Category: Network Connectivity Devices

A “homeplug” with Power Over Ethernet now for the British market

Article – from the horse’s mouth

Solwise

Value – Solwise HomePlug 500AV with Power over Ethernet – PL-500AV-POE (Product link)

Previous coverage of similar devices

At last HomePlug AV and Power-Over-Ethernet in one device

My Comments

Previously, I had written an article on this site about Asoka releasing a HomePlug AV-Ethernet bridge that provides power to connected devices using the 802.3af Power-Over-Ethernet technology. This adaptor, which is available to fit US power sockets, can use the one Ethernet cable to power an access point, VoIP telephone, IP camera or similar device as well as being a data conduit to that device.

Now Solwise in England have raised the ante with this class of device when they offered one that plugs in to UK power outlets and sold to the UK market. Here, the PL-500AV-POE implements the HomePlug AV500 technology rather than the HomePlug AV technology on the powerline network side of the equation. If the HomePlug segment is based around HomePlug AV500 hardware, it could lead to higher data throughput speeds which would benefit high-resolution IP surveillance cameras or 802.11n access points.

The same company ask GBP£59.80 including VAT for this device but they are not short on Ethernet devices that can be powered from this “homeplug”. Here, they have a single-band 802.11g/n dual-stream access point that looks like a smoke detector for GBP£73.25 or a dual-band dual-stream 802.11a/g/n access point for GBP£189.14. There is also a basic “dome” IP camera for GBP£144.02 or a traditional-style auto-zoom camera for GBP£167.17 for a country that places emphasis on video-surveillance.

What I see of this is that at least some more manufacturers are raising the game for HomePlug powerline devices that integrate 802.3af or 802.3at Power-Over-Ethernet technology in a way as to underscore the fact that the powerline network and the Power-Over-Ethernet technology complement each other rather than exist as competing technologies.

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Understanding Power-Over-Ethernet

A technology that is being forgotten about when it comes to home and small-business networking is Power-Over-Ethernet. This is where a Category-5 twisted-pair Ethernet cable is used to supply power to a device as well as sending the data to it according to the Ethernet standards.

Typically this technology is used in larger businesses for providing power to devices that are to be installed in difficult places and/or where a reliable centrally-managed power supply is desired for these devices. Examples of these include IP-based video-surveillance cameras, wireless access points as well as VoIP desk telephones.

There are a few cabling technologies that are analogous to Power-Over-Ethernet in the form of most USB setups, TV aerial systems that implement a masthead amplifier, the traditional desk telephone that is powered from the exchange as well as microphones that implement “phantom power”.

But this technology can be considered relevant to home users and small businesses such as with wireless access points, VoIP telephones or small-time consumer AV applications.

Standards

Power Over Ethernet concept

Power Over Ethenrt concept

The two main standards are the IEEE802.3af PoE standard which was ratified in 2003 and the IEEE802.3af  PoE Plus standard which was ratified in 2009 and used for higher-power applications. The former standard yields 48 volts 350mA of DC power providing 15.4 watts of useable power whereas the latter standard yields 57V 600mA of DC power providing 25.5W of useable power.

There have been other proprietary standards for this application including some “passive” setups that pass 12V or 5V along a pair of wires in the Ethernet cable to a splitter. But these only work with matching equipment and it is better to stick with the industry standards for this application i.e. 802.3af Power Over Ethernet and 802.3at Power Over Ethernet Plus.

Device Roles

There are two key device roles: Power Sourcing Equipment which is what provides the power, and Powered Device which is what benefits from the power.

Power Sourcing Equipment

Ethernet Switch with PoE powering Access Point with PoE

Ethernet Switch with PoE powering Access Point with PoE

This device can be a function of an Ethernet-capable network device like a switch, router or HomePlug AV bridge. Here, this simplifies the installation by having one box perform both these functions and, in the case of an Ethernet switch, such switches may be described as being “powered switches” or having Power-Over-Ethernet. Some of the cheaper small-business switches that have this feature may have the Power-Over-Ethernet power available to some of the ports rather than all of them.

