Tag: broadband router

When should you consider upgrading your home network router?


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.


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.


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.


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.

What could be done to simplify your router upgrade

Telstra Gateway Frontier modem router press picture courtesy of Telstra

There needs to be a standard filetype to simplify the process of upgrading your home network router without reconfiguring your home network

An issue that will crop up through the life of a home network is to upgrade the router. This will be brought on with replacement of carrier-supplied equipment with retail equipment, replacing that half-dead router that you are always powering off and on many times a week, or upgrading to higher-performance equipment.

But you will end up having to transcribe out configuration data from your old equipment so you can enter it in to your new equipment especially if you want to avoid having to reconfigure other network equipment on your same home network.

Most routers offer a way for users to back up the current configuration details. This is typically to allow a user to do things like perform a factory resent or to test a configuration without losing a prior known-to-work state.

The process typically requires the user to download a configuration file to the computer they are configuring the router from in a similar manner to downloading a resource from the Web. But there isn’t a consistent file schema for storing this data in a manner for transferring to devices supplied by different vendors. In some cases, you may not be able to transfer the configuration data to newer equipment from the same vendor such as to install a newer router model.

AVM have taken steps in the right direction by allowing users to save a configuration from an older Fritz!Box router and upload it to a newer Fritz!Box router running a newer version of the Fritz!OS firmware. It is also to factor in allowing the router to persist your configuration to a newer version of the firmware.

But what can be done to make this work better would be to use a standard file format, preferably an XML-based schema which could be used for storing a router configuration. This would have to be agreed upon by all of the vendors to provide true vendor interoperability.

There would also be issues about providing multiple methods of storing this data. It could be about maintaining the traditional HTTP download / upload approach with Web clients on the same local network. Or it could also be about transferring the data between a USB Mass Storage device and the router such as to facilitate an out-of-box install.

Such a setup could allow for a range of scenarios like simplifying the upgrade path or to make it easier for support staff to keep information about different configurations they are responsible for.

The configuration data would have to cater for WAN (Internet) and LAN details including details regarding Wi-Fi wireless network segments, advanced network setups like VLAN and VPN setups, VoIP endpoint setups as well as general and security-related data.

Of course an issue that will crop up would be assuring the user of proper network security and sovereignty, something that could be assured through not persisting the management password to a new router. Also you won’t be able to keep Wi-Fi channel data especially if you deal with self-optimising equipment, because you may have to face an evolving Wi-Fi spectrum landscape.

What will need to happen is to provide methods to allow seamless upgrading of devices that serve as your network-Internet “edge” so you can simplify this upgrade process and get the most out of the new equipment.

A clear reality surfaces with the Internet Of Things


Linksys EA8500 broadband router press picture courtesy of Linksys USA

A tight healthy operating software update cycle can keeep routers and other devices from being part of botnets

Hacked Shopping Mall CCTV Cameras Are Launching DDoS Attacks | Tripwire – The State Of Security

My Comments

What is being highlighted now is that devices that are normally dedicated-purpose devices are becoming more sophisticated in a way that they are effectively computers in their own right. This was highlighted with some network video-surveillance cameras used as part of a shopping mall’s security armour.

What had happened was that these cameras were found to be compromised and loaded with malware so that they also are part of a botnet like what comonly happened in the 2000s where multiple computers loaded with malware were used as part of zombie attacks on one or more targets. In a similar way to a poorly-maintained computer, they were found to run with default passwords of the “admin – admin” kind and were subject to brute-force dictionary attacks.

AVM FRITZ!Box 3490 - Press photo courtesy AVM

AVM FRITZ!Box – self-updating firmware = secure network infrastructure

The article’s author highlighted that there need to be work done concerning dedicated-purpose devices, whether they are the network-infrastructure devices like routers or devices that are part of the “Internet Of Everything”.

Here, the devices need to run constantly-updated software, which is something that is considered necessary if the device is expected to have a long service life. The best example would be some of the routers offered to the European market like the Freebox Révolution or the AVM Fritz!Box where they receive constantly-updated firmware that at least can be downloaded at the click of an option button or, preferably, automatically updated like what happens with Windows and OS X and what is done with recent iterations of the AVM Fritz!Box firmware.

As well, a device’s setup routine should require the user to create secure credentials for the management interface. In some cases, if a device is part of a system, the system-wide management console could exchange system-specific access credentials with the member devices.

