Category: Network Management

HomePlug AV500 now available with newer Freebox Révolution

Article (French language / Langue Française)

De nouveaux Freeplugs à 500 Mbps pour la Freebox Révolution | Freenews.fr

My Comments

Freebox Révolution - courtesy Iliad.fr

Freebox Révolution now available wiht HomePlug AV500

The Freebox Révolution is the first wireless modem-router to support software updating to 802.11ac through its latest software update (mise à jour). But both the Freebox Server and Freebox Player came with the “Freeplugs” which are power supplies that integrate a HomePlug AV bridge in their functionality. This is typically to link the Freebox Player in the living room to the Freebox Server in the study or home office.

Both the “Freeplugs” were compliant to the HomePlug AV specification which worked the link at a best-case line speed of 200Mbps. This is although there are many HomePlug AV500 devices that can work the link to 500Mbps and are compliant to the IEEE 1901 specification for powerline local area networks.

Free have raised the game for the Freebox Révolution by delivering newer systems with “Freeplug” power supplies that work to the HomePlug AV500 specification rather than the older HomePlug AV specification. The only problem that I see with this is that customers who own an existing Freebox Révolution can’t easily purchase these adaptors as accessories for their existing setup i.e. they are only available to customers who are upgrading existing equipment or establishing a new installation. Personally, I would recommend that they be sold as aftermarket accessories for existing users.

On the other hand, you could use separate HomePlug AV500 devices to link these boxes while the existing Freeplugs are used simply as power supplies. This could allow you to use a uninterruptable power supply with the Freebox Server to avoid loss of telephony when the power goes down.

At least this is another example of the Freebox Révolution being considered cutting-edge for carrier-supplied consumer-premises equipment especially in an Internet-service market that has healthy competition.

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The French to consider giving IPv6 regulatory boost

Article – French language / Langue Française

Laure de la Raudière : une proposition de loi pour accélérer le passage à l’IPv6 | ZDNet France

Activer l’IPv6 (Aide Freebox) – Instructions pour configurer votre service Freebox pour IPv6 (Instructions to set up your Freebox service for IPv6)

My Comments

Freebox Révolution - courtesy Iliad.fr

Freebox Révolution ready for IPv6

It is taking a long time for most people to become aware of IPv6 in their personal computing environment. This is although most regular and mobile operating systems provide for dual-stack and routed IPv6 support, an increasing amount of NAS units, business-grade printers and premium routers are offering dual-stack IPv6 operation and more Websites and Web hosts are moving towards IPv6 dual-stack operation.

It is due to a lot of ISPs not enabling this functionality with most residential and small-business Internet-service offerings and most popularly-priced or carrier-supplied routers not being made “ready for IPv6”. France has taken a few steps already in the IPv6 direction with the likes of Freebox Révolution being ready for this technology.

But they are taking further steps by using the might of the government’s regulatory authority to push for IPv6 to be a standard for Internet service offered there. This has been driven by the reduced pool of public IPv4 IP addresses being available and is a similar step to their switch from analogue to digital TV broadcasting.

It may be the first government-level initiative to bring through the IPv6 technology to the home network but may not be the last. I also see that the government-based effort may be best turned towards promoting the use of IPv6 by French Internet users rather than by legislating it as a service standard. This is because of the frequent product-updating culture that is taking place with the French carriers to assure consumers have a service worth staying on for especially in a competitive market like France.

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Solwise offers an in-wall multi-function access point for £33.68

Article – From the horse’s mouth

Solwise

IP-W30AP product page

My comments

Solwise have released another of the wall-mount wireless access points which are initially pitched at the hotel and bed-and-breakfast trade. But in their sales copy, they were also pitching it at those of us who want a neat installation for that extension access point in our home network.

The IP-W30AP access point can create an 802.11g/n 2.4GHz dual-stream Wi-Fi segment and also has an up-front Ethernet socket. It connects to the host network using a rear-mount Ethernet socket and is powered by 802.3af-compliant Power-Over-Ethernet. As well, there is an RJ11 pass-through telephone socket so you don’t have to have a separate outlet for your landline phone.

But, to cater to today’s people, they have provided a USB charging socket for use with charging smartphones, external battery packs, Bluetooth headset adaptors and similar gadgets. This would be able to work at 500mA which would satisfy overnight charging of most of these gadgets but wouldn’t work well with tablets like the iPad or just work in a way to avoid compromising these devices’ battery runtime.

As for this device’s power supply needs, Solwise have you covered with a power injector or, as I have covered before, you could bring this access point on to a HomePlug AV500 segment with their Power-Over-Ethernet-capable “homeplug”.

