Category: Network Management

Devolo marries the latest HomePlug and Wi-FI standards in an access point

Article

Devolo dLAN 1200+ WiFi ac (Continental Europe (Schuko) variant) in action - press image courtesy of Devolo

Devolo dLAN 1200+ WiFi ac (Continental Europe (Schuko) variant) in action

devolo détaille son dLAN 1200+ WiFi ac | EreNumérique (France – French language | Langue Française)

From the horse’s mouth

Devolo,

dLAN 1200+ WiFi ac

Product Page (German Language – Deutsche Sprache / English language)

Press Release ( German Language – Deutsche Sprache / English language)

My Comments

Devolo, a German network-hardware manufacturer, has done the most incredible act with their support for HomePlug technologies.

Here, they have released in to the European market a simultaneous dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi access point which can work with HomePlug AV2 MIMO powerline network segments. Here, these use the three AC wires to achieve a media-level power-line network speed of 1.2Gbps for the powerline backbone. This is in addition to using the three wires to create a highly robust HomePlug AV2 segment that could work in difficult environments like commercial premises where there are motors that can create a lot of electrical interference.

Devolo dLAN 1200+ WiFi ac access point - Continental (Schuko) variant - press picture courtesy of Devolo

Devolo dLAN 1200+ WiFi ac access point

For the wireless segment, you have a single stream for the 5GHz band which goes to 866Mbps and two streams on the common 2.4GHz band which goes to 300Mbps. There are two Gigabit Ethernet sockets which come in handy with a lot of sessile devices like Smart TVs, desktop computers as in those “gaming rigs” and printers.

These access points come with an integrated “pass-through” power outlet which means that you don’t have to forfeit a power outlet so you can use HomePlug AV2.

Lets not forget that the Devolo dLAN 1200+ WiFi ac supports WPS clone which is a simplified method to set up a multiple-access-point home network. Here, you press the “setup” button on the access point then the WPS button on the router or access point you are extending for it to learn the ESSID and security parameters of that access point so you quickly have it work as that extension access point.

Devolo have answered a need to allow users to quickly extend Wi-Fi coverage out to outbuildings, charming old caravans serving as extra living space and the like or answer Wi-Fi coverage difficulties yet be able to work with the latest HomePlug and Wi-Fi technologies. Try this device with handling Wi-Fi issues with that mas en Provence or other stone-built European building.

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What is an ideal home network?

Netgear DG834G ADSL2 wireless router

A wireless router that is part of a full broadband service

A home network needs to support both a wired and wireless local-area-network path for many different reaons. If you just use a wireless-only home network, you are exposing everything to the vagaries of the radio technology that the wireless network is all about such as interference to or obstruction of these radio signals. As well, a lot of sessile devices like desktop computers have the antenna and radio circuitry for the wireless network functionality located towards the back of the equipment and this can cause interference for equipment that uses a metal chassis.

It would be ideal to implement an Ethernet + wireless setup with a Wi-Fi network of at least 802.11n dual-band multi-stream specification providing the wireless coverage and Gigabit Ethernet wiring pulled through the house to all of the rooms. But a lot of factors can get in the way of this ideal such as the cost to pull Cat5 Ethernet wiring through an existing house or factor in Cat5 Ethernet wiring to each room in a new building.

On the other hand, I would head for a wireless + HomePlug powerline setup or one covering wireless, Cat5 Ethernet and HomePlug. Here, I would use at least 802.11n dual-band multi-stream technology for the Wi-Fi wireless segment and at least HomePlug AV500 for the HomePlug powerline segment. Using all three paths, where I include Gigabit Ethernet to some rooms like one or two of the main living areas, the office / den area and one or two bedrooms along with the other two technologies. This could create a home network that covers the house on what would be effectively a “beer budget”.

Devolo dLAN 1200+ HomePlug AV2 MIMO adaptor press picture courtesy of Devolo

Let’s not forget HomePlug as a network connectivity tool (European setup)

In some environments like a multiple-building setup or a network in a commercial building or apartment block, I would consider implementing HomePlug AV2 MIMO technology to assure reliable operation.

