FIDO Alliance closer to password-free authentication

Article

Facebook login page

FIDO Alliance could be having us move off passwords when we use online services

FIDO Alliance says it has finally killed the password • The Register

From the horse’s mouth

FIDO Alliance

Charting an Accelerated Path Forward for Passwordless Authentication Adoption – FIDO Alliance

My Comments

The FIDO Alliance and WebAuthN groups are moving towards a password-free authentication approach for online services. This is based around a device-local private authentication key associated with your username for that online service that is only released when you enter your device PIN / screen-unlock code or scan your fingerprint or face where your device supports it. A corresponding public key is stored in the user’s account record on the online service’s servers and used to “test” the private key to complete the user-verification process.

Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 8" business tablet press picture courtesy of Samsung

The smartphone will end up as a key authentication device especially if you sign in with your fingerprint or face

But there is a problem associated with the reality that most of us own multiple computing devices. This can typically manifest in us owning a smartphone, a mobile-platform tablet like an iPad and/or a regular desktop or laptop computer. There is also the fact that most of us will end up owning “connected-TV” equipment be it a smart TV, set-top device or games console that is a gateway to online video services. Or we may even end up using various smart-home platforms including Amazon Echo or Google Home.

The problem also includes lifecycle issues associated with today’s devices such as acquiring a new device or replacing a broken, lost or stolen device. Or it could include where one is using another device on a temporary basis like using a friend’s computer or a computer at a hotel business centre.

Then there is the issue of phishing even with multifactor authentication because there is no way of identifying whether a user is signing in to the real online service or not.

Solutions

Bluetooth as a means for authentication

Logitech MX Anywhere 3 mouse on glass table near laptop

Or you could authenticate online services from a laptop’s fingerprint reader or your smartphone

One factor being examined is the use of your smartphone as a roaming authentication device. Part of what will be looked at is using Bluetooth LE as a machine-to-machine link between the device you are signing in from and your phone to conditionally release online-service authentication keys.

This avoids you entering a one-time-password in to a phishing site for example because you are not transcribing information in to a site. The Bluetooth functionality is also about device proximity – your smartphone is close to the device you want to sign in from.

I also see the Bluetooth link appealing to client devices that have limited user interfaces like connected-TV devices, printers and the Internet Of Things. It avoids the need to log in to your online service to transcribe a “binding code” to use it with connected-TV devices or, at worst, “hunt and peck” a username and password to associate it an online service.

It will also support bare-bones provisioning to new devices irrespective of the platform such as when you, as an iOS or Android mobile-platform user, want to set up you Windows laptop to work with your online services.

As well, it could come in to its own with temporary-use scenarios like shared computers or equipment installed in places like hotels. It could even include adding one’s online video service account to smart TVs or set-top devices installed in hotels, holiday home or common rooms for temporary use.  I could even see this earn its keep as an alternative to cards for authentication at kiosk-type setups like ATMs.

Multi-device authentication

The multi-device approach would be on the likes of Apple, Google and Microsoft coming to the party. This is because it would be based on device operating systems and associated cloud-driven account services like Apple ID (MacOS, iOS, tvOS), Google Account (Android, ChromeOS) and Microsoft Account (Windows, XBox).

In some cases, it may extend to device vendors or other entities who run their own cloud-driven account services and want them as the login of choice for your online world. Even account services typically managed by businesses or education establishments could become “primary” account services typically for large fleets of organisation-owned devices.

Amazon Echo Show 10 press image courtesy of Amazon

Even smart displays like the Amazon Echo Show 10 could be in on the action

This approach would have the operating system create and use the authentication key and store these with your account on the cloud-driven account service. It would come in to its own if you are adding a device that works with the same platform as what you were using, for example onboarding an iPad to the same Apple ID as your iPhone.

The system can distinguish between an extant device and a newer device through another device-bound authentication key that underscores that you are authorised to use the service with that physical device. Here, it can be about deeming that particular new device as trusted and under your control or some corporate setups may use it as a way to constrain use of the service to devices they have control over.

