Category: Network Management

Wi-Fi to become strong as a location and range-finding technology

Article – From the horse’s mouth

D-Link DIR-X5460 Wi-Fi 6 router press picture courtesy of D-Link USA

Multi-antenna Wi-Fi 6 and similar routers like this D-Link router could be part of allowing Wi-Fi to work as a location-tracking, range-finding and way-finding technology

Wi-Fi Alliance

Wi-Fi Location™: Performance drivers for Wi-Fi® ranging technologies and its achievable accuracies

My Comments

Qualcomm is driving Wi-Fi further as a location and ranging tool through the use of its own silicon. This is in addition to the Ekahau effort to use Wi-Fi as a real-time location system for business.

But it’s more about making sure that the Wi-Fi network is capable to answer Bluetooth and UWB wireless technologies in this space. This is being facilitated by Wi-Fi devices having multiple antennas and operating on multiple bands, That can exploit different bands’ radio-frequency characteristics like transmission / reception range.

In the business world, this may be about staff or asset tracking, indoor navigation amongst other uses. It may even be about “pointing” a laptop, tablet or smartphone to the closest printer or similar peripheral so you cut down on the amount of time it takes to select that peripheral. Airports, shopping centres and similar places will benefit in the form of enhanced indoor navigation for staff and end-users.

But as far as the Wi-Fi home network is concerned, this could come in to its own in a strong way.

This would be facilitated by the use of most recent-issue value-priced and premium Wi-Fi routers having multiple antennas thanks to newer Wi-Fi iterations like Wi-Fi 5, Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 7 that implement various MIMO techniques; along with the ability to work on multiple wavebands.

Then there is an increased interest in multiple-access-point Wi-Fi networks thanks to Wi-Fi repeaters, distributed Wi-Fi (mesh) networks and access points that use Ethernet or wired “no-new-wires” networking technology like powerline networks as a backhaul. This is often implemented to fill in Wi-Fi dark spots within your home caused by things like highly-dense building materials or metal used as part of building materials or insulation.

NETGEAR Orbi with Wi-Fi 6 press picture courtesy of NETGEAR

Even distributed Wi-Fi setups like this NETGEAR Orbi with WI-Fi 6 system will serve the same purpose

One key use case for the home is the smart-home technology based on “Internet of Things” devices. The classic use cases would be the robot vacuum cleaners that move around your house, keeping the floors clean or the robot lawnmowers that keep your lawn mown down.

In the context of home and automotive security, it could be about geofencing and similar algorithms that limit the operation of smart locks or vehicle locking systems. It could even extend to preemptive control of heating / air-conditioning and lighting so when you are near home, the heating or lights come on.

To some extent, this could extent to healthcare at home including ageing at home. For example, this may be about fall detection or wandering detection for dementia sufferers. Or it could be about proof-of-presence and time/attendance records for paid carers.

The “nearest peripheral” location will come in to its own with the home network if you have multiple network-capable TVs or printers on your premises. Here, it could be about having the default printer being the one that is closest to you even if you take your laptop to the kitchen for example. It could also extend to use of Wi-Fi Aware for “across-the-room” use cases like transferring data between devices or user discovery with social media and online games.

Therefore in a lot of use cases, Wi-Fi will be valued as a location and ranging technology even if the network of concern is a small network that covers a house or small business.

Why I still see wired network backhauls relevant even with newer Wi-Fi versions

D-Link DIR-X5460 Wi-Fi 6 router press picture courtesy of D-Link USA

Some building setups may not allow a Wi-Fi router like this D-Link Wi-Fi 6 unit to work at its best in covering the house

With Wi-Fi 7 around the corner, a company who is designing silicon for that new Wi-Fi standard is running a line that wired networks will be obsolete.

But it is a bit too hasty to state that because there are situations where the wired network will still be relevant as a backhaul for that Wi-Fi 7 wireless network. Here, I encompass both the Ethernet networks built on Category-5 or Category-6 cable along with “wired no-new-wires” networks like HomePlug powerline or G.Hn networks based on powerline, telephone wire or TV coaxial cable.

How are your premises built?

Two access points used to extend wireless-network coverage in older house

That thick wall may cause Wi-Fi not to work properly

If you find that your premises is built of dense building materials like brick, masonry or cinder-block / concrete block, you may find that you have trouble with your Wi-Fi network’s coverage. This is more so where any of the interior walls uses those kind of materials.

Examples of this may include a double-brick house that had an extension built on to it or a house that has one or more brick interior chimneys. Similarly, apartment dwellers may run in to this problem if two or more of their apartment’s interior walls touch their building’s “service core” plenums used for the elevators, garbage chutes or as “risers” for plumbing and wiring. Such a plenum is typically made of thick or reinforced concrete to satisfy noise-level or fire-safety expectations.

Another building material to watch for is metal. This may be used for reinforcement like with reinforced concrete, or it could be used as a mesh or for decorative effect like with corrugated iron used to give that rustic look. Add to this insulation material that is augmented with foil to improve its effect. This material has that “Faraday cage” effect where it reflects radio waves rather than passes them.