Why a wired and wireless network setup?

A wireless link provided by the Wi-Fi segment is to primarily serve the mobile and portable devices that are intended to be located on a whim. Whereas a wired link provided by Ethernet and/or HomePlug AV is to serve the devices that are normally fixed by providing reliable network connectivity to these devices.

Another advantage is to set up an extra wireless access point to increase your wireless network’s coverage. This can do that job better than the typical wireless network range extender because this setup can supply full wireless-network bandwidth in the remote area due to the use of a wired backbone rather than a weak wireless network with all the vagaries of radio.

Why include HomePlug AV even if Ethernet wiring exists?

WD MyNet Switch rear Ethernet connections

8-port Gigabit Ethernet switch for use when you wire for Ethernet

HomePlug AV can serve as an “infill” solution for a wired no-new-wires setup especially if you find that you have to locate a normally-fixed device in an area that is further from an Ethernet infrastructure socket. This can be of importance if you have to shift it temporarily to suit a new need or you have network-capable devices in an area where you didn’t factor the need for Ethernet connectivity in the first place.

This could also allow you to work an Ethernet wiring setup on a “beer budget” with a few rooms covered and use HomePlug AV or similar technology to provide wired connectivity to other rooms. Similarly, you may have a part of your house that is separated from the rest by a thick wall made of brick, masonry or cinder-block where the Wi-Fi network won’t perform past that wall and it is prohibitive to pull Ethernet or other wiring past that wall. Here, the HomePlug AV technology “takes it past” the obstacle.

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Ruckus now runs a range of Wi-Fi access points for small-time setups

Article

Ruckus Announces Affordable AP Line | SmallNetBuilder

From the horse’s mouth

Ruxkus Wireless – XClaim Wireless range

Press Release

Product Page

My Comments

Ruckus Wireless have launched a series of business-grade access points that are pitched at independent IT contractors, “enthusiast-grade” home networks and small businesses.  They are offering this series of access points under a new “sub-brand” called XClaim Wireless which is totally focused on equipment and solutions pitched at and priced for the small-time user who doesn’t have their own IT staff.

Unlike a lot of business-tier access points, these aren’t bound to a particular controller appliance provided by their vendor. Rather, they can be managed by the Harmony mobile app which is user-friendly enough for this class of user. In some cases, it could appeal to a few “big-time” setups where an extra access point with “enterprise abilities” may come in handy for troubleshooting, temporary setups, new locations or similar activities before committing to expand a controller-based setup.

But they do have the business-grade access-point “tricks” like client isolation (essential for a properly-designed public wireless network),channel and band management, amongst other things. This also includes the multiple-VLAN / multiple-SSID functionality that allows the same physical Wi-Fi network to serve multiple networks such as a dedicated VoIP network and a general data network or Wi-Fi in a building lobby serving the building’s tenants’ networks and a public-access Wi-Fi service.

The series comes in the Xi-1 a dual-band single-radio 802.11n dual-stream (N300) variant, the Xi-2 which is a simultaneous-dual-band 802.11n dual-stream-per-band (N600) variant and the Xi-3 which is a simultaneous-dual-band 802.11ac dual-stream-per-band (AC1200) variant of the Xi-2 access point. There is also an outdoor model of the Xi-3 802.11ac unit, known as the Xo-3 which has the weatherproof requirements that make it fit for outdoor use. They all support 12-volt power from a supplied AC adaptor or can support power from a standards-compliant 802.3af/at Power-Over-Ethernet setup.

For that matter, the Xi-1 was called at a list price of US$89 while the Xi-2 was called at a list price of US$149 which underscored how they were to be positioned to the small business and similar users. The fact that these worked independent of a controller appliance had me think of them as appealing to small-time independent IT contractors who would be deploying or optimising small wireless networks using enterprise-grade abilities but without being required to sell controller appliances or be tied to a particular vendor.

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Why do I describe non-Apple operating systems and hardware as being open-frame?

Sony VAIO Fit 13a convertible Ultrabook at Rydges Hotel Melbourne

Windows 8 – open-frame as can be

I make references to computer systems or mobile devices based on platforms like Windows, Linux or Android as being “open-frame”.