Being pitched to the hotel installation, this device can support the sophisticated VLAN setups with multiple SSIDs mapped to different VLANs. On the other hand, it doesn’t have the ability to support WPS-based “push-to-connect” device enrollment – this would be something you would have to do at your home network’s main router. As well, they could make available a simultaneous dual-band variant that can exploit the 5GHz band either to 802.11n or 802.11ac standards.

For home network users, this device would come in handy as an extension access point for installations where you are wiring for Ethernet and need to bring Wi-Fi in to the “other part” of the house. This is more so with those houses that implement thick walls or foil-lined insulation where the Wi-Fi wireless network wouldn’t perform properly. Similarly, this would work well for that “guest-house” bungalow or similar building where you are wanting to “go the extra mile” and wire for Ethernet as part of establishing a multi-building home network.

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San Francisco and San Diego establish the first free wireless hotspot which implements Hotspot 2.0 technologies

Article

Free Wi-Fi networks in SF, San Jose join hands through Hotspot 2.0 | PC World

My Comments

The Wi-Fi Passpoint or Hotspot 2.0 technologies have been made available to allow those of us with mobile devices to benefit from public-access Wi-Fi without having to deal with Web-based sign-in routines every time we want to use these facilities. But they have been pitched primarily at mobile phone operators and ISPs who want to offer Wi-Fi service for their subscribers.

But San Francisco and San Diego have implemented this technology as part of their free public-access Wi-Fi setup, which I see as being a first for this class of public-access Wi-Fi. Typically these services implement a Web-based login routine which occurs at the start of each session and this may be provided in order to assent to the service’s terms and conditions. With these setups, it becomes impossible to continue a usage session even if you move out of the network’s scope temporarily and it also becomes impossible to roam between the different locations ran by the service without having to log in again.

What they have done is to prove that the Wi-Fi Passpoint or Hotspot 2.0 technology can work well with single-location or multi-location public-access Wi-Fi setups whether free-to-access or pay-to-access. For example, a chain of restaurants, a public-transit system or a community Wi-Fi setup can benefit from this by allowing the users to move between locations without a need to log in again.

The next question that may be raised is to simplify the provisioning experience, especially when it comes to provisioning the same service across multiple devices owned by the same user. This may range from setups where you simply assent to terms and conditions through services where you establish a session-based account like most docket-based hotspot setups to the services offered by WISPs and telcos which are based on an existing customer account.

Who knows, this could be the trend for easy-to-use secure public-access Wi-Fi as different scenarios are being tested.

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Working around the limitations of rural Internet access to facilitate the Tour De France in Yorkshire

Articles

WiFi and Satellite Equipped Tractors to Follow Yorkshire’s Tour de France | ISP Review

Wifi tractors en route for the tour | Farming UK

From the horse’s mouth

Avonline Satellite Broadband

Home Page

National Farmer’s Union

Press Release

My Comments

The Tour De France 2014 is starting off in Yorkshire UK and is an event that moves from location to location depending on where the péléton are cycling in this race. As I have seen for myself when I have watched this cycle race on SBS TV, it attracts huge crowds with various locations of flat land near the race route resembling caravan parks due to the many motorhomes showing up at each point because people hire these so they can follow the race by vehicle.

This time, the National Farmer’s Union in the UK have answered to the needs of the connected spectator by setting up mobile Wi-Fi hotspots. But how have they done this even though access to decent broadband in rural areas is non-existent? They have equipped two tractors with a public-access Wi-Fi hotspot consisting of a Wi-Fi hotspot router connected to a satellite-broadband modem provided by Avonline Satellite Broadband. This means that each tractor has its own satellite bandwidth which is distributed by Wi-Fi over a range of 500 metres from where it is parked.

Locations

  Stage 1
Leeds – Harrogate
Stage 2
York – Sheffield
Tractor 1 Yorkshire Dales National Park Visitor Centre (Hawes) Steel Stage event (High Bradfield)
Tractor 2 Visitor Centre (Grassington) Holme village

 

One question that has been raised is whether the mobile hotspots and their satellite backhauls would cope under the pressure of many spectators tendering the images and video they take to multiple social networks using these networks. This is similar to situations that hoteliers would encounter when their guest-access Internet services are at capacity as all of the guests download multimedia content at the same time.

As well, it is an example of using network equipment powered from motor vehicles i.e. the Massey-Ferguson tractors to provide Internet access and making sure that the equipment does survive the distance with uneven power-supply conditions that this entails. I see this also appealing to other rural districts like France’s rural districts who want to cater to the connected visitor who attends a special event like a fair, rally or a cycle road race like the Tour De France.