As well, the radio frequencies that are more affected are those at the higher end of the spectrum due to their short wavelength. This will be more so as wireless networks extend in to the 6GHz territory.

These situations will call for a wired network backhaul in order to create building-wide coverage for your Wi-Fi network.

Multiple-building setups

Methods to link buildings in a multiple-building home network

Another situation that will be of relevance to suburban and country living is the want to connect secondary buildings like a barn, cabin or granny flat to your primary house. This would also apply to the use of a caravan or campervan as secondary living quarters.

It would be more so as you think that bringing your home network and Internet to these buildings that you expect to have as part of your living or  space and is something I have covered in a feature article and infographic. Here, a wired link can earn its keep in these kind of setups and may allow you to be more flexible with building materials for the secondary buildings or main bouse.

A new-wire approach can be in the form of Cat5e cable could give up to 2.5 Gigabits per second bandwidth over 100 metres, something that would be affordable for most. If Cat6a cable was used, this could go to 10 Gigabits per second for the same length. The more premium fibre-optic technology would be able to achieve 300 metres for stability and 10 Gigabit throughput. The Cat5e setup would come in to its own with fixed outbuildings built relatively close to the main house like in most low-density living areas including most smallholdings.

Use of powerline-based “wired no-new-wires”  like HomePlug AV2 or, especially G.Hn HomeGrid, would come in to its own here. This is more so if you are renting your home or are dealing with caravans or campervans being purposed as sleepouts for example and you have them connected to your home’s mains supply.

Other factors to consider

Some devices may also cause issues when it comes to Wi-Fi coverage due to their design.

For example, a flat-screen TV will use a significant amount of metal as part of its chassis and this can act as an RF barrier. Similarly furniture made out of sheet metal like the traditional office filing cabinet can also be an RF barrier.

These “RF barriers” can effectively create an “RF shadow” if the client device is located close to them and such items are located close to each other.

It is also worth considering that wired network technologies, especially those based on Category 5 or Category 6 twisted pair copper cable or fibre-optic cable will be developed in a way to have more bandwidth than Wi-Fi-based wireless technologies. Here, it takes advantage of “pure-play” wiring infrastructure that is predictable in signal quality and reliability. This will underscore the role of these technologies as a reliable high-speed backhaul option between devices or Wi-Fi access points.

Conclusion

Due to facts like dense or metallic building materials, multiple buildings on a property or metallic objects, wired networks will still be considered relevant in the era of Wi-Fi 7. Add to this that wired networks, especially those using dedicated wiring infrastructure, will still be worked on as something that offers higher data speeds than equivalent Wi-Fi technologies.

G.Hn HomeGrid to be the direction for wired no-new-wires networks

Devolo Magic 2 Wi-Fi 6 Multiroom powerline network kit press image courtesy of Devolo

Devolo Magic 2 Wi-Fi network extender kit that works on G.Hn HomeGrid powerline network technology

The International Telecommunication Union’s G.Hn HomeGrid standard is expected to become a significant new direction in “wired no-new-wires” network technology. Such technology makes use of wiring infrastructure that is in place within a premises for purposes such as providing AC mains power, providing a telephone service or connecting a TV to an outdoor TV antenna or cable / satellite TV setup.

This is for both the in-premises local-area network and for the Internet / WLAN “access” network that brings your Internet service to your home-network router.

This technology primarily works as an alternate powerline / AC-wire network technology to the established HomePlug family of powerline-network technologies. But it is also competing with MoCA for the TV coaxial-cable medium and the G.Hn HomeGrid Forum took over the HomePNA standard for phone-line-based on-premises networks.

Media types

Powerline

Use of a building’s AC wiring infrastructure is considered more credible due to the fact that there are many power outlets across a typical home. I have even had good experiences with this kind of network especially for extending Wi-Fi coverage or even extending a home network out to a detached garage that served as a “man-cave”.

The HomePlug Alliance had effectively abandoned continual development of the HomePlug series of powerline-network standards. At the moment, the latest standard is the HomePlug AV2 MIMO which can go to 2000Mbps,  That is although a significant number of device manufacturers and IT retailers are continuing to make devices that work to the 1200Mbps bandwidth.

G.Hn HomeGrid has taken the powerline network further by offering the HomeGrid MIMO variant that cam move at least 2000Mbps of data. Like the HomePlug AV2 MIMO standards, this uses the active / phase / line, neutral and earth / ground wires of the mains-power plug to carry the data, thus assuring users of robust data transmission across a building’s general AC wiring infrastructure better.

G.Hn HomeGrid powerline technology could appeal to apartment blocks where multiple powerline-based “wired no new wires” networks could exist

The G.Hn HomeGrid powerline network standards have been refined also to increase data transmission robustness where there are many powerline networks operated together. This would be, perhaps, a situation that takes place within a large multiple-premises building like an apartment block, shopping centre or office block and would suit today’s urban-design expectations of mixed-use multi-premises developments. Some people would also hold this true for a dense neighbourhood of terrace / townhouse, semi-detached or similar homes.

