Category: Wireless Networking

AVM releases HomePlug AV500 access point that is ready for home automation

Article – in German language

Internet per Stromleitung: Anschluss der Powerline an Steckerleisten kann die Leistung beeinflussen | NetzwerkTotal.de

From the horse’s mouth

AVM

Product Page (German language)

My Comments

AVM, known for their premium Fritz!Box routers have launched their latest HomePlug AV500 wireless access point which is a device that I consider important for stone-built European country houses that are “Wi-Fi difficult”. This unit, known as the AVM FritzPowerLine 546E provides a Wi-Fi segment to the dual-stream 802.11n specification for the 2.4GHz band and supports WPS push-button client-device setup as has been talked about in this article concerning WPS in a multi-access-point network.

But it is also ready for the IPv6 home networks which are a reality for anyone using a recent high-end consumer or small-business router and will become common as more countries roll out next-generation broadband.

But the FritzPowerline 546E is one of the few HomePlug access points equipped with a filtered mains outlet which you can plug equipment in to. AVM takes this further by making this socket a switched socket which works with their home-automation software. For that matter, this function is manageable through the device’s Web user interface and provides not just instant remote “on-off” but a time-switch function.

What I see of this device is that it isn’t just like other HomePlug wireless access points but is offering more functionality in a different way. This is especially as the HomePlug powerline network is being considered very clearly in the UK and Europe as a viable no-new-wires network segment.

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A HomePlug access point that works on both the Wi-Fi bands available from Solwise

Article – From the horse’s mouth

Solwise

Value – Aztech HomePlug AV with Dual Band WiFi – PL-HL117EW

My Comments

We are seeing a lot more of the Wi-Fi access points that use the HomePlug AV powerline-network technology as a backbone but these typically work on the 2.4GHz waveband, now using 802.11g/n technology.

But Aztech have released a HomePlug wireless access point that works on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands rather than just the 2.4GHz band. The Aztech PL-117EW uses a HomePlug AV500 powerline network segment or an Ethernet segment as its backbone, so can be used for a “wired-for-Ethernet” house with the ability to create a HomePlug AV500 segment as well as being an access point.

It satisfies the reality that a home network will be needing the 5GHz 802.11n wireless network segment everywhere especially as the 2.4GHz band becomes more congested. There is the SimpleConnect “push-button” setup for the HomePlug segment as well as a WPS push-button setup for enrolling new Wi-Fi clients close to it. As far as I know, it misses out on the simple “Wi-Fi clone” function which aids setting it up as a secondary access point.

What I see of this is the idea of using the “wired no-new-wires” network that is HomePlug AV as a backbone for extending wireless-network coverage hasn’t died off and is appealing to the UK market as a valid home-network setup option in the face of the cheaper wireless-network range extenders. This device underscores this reality by extending it to the 5GHz Wi-Fi band.

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2.4 GHz networking is five feet under with 802.11ac | Wi-Fi Alliance

Article – From the horse’s mouth

Wi-Fi Alliance

2.4 GHz networking is five feet under with 802.11ac | Wi-Fi Alliance

My Comments

The comments raised by the Wi-Fi Alliance about the fact that 2.4GHz-based Wi-Fi networking technology being a nearly-dead technology is something that I find a bit “too quick” at the moment.

One key issue is that there is still a significant number of Wi-Fi client-side and access-point-side devices which only work on the 2.4GHz band using 802.11b/g/n protocols in circulation. This is more so with mobile devices and specific-purpose devices like consumer AV where an upgrade to a 5GHz technology would be costly if not impossible.

In some situations, the 2.4 GHz band with the longer wavelength compared to 5GHz may be at an advantage when it comes to the longer-wavelength bands and frequencies offering better coverage. This may allow for fewer 2.4GHz access points to cover a space.

So if I was to create a upgrade a Wi-Fi segement, I would look towards implementing a simultaneous dual-band setup which works to 802.11n or 802.11ac on the 5GHz band and 802.11n on the 2.4GHz band. As well, I would prefer to buy or specify devices, especially laptops, tablets and smartphones that use dual band Wi-Fi technology.