This is compared to Apple’s computer systems and mobile devices which are focused around hardware and software interfaces are peculiar to that manufacturer’s devices. As well, it takes a long time for Apple to integrate a common hardware or software standard in to a platform although other platforms are already implementing the standard; or an accessory or peripheral vendor has to go through hoops to have a device considered “fit” to work with Apple’s products.

Android - also open-frame

Android – also open-frame

Computer systems that are based on an “open-frame” environment has the ability for one to connect peripheral devices easily to it no matter who the hardware or software vendor is. An example of this includes smartphones and tablets implementing a microUSB Type-AB socket for charging or transferring data.

Open-frame computer systems can attach themselves to a network or quickly discover and benefit from or share network resources using commonly-available standards that aren’t particular to one particular vendor. As well, the companies behind the platforms are quick to meld support for most. if not all. of these common standards and specifications in to the next major version of their software platforms and will nurture these standards through their platform’s lifecycle.

Naim UnitiServe - provides music va UPnP AV / DLNA to equipment independent of vendor

Naim UnitiServe – provides music va UPnP AV / DLNA to equipment independent of vendor

There are many examples here that I could mention.

One example is a Windows 7 or Windows 8 computer or an Android smartphone can quickly associate with a WPS-capable Wi-Fi wireless network segment at the click of a button on the wireless router as what happened when I stayed with some friends up in Sydney and when I stayed with another friend up in Ballarat. In both instances, I brought in my Samsung Android smartphone and a Windows-based review-sample laptop  to these locations and brought them on to the hosts’ networks to benefit from their Internet access.

DLNA collections listed as sources on the TV

DLNA content collections listed as sources on a Samsung Smart TV

Another example is to have the ability to discover multimedia content held on a network-attached storage device or media-server software using UPnP AV / DLNA standards which many manufacturers and software developers offer. I have seen this demonstrated many times with setups based around different manufacturers and software developers and, one time, this provided a simple on-ramp for a couple to show travel pictures to the mother-in-law.

Sony SBH-52 Bluetooth headphone adaptor NFC tie clip

Touch your NFC-capable phone on the clip to pair it with the headphone adaptor

Yet another example is my Sony SBH-52 Bluetooth headphone adaptor that quickly pairs with my Samsung Android phone when I touched them together in a same vein as a Braven Bluetooth wireless speaker that I reviewed. In some cases, this even applies to the ability for Android users to exchange contact details with each other or Windows 7/8 computers via Bluetooth or NFC.

How I see the personal-computing scene for both regular (desktop) and mobile applications is that there will be balkanisation taking place between Apple and the rest of the field and this has been underscored in the computer press as simply “the cult of Apple”.

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Solwise to provide a HomePlug AV2 adaptor with integrated power outlet

Article – From the horse’s mouth

Solwise

Product Page PL-1200AV2-PIGGY

My Comments

Solwise have released some earlier HomePlug AV2 adaptors for the UK and Irish market but they have come up with a HomePlug AV2 MIMO “three-wire” adaptor which has an integrated UK-standard power outlet. Of course, this firm have been known about pushing the HomePlug powerline-networking concept along with advanced Wi-Fi wireless networking in the UK market.

The Solwise PL-1200AV2 HomePlug AV2 adaptor implements the “three-wire” MIMO concept that HomePlug AV2 has facilitated where it can use the “Active (Line / Phase) + Neutral” and the  “Active (Line / Phase) + Earth (Ground)” wire pairs as data transfer pairs. This is to allow for robust data transfer and higher throughput, but I would place doubts on this working across the three wires with building-to-building HomePlug AV2 setups where an outbuilding that is wired for AC may be earthed independently. Let’s not forget that each HomePlug AV2 device works as its own repeater in order to increase the robustness in this segment or push out over larger areas. But it can be of benefit if you are considering this “wired no-new-wires” technology in a large apartment block or a commercial or industrial building.