A G.Hn HomeGrid powerline network can co-exist with a HomePlug AV2 powerline network in the same building but isn’t directly compatible with each other. This is similar to first-generation HomePlug powerline networks operating alongside second-generation HomePlug AV / AV2 powerline networks.

Personally I see G.Hn HomeGrid being used to “take the powerline network further” to higher bandwidths, increased robustness, further distances (500 metres compared to 400 metres for HomePlug AV2 MIMO) and other future needs.

At the moment, Devolo are investing in this technology with their Magic series of powerline network products including some Wi-Fi access points and offering some of these devices to consumers.

But some other network-equipment vendors who have retail-market presence are offering at least a powerline-Ethernet adaptor that works to G.Hn HomeGrid standards as part of their powerline-network product ranges. It is a way for them to put a foot in the door for higher-bandwidth powerline network segments.

TV coaxial cable

Another medium type that is supported by G.Hn HomeGrid is the TV coaxial-cable infrastructure. This would be associated with cable TV, an outdoor TV antenna (aerial) or a satellite dish and there may be extra TV coaxial-cable sockets installed around the house so you can have additional TV sets or use an easily-moveable TV in other rooms.

The Multimedia Over Coax Alliance have created a standard for using TV coaxial-cable infrastructure. But G.Hn HomeGrid have seen intention in using this same medium for the same purpose and could be working it to higher capacities or increased robustness.

Phone line

Yet another medium type that is supported by this same standard is traditional telephone cabling. This was worked on by HomePNA but the HomeGrid Alliance took over that concern and embodied it in to the G.Hn HomeGrid standard.

This infrastructure would have come about for established homes where there are multiple phone sockets installed through the house’s lifetime. This would be due to the installation of extension phones or to allow one to move a corded phone between different locations easily before cordless phones became a cost-effective approach to flexible landline telephony.

Use profiles

The G.Hn standards implement two relevant use profile cases.

One is called HomeGrid which describes connecting network devices within the premises as part of a local area network.

The other is called Gigawire and is described as being for “access” connectivity. This is to connect between the network’s router WAN (Internet) connection and a modem that is used for providing Internet service. This use case encompasses fibre-copper setups within extant multiple-premises buildings used to provide Internet to each premises with the building. Or it can encompass a single-premises building where the modem associated with the Internet service is installed in an inconvenient location but the Wi-Fi router has to be installed in the centre of the premises for best results.

All of the media connectivity types such as powerline, phone line or TV coaxial cable are able to work in these different use profiles. But there is a question about whether the same medium type could be used for access or in-home connectivity at the same time.

Media-type agnostic approach

The G.Hn HomeGrid standard is being underscored as a media-layer-level standard for the “wired no-new-wires” networks with the goal to make it easier to bridge between different media types.

This could be about the arrival of lower-level bridge devices that link between the different media types with these devices not needing higher-level processing to do so. Most likely such devices will have the bridge functionality but also have a Cat5 Ethernet connection of some sort.

Further evolution of this standard

Currently this standard is being implemented as a “wired no-new-wires” approach to creating a multi-gigabit home network that has a bandwidth of 2.5Gbps or greater. It is to complement multi-Gigabit Ethernet and Wi-Fi 6/6E wireless network technology in raising your home network’s bandwidth making it fit for multi-gigabit broadband Internet services.

But there is further work needed to come about from G.Hn HomeGrid Forum for certain issues. For example, there will be a need to support VLAN network setups using the “wired no-new-wires” technologies. This would come in to play with routers that support a “guest network” or “community network” in addition to a primary network; or for VLANs that are used as a quality-of-service measure for VoIP or IPTV setups.

They would also have to examine the use of an access network and an in-premises network working on the same media bearer.

This could work with a fibre-optic extension setup that would normally use a G.Hn HomeGrid access network on a particular media type like phone line, power line or TV coaxial cable to bring the WAN (Internet) link from a garage or basement where the fibre-to-the-premises optical-network-terminal is installed to the living area where the home network router is installed. But the situation would change where that same basement or garage is purposed as a living space of some sort and a G.Hn HomeGrid in-premises LAN segment is to be created to make that space part of your home network.

Or there is the idea with a multiple-premises building where G.Hn HomeGrid technology is used for the in-building access network to each premises but there is a desire to extend a premise’s LAN or Wi-Fi to a common living area within the building.

Conclusion

The G.Hn HomeGrid and GigaWire standards are something that we have to watch and consider when it comes to “wired no-new-wires” network links for our home networks. In some cases, this technology may be about a “clean-slate” approach to your “wired no-new-wires” network segments.

Devolo uses G.Hn as part of an Gigabit Ethernet bridge setup

Devolo Giga Bridge G.Hn access network extender kit press image courtesy of Devolo

Devolo Giga Bridge access network extender kit

Article – From the horse’s mouth

Devolo

Giga Bridge

(Product Page (Deutsch / English)

Press Release (German – Deutsch)

My Comments

Devolo have become the first manufacture to exploit G.Hn HomeGrid “no-new-wires” technology in a retail setting. Here, they have exploited this in their Magic range of powerline-network devices that use this technology rather than HomePlug AV2 technology which their dLAN range of powerline network devices support.

