Cradlepoint Introduces a Beauty

Of late, I’ve had a few opportunities to learn more about the mobile edge router space and the really powerful feature sets that exist in this market. I’ve been briefed by the big players on how their gear is winning over traditional networking in a variety of scenarios, and how slick tools like cloud management and SDR (software defined radio) make mobile edge gear pretty advanced in capability.

Cradlepoint’s latest announcement provides a great example of the impressive tech in play in this unique realm that creatively puts networking in a variety of interesting places, from public transportation fleets to retail kiosks that pop up and disappear as events come and go to permanent locations like restaurants and gas stations. The new product is the AER3100, and with it’s specifications and flexibility, it’s going to fast find it’s way into all of the markets that Cradlepoint serves with micro-branch/mobile and small branch style offerings.

Here’s the quick view, stolen from Cradlepoint’s web site:

AER3100

This is light-years past simple personal hotspot kind of 4G modem kit. If you ever get an opportunity to take a briefing with Cradlepoint, you’ll realize that the businesses using these sorts of components have a lot to lose by making poor choices with their networking, from lost revenue to data breeches. Cradlepoint seems to have covered all of the bases with robust security, multi-carrier support, and legitimate enterprise network feature sets (including 11ac support on the WI-Fi side) in small components that just happen to get their ISP connectivity generally via 4G.

Give the Tech Specs a look, and see if you’re not as impressed as I was when I first got familiar with them:


Technical Specifications

WAN

  • Integrated 4G LTE (with 3G failover) Multi-Carrier Software-Defined radio
    • Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, Europe, and generic models available
    • Dual integrated modem option
    • Dual SIM slot in each modem
    • Most models include support for active GPS
  • 13 10/100/1000 Ethernet ports (WAN/LAN switchable)
  • WiFi as WAN (only on AER3100)
  • Failover/Failback
  • Load Balancing
  • Advance Modem Failure Check
  • WAN Port Speed Control
  • WAN/LAN Affinity
  • IP Passthrough

LAN

  • 13 10/100/1000 Ethernet ports (WAN/LAN switchable); Supports four ports of PoE (9-12) for class I, II, or III devices (up to 15W) or two ports high power PoE for class IV devices (up to 30W)
  • LLDP support
  • VLAN 802.1Q
  • DHCP Server, Client, Relay
  • DNS and DNS Proxy
  • DynDNS
  • Split DNS
  • UPnP
  • DMZ
  • Multicast/Multicast Proxy
  • QoS (DSCP and Priority Queuing)
  • MAC Address Filtering

MANAGEMENT

  • Cradlepoint Enterprise Cloud Manager¹
  • Web UI, API, CLI
  • GPS Location
  • Data Usage Alerts (router and per client)
  • Advanced Troubleshooting (support)²
  • Device Alerts
  • SNMP
  • SMS control
  • Console Port for Out-of-Band Management

¹Enterprise Cloud Manager requires a subscription
²Requires CradleCare Support

ROUTING

  • IPsec Tunnel – up to 40 concurrent sessions
  • OpenVPN (SSL VPN)¹
  • L2TP¹
  • GRE Tunnel
  • OSPF/BGP/RIP¹
  • Per-Interface Routing
  • Static Routing
  • NAT-less Routing
  • Virtual Server/Port Forwarding
  • VTI Tunnel Support
  • NEMO/DMNR¹
  • IPv6
  • VRRP¹
  • STP¹
  • NHRP¹

¹–Requires an ECM PRIME subscription or an Extended Enterprise License

SECURITY

  • RADIUS and TACACS+
  • 802.1x authentication for Wireless and Wired Networks
  • Zscaler Internet Security¹
  • Certificate support
  • ALGs
  • MAC Address Filtering
  • CP Secure Threat Management²
  • Advanced Security Mode (local user management only)
  • Per-Client Web Filtering
  • IP Filtering
  • Content Filtering (basic)
  • Website Filtering
  • Real-time clock with battery backup for CA certificate validation

¹–Requires Zscaler Internet Security License
²-Requires a CP Secure Threat Management license

PORTS AND BUTTONS

  • 54V DC Power
  • 13 10/100/1000 Ethernet LAN
  • Console port
  • Two cellular antenna connectors (SMA)
  • GPS antenna connector (SMA)
  • Lock compatible
  • External USB port for USB modem and/or firmware updates
  • Factory Reset

TEMPERATURE

  • 0° C to 50° C (32°F to 122°F) operating
  • −20° C to 70° C (−4°F to 158°F) storage
  • Redundant internal fans for reliable cooling

HUMIDITY (non-condensing)

  • 10% to 85% operating non-condensing
  • 5% to 90% storage non-condensing

POWER

  • 54VDC 2.25A adapter
  • 802.3af (15W) or 802.3at (30W) PoE capable

SIZE

  • 12.2 in x 10.6 in x 1.75 in (310 mm x 270 mm x 45 mm)
  • 1U height for rack mount

– See more at: https://cradlepoint.com/products/aer-3100#!specs


I’m new to this space when it comes to looking at it to any real depth. What I’ve seen so far makes me think beyond my own typical wired ISP approach to certain branch environments, and it does get fascinating when you contemplate robust networking being enabled anywhere you have halfway decent 4G coverage. I’ve really just skimmed the surface of a pretty big story here, and I look forward to learning more.

