Switching Over To Fibre? Myths & Realities

Ofcom suggest that as many as 94% of British homes could take advantage of fibre broadband, however, only 45% of us have taken advantage of superfast internet. What are the advantages of switching from cable to fibre optic data transfer, and what are the stumbling blocks preventing people from taking up fibre?

A recent Which? survey found that 41% of internet users said they weren’t considering moving over to fibre because they were currently happy with the speeds they were getting. 20% said they didn’t use the internet enough to make it worth while changing provider or switching their contract.

While it’s true that the average speed currently provided via metal cable, around 12Mbps, is quite sufficient for browsing, using social media and streaming a movie, as data use increases both in individual homes and generally throughout the population, those speeds won’t be sustainable with the current infrastructure and won’t be sufficient for the average homeowner.

As media continues to be delivered by Earth based technology (cable & transmitter to antenna) the metal cable infrastructure cannot keep up with the amount of data which needs to be delivered as we continue to increasingly inhabit the internet. As our demand for more data, delivered more reliably increases every year the current infrastructure will increasingly find it hard to cope. However, fibre is more than capable of taking over and delivering what is required. Read more

I Feel The Need, The Need For Data Speed

We all know the adage that noting is assured but death and taxes. Today we can add washing up and the frustration you feel when your home entertainment such as TV and surfing is interrupted by slow data speeds and adverts. Since we can’t help you live longer and I don’t really like washing up, let’s look at your IT speed. It won’t fend off death but faster data does mean that you’ll spend less time waiting for pages to load, files to transfer and movies to buffer. With all that time freed up, it’s like adding time to your life, which is nearly the same.

A few years ago it was also found that we, as TV viewers, waste a year of our lives surfing channels looking for something to watch. Whether that’s avoiding adverts or actively looking for something to watch foregoing the EPG and looking at what’s being broadcast in real time, that’s a lot of time that you could win back. Read more

Unlimited Data Means Students And Renters Can Get All The Benefits Of The Smart Home Revolution Too

smart devices, connected devicesA short while ago Three.co.uk started offering a HomeFi wireless home router which delivers unlimited 4G to 32 devices for £22.00 per month. I had to check that was correct, as compared to other providers unlimited internet access for more than 30 phones, laptops, smart speakers, CCTV and alarms seems phenomenally good value. I was assured by the sales assistant that yes, it really was unlimited and, as he signed me up he checked all the ‘unlimited’ boxes on the form, which made me phenomenally happy!

Now, this package isn’t designed for a small business running their entire internet service via this one little Huawei device. You could try to connect 32 computers all streaming movies all day all month, but it’s only a little box which works on a GSM network so the connection just isn’t built for for that kind of data usage, so ‘unlimited’ actually means ‘unlimited depending on the speed and quality of the phone reception you’re receiving’. But if you’re not able to consume huge amounts of data due to the limitations of the phone network, what is it good for? Read more

Choosing The Best Network Provider To Suit Your Needs

TV, tv channels, choosing TV providerThe way television is being delivered is leaping into the 21st century and choosing how you get your TV and broadband package is becoming ever more confusing.

Up until the 80s there was only really one way to get TV, and that was through your aerial. Once Sky came to Britain satellite TV has been becoming ever more popular, but the free analogue channels were still the way most of us received television. In the 2010s we saw the Digital Takeover, meaning that we need a Freeview box to watch hundreds of channels, or listen to dozens of radio stations.

Satellite and cable TV still offers many more options than the free to air services do. However, with the introduction of internet speeds so fast that it’s possible to watch, download and record more than one thing at the same time the way subscription based TV delivery is changing too. Sky, Virgin Media, BT and many others are all offering fast broadband which will let you not only watch and record TV, you can do all your online browsing, shopping, gaming and run your Smart Home network with it too. Which begs the question, which is best for you?

Trying to identify which is the best is like trying to guess the length of a piece of string. Every home’s needs are different, and so the best packages will be different too. For example Sky Q offers a basic subscription service (including all the channels currently available on Freeview) which you can expand buy buying additional ‘passes’. These allow you to access additional channels which are devoted to kids movies, sport, entertainment, history, and so on. BT has introductory offers on TV and broadband which include HDTV, superfast fibre, additional disks to eliminate WiFI blind spots and other hardware including Amazon Echo, Fitbits, and Samsung Galaxies. Read more

When Social Media Isn’t The Smart Answer For DIY Jobs

DIY smart devices, wireless, speakerBeing interested in all manner of smart home automation and IoT devices I’m naturally a member of several Facebook groups dedicated to the subject. Some are informative and worth staying with, some are a waste of time and better left rather than letting them annoy you unduly.