What has commonly been said is that the Internet of Things needs to face a severe security incident as a “wake-up call” for such devices to be “designed for security”. This is similar to incidents involving desktop computing, the Internet and mobile computing have served a similar purpose like the way Windows implemented privilege escalation on an as-needed basis since Windows Vista.

Feature Article–Setting up a new router


Netgear DG834G ADSL2 wireless router

A router that is part of a full broadband service

One task that you will need to know how to do when you set up a small network for your home or business is to set up an Internet router. This may be done when you upgrade to a newer and better router, replace one that has failed or simply set up your new Internet service. You may also have to do this if you move premises and have to deal with a new Internet service provider or want to make sure that the Wi-Fi wireless network works properly.

In a lot of cases where you have a modem-router provided by your Internet Service Provider, you may find that the router is already setup for you or you may face a “wizard-driven” setup interface to help you through the setup routine.

Router Types

Broadband Router

This common type of router has an Ethernet connection and is designed to be connected to a broadband modem, typically provided by your broadband Internet service provider.

It is the type that will become increasingly relevant as more areas enable next-generation broadband and deliver the appropriate modems for the next-generation broadband technology because these will implement an Ethernet connection.

Modem Router

A modem router has an integrated broadband modem and connects directly to the broadband Internet service. This typically describes most equipment that is connected to an ADSL service or is supplied by an increasing number of residential Internet service providers.

Newer high-end modem routers may also have the ability to be connected to an external broadband modem. This is typically to cater for people who switch over to a cable Internet service or upgrade to next-generation broadband or businesses who want a highly-resilient broadband service.

Wireless Router

A router may be referred to as a “wireless router” if it is equipped with an integrated Wi-Fi wireless access point, which most of the routers sold to a lot of households are. These units may be a broadband router or a modem router as described above.

Login Parameters

A home network will typically have up to three sets of login credentials to take care of: the Device Management Password, the Internet Service credentials and the Wi-Fi Network parameters. Most consumer ISPs who supply the router for your network will prepare a card or other aide-memoire document which has these parameters on it and it is a good idea to write out a document that has these details when you set up your home network whether you were supplied with one of these cards in the first place or not.

Device Management Password

This set of credentials contains a device-determined user name and a password as the “keys” to the Web-based setup/management user interface for your router.

Internet Service credentials

This may be of importance to most ADSL services and some cable services, but they are the credentials that are determined by your Internet Service Provider when they provision (set up) your Internet service. They are not needed with most cable, mobile-broadband and next-generation Internet services.

These credentials, where applicable, are usually the same for the duration of your business relationship with your Internet service. Even if you relocate to another location serviced by the same Internet provider, these credentials will stay with you.

Wi-Fi network parameters

They represent the “Service Set ID” (SSID) which is your Wi-Fi network’s “call-sign”, and the WPA2-Personal passphrase for your home network’s Wi-Fi wireless segment if the network has one. They can be determined randomly when you first purchase your router or as part of an initial “WPS” setup routine.

Here, I would prefer to keep these credentials, especially the SSID and the WPA2-Personal passphrase constant even if you upgrade your router or set up a multiple-access-point “Extended Service Set”. If you relocate, you may choose to maintain these credentials or create new credentials for your new location.

The reason is that you avoid having to re-establish Wi-Fi connectivity to all of your portable devices if you upgrade or replace your router.

Primary Connection Classes

WAN connection

This connection, looked after by an integrated broadband modem and/or an Ethernet port that is marked “WAN” or “Internet” provides the link to a larger network that is typically your Internet service.

Multiple WAN connections

An increasing number of high-end routers, especially high-end ADSL modem routers provide two or three WAN connections. One is typically the ADSL modem or an Ethernet port while the other may be another Ethernet port for another modem or a USB peripheral port that allows you to connect a wireless-broadband modem. A lot of the routers that implement this feature will allow you to determine one of the four Ethernet ports as being a LAN port for the local network or an extra WAN connection.

Typically this is either to provide connection to a different medium like next-generation broadband, or you can use it to “gang” two or more Internet services together for increased bandwidth, load-balancing where certain data-transfer activities are sent one broadband connection while others are sent through the other broadband connection; or a fault-tolerant Internet connection where if one of the connections fails, the other connections come in to play.

LAN Connection

These connections represent the logical network or “subnet” that represents all the devices in the home network that want to benefit from the Internet connection and other network resources offered in this network.

This is represented by up to four Ethernet connections and, in most cases, a Wi-Fi wireless segment working at best to the 802.11n standard on either or both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. Some newer high-performance units will work at best to the 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard on the 5GHz band.

