Opening up additional spectrum has been a major step towards easing congestion, and as WiFi-6E devices become more widespread, this will hail a new era of connectivity.

We’re now on the verge of bigger changes; AI, automation, robotics, and IoT becoming part of mainstream working, living and playing. Huge strides are being made forward in wireless technologies, but it still isn’t entirely unimaginable that technology itself will exceed the potential of the WiFi that needs to underpin it. One thing is for certain – the volume of traffic is set to rise, so speed, bandwidth and the balance between 5G and WiFi will have to match demand.

3. The move towards personalisation

The power of big data has started to change the way the world works. Targeted ads, specialised content and various other uses of this valuable resource are commonplace today. But as WiFi networks, potentially using AI technology and machine learning, get smarter at predicting what type of speeds we’re looking for, the kind of experience we expect, and even the content we consume, we’ll start to expect a higher standard of personalisation from our WiFi providers. It remains to be seen just how intrusive these changes will feel, and how widespread, especially as GDPR and other societal shifts seek to protect privacy and confidentiality.

If you want to upgrade your WiFi ready for the latest technological innovations, or simply want to meet the demands of your workers, customers or students in the here and now, get in touch with us at Redway Networks today.

If you want to upgrade your WiFi ready for the latest technological innovations, or simply want to meet the demands of your workers, customers or students in the here and now, get in touch with us at Redway Networks today.

Read more about WiFi solutions

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was implemented in the EU on 25th May this year, meaning businesses were forced to assess, monitor and release any customer information they held within their databases. Companies across Europe are now under a legal obligation to ensure that all personal data is discarded of unless it is required to be kept under a ‘lawful basis’.

The likes of shopping centres, restaurants and even underground trains offer customers the use of free WiFi, providing they accept their terms and conditions. However, what users fail to notice when they impatiently accept these terms is how the provider wishes to process and use this personal data. But now that the GDPR has come into place – thus changing how these internet service providers handle customers’ personal information – how will they go about protecting both their own and their customers’ data?

An opt-in/opt-out service was issued electronically leading up to the implementation date, which meant that unless a customer actively chose to opt-in (allow data to be retained) companies were required to discard of any personal data held within the database since before 25th May 2018. Whilst this option is a quick fix, companies are beginning to look for a permanent solution to solve future data protection breaches.

Is Aerohive A3 the solution?

A professional solution for businesses using wireless networks is the recently launched A3 by Aerohive. Aerohive A3 is a dynamic management solution used to control access, authentication and on-boarding on all devices connected to a company’s network. Whether you’re looking to control devices such as automated locks and printers, access user accounts via social media, or are wanting to increase and protect your network security, Aerohive A3 is a fantastic solution.

Due to its agile integration, Aerohive A3 can work alongside any existing security whilst providing a simplified work-flow and user experience. Whether users are looking to have automated device access, profiling or network control, Aerohive A3 will work to support all users and devices, making sure all avenues are secure and protected. Meaning that any private data belonging to the company and/or its customers is kept safe and secure within the network.

With Aerohive A3, companies that use the likes of Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter to promote their business will be able to access and control accounts, ensuring that only verified users have admin rights. You needn’t worry about compatibility; Aerohive A3 can be used with Android, Windows and Apple, and is versatile enough to work with various devices and software programmes.

In many ways, the Internet of Things (IoT) is making our lives easier, thanks to its capacity to share information across a host of different connected devices. This is particularly true for educational institutions and businesses that can use the technology to speed up and synthesise many of their administrative processes, for example.

However, as with any technology that promises such benefits, with the Internet of Things (IoT) comes some serious risks. Cyber criminals are already well on their way to finding new and malign tactics to hack into connected devices, which can act as an easy gateway to valuable systems via the Internet of Things (IoT). This is particularly worrying for organisations that are under immense pressure to keep the data of their customers, staff or students safe. So what can be done to ensure cyber security in our hyperconnected world?

Keep devices secure

The first and most obvious thing to do is to protect the devices themselves. Making devices tamper-proof can be an effective way of preventing criminals from reaching data. Companies should also protect vulnerable device features like TCP/UDP ports, web servers where code can be injected, open serial ports, and radio connections. It is also important that devices are upgraded with the requisite security updates and patches as and when needed.