Online services would have to support a number of authentication keys for the same username with these associated with different computing platforms an end-user is likely to use. As well, another requirement that would be expected is to have one authentication key able to work across a vendor’s different operating systems such as a mobile OS and a desktop OS. This is due to vendors architecting their mobile operating systems for battery efficiency while the desktop operating systems are maintained for performance.

Situations

Moving between devices or platforms

Apple TV 4th Generation press picture courtesy of Apple

.. as could the likes of connected-TV and set-top-box setups like the Apple TV

If you are moving your online life between devices of the same platform, the multi-device authentication would  have all the platform-level authentication keys moved across similar to what happens with a password vault app.

The Bluetooth authentication approach will come in to play if you have devices of a different platform. But you have to have one of the devices still alive and in your possession for this to work properly.

What really may happen is that you may use Bluetooth authentication to “enrol” other computing devices and have them seen as trusted devices once one or more of your devices support the necessary standards. Then, whichever one of them that is “alive” like, per se, your regular computer or your mobile-platform tablet would be used to authenticate your replacement smartphone to your secure online circle even if this was to replace a lost, stolen or damaged phone.

If you intend to completely move off a platform, you can simply delete from your online services all the credentials associated with that particular platform. This may be through account management options offered by the online service where you revise what platforms you are logged in from.

Multiple-platform setups

Most of us are likely to operate a multiple-platform setup for our online lives. This will typically range from an iPhone and a Windows or Macintosh computer through an Android phone, an iPad and a Windows computer.

Online services will be likely to keep with your username, multiple sets of access credentials for each computing platform you are using. There will still be the ability to keep a platform-specific authentication key for your devices that operate a particular platform along with another for a different platform.

Gaps yet to be filled

One gap that needs to be filled is software-to-software authentication like what is expected for email or document-contribution setups or even the Internet of Everything. Such setups typically rely on stored credentials to authenticate the user with their account on that service along with client software like email clients having continual access to that service.

This may have to be about adapting protocols like IMAP4 or XML-RPC to device-generated authentication credentials and supporting multiple sets of these credentials for one user account. This would be important where multiple client devices are being used for the same online service such as a smartphone and a laptop for an email service.

Conclusion

Even the common reality of users operating multiple devices or using a highly-portable device like a smartphone as an authentication device will not escape the goal of a password-free online-service future. Here it would primarily be about authenticating with a device-local PIN or your fingerprint

Australian Electoral Commission takes to Twitter to rebut election disinformation

Articles Australian House of Representatives ballot box - press picture courtesy of Australian Electoral Commission

Don’t Spread Disinformation on Twitter or the AEC Will Roast You (gizmodo.com.au)

Federal Election 2022: How the AEC Is Preparing to Combat Misinformation (gizmodo.com.au)

From the horse’s mouth

Australian Electoral Commission

AEC launches disinformation register ahead of 2022 poll (Press Release)

Previous coverage on HomeNetworking01.info

Being cautious about fake news and misinformation in Australia

My Comments

This next 18 months is to be very significant as far as general elections in Australia go. It is due to a Federal election and state elections in the most populous states taking place during that time period i.e. this year has the Federal election having to take place by May and the Victorian state election taking place by November, then the New South Wales state election taking place by March 2023.

Democracy sausages prepared at election day sausage sizzle


Two chances over the next 18 months to benefit from the democracy sausage as you cast your vote
Kerry Raymond, CC BY 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Oh yeah, more chances to eat those democracy sausages available at that school’s sausage sizzle after you cast that vote. But the campaign machine has started up early this year at the Federal level with United Australia Party ads appearing on commercial TV since the Winter Olympics, yard signs from various political parties appearing in my local neigbbourhood and an independent candidate for the Kooyong electorate running ads online through Google AdSense with some of those ads appearing on HomeNetworking01.info. This is even before the Governor General had served the necessary writs to dissolve the Federal Parliament and commence the election cycle.