Devolo GigaBridge setup diagram

Why is this so? There is continued development of G.Hn HomeGrid technology with on-premises powerline technology moving towards 2.4GHz bandwidth as well as improved operation for “simple yet secure” network setup. This includes improved performance for powerline-network setups within apartments and similar single-building many-premises developments. Another factor is that G.Hn HomeGrid technology isn’t dependent on a particular wired physical connection medium – it can work with traditional phone-line cabling or TV coaxial cabling.

This was thanks to the HomePNA phone-line-based home-network technology being absorbed by the HomeGrid Alliance and brought in to the ITU G.Hn standards.

But Devolo are taking this further by offering a G.Hn HomeGrid kit that uses either TV coaxial cabling or phone-line cabling to establish a Gigabit point-to-point link using no new wires. But who are they pitching this kit to?

In Germany at least, a significant number of fibre-to-the-premises installations for single-family homes or terrace-style (townhouse-style) homes have the optical-network terminal installed in the house’s basement. The householders then end up installing the home-network Wi-Fi broadband router downstairs in that basement. But they lose out on Wi-Fi performance thanks to the ground floor being made of dense materials that absorb radio waves associated with the Wi-Fi network segment.

A very similar installation scenario affecting some single-family houses with an attached garage is to have the optical network terminal for a fibre-to-the-premises setup installed in that garage. Some of these dwellings may have the wall between the garage and the house proper heavily insulated or thickened because the garage isn’t seen as living space and that wall may be built out of or insulated with material that attenuates radio waves.

The household then has to consider using a Wi-Fi range extender, a powerline-based Wi-Fi access point kit or a mesh network setup to improve the Wi-Fi reception in their living spaces upstairs. This may be good enough if the basement is being purposed as some form of living space like a games room or young adult child’s bedroom.

But this device is designed to connect to the Ethernet WAN connection between the ONT and the Wi-Fi broadband router and “extend” that so the router is installed in the living areas. As well, it is meant to use the telephone cabling or the coaxial cabling associated with a TV aerial, cable TV service or satellite dish.

Here, it is built on the assumption that a lot of the telephone wiring or the TV-aerial wiring is consolidated and exposed within the basement or garage, typically for the convenience of the installers. This will usually be the sign of a properly-installed TV or telephony setup where these spaces were taken advantage of rather than a series of splitters or junction boxes installed downstream to cater for ad-hoc installation of extra phone or TV points.

They offer a similar device that uses G.Hn HomeGrid powerline connectivity for this same purpose. This device, known as the Fiber Connect, isn’t compatible with the HomePlug powerline connectivity standards and is focused as a point-to-point device

At the moment, the Devolo Giga Bridge device is focused on a point-to-point setup primarily for extending the Ethernet (WAN) connection further out. As Devolo works on implementing the G.Hn HomeGrid standard further for home networks, it could be about developing it to work with their Magic G.Hn powerline implementation or implementing it as a multipoint setup for phone-line or TV coaxial setups.

What is showing up here is that Devolo are putting their faith in the G.Hn HomeGrid home-network approach especially in the retail and direct-to-consumer marketspace. This is compared to only marketing devices based on that technology to ISPs, telco and professional installers who supply and install these devices.

What is Wi-Fi 7 to provide for your Wi-Fi wireless network?

Articles

AVM FritzBox 5530 Fiber FTTP fibre-optic router product image courtesy of AVM

Next generation home networks could be implementing Wi-Fi 7 in the next few years

Wi-Fi 7 to Make a Splash at CES 2022, Led by MediaTek | Digital Trends

Wi-Fi 7 is coming, and Intel makes it sound great | Network World

My Comments

Wi-Fi 6 is already established as a wireless network standard and this is being taken to  Wave 2 with some incremental improvements.

But Wi-Fi 7, is to be coming soon and is actually the IEEE 802.11be wireless-network standard which is expected to be the follow-on to Wi-Fi 6.

It is expected to offer 320MHz bandwidth for each RF channel and provide a theoretical link-layer throughput of 96.1Gbps. As well, a Wi-Fi 7 wireless network segment is expected to be able to work on the 2.4 GHz, 5GHz and 6GHz radio bands.

This will support multi-link operation where network devices can work on multiple channels across multiple wavebands at once. This allows for a “fat pipe” that carries more data along with reduced latency (important for games or videocalls) and increased operational robustness. This latter benefit is provided by allowing particular data to use particular channels.

Wi-Fi 7 is to lead wireless network segments towards multiple-gigabit networking. As well, Wi-Fi 7 will have integrated support for Wireless Time-Sensitive Networking which assures synchronous delivery of data to multiple endpoints with use cases being multichannel sound, multi-camera setups or robotics and industrial automation.

This technology will take time to come to fruition even if it is “cemented in stone” by the IEEE now. There will be the need to see the necessary silicon being made available to client-device and network-infrastructure manufacturers so they cam implement it in their own products. This will also include the requirement to to see power-efficient Wi-Fi 7 client-device silicon implementations before a significant number of portable devices come with this technology.