Other LAN connections that some of the devices will offer include a USB network interface adaptor for a regular computer that doesn’t have network ability, or a HomePlug AV powerline network segment. The latter may be offered in the form of a power-supply module that integrates the HomePlug-Ethernet adaptor and is what most of the French ISPs are using for their triple-play Internet services.

Setting up your connection

Make sure your Internet access works first

When you set up your home network, use one device, preferably a regular desktop or laptop computer for the setup routine. Preferably the device should be connected to the router via a LAN Ethernet connection or Wi-Fi with “out-of-the-box” default parameters. Then you connect your broadband connection to the router, whether this involves connecting it to your broadband modem or connecting it to the DSL, cable or other service in the case of a modem router. Resist the temptation to tweak your router’s settings beyond what is actually required to achieve connection such as to harden security or improve network performance.

If your setup is based around a separate modem, switch on that modem and make sure that the SYNC and LINK lights are steady. The SYNC light or similar light indicates that the modem has effectively made a connection with the “head-end” of your service on a media level, while the LINK or INTERNET light indicates that it has established service with the provider on a logical level. Then switch on your router.

Log in to your router and visit the “WAN” or “Internet Connection” menu on the user interface. Here, set up the Internet service connections according to your service requirements. Most cable, fixed-wireless and next-generation broadband connections typically just require you to choose a DHCP connection as your connection type for residential services.

In the case of an ADSL service or other service that has login requirements, select the login or authentication method that your service uses and enter the Internet Service credentials that were determined as part of provisioning your Internet service.

You should see the “Internet” light glow steady and the “WAN” or “Internet Connection” details update with information like an IP address. This is the point of success and, to prove it, open a Webpage like a news portal in another tab or session (window) of your Web browser.

Wi-Fi wireless for best-case performance

Here, you need to set up your wireless-network segment for best-case performance.

If your router implements external antennas (aerials) such as the typical “rabbit’s ears”, make sure these are upright so they are not obfuscated by the unit itself or other computer equipment or metal furniture and fixtures. It may also be a better practice to place the router on top of a piece of furniture to assure proper Wi-Fi performance although this may not be aesthetically appealing.

The 2.4GHz band should be set for 802.11g/n or 802.11b/g/n operating mode so as to preserve compatibility with 802.11g devices but allow best performance with 802.11n devices using this band. This is because a lot of older and cheaper consumer-electronics devices use the 802.11g technology and this technology may be still used with portable devices like smartphones and tablets in order to economise on battery life.

The 5GHz band should be set for 802.11n operation because most of the devices that can work to the 5GHz band can work on the 802.11n standard.

Establishing a two-band wireless network

This leads me to talk about the dual-band wireless network which would be facilitated by most high-end performance-grade routers.

Here, I would use a separate SSID for each band. An easy way to go about this to have one band have the standard SSID while the other band has that SSID plus a band-specific prefix or suffix like BIGPOND2346 for the 2.4GHz band and BIGPOND2346-54G for the 5GHz band. This means that you can be sure which band to select from your laptop or other client device for better performance.

Choosing vacant Wi-Fi channels

You may have to select a vacant channel for your wireless network so as to avoid interfering with your neighbours’ wireless networks and to assure best performance for your network. Some routers may make this easy by implementing an auto-setup routine which looks for the channel with the least activity and tuning to that.

But you may have to use one of the many free Wi-Fi site survey tools like WiFi Analyzer for Android or MetaGeek’s inSSIDer for Windows to determine which channels are effectively vacant in your area. These programs provide a graphical view of SSIDs with relative signal strength on the 2.4GHz or 5GHz band so you can know which channels will offer greater performance.

Setting up for security

New passwords

The first job I would do with a new router after I have got the Internet connection going would be to change the device management password away from the default. This is important if manufacturers don’t assign device-management passwords that are unique to each device they sell. Here, I would determine a password that is easy to remember but hard for outsiders to guess and use some numbers and punctuation marks in the password.

As well, change the Wi-Fi network’s SSID away from the default SSID especially if it betrays the device’s brand like LINKSYS. It is important because if a device’s brand is guessed easily, hackers can take advantage of that brand’s or model’s security weaknesses to target your network.

If you are dealing with carrier-supplied equipment, you may find that the SSID may be something like the Internet service’s brand plus an apparently random number such as BIGPOND2346.

This may be a good time to personalise your Wi-Fi network such as to have it represent your business’s brand or the purpose of the network.