Ged Kearney ALP candidate yard sign

The campaigns are underway even before the election is called

This season will be coloured with the COVID coronavirus plague and the associated vaccination campaigns, lockdowns and other public-health measures used to mitigate this virus. This will exacerbate Trump-style disinformation campaigns affecting the Australian electoral process, especially from anti-vaccination / anti-public-health-measure groups.

COVID will also exacerbate issues regarding access to the vote in a safe manner. This includes dealing with people who are isolated or quarantined due to them or their household members being struck down by the disease or allowing people on the testing and vaccination front lines to cast their vote. Or it may be about running the polling booths in a manner that is COVID-safe and assures the proper secret ballot.

There is also the recent flooding that is taking place in Queensland and NSW with it bringing about questions regarding access to the vote for affected communities’ and volunteers helping those communities. All these situations would depend on people knowing where and how to cast “convenience votes” like early or postal votes, or knowing where the nearest polling booth is especially with the flooding situation rendering the usual booths in affected areas out of action.

The Australian Electoral Commission who oversees elections at a federal level have established a register to record fake-news and disinformation campaigns that appear online to target Australians. They will also appear at least on Twitter to debunk disinformation that is swirling around on that platform and using common hashtags associated with Australian politics and elections.

Add to this a stronger wider “Stop And Consider” campaign to encourage us to be mindful about what we see, hear or read regarding the election. This is based on their original campaign ran during the 2019 Federal election to encourage us to be careful about what we share online. Here, that was driven by that Federal election being the first of its kind since we became aware of online fake-news and disinformation campaigns and their power to manipulate the vote.

There will be a stronger liasion with the AEC and the online services in relation to sharing intelligence about disinformation campaigns.

But the elephant in the room regarding election safety is IT security and cyber safety for a significant number of IT systems that would see a significant amount of election-related data being created or modified through this season.

Service Victoria contact-tracing QR code sign at Fairfield Primary School

Even the QR-code contact-tracing platforms used by state governments as part of their COVID management efforts have to be considered as far as IT security for an election is concerned – like this one at a school that is likely to be a polling place

This doesn’t just relate to the electoral oversight bodies but any government, media or civil-society setup in place during the election.

That would encompass things ranging from State governments wanting to head towards fully-electronic voter registration and electoral-roll mark-off processes, through the politicians and political parties’ IT that they use for their business process, the state-government QR-code contact tracing platforms regularly used by participants during this COVID-driven era, to the IT operated by the media and journalists themselves to report the election. Here, it’s about the safety of the participants in the election process, the integrity of the election process and the ability for voters to make a proper and conscious choice when they cast their vote.

Such systems have a significant number of risks associated with their data such as cyber attacks intended to interfere with or exfiltrate data or slow down the performance of these systems. It is more so where the perpetrators of this activity extends to adverse nation states or organised crime anywhere in the world. As well, interference with these IT systems is used as a way to create and disseminate fake news, disinformation and propaganda.

But the key issue regarding Australia’s elections being safe from disinformation and election interference is for us to be media-savvy. That includes being aware of material that plays on your emotions; being aware of bias in media and other campaigns; knowing where sources of good-quality and trustworthy news are; and placing importance on honesty, accuracy and ethics in the media.

Here, it may be a good chance to look at the “Behind The News” media-literacy TV series the ABC produced during 2020 regarding the issue of fake news and disinformation.  Sometimes you may also find that established media, especially the ABC and SBS or the good-quality newspapers may be the way to go for reliable election information. Even looking at official media releases “from the horse’s mouth” at government or political-party Websites may work as a means to identify exaggeration that may be taking place.

Having the various stakeholders encourage media literacy and disinformation awareness, along with government and other entities taking a strong stance with cyber security can be a way to protect this election season.

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.

YouTube to examine further ways to control misinformation

Article

YouTube recommendation list

YouTube to further crack down on misinformation using warning screens and other strategies

YouTube Eyes New Ways to Stop Misinformation From Spreading Beyond Its Reach – CNET

From the horse’s mouth

YouTube

Inside Responsibility: What’s next on our misinfo efforts (Blog Post)

My Comments

YouTube’s part in controlling the spread of repeated disinformation has been found to be very limited in some ways.