Then the client and network infrastructure devices will appear but be at that price point and marketing position that only appeals to early-adopters who will pay a premium to have the latest and the greatest. But a few years later will see Wi-Fi 7 be a mature wireless-network technology.

But this will come in to its own with ubiquitous ultra-high-definition TV, augmented and virtual reality along with computing environments pitched towards gamers, creators and mobile-workstation users.

Wi-Fi HaLow being pushed as the Wi-Fi network for the Internet of Everything

Articles

Wi-Fi HaLow waveband diagram courtesy of Wi-Fi Alliance

Where Wi-Fi HaLow fits in with other Wi-Fi technologies

This new Wi-Fi technology with a 1km range is the future of long range IoT applications | Business Insider India

‘The Wi-Fi portfolio is unmatched’: Wi-Fi Alliance on Wi-Fi Certified HaLow (rcrwireless.com)

Wi-Fi HaLow could be the next IoT enabler – TechRepublic

From the horse’s mouth

Wi-Fi Alliance

Wi-Fi CERTIFIED HaLow™ delivers long range, low power Wi-Fi® | Wi-Fi Alliance

Wi-Fi CERTIFIED HaLow (Product Page)

My Comments

A Wi-Fi network technology that is being put on the map at the moment is Wi-Fi CERTIFIED HaLow a.k.a Wi-Fi Halow.

This network technology is based on IEEE 802.11ah wireless network technology and works on the 900MHz waveband. It is about long-range operation of approximately 1 kilometre from the access point and very low power operation that allows devices to run for a year on commodity batteries like a single 3V coin-size cell or a pair of AA-size Duracells.

The power requirement may be a non-issue for devices like HVAC thermostats that are wired to the heating system they control. But they may be an issue with devices like movement sensors or smart locks that are dependent on their own battery power. As well, the low power requirements that Wi-Fi HaLow offer could be of benefit towards devices that implement energy-harvesting technology like solar power or kinetic energy.

Wi-Fi HaLow feature list courtesy of Wi-Fi Alliance

This low-bandwidth Wi-Fi specification is intended to complement the other Wi-Fi specifications used with your home or business network. But it is focused towards the Internet of Everything especially where the devices are to be operated across a wide radius like a farm or campus.

The network topography for a Wi-Fi HaLow network segment will be very similar to the standard Wi-Fi network. That is where multiple client devices link to an access point, but there should be the ability for a mobile device to roam between access points associated with the same Wi-Fi network.

Compared to the likes of 802.15 Zigbee, Z-Wave, DECT-ULE, Bluetooth LE and similar Internet-of-Things wireless technologies, this is meant to avoid the need for special routers when there is a desire to link them to IP-based networks.

This is because this technology effectively uses the same protocol stack as our Wi-Fi networks save for the layers associated with the radio medium. It also means that the same security, connectivity and quality-of-service protocols that are part of Wi-Fi nowadays like EasyConnect and WPA3 can be implemented in Wi-Fi HaLow devices.

At the moment, you would need to use a Wi-Fi HaLow access point to get any Internet-of-Things devices on to your network and the Internet. It may be a small device that plugs in to your existing home network router or network infrastructure. But a subsequent Wi-Fi access point or router design could have built-in support for this standard thus making it more ubiquitous.

The use cases being positioned for Wi-Fi HaLow technology would encompass the smart home, the smart building and the smart city where all sorts of “Internet-of-Things” devices are acting as controllers or sensors. It is also encompassing vertical use cases like agriculture, industry and medicine where sensors come in to play here.

At the moment, this kind of connectivity will exist as an alternative to Zigbee, Z-Wave and similar technologies especially where IP-level connectivity and functionality is wanted at the device. It may not have ready appeal in use cases where a direct connection to Internet-based technology may not be required.

On the other hand, a use case could allow for a “hub and spoke” approach to the Internet of Things where a device can connect to accessory peripheral devices using Zigbee or Bluetooth but link to the home network and Internet via WI-Fi HaLow. An example of this could be a retrofit-install smart lock which supports the use of accessory input devices like keypads, NFC card/fob readers and contact sensors.

Wi-Fi HaLow could be seen as a direction towards capable low-power long-distance wireless networking for Internet of Things, especially where direct Internet / LAN network connectivity is desired out of the application.

When should you consider upgrading your home network router?

Article

Broadband router lights

There are situations that will occur which will require you to replace your home network’s router

How to tell when it’s time to upgrade your router – CNET

My Comments

There are factors that may drive you towards upgrading your home network’s router at some point in its life. Here, you may think that it is still performing adequately for your current needs including your current Internet service level.

You may find that when you sign on to a new Internet service, you may be offered a new Wi-Fi router for your home network as part of the deal. In most cases, this may see you through quite a number of years with your service. But on the other hand, you may choose a “bring-your-own-router” option for your new Internet service so you could keep your existing equipment going for the long haul. But going down that path may not be ideal unless you intend to use up-to-date equipment that can support your new Internet service and current computing devices to the best it can.

Reliability

If you find yourself frequently turning your network’s router and modem off and on to reset your Internet connection, this may be an indicator that your equipment is on its last legs. A good indicator would be if you are on average doing this routine more than once a week.

