Tag: wifi

I Can Haz WiFi on Plane Flight?

wifi on plane flightI will be the first to admit that I don’t always own the latest and greatest technology.  I was one of the last people on earth to get rid of my old tube TV, I am still living without surround sound (*gasp!), and my car is over 10 years old, has nearly 200,000 miles and is somewhat embarrassing to drive.    Years of lean living has led me to a place where I have learned to find the ‘sweet spot’ when making an investment of money.    You know, the place where economy meets practicality–where you  can feel good about saving money and still have all the benefits of living in the 21st century.

Now I feel like I’ve really splurged, and I am having  a tinge of guilt because of I took the bait and connected my tablet to WiFi on a recent two hour  Delta flight.   I realize now that this technology has been around a while, but as usual, I was probably one of the last to experience  in-flight WiFi.

I have to admit that the WiFi worked better than I thought it would, there were no noticeable drops or slowdowns even though my flight flew over some of the most desolate country in the U.S. (sorry if you are from Wyoming.  I mean no offense;  besides, I think you know exactly what I mean).

When I got back home I decided to do a little research to see how they do that, ’cause that’s what I do.    What I found was very interesting:

The service that Delta uses in flight is provided by a company called Gogo. Gogo is a company based in Itasca, Ill that has equipped over 6000 business aircraft, and over 2000 commercial with their in-air service at the time of this writing.   Gogo uses several different technologies to connect passengers connected while in air.

Air-To-Ground (ATG) Gogo’s ATG network is a cellular based network that has more than 160 towers in the continental U.S., Alaska and soon, Canada. The towers are cellphone towers that have been outfitted to point their signals at the sky rather than along the ground. The aircraft picks up the signal through a receiver installed on its underside. When it reaches the aircraft, the data signal is distributed throughout the cabin via a Wi-Fi system.

ATG-4 Gogo’s ATG-4 service has enhanced the existing network (ATG) and improves per aircraft capacity through the addition of Directional Antenna, Dual Modem and EV-DO Rev. B technologies. This new platform is backwards-compatible and allows for upgrades to existing ATG systems through low-cost retrofits. ATG-4 is expected to enhance Gogo’s existing ATG network and deliver peak speeds from current performances of up to 3.1 Mbit/s to up to 9.8 Mbit/s per aircraft.

Ka-band satellite Gogo was named a service provider for Inmarsat‘s Global Xpress satellite service in November, 2011. Inmarsat also selected Gogo’s business aviation subsidiary, Aircell as a distribution partner for the business and government aviation markets.

Ku-band satellite Gogo has satellite agreements in place with SES (for coverage over the U.S., Atlantic Ocean and Europe) and Intelsat (for coverage over portions of the Atlantic and northern Pacific oceans, as well as routes over South America, Asia, Africa and Australia). Gogo has also signed an agreement with Intelsat for Ku band satellite capacity specifically for coverage in the Atlantic and northern Pacific oceans, as well as routes over Central and South America, Asia, Australia and parts of Africa. Gogo announced in May 2012, that it will partner with satellite equipment provider, AeroSat, to bring a Ku-satellite solution to commercial airlines. A Ku-satellite solution will allow Gogo to offer airlines connectivity services that extend beyond the United States, including transoceanic routes, and will serve the needs of some of their airline partners in the near-term until Inmarsat’s Global Xpress Ka band-satellite becomes available.[7][8][9]

Gogo Ground to Orbit Gogo’s newest service is a proprietary hybrid technology that combines the best aspects of existing satellite technologies with Gogo’s Air to Ground network. This technology uses satellite for receive only and Gogo’s Air to Ground network for the return link to the ground. Gogo GTO offers peak speeds of 60 Mbit/s or more to aircraft flying throughout North America and will be available in 2014. This new service is expected to increase speeds by more than six times the current performance.Virgin America will be the launch partner of the new service.[10]

Technology for business aviation For the Business/corporate aviation market, Aircell, a Gogo company, offers three different inflight technologies: Iridium Satellite, Inmarsat SwiftBroadband (satellite) and Gogo Biz (ATG and ATG-4).

 

Pasted from <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gogo_Inflight_Internet>

 

For those of you who just skimmed over that little blurb that I stole from Wikipedia,  let me summarize:

This is how it’s done:  Using  cell towers that are outfitted with antennas that point toward the sky,  and satellites.

 

Think of it as a simple mobile hotspot running traveling at 600mph at 30,000 feet.   All this,  and  just so you can browse to google or enjoy the latest cat memes.   I guess you could do real work too (if you really wanted to.)        Oh, and one last note, you can download coupons for Gogo from retailmenot or other coupon sites.  Have a few of them ready if you decide to rent some bandwidth while flying, it can save you some money (that’s for those of you who can relate to hitting that ‘sweet spot’ I mentioned earlier).    Just remember next time you fly, “Yes,  you can haz wifi”.