This was focused on managing accounts and channels (collections of YouTube videos submitted by a YouTube account holder and curated by that holder) in a robust manner like implementing three-strikes policies when repeated disinformation occurs. It extended to managing the content recommendation engine in order to effectively “bury” that kind of content from end-users’ default views.

But new other issues have come up in relation to this topic. One of these is to continually train the artificial-intelligence / machine-learning subsystems associated with how YouTube operates with new data that represents newer situations. This includes the use of different keywords and different languages.

Another approach that will fly in the face of disinformation purveyors is to point end-users to authoritative resources relating to the topic at hand. This will typically manifest in lists of hyperlinks to text and video resources from sources of respect when there is a video or channel that has questionable material.

But a new topic or new angle on an existing topic can yield a data-void where there is scant or no information on the topic from respectable resources. This can happen when there is a fast-moving news event and is fed by the 24-hour news cycle.

Another issue is where someone creates a hyperlink to or embeds a YouTube video in their online presence. This is a common way to put YouTube video content “on the map” and can cause a video to go viral by acquiring many views. In some cases like “communications-first” messaging platforms such as SMS/MMS or instant-messaging, a preview image of the video will appear next to a message that has a link to that video.

Initially YouTube looked at the idea of preventing a questionable resource from being shared through the platform’s user interface. But questions were raised about this including limiting a viewer’s freedoms regarding taking the content further.

The issue that wasn’t even raised is the fact that the video can be shared without going via YouTube’s user interface. This can be through other means like copying the URL in the address bar if viewing on a regular computer or invoking the “share” intent on modern desktop and mobile operating systems to facilitate taking it further. In some operating systems, that can extend to printing out material or “throwing” image or video material to the large screen TV using a platform like Apple TV or Chromecast. Add to this the fact that a user will want to share the video with others as part of academic research or news report.

Another approach YouTube is looking at is based on an age-old approach implemented by responsible TV broadcasters or by YouTube with violent age-restricted or other questionable content. That is to show a warning screen, sometimes accompanied with an audio announcement, before the questionable content plays. Most video-on-demand services will implement an interactive approach at least in their “lean-forward” user interfaces where the viewer has to assent to the warning before they see any of that content.

In this case, YouTube would run a warning screen regarding the existence of disinformation in the video content before the content plays. Such an approach would make us aware of the situation and act as a “speed bump” against continual consumption of that content or following through on hyperlinks to such content.

Another issue YouTube is working on is keeping its anti-disinformation efforts culturally relevant. This scopes in various nations’ historical and political contexts, whether a news or information source is an authoritative independent source or simply a propaganda machine, fact-checking requirements, linguistic issues amongst other things. The historical and political issue could include conflicts that had peppered the nation’s or culture’s history or how the nation changed governments.

Having support for relevance to various different cultures provides YouTube’s anti-disinformation effort with some “look-ahead” sense when handling further fake-news campaigns. It also encompasses recognising where a disinformation campaign is being “shaped” to a particular geopolitical area with that area’s history being weaved in to the messaging.

But whatever YouTube is doing may have limited effect if the purveyors of this kind of nonsense use other services to host this video content. This can manifest in alternative “free-speech” video hosting services like BitChute, DTube or PeerTube. Or it can be the content creator hosting the video content on their own Website, something that becomes more feasible as the kind of computing power needed for video hosting at scale becomes cheaper.

What is being raised is YouTube using their own resources to limit the spread of disinformation that is hosted on their own servers rather than looking at this issue holistically. But they are looking at issues like the ever-evolving message of disinformation that adapts to particular cultures along with using warning screens before such videos play.

This is compared to third-party-gatekeeper approaches like NewsGuard (HomeNetworking01.info coverage) where an independent third party scrutinises news content and sites then puts their results in a database. Here various forms of logic can work from this database to deny advertising to a site or cause a warning flag to be shown when users interact with that site.