Power Over Ethernet Midspan Adaptor powering Access Point with PoE

Power Over Ethernet Midspan Adaptor powering Access Point with PoE

On the other hand, there are “midspan” power hubs which go between a regular Ethernet switch and the device that is to be powered using Power-Over-Ethernet. Such devices may be known as “midspan adaptors” or “power injectors” with the latter name used more for a “wall-wart” or “power-brick” device that provides power to one device.

These devices only supply the power when a Power-Over-Ethernet device conforming to the standard is connected to them. In the case of 802.3at Power-Sourcing-Equipment devices, they would also be able to provide the “juice” to the 802.3af-compliant PoE Powered Devices.

Powered Device

This would typically describe the devices that benefit from the power provided by the Power-Sourcing-Equipment devices, whether it be an Ethernet switch with Power-Over-Ethernet or a midspan device like a “wall-wart” power injector.

This can range from the devices that make use of the network such as the IP camera to network infrastructure devices like the access points or Ethernet switches. For that matter, most well-bred VoIP office telephones with Power Over Ethernet have an integrated two-port switch so a user can plug a desktop computer in to the phone to link it to the network.

Power Over Ethernet splitter powering an ordinary access point

Power Over Ethernet splitter powering an ordinary access point

But there are also the “Active Power Splitters”, sometimes known as Power Splitters or PoE Power Adaptors. These connect to an Ethernet connection that has Power-Over-Ethernet and “tap” this power to provide power to a device that can’t be powered using Power-Over-Ethernet.

They pass through the Ethernet data while providing the power to the device at a known voltage, typically 12 volts or 5 volts DC using the typical DC connector that most computer and network devices have. They may have the voltage fixed by the manufacturer, typically to serve the manufacturer’s devices or the so-called “universal” devices may allow the customer to determine the voltage.

Similarly, some Ethernet switches that are powered using this technique may have a “Power-Forward” feature where they can pass through power from the Power-Sourcing-Equipment to one or two of the ports while using the PoE power for their own switching function.

Why is this standard of value?

No need for a power outlet near the network device

The fact that the Ethernet cable is used for supplying the power to the network device means that you don’t need to have a power outlet near that device. This leads to flexible installation arrangements such as having the device in the ceiling or high up on the wall. As well, you don’t need to hire an electrician who is skilled in mains-voltage wiring to install that outlet.

Another benefit is that you don’t have the risk of a device like an access point or IP camera being accidentally disconnected by someone who wants to plug in a phone charger or, more commonly, cleaning or maintenance staff disconnecting the device so they can run that vacuum cleaner or power drill.

It also has benefits for outdoor installations where you don’t have to install a weatherproof power outlet near the device. It could then allow for you to install a power injector indoors, usually close to the “network hub”, then just run the Ethernet cable to the access point or IP camera. For small installations that are on a budget, the money saved on a weatherproof power outlet could go towards you preferring the device that is in a housing appropriate for the job i.e. a weatherproof housing.

Centrally-managed power

It also allows for the power supply to the network devices to come from a central source where there is a single point of control. This can allow for situations like the central power source to have an uninterruptable power supply this allowing the network devices, especially VoIP telephones and IP cameras, to function through power outages.

Similarly, a Power Sourcing Equipment device could be managed from the network thus allowing for remote control of a PoE device’s power. This could avoid things like car trips to the office to turn a balky access point off then on in an attempt to reset that device. Similarly, it may be feasible to have some devices turned off when the building is empty for security or energy-conservation purposes.

One cable for power and network data

The Power-Over-Ethernet technology also allows for one Ethernet cable as a data-bearing and power-supplying cable between the Power Sourcing Equipment and the Powered Device.

This is a real boon when it comes to installing the device because you don’t have to factor in another cable to allow that device to work as intended. This cuts down on the installation time especially where time is money; as well as allowing one cord to be shoehorned in to place providing for an aesthetically-pleasing installation. In the case of the VoIP desk telephone, the absence of a power cord to that device makes the installation similar to a traditional desk telephone and you don’t add extra cables to the Spaghetti Junction of cables that exists under most desks.

Relevance to the home network

When we see devices like the Asoka PlugLink PL-9660PoE “homeplug” which is also a Power-Over-Ethernet power source, it shows that this technology is increasingly becoming more relevant to the home network.