This Solwise HomePlug AV2 adaptor also has an integrated 2-port Gigabit Ethernet switch which can provide an “on-board” to the HomePlug AV2 segment for two wired Ethernet devices. One advantage with this is that it could serve a desktop computer and a network-capable printer or a NAS; or serve a smart TV and a Blu-Ray player or PVR. Personally, I would like to eventually see a variant that has the 3 Gigabit Ethernet sockets as a switch, to cater for home AV setups. The integrated power socket makes sure that you are not forfeiting a power outlet just because you want to have HomePlug AV2 connectivity.

Personally, I would see a lot more coming about with HomePlug AV2 as a robust “wired no-new-wires” network setup with Solwise advancing the cause for the UK market.

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Wi-Fi Direct to implement task-specific improvements

Articles

Wi-Fi group acts to simplify peer-to-peer video, printing and other tasks | PC World

From the horse’s mouth

WI-Fi Alliance

Press Release

My Comments

A current limitation that faces anyone who uses Wi-Fi Direct peer-to-peer networking is that the users have to face many steps to take advantages of the devices they connect to. This typically includes being able to discover the device, what it does and how it can do it, such as printing abilities or display resolution. In the case of Miracast-capable displays, this may also include “opening up” the input associated with the Miracast functionality to have the computer’s display on that display screen.

The Wi-Fi Alliance have revised the Wi-Fi Direct specifications to provide task-focused operation with the equivalent of class drivers. This is although there are standards like the UPnP Device Control Protocols out there to enable this functionality and this revision is to specifically enable “one-touch” access to the device’s function.

At the moment, the Alliance have defined four specifications:

  • Wi-FI Direct Send – for sending and receiving content with minimal user interaction
  • Wi-Fi Direct Print – to print quickly from mobile device with minimal interaction
  • Wi-Fi Direct for DLNA – to make it quick to discover DLNA-capable resources like the wireless speakers to play content through these devices
  • Miracast – to allow for screen mirroring and use of an external display

A good question is whether these task-focused specifications only reflect on setups that implement the peer-to-peer connectivity offered by Wi-Fi Direct or whether they could extend to Wi-Fi LANs such as when you use a Mi-Fi device or home network.

At the moment, the new abilities can be applied to existing devices through the use of newer firmware versions because these abilities are offered on a software level rather than through newer hardware requirements. As well, Samsung and other Android vendors could integrate the NFC ability and the Wi-Fi Direct Send functionality to provide a platform-wide implementation of the “S Beam” file-sharing functionality.

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MoCA wireless access point–at least

Article

MoCA 2.0 WiFi Adapter Announced. Good Luck Getting One  | SmallNetBuilder

My Comments

Teleste has premiered the first wireless access point / Ethernet switch that can work with the MoCA TV-coaxial-cable network backbone.

In a nutshell, MoCA is based purely on 75-ohm TV coaxial cable used in cable-TV distribution systems and TV-aerial (antenna) installations. It is totally different to the older 10Base2 coaxial Ethernet system because it is not dependent on the cable being properly terminated with resistors at each end, rather catering for the norm with these setups which commonly have sockets with nothing plugged in them, perhaps to cater for portable or transportable TVs.

It has an 802.11ac access point and an Ethernet switch but is intended to refresh on a previous MoCA-Ethernet bridge that the same company offered. The common question is where are they available to consumers who have an established MoCA backbone? It is because Teleste only sell these devices to cable-TV installers to onsell to their customers.

For MoCA to work properly, there needs to be an increased retail availability of hardware like MoCA-Ethernet adaptors and access points. This is so that customers who have established TV-aerial or cable-TV infrastructure in their homes or offices can make use of this as a wired no-new-wires network backbone.

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Zyxel announces HomePlug AV2 Gigabit adaptors

Article

ZyXEL Claims World’s First With New Gigabit Powerline Adapter | Tom’s Hardware

From the horse’s mouth

Zyxel

Press Release

My Comments

Zyxel PLA-5206 HomePlug AV2 Gigabit adaptor press image courtesy of Zyxel USA

Zyxel PLA-5206 HomePlug AV2 Gigabit adaptor

The “wired no-new-wires” network segment that is HomePlug AV2 has hit the Gigabit mark now that Zyxel have premiered some new adaptors that achieve that speed.