Click to play "Back British Farming" video (if you don’t see it below)

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Solwise offers a two-part Wi-Fi repeater for caravans and similar applications

Article

Great gadgets: Solwise antenna and wifi hotspot | John Norman’s Blog

From the horse’s mouth

Solwise

Wireless 11n USB CPE with built-in 12dBi antenna GBP£41.08

Solwise Wireless USB repeater GBP£47.75

System total GBP£88.83 VAT and delivery to UK included

My Comments

There are those of you who use a caravan, motorhome or other similar recreational vehicle as the mobile holiday home and are likely to spend time at caravan parks or campgrounds rather than set up somewhere like at the beachfront or the bush. Increasingly these places are offering a public-access Internet service with Wi-Fi either as part of the package or for an extra charge, in order to make themselves relevant to the “switched-on” traveller.

But the problem with gaining access to these Wi-Fi services from your caravan is that your site may not be in a position where you can gain reliable reception of that service. Similarly, the vehicle’s metalwork will also play a part in attenuating the Wi-Fi signal that gets in to the van.

You may think that the typical Wi-Fi range extender may cure this problem but most of these devices have integrated antennas which may not be all that “crash-hot” when it comes to picking up the Wi-Fi network’s signal properly. But the clever people at Solwise have partnered a pair of devices that can bring the Wi-Fi network in to the caravan wherever you are.

The first device is a USB Wi-Fi network adaptor with a 12dBi panel aerial. This single-stream 802.11g/n device can be mounted outside the vehicle or building and connected to a regular computer via its USB socket using a 3 metre USB cable. The second device is a dual-WAN 802.11g/n wireless router with a choice of Ethernet or USB serving a wireless-broadband modem for its WAN / Internet service. But it also is able to work with the abovementioned USB Wi-Fi network adaptor effectively as a router.

On the LAN side of this router, you have a separate Ethernet connection along with the Wi-Fi network offered by the device. This earns its keep not just with smartphones and tablets but also with devices like network-attached-storage units, printers or DLNA-capable media devices because this means that you are not dealing with having to log on to the venue’s public-access Wi-Fi network to run these devices or share their resources through that network.

Being a two-part setup, you you can locate the network adaptor outside the vehicle and plug this in to the router’s USB port to effectively “bring in” the Wi-Fi service. It is also designed to support the “quick set-up quick tear-down” requirements that these kind of travellers would need and there are accessories available through Solwise to provide a semi-permanent mount for the USB network adaptor.

According to the screen shots in the manual, there is apparently a “bridge” mode to allow the router to be an extension access point that plugs in to your Ethernet or HomePlug AV(2) wired backbone. This could come in handy at home for extending that wireless network but I am not sure how this is implemented fully, something which could be written up on further.

It sounds like Solwise are fielding another device which would have some utility value when it comes to having that small network how you like it.

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Linksys LRT-224 VPN router–the first of its class with an easy-to-provision VPN

Article

Linksys LRT-224 Product Review (Page 3) | SmallNetBuilder

Previous Coverage

VPNs and remote access in the home and small-business space – a lot of unanswered questions

From the horse’s mouth

Linksys

Product Page (LRT-224)

My Comments

I was skimming through a SmallNetBuilder review of the Linksys LRT-224 VPN endpoint router and came across a feature that could appeal to those of us who are creating “box-to-box” VPNs between networks.

This feature is called “Easylink VPN” and requires the creation of an account username and password on the destination router and the user to supply to the origin router  the outside (WAN) IP address, account username and password for the destination router to establish a “box-to-box” VPN.

I do see some limitations with this concept as it is applied nowadays. One is that it is set up to work onliy with VPNs that have the Linksys LRT-2×4 series VPN routers at each end which doesn’t bode well for the goal of an interoperable easy-to-set-up VPN.

Similarly, there isn’t a way of identifying whether an IP-address conflict could occur once the VPN is established. As well, there isn’t support for dynamic-DNS setups which can make things easier for people who implement most residential and small-business Internet services that are “DHCP-only” rather than having the option to create an IP address.

But what I see of this is an attempt to allow home-office-plus-shopfront business operators and similar users to create a “box-to-box” VPN between locations without creating extra room for mistakes during the setup and provisioning phase/ It could also work well with the UPnP RemoteAccess and ContentSync profiles as part of the goal of a multiple-device personal “cloud”.