Most carrier-provided routers and some retail-provided routers will have a random WPA2-PSK passphrase that is unique to each unit and this will be stuck on a label attached to the underneath or back of the unit.

If your router implements WPS where it can determine the passphrase automatically, set the passphrase using the WPS push-button setup method by enrolling a Windows 7/8 laptop or Android mobile device to the network using this method. Then log in to your router’s Web user interface and go to the WPS option to set the option that “keeps” the WPS parameters the same when you use the WPS push-button setup method subsequently, then go to the wireless-network security parameters screen to record the randomly-determined passphrase for your network. This is important if you have to enroll Apple devices or other devices that don’t implement this setup method.

If you are dealing with a router that doesn’t implement WPS functionality, make up a WPA-PSK passphrase yourself and use some numbers and punctuation in that passphrase to make a secure passphrase. Record this on paper or a computer text file and transcribe it in to the router to keep a secure network.

As you change these passwords and Wi-Fi network parameters, keep a record of these details on paper in a secure place on your premises. This is useful if you have to reset your router due to network problems and reinstate network settings, you change Internet service or are setting up new Wi-Fi-capable equipment on your network.

Making sure UPnP works from the inside only

Most consumer and some small-business routers implement UPnP Internet Gateway Device functionality by default to simplify application-specific port-forwarding requirements. This is important especially for Skype, cloud-based device features and online gaming but some poorly-executed implementations have caused it to be deemed a security risk.

The main risk here is for UPnP IGD functionality to be accessible from the Internet rather than just the LAN (home network) side. This was aggravated due to Wi-Fi networks operating on manufacturer-default settings such as no passphrase or a manufacturer-default SSID and passphrase.

The risk has been mitigated through routers that are running firmware issued over the past few years as well as Wi-Fi segments that use “random-default” passphrases made easier with WPS and “random-default” SSIDs in the case of carrier-supplied hardware. But a good test to do is to visit the Rapid7 Website at this location: http://upnp-check.rapid7.com/results/91ca51deb4effcf7dcdda7f1b02571ef to make sure that you can’t use UPnP IGD functionality from the outside. If this test fails, it may be a good idea to update the firmware and/or disable UPnP functionality on the router if you aren’t using Skype, online games or similar applications.

Even if UPnP functionality is OK, it is a good idea to run a desktop firewall on your regular computers and the recent iterations of the Windows platform have this functionality integrated. This function is also integrated in to many newer desktop-security software packages which are infact worth installing on these computers. As for mobile and, increasingly, regular-computer platforms, read this article about app stores before you head on that app-store shopping spree.


Some of you who are on an Internet Service Provider that supports IPv6 as well as having a recent high-end consumer router or small-business router equipped for IPv6 will find that you want to go to this path. This is supported in a dual-stack mode by the latest iterations of most regular and mobile operating systems and is being supported by most small-business network-capable printers.

To engage this operating mode if you know your ISP provides the functionality is a simple task. Here, you just select a checkbox on most IPv6-capable routers to enable the dual-stack IPv6 operation. This means that you have two logical networks on the same physical bearers – one with IPv6 operation and one with legacy IPv4 operation. Some of these ISPs also offer the routing between the networks so that data can reach the legacy single-stack IPv4 equipment.

What credentials you can keep constant

Upgrade or replace router,
Change Internet service – different connection type and hardware
Change Internet service – same connection type and hardware Relocate premises
– same device
Device Management Password Optional Yes Yes
Internet Service Credentials Yes No Yes if taking same service with you
Wireless Network SSID Yes Yes Optional
WPA2-Personal Passphrase Yes Yes Yes

I have prepared a “download-to-print” A4 sheet which you can print out and fill in with your router password and Wi-Fi network details. Here, you then keep this with your paper files as a reference if you need to modify your router’s settings or add equipment to your network’s wireless segment.


Once you have your router set up in an optimum manner, you can expect many years out of this device working as an “edge” to your network. Here, you could expect your router to last around three to five years serving as this “edge”.

Is it worth it to put full broadband in the “family house”?

What is the “Family House”?

The “Family house” is typically a  house, that is usually resided in by one or two older parents where the children have “left the nest”. The adult children and their grandchildren regularly visit this house to see the parents and, in most cases, they stay in this house on a temporary basis. In a lot of situations, family friends will end up visiting or staying over at this house in the company of the family members.