Wireless Network Problems? Try these easy steps to improve signal!

OpenClips / Pixabay

Wireless network problems? Here are a few easy tips to make sure your wireless network is running great.

1.)  Is it really your WiFi?

Maybe the most difficult part of troubleshooting any technology problem is finding the root of the problem.  Is it really your WiFi or is it your broadband connection?  We can find out pretty easily if you have a device you can plug into your network router or cable/dsl modem.  First, find a laptop or desktop computer with a network cable, and plug the network cable into your modem or router (pick the device closest to your broadband device. Most of the time this device is provided by your ISP).   If you have trouble finding where to plug in to test, call your ISP and go through some troubleshooting with them, they are there to help and for things like this they are actually pretty well equipped to answer your questions! Once plugged in, point your browser to http://www.speedtest.net  to check your network upload  and download speed.  It should be reasonably close to what your ISP promised you when signing up for service.   If not, call the ISP and see if they can resolve the issue. If it is pretty close, try it from your wireless device and note the difference.  If it is slow, let’s check for wireless issues!  Read ON!

2.) Check your wireless channels

Wireless networks in the U.S. run on three primary, non-overlapping channels. 1, 6 and 11. WiFi ChannelsYou will see that you can choose other channels, but be aware that you will still potentially see interference from nearby channels. As you can see from the diagram, you want your wireless router to configured either on 1, 6 or 11, and you will want to know what wireless network channels are being used in your area so that you have a clean, solid signal. How do you know which channels are used? It’s easy. Have a smartphone? Check this out in Google Play or the app store: WiFiExplorer Download it and install. Here is a picture of the screen you will see. As you can see, my network “starbucks” is all alone on channel 6, and the neighbor’s is all along on channel 11. If another neighbor were on channel 9, you would see that it would overlap with both 6 and 11, an obvious bad choice. WifiExplorer is very easy to use, the higher the graph the stronger the signal.WiFiExplorer Try it out in the neighborhood and check out all the bad wireless choices (and unfortunate ssids name choices too…). If if the SSID is hidden, or someone nearby has a wireless device (video camera, etc) that doesn’t have an ssid and you are still having problems, you would need a full wifi network spectrum analyzer to get a good look into why it is happening, but this quick tip should be enough for the average home user.

 

3.) Check your WiFi coverage

Do you notice slowness or dropped signal in certain parts of your house or office? Probably the most common and overlooked wifi problem is the easiest to solve! Make sure your access point or wireless router is in a centralized location. Many people have their wireless router in a corner office somewhere in the basement, then try to connect to the wireless from the upstairs bedroom, usually the furthest possible place from the router! See if there is a way to extend your router to a centralized location. You may need to run a network cable or dsl line through a wall, the rafters, under a carpet or beside the baseboard. Sometimes you don’t have a choice where your wireless router is located. in cases like this, you can buy a [easyazon_link asin=”B004NBL9WK” locale=”US” new_window=”default” tag=”nrdos-20″ add_to_cart=”yes” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” nofollow=”default” popups=”yes”]wireless repeater[/easyazon_link] or some [easyazon_link asin=”B0034CQSKW” locale=”US” new_window=”default” tag=”nrdos-20″ add_to_cart=”no” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” nofollow=”default” popups=”yes”]high gain antennas[/easyazon_link]. Either way, you should get a better signal and your Ipad will thank you.
Nerd Alert: When checking your signal with WiFiExplorer, make sure your signal is as close to -40dbm as you can get! Use WiFiExplorer and check the signal in all areas. Again, the larger the number the worse the signal– anything over 75-80dbm is getting too weak. If you really want to nerd-out and impress your friends, download a copy of Ekahau Heatmapper (free software!), get an electronic copy of your floorplans (draw a rough copy and try the smartphone app camscanner to scan it in easily), and make a heatmap of your wireless network.wifi-heatmap I won’t guarantee your friends or family won’t check you in to a facility, but then they can use your awesome wireless signal in your home network to Skype you while you are spending quality time in your padded room.

4.) Upgrade your WiFi driver

A common problem on laptops is old wifi drivers.  Old drivers can cause lock-ups, weak signal, and other less-than-ideal wifi issues.  Update your driver by going to the device manufacturer website and look up your specific model, download and install.  Unfortunately, this is not quite as easy on tablets.

5.) I’m giving ‘er all she’s got, captain!

Some routers allow you to turn up the power on the wireless router.  If you are using DD-WRT (really awesome open source wireless router software), just turn it up!   Please be aware that cranking up the power on your router can decrease it’s life, and will void your warranty–but that’s how we roll at nerdosaur.com!

6.) Admit defeat

Yes, sometimes you have to cut your losses and just realize that technological devices need to be replaced every few years.  That router from 2003 may not be your best option for your brand new tablet that supports all the new wireless protocols.  Don’t be afraid to replace it with something a little newer, and while you are at it you might want to get rid of that 486sx beige bomber in your closet too.