As for configuring the networks, the 2.4GHz band would be working as 802.11g/n compatibility mode while the 5GHz band would be at 802.11n or 802.11n/ac compatibility mode. This is to assure greatest compatibility with most of the existing devices that are to work with the network.

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At last a HomePlug wireless access point that simplifies the wireless network extension process

Article – From the horse’s mouth

TP-Link

TL-WPA4220 – Welcome to TP-LINK (Product Page)

My Comments

One main reason most of us would buy a HomePlug-based wireless access point is to extend the coverage of that Wi-Fi wireless network past that radio obstacle like the double-brick interior wall without needing to pull new cabling. Or you don’t want to butcher your garden or dig up your lawn so you can reliably extend your home network with its Wi-Fi wireless segment to that garage or bungalow.

But a setup hurdle that one can easily end up with is copying the SSID (wireless network name) and network security parameters from your existing wireless router to the access point and making sure these are accurately copied so you can have proper roaming operation for your wireless network.

TP-Link have made this simple through the use of a “Wi-Fi Clone” button on the TL-WPA4220 access point. Here, this access point uses the WPS-PBC “push-button” setup routine to learn the parameters associated with your small wireless network segment.

This procedure has to be performed with this HomePlug access point in good Wi-Fi range of a router or access point that implements WPS push-button setup.You push the WPS button on your suitably-equipped wireless router as if to enrol a new device to your home network, then push the “Wi-Fi Clone” button to complete the procedure. This means that the access point has what is needed to be part of the Extended Service Set which is you home network’s Wi-Fi segment.

From that point on, you just simply establish that HomePlug AV powerline segment as the backbone for your wireless network and benefit from the increased coverage. But I would personally have this access point equipped with the WPS client setup mode for enrolling client devices close to it to avoid the need to traipse back to your wireless router to enrol that Android smartphone or Internet radio that is to be used in the remote area.

What I see of this is that steps have been taken in the right path to move away from the so-caled “range extenders” towards a more reliable and proven method of extending a wireless network’s coverage by simplifying the tasks required for achieving this goal.

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802.11ac for smartphones shown in an HTC Android phone

Article

Extended battery life with 802.11ac | Wi-Fi Alliance

My Comments

HTC have announced the next “refresh” of their One Android smartphone is to be equipped for 802.11ac 5GHz Wi-Fi segments. Plus there is some talk of other manufacturers fielding similarly-equipped smartphones for the up-and-coming Mobile World Congress that is to occur in Barcelona, Spain.

But, as with 802.11n, these phones will implement a single-stream variant of the technology. The reason why this is to be is because the digital signal processing required for handling a multi-stream signal required for these “MIMO-capable” systems is very taxing on the device’s battery runtime as has been explained in the article.

There will still be a significant data throughput and bandwidth bonus offered by these devices and, of course, smartphones that are equipped for 802.11ac will work with 802.11n networks on either the 2.4GHz or the 5GHz bands. This could really open up the 5GHz band for more of the handheld devices and legitimise its place in the creation of Wi-Fi segments.

A reality that is often missed with 5GHz is the fact that this band is like traditional FM radio on the 88-108MHz waveband compared to traditional AM radio on the 540-1600khz waveband. As I have observed even from childhood, it was feasible to pick up the AM stations over very long distances, even to the country areas while FM stations could be heard within the main urban areas. In some cases, a few AM stations with very low frequencies effectively covered the state of Victoria in Australia with a strong signal.

In this case, I would notice that access points operating on the 5GHz band used for 802.11n and 802.11ac will have shorter coverage areas compared to those on the 2.4GHz band for 802.11n. This will manifest in some situations where one router may cover a suburban block yet you may have to add a 5GHz range extender or access point with a wired backbone for the same coverage or the same router may have to use a stronger 5GHz antenna.

On the other hand, this band may allow for better handling of dense living areas like apartment blocks, but would require all Wi-Fi devices to support it in order to gain this benefit.

Who knows what this means for the evolution of the Wi-Fi wireless local area network especially as it is also considered as an offload companion to the 3G or 4G mobile broadband service?