Multiple-box Internet-edge setups

If you subscribe to an Internet service that implements a separate modem like most cable-modem services, you will end up having to connect the separate modem to your broadband router via an Ethernet connection. The Power-Over-Ethernet technology can work well here by alleviating the need to provide separate power to that modem, which means one wall-wart less to deal with and a cable less to add to the rat’s nest.

This can similarly apply to setups where you have a wired modem router and a Wi-Fi access point or even those setups where you implement a wired broadband router that is linked to a modem and an access point.

The secondary access point

Not all homes can be covered easily by the access point integrated in a wireless router and a preferred method of extending coverage for the Wi-Fi segment in these locations is to implement an extra access point connected to a wired LAN backbone.

The Power-Over-Ethernet technology can provide for various improvements in how these access points are set up because of the need for only one cable to that access point. This would lead to an aesthetically-pleasing installation that can provide optimum performance for that area. For example, you could place the access point on top of the credenza or dresser or even on that pelmet above the window yet have the cable tucked away neatly yet the Google Nexus 7 tablet shows a strong Wi-Fi signal when used in the area.

To the same extent, wireless-client-bridge devices can also benefit from this same technology if the network device that they are connected to supports it. For example, a home-theatre receiver that has network capability via the Ethernet port  for DLNA media, the “new shortwave” (Internet radio) or Spotify could power an nVoy-compliant wireless-client-bridge that links it to a Wi-Fi segment. Here this device is configured using the receiver’s control surface or remote control but you only have one cable to that wireless-client bridge which sits on top of the wall unit that the receiver is installed in.

Ability to have more network devices be powered this way

Typically, when we mention Power-Over-Ethernet, we think of the VoIP telephone, the access point or the IP camera. But this could extend to more classes of device like small consumer AV equipment such as electronic picture frames or Internet radios. Network-capable set-top boxes including network media adaptors could be powered this way especially if used with a “homeplug” that is a Power-Over-Ethernet power source like the Asoka

To the same extent, a tablet, small notebook or “adaptive all-in-one” computer could benefit from a “clothespeg-style” Ethernet connection not just for reliable network connectivity but as an alternative external-power connection. Here, you could avoid compromising battery runtime while you have these computers plugged in to the Ethernet socket.

Conclusion

This article highlights what the Power-Over-Ethernet technology based on the IEEE 802.3af and 802.3at standards is all about and the fact that it isn’t just relevant to big business. This technology, like most communications and computing technologies is one of many that trickle down from the big end of town to the small office and to the home.

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At last HomePlug AV and Power-Over-Ethernet in one device

Article

Asoka PL9660-PoE PlugLink 200 Mbps Powerline Adapter w/ PoE Reviewed – SmallNetBuilder

From the horse’s mouth

Asoka USA

Product Page

My Comments

Introduction

I have often heard the line that the Power-Over-Ethernet technology, which supplies power to a network device connected via twisted-pair Ethernet cable using that same cable, and HomePlug powerline-networking technology are mutually exclusive technologies.

What is Power-Over-Ethernet and what is it used for?

The common 802.3af and 802.3at Power-Over-Ethernet technologies make use of the Category-5 “twisted-pair” Ethernet cabling that is used to transfer data to the network also as a power-supply cable. The main advantages are that you don’t have to have an AC outlet close to a network device and you can just run one cable to that device to allow it to function.

The typical implementation is either an Ethernet switch that has Power-Over-Ethernet ports providing power to a VoIP desk telephone, wireless access point or IP-based video-surveillance camera. This appeals to businesses as a way of providing centrally-managed power for these devices as well as allowing for simplified cost-effective installation and reliable operation.

What is HomePlug AV powerline network technology

The HomePlug AV network technology uses the building’s existing AC wiring as a data conduit. This provides a “no-new-wires” wired network setup for homes and other installations where it is not cost-effective to have Ethernet wiring in place and has shown a strong appeal for temporary wired-network setups.

Even if a building has Ethernet wiring in place, the HomePlug AV technology works as a way of extending this network in a temporary or semi-permanent manner. In some cases, the HomePlug technology can work as a cost-effective wired network link between a house and an outbuilding such as a detached garage if there is AC wiring in that building which isn’t separately metered.