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AVM Fritzbox 7490 to be the first router to offer automatic firmware updating

Article (German language / Deutsch Sprache)

Automatische Updates für Fritzbox-Router | PC Welt

From the horse’s mouth

AVM

Software update page

My Comments

AVM FRITZ!Box 3490 - Press photo courtesy AVM

AVM Fritzbox 3490 to be able to update itself like your Windows or Mac computer

One of the big holes in data security that has been recently identified is the typical Internet gateway device sold to most households and small businesses as the “edge” between their home network and Internet connection.

This hole has been identified because most of the devices, especially those sold through most retail, value-added reseller and most service-provider channels, work simply on the firmware installed in them when they left the factory. As we all know, a lot of this firmware can be full of bugs and software exploits that place the home network and the computer equipment on it at risk of security breaches.

Most regular and mobile computer equipment and some set-top boxes benefit from a continual update process with the ability to have the critical updates delivered by the software vendor automatically without any user intervention. But this doesn’t hold true for the typical consumer router, which requires the customer to install updated firmware manually. In a lot of cases, the user may either have to run a firmware-installation tool on their regular computer or download a special firmware-package file from the manufacturer’s Website and subsequently upload the firmware to the device via its Web-based management interface.

A few devices may allow you to deploy updated firmware by causing the device to download and install the latest firmware from the manufacturer’s Web site by clicking on an “Update” button. These devices make the job easier but you have to regularly visit that user interface to check for new updates and start the update process.

These tasks can be considered very difficult for anyone to do unless they have had a lot of computer experience and expertise and is something commonly performed by the computer expert in the family or community.

AVM, a German company who makes premium-grade routers and networking gear for consumers and small business, have answered this need with the latest firmware for the Fritzbox 7490 Internet gateway device. This firmware offers automatic updating for firmware patches to enhance the device’s security.and reliability.

You would have to visit the AVM site to download and install the latest firmware in to the Fritzbox 7490 but this would be the last time you would need to do this because the Fritzbox could simply “look after itself” when it comes to the updates. There is a question remaining about whether AVM will roll this feature out to other Fritzbox routers and network devices so as to keep them secure.

At least AVM are setting a good example for all Internet-gateway-device manufacturers and resellers to follow by putting up the idea of self-updating equipment in to the consciousness. This could even extend to other devices like smart TV and devices that constitute the “Internet Of Everything” as we think of the smart home.

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What these HomePlug AV wireless access points are about

I had come across this Tweet that was shared on to Solwise’s home page concerning how quick it was to extend a small Wi-Fi network using a HomePlug AV wireless access point. As the picture showed that, once in place, this looked discreet and didn’t use any extra cables. You also had the advantage of being able to relocate this access point if you needed to such as focusing more coverage on another area.

Expect a lot more reliability and proper bandwidth from your Wi-Fi wireless network coverage when using a HomePlug wireless access point to extend that home network.

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UPnP+ links non-IP devices to wide-area networks

Article

UPnP+ links non-IP devices to wide-area networks | EETasia

My Comments

The recent extension of the UPnP Device Architecture specifications, known as UPnP+ is being worked on at the moment by the UPnP Forum. This is to extend the reach of the UPnP Device Architecture specification sets to satisfy certain new realities.

One key reality is to make UPnP work properly with the “Internet Of Everything” concept. This is where devices are able to interlink with each other and share their information in a manner not dissimilar to the concept associated with the Internet.

It will be achieved with native support for IPv6 across IP networks. This takes advantage of the huge number of addresses this standard offers compared to the legacy IPv4 which most of the Internet works on at the moment.

As well, a SensorBridge Device Class will be defined. This caters for the “bridge” device that links sensors and similar devices that work on non-IP networks with IP-based networks. The article talked of the non-IP wireless-sensor networks as being Zigbee, Z-Wave and ANT which take advantage of low-power low-overhead operation suited for those fields. These devices could be represented by “black-box” devices that stand between an Ethernet or Wi-Fi-based home network and the sensors or controllers such as the Honeywell Evohome Mobile Access Kit, but could also be represented as software integrated in either a router that also has a Zigbee or Z-Wave interface or a smartphone, tablet or laptop with Bluetooth 4.0 Smart interface.

There will also be inherent support for cloud-based “hosted” services to be part of the UPnP ecosystem. Of course, I find that the term “cloud” alludes a lot to services hosted by other parties away from the main home network, typically to provide remote access from smartphones, tablets and other computers connected via the Internet. In the context of “Internet Of Everything”, it could extend to service providers like utilities or monitored-alarm companies using this data to participate in the “Smart home” concept.

I would see this come in to its own with home and other networks that are operating along the line of “Internet Of Everything” and this could be supported with newer devices that have newer UPnP+ firmware in place.

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