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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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nVoy–to simplify managing small networks

Website – From the horse’s mouth

nVoy home

My Comments

WD MyNet Range Extender

With nVoy, these devices become easier to set up and integrate in your network

There have been some previous methods available to allow one to manage a network from their desktop. One of these was SMNP which is used primarily to manage equipment in larger networks and is very difficult for anyone to use unless they had good IT skills. Another of these is TR-069 which was developed by the Broadband Forum for use by ISPs and telcos to set up and manage consumer modem routers.

These protocols, like a lot of other network discovery and management protocols relied on an operational network existing between the controller and the controlled device. Similarly, they haven’t work well as a way to allow an average householder or small-business owner to manage a small network effectively and with minimal help.

But a newer specification, known as the iEEE 1905.1 control specification had been set in stone and declared formal. It is now marketed as the nVoy specification and works at a level to manage network segments at the media level.

This is very important with the home-network setups that I prefer and stand for where there is an Ethernet and/or HomePlug AV wired network backbone along with an 802.11n Wi-Fi wireless network segment covering the property where the network is set up at.

This allows logic to be constructed to manage a Wi-Fi, HomePlug AV, MoCA or Cat5 Ethernet segment that is part of the typical home network without having to have a full IP logical network being alive across the whole network.  It also means that media-peculiar network-setup and diagnostics parameters like the ESSIDs and WPA2-Personal passphrases required for wireless networks can be propagated over different network media like Ethernet or HomePlug wired-network segments.

This simplifies setup routines like creating new Wi-Fi wireless or HomePlug AV powerline segments in a secure manner; or adding additional network devices to the existing heterogenous multi-segment small network. It even encompasses the establishment of secondary access points in order to extend the coverage of a Wi-Fi wireless network in a “cellular” fashion.

The user experience would be based on using NFC “touch-and-go” setup or two-button “push-push” setup of new Wi-Fi and HomePlug devices. As well, you would be able to manage the network from devices that use a full management interface, whether local to the network or remotely via something like TR-069 or SMNP.

Even through the life-cycle of the network, the nVoy specification can allow one to use a management interface at one single point of control to bring up diagnostic information about the network or parts thereof so as to identify points of failure or to optimise the network for best performance. The fact that nVoy is determined as a standard could allow computer operating-system developers to bake this function in to subsequent versions of their operating systems and establish one point of control in the operating system user interface.

Beyond the ease of setup and troubleshooting that it offers for small networks, nVoy has the ability to enable easy-to-manage “multiple concurrent pipe” connections in an easy-to-manage form. This allows for two or more connections to be aggregated for higher throughput, as a load-balancing arrangement so that particular traffic can go via one connection while other traffic goes via another connection as well as a fail-over arrangement if things don’t work out on one pipe. This will be more real with the common practice to equip most client devices with two or more network “on-ramps” such as Ethernet and Wi-Fi wireless.

Personally, I would also like to see nVoy work with most client devices in extending their network abilities. For example, a network printer or consumer AV device that has integrated Wi-Fi wireless and a wired connection like Ethernet or HomePlug be able to allow you to set up the Wi-Fi connectivity as an access point if it is connected to the network via the wired connection. Similarly, the same device could be set up as a wireless client bridge for another device like a PS3 or Blu-Ray player that is connected to the Ethernet socket on the device when it is connected via the wireless connection.

Similarly, the nVoy specification could also tackle quality-of-service for IP telephony, AV streaming and real-time gaming so as to guarantee throughput for these network activities. As well, when standards evolve for synchronous “broadcast” network activity on the different media such as for multi-channel wireless speakers or party-streaming modes, nVoy could be used to support network-wide synchronising abilities for these applications.

What I applaud about nVoy being set in stone is that the small network becomes easier to manage whether it is based on one segment or medium or uses many different segments or media.

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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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BMW’s Car Hotspot LTE means Bavarian Motor WiFi

Article

BMW’s Car Hotspot LTE means Bavarian Motor WiFi

BMW promeut une mini borne Wi-Fi connectée en 4G dans ses voitures | 01net.com (France – French language)

My Comments

The concept of the in-vehicle Wi-Fi network has been examined as an infotainment option by both the vehicle manufacturers and the aftermarket infotainment scene, with system like Chrysler’s AutoNET being used as examples of this application.