Such situations typically include the children who normally are out of town coming in to town for business, leisure or to attend family events; the children seeking temporary accommodation while their house is being built or renovated, or are between houses. It may also include the “family house” being close to a place of study which a grandchild is enrolled at and the grandchild stays there while completing a course of study. As well, the parents typically end up caring for the very young grandchildren in this house while their children work or undertake other activities.

This concept may also extend to any occasional-use accommodation that the family shares responsibility in maintaining, like city apartments or holiday / seasonal houses. In the latter situation, a household or the whole family ends up staying in this accommodation.

Common practice with IT at these locations

Compaq Presario CQ42

Compaq Presario CQ42 entry-level laptop

In these places, there may not be an intention to have full Internet service at these houses because the main householder may not be a regular Internet user. But what can happen is that other people in the house make regular use of the Internet. This would typically be achieved through each device that other people bring in using a mobile-broadband service for their Internet.

A small number of portable devices that someone owns can be served with this kind of Internet connection using a “Mi-Fi” mobile router or a smartphone that implements a “personal hotspot” mode.

A significant cost difference

But this may only work best with one rarely-used device on the premises. This is because most of the wireless-broadband services work on bandwidth that is narrower than wireline broadband services like cable-modem or ADSL services.

As well, the tariff charts for these services are typically more expensive than most of the wireline broadband services. Here, you end up paying more for the same bandwidth allowance and usage quota than you would for a cable or ADSL broadband service of equivalent standard or, for the same money you pay for a wireless-broadband service, you would obtain more bandwidth and usage quota.

Should I establish the full home network here?

It would be worth it to establish the full home network with a fixed broadband service if there is at least one Internet terminal that is used regularly by at least one of the parents, a relative or another regular houseguest. The Internet terminal, which can be a desktop, “all-in-one” or laptop / notebook computer or a tablet MID like the iPad, can be either owned by the parent or a regular houseguest like the grandchild who is staying regularly at that location.

The Internet deals commonly available

The common marketing practices amongst most wireline broadband Internet providers who run a voice telephony or multichannel pay-TV service is to offer a sweet deal where the customer benefits from reduced service costs if they have their telephony or TV service provisioned by this Internet provider. Some of these deals are provided as “triple-play” packages especially if all services come through the one physical line.

If you are in a highly competitive Internet-service market like UK, Australia or France, you may find these deals being offered at some very attractive prices that make you not even think twice about signing up.

I often suggest that people take advantage of these abovementioned offers when choosing their Internet service for these locations because this may help with saving money on this service. These deals will usually be advertised in brochures that accompany the regular bill for the phone or pay-TV service that they currently are subscribed to.

In some houses where there are older people who don’t use the internet frequently, one or more younger people who make use of the Internet could incite the older people to make increased use of the Internet. This can be done by the younger person sharing their computer with them, demonstrating various Internet and computing skills and assisting the older person with these skills.

As well, you may find that there are new media paths being opened up by a home network associated with a wireline Internet service in the “family house”. Examples of this include use of Internet radios that pick up the Web feeds of overseas and obscure radio stations as well as access to Internet TV through the use of a compatible TV or set-top box and music, pictures or video on-demand through the house with cost-effective equipment.

It also includes the like of Netflix or Spotify as content services; along with TV stations offering catch-up / video-on-demand services that can even be viewed through the big-screen TV with an appropriate set-top box.

Who should bear the extra costs

Issues that may come up include whether the houseguests like the children should cover any extra costs associated with use of a full broadband Internet service at the “family house” if the main householder isn’t the one using that service. This may be of little impact to the guests because the wireline broadband services will be relatively cheaper than running a wireless broadband service which just services one computer.

Establishing the full home network

The network-Internet “edge”

Netgear DG834G ADSL2 wireless router

Netgear DG834G ADSL2 wireless router

You may have to make sure that you use a wireless router if you have a laptop computer or other portable Internet device on the premises as the network-Internet “edge”. Most of these devices are for sale at very affordable prices and you could get one through your Internet service provider as part of your broadband Internet deal. As well, I have written a buyer’s guide about the entry-level wireless routers. The limitation with most of the units supplied by your Internet service provider is that they may yield average performance and may not offer the functionality as a retail-supplied unit.

Assuring proper wireless coverage

Some houses that have interior walls made out of double-brick or stone may have problems when it comes to operating a wireless network. This is something I have touched on in this Website many times and can be handled with an auxiliary access point installed in the area where wireless-network coverage is below par and connected to the router via an Ethernet or HomePlug wired backbone as explained here.