But by realising that YouTube is being used as a host for fake news and disinformation videos, they are taking further action on this issue. This is even though Google will end up playing cat-and-mouse when it comes to disinformation campaigns.

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.

The Spotify disinformation podcast saga could give other music streaming services a chance

Articles

Spotify Windows 10 Store port

Spotify dabbling in podcasts and strengthening its ties with podcasters is placing it at risk of carrying anti-vaxx and similar disinformation

Joni Mitchell joins Neil Young’s Spotify protest over anti-vax content | Joni Mitchell | The Guardian

Nils Lofgren Pulls Music From Spotify – Billboard

My Comments

Spotify has over the last two years jumping on the podcast-hosting wagon even though they were originally providing music on demand.

But just lately they were hosting the podcast output of Joe Rogan who is known for disinformation about COVID vaccines. They even strengthened their business relationship with Joe Rogan using the various content monetisation options they offer and giving it platform-exclusive treatment.

There has been social disdain about Spotify’s business relationship with Joe Rogan due to social responsibility issues relating to disinformation about essential issues such as vaccination. Neil Young and Joni Mitchell had pulled their music from this online music service and an increasing number of their fans are discontinuing business with Spotify. Now Nils Lofgren, the guitarist from the E Street Band associated with Bruce Springsteen is intending to pull music he has “clout” over from Spotify and encourages more musicians to do so.

Tim Burrowes, who founded Mumbrella, even said in his Unmade blog about the possibility of Spotify being subject to what happened with Sky News and Radio 2GB during the Alan Jones days. That was where one or more collective actions took place to drive advertisers to remove their business from these stations. This could be more so where companies have to be aware of brand safety and social responsibility when they advertise their wares.

In some cases, Apple, Google and Amazon could gain traction with their music-on-demand services. But on the other hand, Deezer, Qobuz and Tidal could gain an increased subscriber base especially where there is a desire to focus towards European business or to deal with music-focused media-on-demand services rather than someone who is running video or podcast services in addition.

There are questions about whether a music-streaming service like Spotify should be dabbling in podcasts and spoken-word content. That includes any form of “personalised-radio” services where music, advertising and spoken-word content presented in a manner akin to a local radio station’s output.

Then the other question that will come about is the expectation for online-audio-playback devices like network speakers, hi-fi network streamers and Internet radios. This would extend to other online-media devices like smart TVs or set-top boxes. Here, it is about allowing different audio-streaming services to be associated with these devices and assuring a simplified consistent user experience out of these services for the duration of the device’s lifespan.

That includes operation-by-reference setups like Spotify Connect where you can manage the music from the online music service via your mobile device, regular computer or similar device. But the music plays through your preferred set of speakers or audio device and isn’t interrupted if you make or take a call, receive a message or play games on your mobile device.

What has come about is the content hosted on an online-media platform or the content creators that the platform gives special treatment to may end up affecting that platform’s reputation. This is especially where the content creator is involved in fake news or disinformation.

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.

SwabDogsOfInstagram–an Instagram account to provide light relief in these times

Articles

The Swab Dogs Instagram Account Is the Too-Pure Antidote to Covid – And What Lockdown Melbourne Needs Right Now (broadsheet.com.au)

CUTE! Swab Dogs on Instagram – MamaMag

Meet the COVID-19 ‘swab dogs’ of Melbourne making everyone smile – ABC News

coronavirus victoria: ‘Swab dogs’ brighten testing days (9news.com.au)

Instagram account

Chipper (@swabdogsofinsta) • Instagram photos and videos

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Chipper (@swabdogsofinsta)

My Comments

As part of the ongoing effort to tackle the COVID-19 coronavirus plague, many a jurisdiction is setting up COVID-19 testing facilities around their cities and towns. These are to identify who has and hasn’t caught this virus so proper measures can be taken.