Another factor to observe is whether your online experience has degraded especially with multimedia content that you are streaming or when you engage in videocalls. Look for situations like excessive buffering or stalled connections that can indicate your router is becoming unreliable.

Speed

You may want to make sure that you are taking advantage of the bandwidth you are paying for so you get your money’s worth.

This would be important if you are upgrading to a service tier that offers more bandwidth for example. For that matter, you may find that after two or three years on the same service plan, you may be aware that your telco or ISP is offering a deal that has more bandwidth for the same price you are currently paying.

Another factor is how sluggish is your home network. This may be noticed with use of network-based media setups like AirPlay or Chromecast yielding substandard performance or print jobs taking too long when you print via your home network. Similarly, it can be noticed if you have many people in your household or business and the network’s performance is sub-par while they use it at once especially for multimedia.

If you Internet connection is provided using a separate modem and router setup, you may want to check if the router is at fault by connecting a computer to the modem directly via Ethernet and using that to assess speed and latency.

Network Security and Software Quality

AVM FritzBox 5530 Fiber FTTP fibre-optic router product image courtesy of AVM

You may find that some devices like the FritzBox 5530 Fiber will have continual firmware updates and keep themselves secure

Another factor that may be worth considering is whether the router’s vendor is supplying regular firmware updates for your unit. This is important in relationship to bugfixes or patches to rectify security exploits discovered within the firmware.

This factor is important due to data-security issues because a bug or security exploit within the router’s firmware can increase the risk of a cyberattack on the network or its devices.

Some vendors may continue to supply software-quality and security updates for their older equipment but cease to provide feature updates that add functionality to these devices. But you have to be careful where the vendor ceases to supply any updated firmware after they have declared end-of-life on that device.

Newer network technology arriving

Telstra Smarty Modem Generation 2 modem router press picture courtesy of Telstra

Newer routers like the carrier-supplied Telstra Smart Modem 2 are most likely to be engineered for today’s Internet service and home network expectations

Increasingly your Internet service may be upgraded to newer technology in order to allow for faster throughput. It is something that will be continuing to happen as Internet service providers increase capacity and speed for newer use cases and applications. You may even find that you have to upgrade your home network router if you are revising your Internet service or moving premises to an area with better Internet service.

If you are using a modem router and you upgrade your Internet service to something that uses newer technology, you may have to replace the modem router with different equipment that supports the new technology properly.

In the case of some fibre-copper setups like fibre-to-the-node, fibre-to-the-cabinet or fibre-to-the-basement that implement DSL-based connectivity, you would have to make sure the modem-router can support the latest DSL specifications fully and properly for that link. Here, a lot of older DSL modem routers support ADSL2 at the best but you need equipment to work with VDSL2 or G.Fast links that a DSL-based fibre-copper link would use.

In some cases, the installation may require the use of a separate modem connected to a broadband router that has an Ethernet WAN connection. Examples of this would include satellite, fibre-to-the-premises or most cable-modem installations.

As well, you may want to improve your network’s speed and security. This is more so with Wi-Fi networks where you may find that you have relatively up-to-date smartphones, tablets and computers on your network. In this case, you would be thinking of Wi-Fi 5 or 6 with WPA2-AES or WPA3 for security.

Distributed Wi-Fi

NETGEAR Orbi with Wi-Fi 6 press picture courtesy of NETGEAR

You may even be considering the use of a distributed-Wi-Fi setup like the NETGEAR Orbi to increase Wi-Fi coverage

Another thing worth considering is whether to implement distributed-Wi-Fi technology a.k.a mesh Wi-Fi to increase coverage of your home network’s Wi-Fi segment across your home or small business.

But most distributed-Wi-Fi setups are dependent on working with equipment sold by the same vendor. That is unless the equipment supports Wi-Fi EasyMesh which offers a vendor-independent approach. At the moment, there are still some early teething points with the EasyMesh standard with some vendors not running with software that is polished for true interoperability.

Most systems that support this functionality may have the ability to work as access points for an existing router or as broadband routers in their own right. You may also find that some home-network routers, especially some of the units made in Europe like the AVM FritzBox devices can support distributed Wi-Fi after a firmware upgrade.

This solution may come in to its own if you are thinking of bringing your home network up-to-date by replacing an old router that uses very old technologies on the LAN side.

Conclusion

If you are dealing with a very old home-network router that is becoming very unreliable or slow, you may have to look at these factors when considering whether to replace that router with a newer unit.

TP-Link jumps in to Wi-Fi meshing with HomePlug AV2 backhaul

Articles (Product Reviews on other Websites)

TP-Link Deco P9 distributed Wi-Fi kit with HomePlug AV2 powerline backhaul press image courtesy of TP-Link

TP-Link Deco P9 distributed Wi-Fi kit with HomePlug AV2 backhaul

TP-Link Deco P9 mesh router review: blanket your whole home in speedy Wi-Fi | T3

TP-Link Deco P9 Powerline Mesh WiFi System Review – Blacktubi

From the horse’s mouth

TP-Link

Deco P9 Wi-Fi / HomePlug AV powerline Mesh Network set (USA Product Page)

My Comments

A problem with most distributed-Wi-Fi setups is that certain building materials and construction techniques can reduce their performance. Examples of this include where an extension is built on to a house that has double-brick or sandstone walls, or you have foil-lined insulation or metai-based window tinting as an energy-saving measure.