Keep networks secure

It goes without saying that networks should be adequately protected along with connected devices. This means companies should ensure they instate strong user authentication mechanisms to ensure only approved users have access to precious networks and data.

Companies should also stress the importance of strong passwords to staff, using two-factor authentication methods where possible.

Protect data

As the world becomes increasingly connected, people are waking up to the importance of vigilant data protection. Indeed, connected devices have the capacity to store and transmit very sensitive personal information, which companies have a duty to protect. Those that fail to do so are liable to harsh regulatory penalties, so adequate encryption should become an automatic practice. Comprehensive training in the world of cyber security should also be given to employees that are likely to be handling lots of personal information.

Are you an educational institution or enterprise company looking for secure network solutions? We specialise in Aerohive WiFi solutions and can help you ensure your data and network stays protected from cyber criminals.

Read more about our WiFi solutions

802.11ax (WiFi 6) is due to be the new standard when it comes to wireless LANs. It promises to deliver a much faster network and one that will be more in tune with the demands of the modern-day network.

The previous update was called 802.11ac, and although it made advancements in speed, it still carried on with the assumption that people were much more likely to be downloading content rather than uploading it.

WiFi 6 – more uploads than ever

That may have been true in years gone by, but the smartphone has played a big role in changing that. Instant access to social media and other websites has meant that more content is being uploaded than ever. The networks were still becoming overcrowded and a new way of thinking was required.

Step up 802.11ax WiFi 6

802.11ax WiFi 6 has solved this problem by redesigning how wireless networks operate, and it should be at least four times faster than existing WiFi. Not only that, however, but it also has more channels that are wider meaning the problems of an overcrowded network will be solved. This is particularly crucial in such spaces as stadiums, conferences or in schools where there will be a significant increase in capability of speed and capacity.

Previously a user could only use one channel at one time and a client would have to take turns broadcasting or listening to the network. A huge advancement with 802.11ax (WiFi 6) is the orthogonal frequency division multiple access (ODMFA) which will mean that multiple people can use the same channel at any one time.

The end of the crowded network

The latest update to the wireless network seems like the beginning of the end for the congested networks that we have all had to suffer. Most of us have experienced the disappointment of a slow and lethargic connection to enterprise or education WiFi networks in busy corporations or schools. 802.11ax WiFi 6 changes all of that.

There are many areas where technology hasn’t quite caught up to the demands of the modern world, and wireless LANs were one such area. The 802.11ax WiFi 6 WLAN finally brings wireless up to date with what we need it to do. It’s an exciting development and one which will be widely welcomed.

Providing reliable and secure enterprise WiFi access has been keeping network administrators awake at night for more than a decade. Access points keep failing, the signal drops without warning, interference from other devices in the office sporadically affects performance, WLAN drivers continually need updating, and that’s before we even consider the security implications of having WiFi access points broadcasting their existence to the outside world.

But times are changing; wireless has seen the biggest step change in the technology of all the networking protocols over the past five years or so. The introduction of cloud management solutions from companies like AeroHive, along with new networking standards such as 802.11AX, mean that WiFi networks are faster and more reliable than ever before.

What is wireless cloud networking? 

The concept of wireless cloud networking first appeared in 2012 when companies such as AeroHive began using a more distributed cloud-based approach to creating and managing large numbers of Wireless Access Points (WAPs). The wireless cloud networking management approach allows network administrators to centrally configure, secure and manage individual WAPs, which enable seamless handoff from each WAP device, allowing users to move around a building freely without losing network connectivity.

This central cloud controller also allows network administrators to manage devices from a single location, reducing the amount of time required on site and increasing network availability. Individual WAPs can be rebooted, reconfigured, updated or taken offline without an engineer having to be on site. This single pane of glass also increases network visibility, allowing administrators to spot potential bottlenecks and fix them before end users are affected. This has even greater benefits for larger locations that have distributed networks, with the amount of hardware required to manage the network significantly reduced compared to using traditional WLAN controllers.

The changing LANscape 

This step change in technology means that we are now at a stage where centrally managed wireless networks are able to compete with traditional wired Ethernet networks for speed and reliability. But should you make the change over? The answer depends on the size and complexity of your network. Certainly, for larger distributed enterprises, a cloud-based approach makes sense, the central management of the console will improve both reliability and security while reducing admin costs.