In one of these groups a question was asked by Danny: “So I was wondering anyone has done this or knows if it is possible. I use Google home across my house and I want to put approx 6 speakers in my ceiling and link them back to the Google home so the music plays through them. Does this involve taking the Google home apart and soldering new wires for the speakers ?

Now, I know social media is a great way to get tips, advice and help for a range of different DIY subjects, so I’m not criticising the original poster for that, but if you’re thinking of taking your electronic devices apart and soldering peripherals onto it, there’s a chance you might just void your warranty. Oh, and you might just add the risk of fire or electrocution if you’re an amateur permanently adding additional cable to your electronic devices. Read more

Is A Mesh Network Which Is Always Listening A Good Thing Or Bad?

We wrote previously on how a mesh network uses several routers to improve the overall WiFi coverage you’ll be able to get in your home, eliminating blind spots and making it possible to use a complete range of connected devices anywhere about the house no matter how bad reception had been in the past.

BT, along with their superfast fibre broadband, are offering additional routers they simply refer to as ‘discs’. Other ISPs let you add further routers and repeaters to your system, but don’t currently offer the extra hardware themselves.

But before you go out and buy a raft of routers to add to your home network to improve your WiFi coverage, take a look at what Amazon are doing with Alexa. Read more

Do You Know The Difference Between Your Smart, Connected, and IoT Devices?

smart home solutions, connected, iotWhile we bandy the words “Smart” and “connected” devices and “Internet of Things” around as if they were simply synonymous with one another, the truth is that while they’re closely related, the don’t in fact mean the same thing. So which is which and what’s what? Read on for a quick walk around the basics.

First of all, let’s look at Smart technology. Smart is actually an acronym for “Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology” meaning that you are able to control the devices by voice or app, and check back on them via the app on your phone or computer. If the device is battery operated it will let you know in advance when the power levels are getting low, and you can see other diagnostic data when you look at the settings or status data your Smart devices are feeding back to you. Read more

Something As Simple As Poor WiFi Could Knock A Fortune Off The Price Of Your Property

BT’s Modern Families ReportWiFi enabled tablet, coverage, improved service has found that 52% of families in the UK would be put off of living in a home with poor wifi. Unreliable reception, blackspots, and weak signal could therefore knock thousands of pounds off the value of your home when you come to sell it.

As anthropologist Amber Case said, “we’re all cyborgs now” and you can see the evidence of that in your own home every day. We’re all connected to our electronic devices and they become increasingly integral to our lives the longer we spend with them. Our dependent relationship becomes immediately and painfully evident if you ever have a wifi outage. It’s a viscerally unpleasant feeling to know you can’t just check on Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp or Twitter. And if you’re heavily reliant on IoT connected devices, Smart TV and Netflix, that unpleasant feeling is multiplied. Read more

Installing Your Own CCTV Security Camera System

One of the greatest barriers to entry for home security cameras used to be the cabling. The fact that a security camera needed a cable to pass through a wall meant that location was limited, and not everyone was happy about drilling a hole thought the brickwork or rendering, especially in historic, rented or listed buildings. With Smart CCTV that’s no longer a problem.

Now that wireless CCTV cameras are now available, that problem is eliminated. Because they’re wireless, they can be installed virtually anywhere, meaning that they can not only cover doors, windows and the access to your property, they can be put in and around garages, outbuildings and sheds. It’s common for burglars to break into sheds not only to steal tools, bikes and lawnmowers and the like, but to take your own ladders, using them to get further access to your home and its contents.

When planning where to put your new security camera, there are one or two issues to consider.

Coverage

Will it capture images of people as they approach the property? If you put the camera too high the angle will be too steep to get a good look at people’s faces. Is there anything obscuring the lens creating a blind spot which could be used to evade detection by a CCTV security camera’s motion detectors?

Access

You’ll probably want to tweak the angle that the camera is aimed once it’s installed and set up, and at some point you’ll need to either change the batteries or clean the solar panel, depending on how the unit works. You’ll undoubtedly need a ladder to reach the camera, so consider whether you can do that safely regularly before you set the CCTV camera up.