Of course most of these network segments have network client devices connected via a short Category-5 Ethernet cable to a HomePlug-AV-Ethernet bridge adaptor typically referred to in the UK as a “homeplug” in the case of the common single-port wall-wart device.

Why am I impressed with the Asoka PL-9660POE “homeplug”

This adaptor is both a single-port HomePlug-AV-to-Ethernet network bridge along with a Power-Over-Ethernet power supply according to the 802.3af standard. Here, I could connect a Wi-Fi access point or VoIP desk telephone that can be powered using Power-Over-Ethernet to this device and it provides power to that access point while linking it to the HomePlug AV powerline-network backbone.

The advantages seen here is that I only use one AC outlet to link the network device to the HomePlug segment as well as providing power to it rather than having to have another AC outlet or double-adaptor being used for another wall-wart. You also benefit from only needing one cord between the device and this HomePlug adaptor which is easier to manage in to an aesthetically-pleasing setup. This is of importance when you are using an wireless access point to extend your wireless network and you would find that having that access point up high with a clear line of sight to the laptops, tablets and smartphones used in that area would yield optimum network performance and battery runtime for the mobile devices. It is compared to using a HomePlug wireless access point which will typically be installed at floor level and obscured by furniture and may not be able to perform adequately.

What about transportability when you are thinking of that VoIP desk telephone? Typically, a furniture and equipment arrangement may suit one’s current needs but these needs do change. This adaptor may allow you to reposition the phone to a newer location as you see fit even in a semi-permanent manner such as if you are moving the cash-wrap stand in your shop to a newer location to cater for a sale or you simply wanted to bring the VoIP conference phone out only when needed.

This device may also help with legitimising the Power-Over-Ethernet technology for the home network. Examples of this could include “two-piece” HomePlug access-point kits; small consumer-AV applications like tabletop Internet radios, network speakers or digital picture frames; or even all-in-one computers that can be powered through the Ethernet conneciton. To the same extent, computers like tablets, small notebooks and “adaptive all-in-one” computers of the same ilk as the Sony VAIO Tap 20 can benefit from using their Ethernet port as a power connection option to charge up their batteries or allowing the user to avoid compromising battery runtime,

Even an Internet-gateway router could be powered using this method as an alternative to the separate power brick that these devices come with. As well, using a Power-Over-Ethernet power splitter which provides 12 volts or 5 volts DC to a device that isn’t capable of Power-Over-Ethernet from an 802.3af Power-Over-Ethernet connection could yield benefits to the home network by eliminating the need to use a “wall-wart” or “power-brick” and a separate AC outlet to power network devices.

Points of improvement with this device

Here, the HomePlug standard that this device supports could be the HomePlug AV 500 / IEEE 1901 standard for better data throughput. This is more so as this standard becomes the norm for most HomePlug AV segments. As well, a variant that supports the 802.3at Power-Over-Ethernet Plus standard could be made available and pitched towards set-top-box applications. But these improvements may require further power-supply engineering to cater for higher power loads.

Similarly, the Asoka “homeplug” could be made available under an OEM-contract to other vendors to sell to customers so as to make the concept more ubiquitous. For example, having this fitted with the Continental-standard AC plug and sold in to France could work hand-in-glove with the “décodeurs” (TV set-top boxes) that are part of the many “n-box” triple-play Internet services offered in that country. Here, these would work as a convincing easy-to-implement alternative to a “homeplug / power-supply” box like the Freeplug that is used to link the “n-box” Internet gateway device and the “décodeur” set-top box. These boxes typically have three wires with one to the power outlet and two to the “n-box” or “décodeur” device.

Conclusion

I just hope that this device isn’t just a “flash in the pan” when it comes to HomePlug and Power-Over-Ethernet but a way to prove to the industry that these technologies complement each other.

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The Freebox Révolution benefits from Freebox OS to be like a recent NAS

Articles – French language

La Freebox Révolution accueille Freebox OS – DegroupNews.com

Mise à jour Free : capacités de partage renforcées | 59Hardware.net

My Comments

Just lately, Free had rolled out their latest firmware update for the Freebox Révolution “n-box” router. This has various improvements like cloud-assisted remote management and storage access, including management of the “FreePlug” HomePlug AV power-supply units for these devices.

