Category: Wireless Networking

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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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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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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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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It could be touch-to-connect for Wi-Fi devices very soon

Article

WiFi Alliance adds support for NFC | NFC World

My Comments

Two “quick-setup” features that I have liked are coming together very shortly for wireless routers and network-enabled devices. These features are being exploited by device manufacturers who want to be part of the level playing field and desire to see innovation.

One of these features is the WPS-PBC “push-to-connect” functionality where you invoke a WPS setup option on a client device you want to enrol then press the WPS button on your wireless router to “enrol” your client device in to your home network’s Wi-Fi segment. This feature has made it easier to bring new Windows  7/8 computers, Android mobile devices amongst most other Wi-Fi-capable devices in to a home network without having to transcribe in long WPA-PSK passphrases. I even set up one multiple-access-point network to allow this to happen on both access-point devices when I was fixing up network-connectivity issues. Similarly, I was pleased with a TP-Link TL-WPA4220 HomePlug wireless access point that used “Wi-Fi Clone” to learn network parameters from an existing Wi-Fi network segment at the push of a WPS button so it can be quickly set up as an extension access point.

Another feature that I am pleased about is NFC-based Bluetooth pairing. This is primarily used on most Sony Bluetooth-capable devices but other manufacturers are increasingly enabling it. It allows you to touch your phone or computer to the Bluetooth-capable device to instantly pair and connect both these devices. When I bought the Sony SBH-52 Bluetooth headset adaptor with FM radio, it didn’t take me long to “get going” with this device because I simply touched my Samsung Galaxy Note 2 Android phone to it to achieve this goal.

Now the Wi-Fi Alliance have merged both technologies and defined NFC “touch-and-go” setup as part of WPS-based wireless network setup standards. This functionality was seen as part of a “long-tail” vision for the WPS secure-network-setup standards with routers having to support the PIN-based and “push-to-go” methods. They defined a framework based around certain access-point and client chipsets including the Google Nexus 10 Android tablet. For that matter, Android, Linux and Windows 7/8 users could find this functionality either as a small app or “baked in” to an operating-system update.

This is another innovative step that will assure quick setup for Windows and Android devices with small-network Wi-Fi segments especially as most of the recent crop of these devices are equipped with NFC “touch-and-go” functionality and Wi-Fi connectivity.

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Olympus’s voice recorder that works with a smartphone via Wi-Fi

Article

You Can Start and Stop This Wi-Fi Voice Recorder From Your Smartphone | Gizmodo

From the horse’s mouth

Olympus America

Press Release

Product Page

My Comments

When I mentioned about the digital cameras in my first report on the Consumer Electronics Show 2014, I had gave a brief mention to the Olympus DM-901 digital voice recorder which is able to exploit Wi-Fi wireless network technology. The question that could be raised is whether the recorder works as its own wireless network or is able to be part of an existing small wireless network such as a home network, a phone’s “personal hotspot” or a Mi-Fi’s local network.

This recorder uses Wi-Fi alongside a smartphone app to provide it with remote-control ability. For example, when you are recording a presentation, you could place the recorder on the podium or a piece of furniture near where the speaker is and choose where to sit rather than always having to be “up the front” with your recorder to make sure it’s recording properly.

There is also the ability to upload pictures you take with your smartphone to the recorder in order to create a visual index. This would be relevant when you are taking pictures of the slides shown in the presentation or items that are being demonstrated through that presentation or you take a picture of someone who is giving their report in a multi-speaker meeting.

The recorder also has the ability to upload recordings to Dropbox for cloud-based archiving or sharing but I would also like to see this be extended to the ability to upload to SoundCloud or other audio-sharing services.

Like most of the good-quality voice recorders, the Olympus has the voice-recording optimisation abilities which include 2 high-grade microphones with “zoom microphone” function that also ramps up the recording level, along with a voice-balancing algorithm to balance between loud and soft voices.

There is the 4Gb on-board storage but the Olympus has an SDHC card slot so you can record to SD cards and have separate SD cards for each project you are working on. The 4Gb on-board storage can allow for 850 hours of lowest-quality recording (WMA 8kbps mono). There is a high-quality PCM recording option along with the microphones having a 70Hz-20KHz frequency range that may get you by for basic live-music recording needs like recording a child singing or playing the piano. The battery can run for 29 hours recording on a single charge which will give you room for some of the big audio note-taking projects.

Personally, I would like to see future generations of this recorder also have Bluetooth A2DP or DLNA-over-Wi-Fi playback abilities so you can play the recorder through the new crop of wireless speakers for a larger room-filling sound yet have a wireless link. Similarly, a model with an external microphone input or line-level input could come in handy if the goal is to obtain a better recording from a PA system’s microphone. The Wi-Fi functionality could also be augmented with direct support for PassPoint-enabled Wi-Fi hotspots because of the prevalence of hotspots at meeting venues and hotels.

But what I see of this is a cutting-edge voice recorder that offers functionality that wouldn’t be offered on this class of device.

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802.11ac Wi-Fi network specification now a standard

Article

802.11ac Specification Is Final | SmallNetBuilder

My Comments

There is a lot of Wi-Fi wireless-network hardware out there that is compliant to the 802.11ac wireless-network specification but this equipment is built on a draft version of that standard. This standard uses the 5GHz band to offer around very high data transfers with rates that are even close to Gigabit Ethernet speeds. Some of us may be loathe to buy or specify the earlier equipment due to it not working well with equipment from different vendors due to the earlier draft standards.

But this week, the IEEE standardisation body have called the final version of the 802.11ac specification a final standard which is capable of even working to 7 Gbps. To make sure that your current 802.11ac equipment works to this standard, it is worth checking at the manufacturer’s Website for newer firmware that implements the final version of this standard.

Similarly, it would be the time to be able to buy or specify 802.11ac wireless-network equipment that works to the final standard or is able to work to that standard after a firmware update. As far as rolling out or improving your wireless network is concerned, the 802.11ac-compliant wireless router or access point can work with 802.11n clients at the 802.11n speeds but I would recommend these are set for any n/ac compatibility mode.

For that matter, this announcement has not come at a good time as the Consumer Electronics Show 2014 in Las Vegas due to the plethora of home and small-business network equipment based on this standard being launched there. The next milestone would be for Intel to embed this technology in to their Centrino wireless-network chipsets to work with the latest laptops. Welcome to lightning fast Wi-Fi multimedia on your tablet or Ultrabook.

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