Do you work with Cradlepoint gear or competing mobile edge solutions? I’d love hear your take, and examples of success or failure with kind of solution.

TLPS- Chapter Something or Other

The ex partes are a flowing at the FCC in regards to TLPS. Here’s the latest  from engineer-turned-investor Greg Gerst, and like the previous filings, it only adds to the intrigue of the TLPS situation.

Here’s where you can find all of the filings to date on the wannabe WLAN offering from Globo Gym.

And here’s my coverage of the drama so far (start at the bottom and read up for proper historical order.) It’s utterly fascinating stuff. I’m obviously not in favor of FCC approval based on the way TLPS has been spun and packaged, but it’s reads like a mystery/drama/who’s really telling the truth saga regardless of what side of the issue you’re on.

Bullshitometer

What’s Up With Old-School Payphones?

I’m not just a gonzo tech blogger of international renown, I’m also a fantastic photographer not afraid to use words like bokeh and f-stop. Let your peepers run up and  down this saucy little number:

IMG_1489

Yeah… that’s the stuff.

But enough about me. As I was  recently pointing my world-class DSLR at this curious setting, I got wondering how many payphones might still be in use. Like really in use as legitimate payphones, not new-fangled Wi-Fi hotspots or little library thingies. Given my command of The Google, I set out to find the following semi-interesting factoids on the topic:

  • There have been a lot of articles written on how many legitimate payphones are still in use, with a lot of conflicting information
  • The total these days likely ranges in the neighborhood of 200,000 in the US
  • Around 7,500 of these are in New York City (again, lots of conflicting info- this is my educated guess)
  • Calls placed from these phones number well over a billion per year
  • Local calls are generally twenty-five or fifty cents
  • Long distance rates are supposed to be posted on the phones, and surprisingly are often much cheaper than cell rates (even to foreign countries)
  • 911 calls are free
  • No payphones give change- they don’t have the mechanisms to figure out and dispense change

So… who uses payphones (other than prisoners in jail)?

  • It’s estimated that over 12 million American homes have no telephone service of any kind
  • As many as 130+ million adults in the US have no cell phone
  • Payphones do well in immigrant communities
  • Some cities subsidize payphones because they are extremely reliable, and tend to survive the worst natural disasters when cell networks are crippled
  • Airports, truck stops, train depots and the like have payphones that see a lot of use by the above mentioned groups, along with travelers with dead cell phone batteries or who lost their phones along the way

And there you have it! The next time you’re out photographing old phone booths, you’ll have all of the answers to those heady questions that are bound to pop into your noggin.

Thanks for reading!

The most useful Prime Infrastructure report

wirednot:

If you are a Cisco WLAN customer, there is a report in PI worth considering getting to know. By Sam Clements.

Originally posted on SC-WiFi:

Cisco’s Prime Infrastructure has come a long way over the past couple of years. From it’s beginnings as WCS, then to NCS, then through the sordid Prime Infrastructure 1.x versions, we’ve finally arrived at a place where it’s reasonable to dig back into the product. To say that Prime Infrastructure (PI for short) is an overwhelming product is an understatement. I decided to write about an obscure but extremely useful report (yes, a boring report) that I think you should use.

As we all know, in the RF world, performance revolves around Channel Utilization – of which there are several definitions. For simplicities sake, I’m referring to Channel Utilization as reported by the venerable Cognio card (AKA: CleanAir) – the baseline reference that most Wireless LAN Professionals use to call ‘Channel Utilization’. This is the amount of energy detected on a channel during a specific dwell time. This metric is…

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Did TLPS Just Publicly Become a Ruckus-Only Show?

I’ll try to to keep it brief. On the heels of this recent blog regarding information I found on the FCC’s web site in relation to TLPS, Globalstar has put out their own new ex parte filing that concedes/admits/declares (?) that “These deployments are utilizing prototype TLPS access points manufactured by Ruckus and client devices from HTC, Microsoft, and Apple that were upgraded to operate on Channel 14 or were able to operate on Channel 14 “out of the box” with no changes necessary. ”

Curiously, Ruckus themselves continues to maintain radio silence on TLPS.  But, this filing seemingly does explain the missing filters that Greg Gerst called out after the very limited demonstration that was done at the FCC facilities a few months back.