But BMW have put up an LTE 4G MiFi router as an accessory for their newer vehicles that are sold in Europe. Here, this unit docks in to the centre console of the vehicle and uses direct connection to the vehicle’s power supply and aerial. The aerial is used for the LTE signals so as to provide that improved performance.

As I have always said, this could yield a lot for the connected vehicle. For example, the fact that devices like the Chrysler AutoNET and the BMW router integrating with the vehicle could allow for access to Internet resources by the infotainment system. This could lead to always-updated maps or business directories accessible through the navigation function or access to podcasts and Internet radio from the car audio system.

A question that still needs to be raised as far as in-vehicle Internet is concerned is interlinking with the home network when the vehicle is at home or in the scope of a trusted network like a friend’s or workplace’s network. This could lead to thinks like syncing or sharing of media between the vehicle (equipped with a hard drive) and these networks or large-scale map or feature updates occurring overnight at a cheaper service cost via the home network.

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Guest Post: Basic Security for Your Home Wireless Network

Netgear DG834G ADSL2 wireless router

Netgear DG834G ADSL2 wireless router

So, you’re ready to set up that nice and convenient home wireless network.  You’ve got the router out of the box and you’re ready to plug everything in, but there’s just one problem.  You’re concerned, or maybe you’re even a little bit paranoid.  You’re wondering who out there might be able to pick up the signal.  Setting up a wireless network in your home can be very simple, but it can also pose a few risks if you get lazy or you’re using older wireless router technology.  Once you’ve set up the router, yes, other people with wireless devices may be able to detect the signal you’re broadcasting, but depending on the precautions you’ve taken, you can determine what happens when they see that signal.

 Whether you live in an apartment complex, a tightly-packed subdivision, or on some rural street, there will always be opportunity for someone to detect your wireless signal.  All they have to do is look for it.  Does it mean they’ll try to connect to it?  No.  There isn’t any reason to panic about who might be able to see it.  It doesn’t matter.  What matters are your security and the preventative measures you’ve put in place to block unwanted access when that stray individual does decide to try to connect to your network and attempts to access your internet or your computer.

 Securing your internet connection and your personal network is a relatively simple thing to do.  Many newer routers or modem/ router combos will take you through a setup wizard that should walk you through activating security protocols, such as WEP or WPA and changing the SSID (network name).  Setup wizards aren’t necessarily the best option when setting up your wireless network’s security, but if you don’t know what you’re doing, it can work.  Just remember to change the SSID and avoid using WEP security.

 Why?  Not changing you router’s default SSID can be a sign to outsiders that the user who set up the network has no idea what they’re doing.  It can make that wireless signal a potential target.  You can change it to whatever you want.  As for WEP, it’s useless and simple to break through.  A tech savvy 8-year-old could break through WEP security in minutes.  If you’re in the market for a wireless router (or already purchased one) and one of the device’s selling points is WEP security, stay far away.  Instead, look for devices offering WPA security, or better yet, WPA2 security.

Then set an encryption key password that isn’t your dog’s name, your street address, the town where you grew up, or something equally lame and easy to crack.  Make it tough.  Make it long.   Don’t make it what you think is tough, make it genuinely tough.  Try a password creation exercise.  Write out strings of numbers and letters or a piece of paper.  Or write out a series of words that have no apparent or logical connection to one another.  Or make up words that aren’t in any dictionary.  Be creative and don’t worry if you can’t remember it or not.

Since we’re talking about a home network, it isn’t a big deal if you write down your insane password and store it somewhere, preferably in a place you will remember.  That way, when you have additional devices you want to grant internet access to, whip it out, you’re ready to go, and no paranoia.

Editor’s note:

Most recently-issued ISP-supplied or retail wireless routers are implementing a “secure by default” strategy which makes the process of creating a secure wireless network simple for most of us.

This includes strategies like WPS easy-setup routines with a random passphrase, and an increasing number of routers provided by the ISPs or telcos as customer-premises equipment use SSIDs that typically have a service marketing name followed by three or four random digits such as “BIGPOND1223 or OPTUS4345. These strategies relate the experience of a secure home network to that of installing or using a typical door lock, something most of us identify with regularly.

Guest post by Jack Pike Television lover and guru of all things Cable, spends his time blogging with Time Warner Cable when not enjoying the tube.

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