But they describe this firmware not as firmware for customer-premises equipment but as “Freebox OS”. This is like placing the Freebox Révolution on the same stage as one of the recent consumer or small-business network-attached storage devices. Here, they lay out the management dashboard for this device so it reminds you of a desktop operating system’s GUI, This is carried over whether you use it from a Web browser or the freely-downloaded iOS or Android mobile apps.

They also are publishing an application-programming interface so that third-party software developers could create management programs for the Freebox Révolution. This could allow for things like management software which works native to particular host-device operating environments through improved dashboard software.

But who knows what is in store for this device once the groundwork is laid down in this operating system. For example Free could start curating an app store and software-development environment for the Freebox Révolution so that others could add functionality to this device. Think of such options as access to third-party cloud storage, additional application-level gateway functionality and, perhaps, adding business-grade features like VPN-endpoint or VoIP “virtual extension” abilities to a consumer-grade device.

It is another example of the lengths the French telecommunications companies are going to to yield multi-play Internet services that are facilitated with highly-capable equipment.

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A wireless-broadband router for the boat

Pleasure-boats at a marina in MelbourneArticle – From the horse’s mouth

Netcomm

NTC-30WV-02 – Marine WiFi Router : NetComm Wireless (Product Page)

My Comments

You have that narrowboat, houseboat or large cabin cruiser that has effectively become your home away from home. In some cases, you may be spending a lot of your retirement years on this boat. But what about your Internet connection?

Netcomm have answered this need with their NTC-30WV-02 which is a “Mi-Fi” router that is optimised for the marine life in freshwater and saltwater. It works with most 3G wireless broadband services which will cover most inland freshwater and 60km off the Australian coast. That figure may be accurate for the East of Australia and similar coastlines that have many towns and cities and use the 800Mhz and 950Mbz spectrum for 3G wireless broadband.

For the LAN side of the equation, it uses 802.11n dual-stream MIMO for the Wi-Fi segment and 10/100BaseT Ethernet as its wired segment. This is being pitched not just for smartphones, tablets and laptops but also for network-capable navigation devices that will start to exist on the bridge of many pleasure craft.

Both sides of the equation are serviced by proper user-replaceable dipole aerials (antennas) which have a greater chance of yielding better 3G and Wi-Fi performance than the typical “Mi-Fi” router with its integrated aerials. It also could mean that a boatie could install stronger 3G aerials on this 3G router to satisfy more reliable performance when the anchors are up or they decide to

The same device also has a socket where you can connect a standard telephone handset or analogue / DECT cordless base station so you use the 3G connection to make and take calls on the boat. This can make things “sound normal” if you want to contact someone on land or they want to contact you out on the water because of the mobile number associated with the SIM card associated with your service.

This modem would come in to its own with “shared” and “family” data plans that cover multiple devices and use a large data allowance. But it can come in handy with “high-end” data and mobile plans that have higher data capacity if this is your sole connection like, for example, a retiree who lives out on the water.

The device can connect to a 12VDC 580mA (peak-demand) power supply which would apply to most of the “live-in” boats.

What I would like to see for this device is some support for WPS-PBC connectivity such as a membrane switch or terminal block so one can add on a “WPS PBC connect” button. Here, this can provide the quick wireless-network enrolment for devices and software that support it like Windows 7/8 computers, Android phones and most consumer electronics.

Similarly, this unit could be in a good position to support the new Wi-Fi PassPoint standards for hotspot login especially on the WAN side. Here, this function, along with a “range extender” or Wi-Fi to Wi-Fi routing function would team up well with the increasing number of marinas that are offering complementary Wi-Fi hotspot service as a service to the boaties who moor there. These features could cut out the extra hassle required with logging in to the Internet service whenever they arrive and tie up; and could allow for seamless cost-saving handover between Internet services.

Who know what this device and others like it could offer to the pleasure-boating community who work the coastline or inland waterways of many different countries in their vessels.

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First HomePlug AV2 adaptors on the market from Linksys

Article

Linksys Fields First HomePlug AV2 Adapters – SmallNetBuilder

From the horse’s mouth

Linksys

Product Page

My Comments

Linksys has launched in to the US market the first HomePlug powerline network kit that is based on the new HomePlug AV2 technology.