Network Security

Because the camera is wireless it needs to connect with your wireless home network. If the camera hasn’t been correctly secured it could get hacked, meaning that other people can turn the camera on and off or even use it to get access to other smart devices you have around the home. Change the product name and password from the default and use something innocuous as a name and a long, complex password. Calling it ‘security camera front door’ and using the default password, or the same password you use for all your devices makes it incredibly easy to hack if you have half a mind.

Extras

You can opt to have a mic and speaker on your security camera so you can talk to people who are wandering around your property, the motion detector can be tied to security lights so they flood the drive or garden when people are coming to your door, some come with infra red night vision, human detection (so they won’t activate every time a cat or fox walks up the garden path) and motion zones so you can identify areas in frame where people shouldn’t be going.

Now that we know what you need to be looking out for, which are the best products on the market?

Depending on where you plan to use them, the features and benefits will dictate which you will choose, but we’ve looked at the best CCTV and home access devices on the high street and run them down below.

nest cctv home security perimeter camera
Nest Cam IQ Outdoor & Indoor

Nest Cam IQ Outdoor & Indoor

While it is technically ‘wireless’ insomuch as the data is sent over your wifi network, the device still needs to be powered by a cable, which they helpfully suggest you pass through a window or drill a hole in the wall. So it’s wireless, however, it’s cable dependent. And running a cable through a window compromises not only the window, but can damage the cable too, and if the cable is cut…

The Nest Cam IQ sends 24 hour data so you don’t have to worry about motion detection, but that means it’s data heavy since they operate in full HD. They have facial recognition and night vision with close-up tracking, so if there is a break-in you can be sure to have incredibly good footage of your intruder. It has two way audio so you can talk to people on your property, not only unwelcome visitors, but deliveries, salespeople, and unexpected guests. To get all the features and the most out of the device you need a strong broadband router, and monthly subscription to Nest security services.

ario home security camera
Arlo Pro 2

Arlo Pro 2

The Arlo is indeed a wireless, motion controlled device which saves battery by only coming on when the motion detector is triggered. While the picture quality is an average 720p it has a 130 degree camera which gives a great field of vision. It’s a very small device which is easy to install and is robust, high and low temperatures and rain don’t bother it a bit. The data can be stored locally on a USB or onto the cloud so there is no immediate need to buy a monthly subscription. It also has night vision and adjustable sensitivity, so you can eliminate hedgehogs rootling around and only start filming when people are present.

logitec home security cctv
Logitech Circle 2

Logitech Circle 2

The Logitech Circle comes with a built in battery, but that battery life is limited to 12 hours standby, and less if the camera is activated, so you have to switch over the batteries quite regularly, and if you’re leaving the house from more than a day, you’ll need to find an alternative. You get a choice of video quality capture, 720p or 1080p HD and nigh vision. It has facial and motion detection. Facial recognition means that the camera won’t activate when it recognises you, your partner and kids, but will activate when anyone it doesn’t recognise appears before it. It has 24 hour free cloud space, and a subscription service is available to unlock other features and benefits. The Circle is really a more robust version of the same device designed for indoor use, to record activity and monitor what happens within the home, rather than being designed specifically to use outside. Essentially it works better if located indoors looking out of the window than it does outdoors as thick walls can interrupt the signal when operating wirelessly.

Briant Communications can help you with all your CCTV security camera requirements. From a free quote for installation to a full coverage review, location plan, supply and installation we offer a full service package. Get in touch today for a visit from one of our experienced engineers.

Is Sky Q The Service For You?

Sky Q is the latest offering from Sky intended to change the way we watch TV.

Sky Q brings all of your entertainment into one place and makes it easier to use wherever you are. Stream movies, sports, TV, music and boxsets while you record other channels and watch a different channel altogether. The beauty of Sky Q is that it can handle a huge amount of data and deliver it to multiple locations throughout the home all at once.

Depending on whether you choose 1 terabyte or 2 terabyte options you will have several different options available to you.

1 terabyte:
• 150 hours of HD recording space
• 8 TV tuners
• 1 minibox
• 1 tablet
• Full HD 1080p but no Ultra HD playback

2 terabyte:
• 350 hours HD recording
• 12 TV tuners
• 2 miniboxes
• 2 tablets
• Full HD and 4K HDR playback Read more