Many educational establishments will also benefit from having a centrally managed wireless network. Most schools and colleges don’t have enough expertise in-house to manage a large WiFi deployment, which results in patchy performance and compromised security. By handing this over to an experienced wireless cloud networking management company, costs can be contained while improving the performance and security of the overall network.

Read more about WiFi solutions

Ever heard of Moore’s Law? It’s a computing term coined in the 70’s which predicted that the overall processing power of computers will double every couple of years. Wireless technology is no different and is constantly changing for the better, with new technology hitting the market on a weekly basis.

But is it possible to future proof your education WiFi or enterprise WiFi? With these five simple tips, you can help your wireless setup to stand your business or organisation in good stead for years to come.

802.11ac as standard

It’s estimated that soon everyone will possess at least five wireless devices – with smartphones, laptops, desktops, tablets, printers and other peripherals all using WiFi, it’s important to have a network that can handle the stress. 802.11ac has been around for a while, but it’s never too late to invest in a standard that will cope with the demands of your organisation.

Flexibility

A future-proof wireless network needs to not only make use of today’s frequencies, but to be adaptable for emerging frequency bands. Over the next decade, new bandwidth-intensive technologies will begin to use 568MHz of new frequencies. Can your current setup cope?

Making upgrades easy

It makes sense to keep tabs on the latest wireless trends. By choosing equipment that can be upgraded in the future, such as an Aerohive network, you’re ensuring a longer lifespan out of your networking devices.

Scalability

As we touched upon earlier, the number of devices being used on your network is only going to increase. If you’re looking for longevity from your wireless network, you should be investing in gear that is going to allow for years of seamless network growth.

Software-defined radios

Some of the newest adaptive access points come with SDN, or software defined radios. This facilitates the use of both radios in an access point to operate concurrently on 5GHz, allowing you to quickly and easily reconfigure your network based on the capabilities of your client. This can be achieved with a simple mouse-click.

Want to know more about how to future proof your wireless network? Why not get in touch with a member of our team, who will be more than happy to discuss your requirements and offer technical advice on how upgrading your WiFi can improve your business.

Read more about WiFi solutions

With the new year rolling in, the age of tomorrow is dawning on us. Gone are the days when to log on to the World Wide Web we needed a home telephone, a thousand different wires and the hope that no one else within ten miles was online at the same time. Today we enjoy wireless networks that allow fluid and seamless connectivity. Analysts estimate in 2018 WiFi could grow to 300 million hotspots globally, but as of now, which nation has the fastest public WiFi?

5. The UK

The United Kingdom edges into the top five with more foundations being laid, especially in London, which is the financial centre of Europe. Partner companies, along with the government, worked hard in 2017 to install hundreds of devices in public fixtures such as lamp posts and old phone booths, with these hotspots reportedly having speeds of up to 1Gbps.

4. Denmark

As announced in 2014, Denmark is succeeding in its long-term “smart cities” initiative to have lamp posts detect cyclists and increase their brightness accordingly. They also sense when there’s a bin that needs emptying and serve as free public WiFi hotspots. The scheme is being developed in conjunction with Cisco in Copenhagen.

3. Switzerland

Switzerland remains as one of the front-runners in the fastest public WiFi – locals and tourists can access the internet in areas such as public squares, parks, beaches, and museums. A resort near Davos recently opened a new chairlift that comes with free public WiFi for the eight-minute ride to the top.

2. Singapore

Continuing to impress, Singapore has moved up the list in recent years, which makes sense as this small island-country has become the aerial for WiFi in the Philippines. The government still aims to upgrade the hotspots to faster speeds and reach 20,000 across the country by the end of 2018.

1. Lithuania

Still at the top of the list for fastest public WiFi is Lithuania, with average download speeds of 16.6 Mbps. The country seems very focused on promoting itself as the best option for enterprises to set up shop as it tries to attract more international investment.

Offering WiFi is vital to keep innovation moving. At Redway Networks, we can provide your business with a range of wireless solutions, providing companies with the edge over their competitors. Take that step today by requesting a wireless site survey of your business or contacting us for more information.

Read more about our wireless solutions