The more expensive HomePlug AV2 unit, known as the PLA5405, implements MIMO technology which uses the three wires of an AC connection (Active / Line / Phase, Neutral and Earth / Ground) to transfer the data at the high speed with high resiliency. This is while the PLA-5206 which is the cheaper model implements a “single-input single-output” setup with the main pair of wires.

They are pitching this at a new reality where households are viewing online or downloaded video via their home networks with this video being delivered at Full HD (1080p) or better resolution. It also caters for realities where you can’t necessarily afford to pull Ethernet cable through the house but want the advantages of a stable wired backbone, such as to extend Wi-Fi coverage especially with 802.11n and 802.11ac segments operating on the shorter-wavelength 5.4GHz band..

These do offer that repeating functionality to allow for the existence of a robust HomePlug powerline segment and, perhaps, to make it fit for larger houses or multiple-building setups.

What I see of the Zyxel HomePlug AV2 devices is that they show that HomePlug AV2 is a mature technology for that home network, whether as the only wired backbone or to complement Ethernet.

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Comcast reaches the 100% IPv6 goal for residential Internet

Article

Comcast Reaches 100% Residential IPv6 Deployment | Broadband News And DSL Reports

From the horse’s mouth

Comcast

Press Release

My Comments

Comcast brand logo - courtesy ComcastComcast is now one of the first major Internet service providers in the USA to set up for full IPv6 operation for its residential and small-business Internet-service products. Here, they are operating this on a dual-stack arrangement with customers able to receive IPv4 and IPv6 addresses and connections.

This is to satisfy realities that are affecting Internet use such as a reduction of publically-available IPv4 addresses and the arrival of the “Internet Of Everything” concept where there will be many devices connected to networks both large and small.  IPv6 also opens up newer network-management functionalities like Segment Routing and Service Function Chaining.

Here, they are also optimising the XFinity X1 and XFinity Voice product platforms for IPv6 as well as implementing IPv6 for all of networks associated with the NBC Universal digital-content properties.

If a Comcast subscriber is to benefit from IPv6, they would have to connect the cable modem to a router that supports IPv6 dual-stack functionality. In some cases, you may have to have the existing cable modem swapped out for a newer unit or have Comcast flash the existing unit with newer IPv6-ready firmware. When you set up your router’s IPv6 WAN/Internet options, you may find it best to let the router use the “auto-detect” options.

This could show up as a step in the right direction for IPv6 in the world’s largest and densest Internet-service market.

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Business-grade data security could approach the home network

Article

Startup builds intrusion prevention system for home networks | PC World

My Comments

A device that is being used mainly in enterprise networks is the “intrusion prevention system” which is another form of firewall installed at the network’s edge. This device is typically set up between a modem and the router that serves normally as the network’s edge to protect the network from outbound and inbound Internet-based attacks.

Increasingly, as most home networks acquire more devices and more of these devices are programmed with firmware that isn’t “written for security”, these devices are being seen as necessary for home and small-business networks.

Itus Networks are working on one of these devices and optimising it for the home network, so it is as secure as a similar device used in Enterprise America but is more cost-effective and is able to be managed by most householders. The iGuardian product is intended to go between the router and the modem to analysie outgoing and incoming traffic for malicious activity and block such activity based on community or commercial “Snort-form” rulesets.

But this form factor wouldn’t work well with the modem-router which is the way to go for most DSL services, where the modem and router are in one box. Personally, I could see the “intrusion prevention system” become an included feature with high-end routers that are pitched at “enthusiast” consumers, SOHO users or small businesses rather than the low-tier routers sold to most consumers.

Similarly, a functionality gap exists where other network devices could be at danger of intrusion caused by one network device without Internet involvement.

As well, I find that they may not be accepted for most home networks because they may be difficult to operate unless you have a lot of competence with business-grade computing. This may be due to issues like lack of “task-based” or “simple-language” design.

At the moment, this device is showing that the concept of business-grade internet security for the home network in the form of an “intrusion prevention system” is at its early stages and there needs to be a lot more work done to make a mature product for this class of network and the kind of operator that it will face..

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