This kit, which retails for USD$119.99 is based on two HomePlug AV2-Gigabit Ethernet bridges. These use the “Single Input Single Output” application of this technology and can sustain a HomePlug link speed of 500Mbps similar to the HomePlug AV / IEEE 1901 “AV500” technology.

But these implement the “three-wires” setup using the US three-prong plug thus working along with other HomePlug AV2 technologies to create a more robust segment. Of course, they would be compatible with HomePlug AV 200 and AV 500 segments and may work at lowest link speed. They also implement the “Simple Connect” push-button setup routine which has been implemented since HomePlug AV so as to create secure unique segments or join HomePlug AV2 devices to existing segments easily.

The Ethernet connection on these devices is a Gigabit Ethernet which satisfies realities like desktop and laptop computers being equipped with Gigabit Ethernet connections. It also allows these “homeplugs” to work in a future-proof manner with high-end routers, next-generation broadband and the cost-effective Gigabit desktop switches.

Personally, I would consider paying the extra premium for this kit if I was dealing with setups where HomePlug network reliability may be questionable. Similarly, I would pay this same premium if I was intending to link that bungalow to the main house’s home network or setting up a temporary wired network in a café or bar.

This could be a sign of things to come for the HomePlug powerline network technology as a flexible network technology.

{ HOMEPLUG AV + 802.11N WI-FI WIRELESS + GIGABIT ETHERNET (where affordable) = AN IDEAL SMALL NETWORK]

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A Mi-Fi device that is the size of a USB stick courtesy of Telstra

Article

Telstra Launches 4G USB + Wi-Fi Device | Gizmodo Australia

From the horse’s mouth

Telstra

Product Page

My Comments

I never knew this would happen when it came to the design of wireless-broadband access devices. Here, Telstra had launched a 4G access device that was the size of a typical USB wireless-broadband modem but was able to work as either a typical wireless-broadband modem or as a “Mi-Fi” router.

In the latter mode, you could just plug it in to one of many USB power-supply devices ranging from a self-powered USB hub through a AC-powered or 12V-powered USB charger typically for your phone to even one of the USB external battery packs. This gives it a level of power-supply flexibility on the same par as a typical smartphone, and the supplied AC adaptor can also work as another spare smartphone charger.

In some ways, this “Mi-Fi” could be used along with the Pure One Flow Internet radio and a USB battery pack of the kind used to charge up mobile phones to provide a truly portable Internet-radio solution that is if the price is right for Internet access. It is similar to what may be expected for in-car Internet applications as what BMW, Chrysler and others are proposing.

Who know what can happen for networking and Internet use as we end up on the road with these kind of “sticks”.

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Buffalo offers a HomePlug AV500 and Wi-Fi N300 kit that can work as a router

Article

Test 59H: Kit CPL Powerline 500AV Wireless-N Router Starter kit (France – French language)

From the horse’s mouth

Buffalo Technology

Product Page

My Comments

Buffalo Technology are offering to European customers a HomePlug AV500 / Wi-Fi N300 access point, known as the WPL-05G300, which isn’t just a HomePlug / Wi-Fi access point for that existing small network. Here, this device doesn’t just allow you to also connect to an Ethernet segment but can be set up to become a wireless router while serving the other Ethernet segment. This is due to two Ethernet connections on the same device

The fact that it can become a router may please some users who may use a broadband modem like most cable-modem deployments and some next-generation broadband and ADSL2 deployments. But the router functionality would be considered irrelevant to most European users who typically run a modem-router which has the integrated Wi-Fi functionality.

Personally, I do see this device still relevant as the secondary access point to “fill in” those Wi-Fi reception gaps such as what is created in older European properties that use thick brick, cement or stone walls. This also includes a lot of the UK properties that have remnants of fireplaces that have been blocked off.

What I am pleased about with this device is that there are switches on the unit to select between the router and access-point mode and similarly to select between client-bridge and access-point behaviour. I am not sure if this is true but this could allow for “quick setup” of extension access points through the use of WPS.