I guess now the spectators are left to wonder if the FCC somehow knew about the modified access points despite no prior obvious mention of “prototype” hardware while high profile stakeholders like Gerst had to sleuth out their use, and if so why the lack of transparency here.  Regardless, this does show that TLPS is now implied to be a Globalstar/Ruckus endeavor based on the new type of Ruckus hardware, and will not use unmodified off-the shelf access points (or any of the millions of APs by a slew of vendors already installed across the US). Let that rattle around in your craw a bit, as there are lots of implications there.

Why Globalstar is just trickling this out now is curious, and seems to be in response to Gerst’s raising of the filter issue. With all of the scrutiny that has been afoot throughout the TLPS Big Adventure, you’d think Globalstar would get it all out there in the daylight to quiet the naysayers. But even in this last filing, we’re left to wonder what specific device models fall under client devices from HTC, Microsoft, and Apple that were upgraded to operate on Channel 14 or were able to operate on Channel 14 “out of the box” with no changes necessary.  Were these all smartphones? A mix of LTE devices and not? There’s no way to know based on the filing, and we’re all way past “just trust us, it was a legit test” by now. It’s time for the utmost of transparency in any future demonstrations, with full disclosure for the many eyes that are watching from afar.

Finally, it’s still utterly warped that Globalstar continues to prattle on about TLPS being the savior of 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi while utterly discounting or simply ignoring the importance of 5 GHz spectrum for Wi-Fi.  802.11ac sales are skyrocketing, and it’s a 5 GHz-only technology. I’ve said it before- ANY spectrum has value, but when you properly include 5 GHz in the Wi-Fi conversation, TLPS claims of 33% of this or 40% of that drastically reduce themselves to something much, much less. In this regard, facts are being distorted by omission, says I.

 

 

Become Aware of Wi-Fi Aware

It looks we’re on the verge of another one of those Wi-Fi features that seems like (maybe?) it’s a good thing for wireless users of a certain mindset, but perhaps not so much for those of us in the business of business WLAN. The topic is Wi-Fi Aware, and it’s time we wireless administrator types started paying attention- before the expected deluge of devices later this year or early next.

I’ll start by admitting I know that I don’t know a lot about Wi-Fi Aware, but I’m trying to grasp the potential implications from both the client and system ends. I do know that Wi-Fi Aware is being touted as both a services discovery mechanism for seeing what your fellow clients are capableof, and is something akin to beacons for location-based triggering except with a much longer range. Supposedly, the framework is opt-in/out per application, and you share whether your device advertises or accepts interactions with other wireless users. There aren’t yet many client devices out with the capability, but they will definitely come in the months to come.

Wi-Fi Aware is stirring up a lot of media attention, but before I share a couple of examples, it’s worth pointing out that this is yet another baby of the Wi-Fi Alliance. If you want to start learning about Wi-Fi Aware, I recommend you first visit the Alliance’s pages on it:

Because it’s new, there is a lot of speculation about how Wi-Fi Aware might get used, but little in the way of real-world example yet. Nonetheless, here are a couple of speculative articles to prime the pump: Wi-FI Aware and the IoT, and all your devices will connect instantly. There are plenty more to be found with simple Internet search.

It’s way too early to form a reality-based opinion on Wi-Fi Aware, but I can tell you one thing that makes me a bit uncomfortable. Like with many of it’s initiatives, the Wi-Fi Alliance does no real favors to enterprise Wi-Fi folks with early hype on Wi-Fi Aware. This feature set is very much client to client before and outside of the clients actually being on the WLAN- which means it’s one more thing the WLAN is likely to get blamed for when some aspect of Wi-Fi Aware doesn’t work as expected. It would be great if the Alliance would go so far as to say:

  • Here’s what it means to home wireless networks
  • Here’s what it means to public wireless networks
  • Here’s what it means to captive portal Wi-Fi networks
  • Here’s what it means to 802.1x secure WLAN

Given that client-to-client actions can trigger attempts to join and use Wi-Fi infrastructure networks, it would be great if some of the nitty-gritty was shared up front rather than left to admins to suffer through. 

Here’s where I’ll admit to being a bit pissy about the Wi-Fi Alliance. I’m pleased that they are so into new feature sets and the like, but it very much feels like they have pretty much turned their backs on the enterprise wireless demographic in favor of simply pushing product to non-business consumers. 

