Consumer Electronics Show 2012–Part 3

Network Technology

There are a few major trends that I have noticed for the home and small-business network at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. But the big names like D-Link and NETGEAR had chosen to run private showings of their products in the many hotels around Las Vegas rather than use the Convention Center.

Wireless networking

The 802.11ac Gigabit wireless network standard has been ratified and a lot of the manufacturers are showing prototype chipsets and endpoint devices for networks based on this standard. TRENDNet had shown a router and a client bridge as a proof of concept for a wireless link on this standard and D-Link had registered interest in developing their 802.11ac implementation.

On the other hand, Belkin, D-Link and Engenius ran with premium “N900” routers as their top-shelf models. These are simultaneous dual-band routers that run three data streams on each of the two Wi-Fi bands with a total theoretical throughput of 450Mbps per band. 

As well, TRENDNet had tried their effort at another of those “universal Wi-Fi range extenders” which is a device class that could cause some mistakes.

Coaxial and Powerline Networking

MoCA have brought their TV coaxial-cable network specification up to 2.0 which allowed for a headline speed of 400Mbps with Broadcom showing a system-on-chip that works with this standard. They were pitching it at the set-top-box market, especially for multi-room cable-TV deployments.

On the other hand, HomePlug PowerLine Alliance have made the HomePlug AV2 specification official. This standard, which is interoperable with HomePlug AV powerline network segments can support MIMO / repeater operation for a robust powerline segment as well as allowing for a Gigabit physical-layer bandwidth for this segment. The former MIMO advantage makes it that each HomePlug AV2 node acts as a repeater and can take data from two or more nodes for higher throughput even with ropey mains circuits.

But there have been more of the HomePlug AV 500 devices being exhibited on the floor; including D-Link’s DIR-1565 “three-way” router which supports a network of 802.11g/n Wi-Fi, Gigabit Ethernet and HomePlug AV 500.

Also, the IEEE 1905.1 standard has been officialised thus simplifying the setup and management requirements for small networks that use Wi-Fi, Ethernet, HomePlug or MoCA network media or a combination thereof. It also provides a consistent quality-of-service arrangement for data that passes through the different network media.

Routers

Some of the manufacturers were pitching at the idea of “cloud-enabling” their routers. This was to allow for remote management of these devices or to allow the router to become an Internet-enabled file server. There was also some talk about setting up app platforms for routers, but what could this lead to for the evolution of these devices.

D-Link have launched the DIR-505 which is a 802.11g/n Wi-Fi plug-in travel router which also had the ability to work as an access point and file-server.

Network-Attached Storage

TP-Link had used this show to launch their first NAS unit which was a DLNA-capable 2-bay SATA unit with Gigablt Ethernet connectivity as well as 3 USB ports. It even had the ability to copy from USB to NAS at the touch of a button.

Iomega had refreshed their StorCenter NAS lineup by adding a surveillance-camera NVR functionality and making them easy to setup. This also included improving their cloud-storage functionality. They also introduced the EZ Media & Backup Center which was their entry-level home-user NAS which supported easy-setup operation and backup, iTunes / DLNA media serving and support for Iomega’s Personal Cloud and Iomega Link technology.

Broadband Internet

ViaSat, who provide the satellite backhaul for JetBlue’s inflight Internet service, were intending to launch a satellite broadband service for rural America this year. They wanted to use this show to exhibit their proposed service. This service is intended to be speed-competitive with the fastest terrestrial broadband services in the cities and is to be known as Exede.

The throughput is at a headline speed of 12Mbps download / 3Mbps upload and they are offering packages with monthly rates US$49.99 for 7.5Gb data allowance, US$79.99 for 15Gb data allowance and US$129.99 for 25Gb data allowance.

Conclusion

This year, the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas was about estalishing a connected home lifestyle across all of the main activity centres ranging from the home office to the lounge area and that the TV is now a legitimate part of the connected lifestye.

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