This device is available as a pair of two of these access point / router devices which could come in handy as a way to create that HomePlug segment and increase Wi-Fi coverage or create a 802.11g/n “N300” Wi-Fi segment. Similarly, the kit could also answer outbuilding network needs or encompass that old caravan in the home network. Caravan-park owners could also lick their lips at this setup with the ability to provide reliable wireless coverage in their tenants’ vans.

Who knows who else will offer similar devices that can capitalise on HomePlug AV technologies to create capable no-new-wires small networks.

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A comparative overview of the latest French triple-play “n-boxes” (French-language video)

Article – French language

Vidéo : Les box d’opérateurs au banc d’essai#?xtor=RSS-16#?xtor=RSS-16#?xtor=RSS-16

Link to video / Lien à vidéo

My comments and English-language summary

The video is comparing the “n-boxes” which are the hub of the triple-play services which are covering the highly-competitive French market as most regular HomeNetworking01.info readers will know. It also compares the triple-play services themselves for value, customer service and prowess in satisfying the pay-TV and video-on-demand needs.

I would also suggest that you have a look at my article on setting up for Internet in France if you are winging it in to that country to set up house there.

From the video

Most powerful Freebox Révolution
Highest service bandwidth Numéricable LaBox
Best pay-TV / video-on-demand service Numéricable LaBox
Best online gaming Orange LiveBox Play, Box SFR
Best customer service Freebox Révolution, Box SFR
Least expensive Bouygues Bbox Sensation

 

Here, we are dealing with a highly-competitive market where there is encouragement for innovation. Most of the “boxes” featured here offer an integrated Blu-Ray player as well as pay-TV and out-of-the-box console gaming as far as entertainment is concerned.

They also are the hub of your home network, offering a router, VoIP analogue-telephony adaptor and network-attached storage, as well as being the start of a DLNA Home Media Network.

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Two of the n-box systems in France that answer the Freebox Révolution

Articles and Resources (French language)

La Livebox Play entre en scène – Tour d’horizon de l’offre Livebox Play – DegroupNews.com (Review)

La Box by Numericable (Interactive Advertisement by Numericable)

My comments

After the Freebox Révolution had appeared on the French market as a highly-credible piece of carrier-provided consumer equipment provided as part of a triple-play service, the bar had been raised for such equipment.

For example, the décodeurs i.e. the set-top boxes had become fully-capable video peripherals that integrate a slot-load Blu-Ray 3D player and provide the existing TV set with full smart-TV abilities. This even includes games-console functionality with access to a carrier-hosted app store for these games. Some of the remote controls that come with the set-top equipment have “out-of-the-ordinary” control methods like gesture-based control and RF controller-STB link, with some offering the HDMI-Consumer-Electronics-Control functionality so you can control your flatscreen TV’s source-selection, volume and power wit these remotes.

As well, the n-boxes i.e. the gateway devices are equipped with a network-attached storage based around an integrated hard disk. These would work to the common file-presentation protocols like SMB/CIFS, FTP, HTTP, iTunes (DAAP) and DLNA while offering functionality that a mid-tier consumer NAS would offer like a download manager / torrent server. Even the way the carriers have the gateway devices styled carries the message that they don’t look like your father’s old station wagon.

I have previously covered on HomeNetworking01.info the ability for French-market Samsung Smart TVs to work with Le Modem  which is part of Orange’s LiveBox Play package.

Numericable’s La Box package is an all-in-one device which connects to their FTTN / DOCSIS cable-modem service. But this device has the cable modem, router, VoIP gateway, NAS, PVR and Blu-Ray functionality in the one box. This setup even uses the QR codes as one of its methods for securely enrolling smartphones and tablets to the Wi-Fi wireless network segment.

The LiveBox Play gateway device, henceforth known as Le Modem, implements things like an OLED customer-information display and uses 3 WAN options – VDSL2, ADSL2 and fibre-to-the-premises.

There are others like the Bbox Sensation which also are equipped with the similar functionality but it would be interesting to see who else would run with similar hardware that has this high level of functionality or raise the stakes further through the firmware update cycles.

Similarly it would be interesting to see whether these devices just appear within France or appear in other markets where there is real competition on the Internet-service front.

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