Where the consumer and enterprise worlds collide, it’s up to the WLAN admin to clean up the frequent messes while the Alliance either stays quiet or simply pipes up with a Neanderthal-like “Wi-Fi good. Buy more Wi-Fi”.
Let’s hope Wi-Fi Aware proves to be more friendly to the enterprise than I’m expecting. Meanwhile, it’s time to start learning about it.

Have you formed any opinions yet about Wi-Fi Aware? Do you have any expected business use cases in mind? Have you found any decent technical articles that help explain what Wi-Fi Aware might really be about? Please share, and thanks for reading.

Could Missing Filters and a Potential Conflict of Interest at the FCC Mean A Bad Deal for Wi-Fi? Another TLPS Blog

Wowsers. If you’re in the WLAN world in any capacity, you’ve likely at least heard  of TLPS. Short for terrestrial low power service, TLPS is a crazily over-hyped twinkle in satellite communications company Globalstar’s eye. The satcomm company is lobbying hard for the FCC to approve it’s very  weird offering, while a range of groups and individuals who actually understand and work with real-world WLAN technologies that would be negatively impacted by TLPS try to bring sound technical counter-arguments to the FCC’s attention. If you need some refresher material, here are past articles I’ve written on TLPS:

Then there’s skepticism by Devin Akin, Kerrisdale Capitol, and Kerrisdale again, and lots of others including the Wi-Fi Alliance the Bluetooth SIG, Microsoft, and Google.

Here’s where anyone pro-TLPS says “So what? Globalstar has it’s own army of supporters.” The problem is, many of them are stark-raving nuts, with little technical acumen, high hopes for getting rich off of TLPS, and a penchant for conspiracy theories about why the FCC hasn’t approved this steaming bundle of joy yet.

Whatever.

Then there’s Greg Gerst. He too would like to make a lot of money off of TLPS, by having it NOT be approved. Gerst is a CFA at Gerst Capitol who has taken a most public short position on Globalstar, but he also happens to be an experienced Cornell-educated BSEE with a decent technical resume in digital communications technology. I don’t know Gerst. I can’t tell you whether he’s a good human being or not, but I do know he has posted impressive ex parte filings stating his case in engineering terms that validate and expand what many of us fear about TLPS.

Gerst is calling out some pretty specific and really disturbing things. If he’s wrong, time will prove him to be a laughingstock. If he’s right, however, then absolute shady dealings are afoot in the offices of the FCC when it comes to The Demonstration (mentioned above in the Network Computing article). And to boot, a potential conflict of interest by one FCC committee member adds an odd shadow to what’s already pretty weird ground.

Globalstar conducted a limited demonstration of their TLPS technology at the FCC’s offices using Ruckus Wireless access points. (To date, I’ve read nowhere that TLPS has been demonstrated with any other brand of AP.) There is a lot of opinion about the validity and results of the rather brief demonstration, but Gerst throws a zinger here, where he claims in his 5/14/15 filing that Globalstar used MODIFIED Ruckus access points while leading the FCC to believe that the test gear was commercially available off the shelf. A screen grab from the filing (it’s an interesting read regardless of how you feel about TLPS):

gerst 1

Gerst reiterates his opinion about the missing filters equaling deceptive testing in a 7/16/15 filing that also calls into question the judgement of one of the FCC’s Technical Advisory Council Members (the chairman, I think) when it comes to TLPS, as he also happens to be a paid consultant working for Globalstar. From the filing:

Regarding the final quote above, it is ironic that Globalstar’s paid lobbyist, Blair Levin, refers to “sound engineering” when a straightforward engineering analysis clearly raises doubts that TLPS will be “compatible with existing services”. More ironic is Dennis Roberson’s involvement as Globalstar’s paid consultant in this proceeding while chairing the Commission’s Technical Advisory Council (TAC)12. In April, the TAC produced an excellent paper entitled “A Quick Introduction to Risk-Informed Interference Assessment” 13. According to the executive summary, “This short paper proposes the use of quantitative risk analysis to assess the harm that may be caused by changes in radio service rules.” In his capacity as a paid consultant to Globalstar Mr. Roberson would have the Commission rely on the fact that TLPS had no “qualitative impact” 14 on Bluetooth, while ignoring the quantitative negative impact proven by the Bluetooth SIG report1.

That feels weird from where I sit, but then again Washington is a place where millionaires claim to be po’ folk and no one bats an eye, a certain Chief Exec never had sex with the woman he had sex with, and pretty much anything goes as long as it’s done “for the children”. I won’t even pretend to know what’s OK with lobbying rules, but Gerst’s point about Mr. Roberson would equal a conflict of interest in my own world, if Mr. Roberson’s committee has any sway in whether TLPS gets accepted (provided Gerst is representing the relationship between Globalstar and Roberson properly).

Like everything regarding TLPS, it will be interesting to see where this all goes.