Here, your distributed-Wi-Fi system may support Cat5 Ethernet as a backhaul option in lieu of Wi-Fi wireless technology. But you may find problems with, for example, having Cat5 Ethernet pulled through the double-brick wall. Or you simply are renting your premises and cannot easily have additional wiring installed there.

You would then have to consider using HomePlug AV2 powerline technology to create a wired backbone for your setup. Most setups would require you to buy a pair of “homeplugs” which simply bridge the powerline network segment to a Cat5 Ethernet segment and use these devices to create that wired backhaul. Only a handful of manufacturers have dabbled in the idea of mixing HomePlug-based powerline technology and distributed Wi-Fi technology at the moment.

TP-Link Deco P9 Homeplug AV2 distributed Wi-Fi operation diagram courtesy of TP-LinkAVM offered a firmware upgrade for their Fritz! devices including their Fritz!Powerline HomePlug adaptors and access points for this purpose. Here, you could manage the distributed Wi-Fi network through your Fritz!Box Web management interface and this exploited the different backhaul options like Wi-Fi, Ethernet or HomePlug powerline that the devices offered.

Now TP-Link has implemented Wi-Fi 5 and HomePlug AV2 1000 to create a credible flexible distributed-Wi-Fi setup. This system, known as the Deco P9, can work with other TP-Link Deco distributed Wi-Fi devices using the best Wi-Fi backhaul or, where applicable, Ethernet or HomePlug AV powerline wired backhaul that the device offers. It does combine the wired and wireless technologies for use as a wider-bandwidth backhaul or as a failover measure.

One of these review articles said that the HomePlug setup offered by the TP-Link Deco P9 system excelled when it came to latency which they considered for gaming use cases. The other review described the P9 system as being fit for purpose with houses that have cellars and garages, more as a way to do away with those range extenders. I would add this this as being fit for extending Internet to bungalows, granny-flats, converted garages or similar outbuildings that have AC wiring to the main house — the HomePlug AV2 technology may do this job better due to its increased robustness. This kit’s use of HomePlug AV2 technology may even come in to its own with that static caravan or campervan used as a sleepout and connected to the main house by AC wiring.

Cable TV in the man-cave

.. and may work well for that man-cave garage or barn

More companies could come on board with distributed-Wi-FI devices that use HomePlug AV2 MIMO technology as a backhaul option to answer these needs. Similarly, they could offer HomePlug AV2 adaptors that can work in tandem with their distributed Wi-Fi devices that offer Ethernet as a backhaul option.

At least there is another company offering HomePlug powerline network connectivity as a wired backhaul option for their distributed Wi-Fi setups.

Wi-Fi EasyConnect and EasyMesh are now updated further

Articles

Linksys MR7350 Wi-Fi 6 Mesh Router press picture courtesy of Belkin

Wi-Fi EasyConnect to be upgraded to simplify Internet-of-things setup

Wi-Fi Alliance debuts improvements to Wi-Fi mesh and IoT device onboarding | Wi-Fi NOW

From the horse’s mouth

Wi-Fi Alliance

Wi-Fi Alliance® connects and expands home Wi-Fi® (Press Release)

My Comments

Improvements to EasyConnect

Most of us may think of Wi-Fi EasyConnect as simply scanning a QR code with your smartphone to get your smartphone on to a Wi-Fi network that you want to use. Or it could be about using a smartphine app to scan a QR code on a device you want to bring on board to your home network that your phone is connected to.

But this week the Wi-Fi Alliance have cemented in stone ways of using WI-Fi EasyConnect to bring devices on board to your network. You still have to use a “configurator” program which could be an app on your smartphone to bring devices, known as “enrollees” on board to that network or to join that network yourself.

A Wi-Fi EasyConnect setup can support multiple “configurator” programs which will cater to environments where different software has different capabilities. As well, the standard allows a “configurator” program to work with multiple networks, allowing for realities like an individual ESSID for each waveband or people who are responsible for multiple networks.

Telstra Smarty Modem Generation 2 modem router press picture courtesy of Telstra

.. and to even build out Wi-Fi EasyMesh distributed-wireless networks simply

Here, NFC “tap-and-go” pairing and Bluetooth LE pairing is part of the standard. As well, you can transcribe a PIN or passcode shown on the device or attached to a label on that device to enrol the device to your home network. For cloud-driven device platforms like Amazon Echo, the cloud platform downloads the device identifying details to your computing device to facilitate binding it to your Wi-Fi network.

Android users may be familiar with NFC-based device pairing when they set up some Bluetooth headsets with their phones or tablets. That is where you touch your Android smartphone or tablet to the headset to start the pairing and setup process.

