Category: Network Management

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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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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