Or pay attention to newer distributed-WiFi setups that are increasingly being offered by many network-hardware manufacturers and Internet service providers. They will have a router and at least another access-point module and are designed to be simple to set up and manage and spread the Wi-Fi coverage around the house. Most of these setups rely on you using a particular range of equipment offered by the same manufacturer but pay attention to devices that are compatible with Wi-Fi EasyMesh technology. These will allow you to use equipment offered by different manufacturers as long as it works to this standard. If you are in Australia and sign up to fixed broadband service through Telstra, you may find that your Smart Modem Generation 2 modem-router that they supply you supports Wi-Fi EasyMesh.

It is also worth knowing about how to encompass outbuildings like bungalows in to the scope of the home network, a reality which will be of importance for country or outer-urban properties. Here, I have written a good feature article on how to achieve this goal in a manner that is best suited to your particular scenario.


As well, when you need to install or upgrade the printer, you may need to go for a unit that has network connectivity of some sort. If the main computer device happens to be a tablet computer, you may have to look at a printer that is supported by an app or the tablet’s operating system. You may also have to make sure your printer supports AirPrint and Mopria driver-free printing functionality so it can print from mobile devices running iOS or Android.

Brother DCP-J562DW multifunction printer positioning image

Brother DCP-J562DW multi-function printer

You don’t have to have a machine with all the “bells and whistles” if it is not going to be used regularly – here an economy-level network capable printer may just suffice. Even so, you should prefer a printer that uses separate colour cartridges rather than the tri-colour cartridge because you won’t be wasting colour ink if one colour runs out.

There is an exception if the house has a regularly-used fax machine. Here, you could replace the fax machine with a network-enabled multifunction printer which has integrated fax capabilities. Again, these would be much more cheaper to run than the typical older “thermal-belt-driven” fax machines that some households still consider as fax machines.

Network-attached storage devices

It may be worth considering the purchase of a one-disk network-attached-storage device at a later time as the network is used more. This may allow for pooling of common files like driver files for various peripherals as well as a backup storage for data held on one or more of the computers.

As well, most of these devices provide media-server functionality for Apple iTunes and standards-based DLNA setups so that your pictures, videos and music can be “pulled up” on demand. This may work well as a central media store which can be used as a way of “offloading” the media from a computer’s hard disk or making it available to everyone at all times without the need to have a computer on all the time.

This function will become more relevant as more consumer AV equipment becomes equipped with some form of network connectivity and is able to play or show AV content from the Internet or media servers like these network-attached storage devices. Infact I have covered this topic very heavily on this site and you can look at this article here as it pertains to these devices as media servers.


I would recommend that you look at the value of providing a full home network with wireline broadband service to the “family house” if you notice that there is a strong likelihood of regular Internet use there.


This article has been updated on September 2020 to encompass newer trends affecting Internet at the “family bouse” including distributed Wi-Fi setups, more online audio and video and printers supporting AirPrint and Mopria.

An Internet “edge” router that can become a DLNA media player and controller


D-Link’s Xteme N DIR-685 All-In-One Router Gets DLNA Certification and Some Nifty New Features | eHomeUpgrade

Download link:

D-Link’s support website – DIR-685 downloads

My comments

I had previously mentioned the D-Link DIR-685 Wireless-N Broadband Router / Electronic Picture Frame in this site during my coverage of the CES 2009 show in January 2009. This warranted my attention because of a storage router that also worked as an electronic picture frame because of its colour LCD display.

This router also was part of the DLNA Media Network because it could become a DLNA media server for material held on a user-installed hard disk or an external USB-based storage device. But this functionality has been extended through the latest firmware update for it to become a control point in the DLNA Media Network as well as showing pictures held on other DLNA Media Servers on that same network.

By the same token, the screen can be controlled by other DLNA Media control points such as TwonkyManager or a control point integrated in a smartphone like Andromote (Android), PlugPlayer (iOS – iPhone / iPad / iPod Touch) or the one that part of most of the Nokia phones.

At the moment, the utility of this function is limited to digital images because there isn’t any sound-handling functionality in this router.

This could lead to ideas like a “two-box two-screen” network solution for visual merchandising consisting of this router and a Sony or Samsung DLNA-ready TV with images shown on both the router and the TV. Similarly, this device could be seen as another “screen” for pictures to appear in another area but sharing a common pool of pictures in the network.

Therefore this is another example of a common standard breeding product software innovation rather than an imitative design culture.