But there currently isn’t support for showing a PIN or passcode on the configuration software for you to transcribe in to your device you are intending to bring on board your Wi-FI home network. Such a procedure could come in to its own with devices that have a keypad or keyboard as part of their control surface, examples being smart locks or TVs that have “many-button” remote controls.

For people who manage enterprise and building networks, Wi-FI EasyConnect is updated also to allow you to onboard devices to your WPA3-Enterprise Wi-Fi business network. Here the network would have to support EAP-TLS and implement X.509 digital certificates. It is to cater towards a reality where business owners and building managers want to bring “Internet-of-Everything” devices which don’t have a rich user interface on to these networks while keeping these networks secure.

For that matter, users of devices running Android 10 or newer versions stand to benefit from Wi-FI EasyConnect in some ways without the need for extra apps to be downloaded from the Google Play Store. Here, they can use their smartphone or tablet to scan a QR code that represents their target network’s Wi-Fi details to accede to that network. Or they can scan a QR code on a Wi-Fi-capable device they want to bring to the network they are using as long as this device supports Wi-Fi EasyConnect.

It is part of making sure that Wi-Fi EasyConnect works as part of the Wi-Fi WPA3 link-layer security specifications which will be required for a Wi-Fi 6 or Wi-Fi 6 wireless-network segment to operate to specification.

The support for Wi-Fi EasyConnect that needs to come about is to have other mobile and desktop operating systems support this standard in some capacity, preferably in a native form. This would have to include using Bluetooth as an alternative to QR codes as a method of sharing Wi-Fi network credentials from a mobile device to a laptop or tablet.

Improvements to EasyMesh

Wi-Fi EasyMesh distributed-wireless setups now support onboarding of new access points using Wi-Fi EasyConnect methods. This means that the same user interface that is needed to get a computer or IoT device on your home network applies to Wi-FI network-infrastructure devices compliant to this standard. It will also be part of making sure that a Wi-Fi EasyMesh network works to the current WPA3 security expectations.

This is in addition to each of the access points in an EasyMesh setup being able to share advanced metrics about how the network is performing as a whole. Here, it will come in to play with those Wi-Fi networks that are managed or supported by other entities like business Wi-Fi.

Conclusion

The revisions to the Wi-Fi EasyConnect and EasyMesh standards are more about simplifying the process to bring Internet-of-Things devices on board to your WPA3-compliant home or business network. It is also about simplifying the process to build out your EasyMesh-compliant distributed wireless network with multiple satellite repeater units.

But what needs to happen is for more software and hardware support for these standards in order that they become increasingly accepted within the marketplace.

Deutsche Telekom fields their first Wi-Fi 6 DSL modem router

Article (German language / Deutsche Sprache)

Deutsche Telekom Speedport Pro Plus DSL modem router press picture courtesy of Deutsche Telekom GmBH

Deutsche Telekom Speedport Pro Plus – a DSL modem router that uses Wi-Fi 6

Telekom Speedport Pro Plus: Erster DSL-Router mit Wi-Fi 6 (Telekom Speedport Pro Plus First DSL router with Wi-Fi 6) | Computer Bild

From the horse’s mouth

Deutsche Telekom

Speedport Pro Plus: the premium router for Wi-Fi 6 networks (Press Release)

My Comments

Interest still exists in DSL-based WAN technology especially in VDSL-based fibre-copper setups like fibre-to-the-basement or fibre-to-the-cabinet / fibre-to-the-node. Here this is to utilise existing telephone cabling between the fibre-copper point and the customer’s premises while it is worth it to keep this cable in use.

But Deutsche Telekom have offered to their German market the SpeedProt Pro Plus DSL modem router which is the first of its kind for that market to have Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) for the Wi-Fi segment. For network security, this router works to the WPA3 security standards for Wi-Fi networks, and it can support meshed operation with Deutsche Telekom’s Speedport equipment. It is answering a reality that an increasing number of Wi-Fi client devices like smartphones, tablets and laptops are being equipped with Wi-Fi 6 wireless networking.

The use of Wi-Fi 6 network technology is being seen as very important within Europe where most people who live in the cities live in apartments. It also will underscore for countries like Australia where apartment dwelling within urban areas is gaining acceptance.

This device has 12 antennas compared to the AVM Fritz!Box 7590 having eight antennas. This allows for higher local-network-level throughput and increasingly-robust operation. There is also for Gigabit Ethernet connections for the local network and a Gigabit Ethernet connection as an alternative Internet connection. That is important for fibre-to-the-premises connections or fibre-copper setups implementing cable-TV or Ethernet technology and dependent on an external modem.

As is the trend nowadays with European-made home-network routers, the Telekom Speedport Pro Plus has a VoIP endpoint including a fully-featured DECT cordless-telephone base station. This device supports smart-home functionality for smart-home peripherals that work according to Wi-Fi, Zigbee or the European favourite technology that is DECT-ULE. That is part of their Magenta SmartHome platform that they are offering within Germany.

This is an example of Wi-Fi 6 coming to a carrier-supplied modem router and proving its case with Internet subscribers who stick with the equipment offering that their telco or ISP provide. Who knows when your local telco or ISP will offer their service with Wi-Fi 6 equipment in tow?