In most situations the tests being done are PCR-based tests that require a mucus sample to be taken from the patient’s nose and throat for analysis, with the results coming through by at the most 24 hours. An increasing number of these facilities are of the “drive-through” kind where the patients drive up to the facilities and the nurses take the swabs from the patients while they sit in their cars.

But staff at one such “pop-up” facility in Melbourne noticed that most of the patients coming through that site had a dog with them in their car. Typically patients did this due to the pet being a security blanket or simply to take the dog out in the car with them. As well the staff, who were working long days in full PPE clothing, found that the presence of these furry companions in the patients’ cars as something to lift their spirits.

One of the staff noticed this and asked patients if they can take photos of their canine companions then, when the patient agreed, they took the photos. These ended up on a special Instagram account which was effectively a “photo reel” of these dog and other animal pictures.

This has started to come popular with more staff at other drive-through COVID testing clinics contributing these images to the account’s photo roll especially as pop-up testing clinics relocated around the city. Even other drive-through testing sites around Australia and the rest of the world were contributing the pictures of their patients’ furry companions to this reel. Of course, being started in Australia, the “SwabDogsOfInsta” account features a few kelpies and Australian Cattle Dogs (Blue Heelers) as part of the montage.

The “SwabDogsOfInsta” ended up as a popular Instagram account to follow around the world with significant media coverage about it. People would leave various lovely comments about these dogs with some referencing the animal in the photo being similar to one they had at some point in their life journey. As well, these pictures come in to their own to cheer everyone up during these difficult times.

Even with the newer COVID Omicron variant doing the rounds and these drive-through testing clinics being “bogged” with many people seeking PCR-based swab tests, this reel is being built out with more of the dogs that are accompanying the many patients at the facilities.

If Instagram had the ability to work with screen-saver / automatic-wallpaper-changer software or electronic picture frames and has the ability to show particular accounts’ images on that kind of software or hardware, this could be the kind of account that would work well with such a setup.

But simply, it’s a good account to add to your Instagram “follow” collection if you are wanting something that takes your mind off difficult times.

Boeing to launch LEO satellite network

Boeing logo image courtesy of the Boeing CompanyArticle

FCC licenses new LEO constellation from Boeing | (advanced-television.com)

FCC Authorizes Boeing V-Band LEO Broadband Constellation – Via Satellite – (satellitetoday.com)

My Comments

The Puget Sound area of Washington State in the USA now has two actors in the low-earth-orbit satellite broadband game.

This was initially Jeff Bezon’s Project Kuiper effort that is starting to pick up steam, but Boeing, associated with the likes of some well-known airliners which you most likely have flown on many times, is now getting the go-ahead to build a constellation of these satellites.

The initial FCC permit will allow Boeing to launch 147 LEO satellites which will be for civil-use cases like residential, commercial and institutional use initially within the USA then globally. The wavebands they will be licensed to work in are part of the V-band radio spectrum for both space-to-ground and inter-satellite communications. They have six years to develop the constellation and launch half of the satellites as part of the licence.

Here, it will be about Boeing joining a relatively-crowded market for LEO satellite broadband which will be a boon for use cases like real broadband in rural and remote areas; alongside broadband Internet within transport services.

But how will Boeing join this market? Could this be through offering a retail service like SpaceX’s Starlink or to offer it as a wholesale service in a similar manner to OneWeb. That is where retail ISPs could resell Boeing’s service to local customers.

There will be the issues of having a retail service licensed for operation in multiple countries especially where some countries are particular about preferring companies chartered in their jurisdiction offer telecommunications and allied services. A wholesale approach can allow a country’s own telcos and ISPs to resell satellite broadband to all user classes.

There is also the question about Boeing being tempted to vertically integrate this service with their lineup of civil aircraft. This could mean that they could get more airlines who fly the likes of the 737 or the 787 Dreamliner to offer a high-bandwidth Internet service provided by their LEO satellite constellation as a passenger amenity.

If Boeing can get these low-earth-orbit broadband satellites off the ground and yielding a viable service, this could be a viably competitive market when it comes to satellite broadband.