Modem Project Update
Vendors are still in the process of locking down capability, with the expectation that in September we’ll be in the position to confirm the final vendor, the expected costs and the project’s build timings.
In the interim we can confirm that the total number of vendors working on the project has reduced to six. With one vendor dropping out early because they couldn’t fulfil the project’s requirements.
1. Broadcom and other chipset makers, are about to present their upcoming range of chipsets to vendors. The expectation is that these new chipsets will include integrated eSata and USB 3.0 ports (so faster processors and bus speeds). Currently the scope of work for the project requires vendors to add USB 3.0 and eSata to existing boards via modules, adding cost and complexity. But pending Broadcom’s pending chipset release, a integrated solution with these components already included could result in considerably lower cost in the final unit.
2. Chassis design is proving to be problematic, with vendors still being challenged by the balancing act of incorporating the 8 Gigabit LAN ports into chassis design without compromising too much aesthetic appeal.
1. The project is working towards the approach of the modem having two firmwares:
o One firmware that is “locked” – i.e. your typical Telco firmware that is user friendly, safe etc. This will have regular firmware updates, enhancements and improvements.
o The second firmware will be open-source and ideal for those who want to tweak. This open-source firmware will have limited to no Telecom Helpdesk based support; instead a community will be created (or joined) where member sourced problems, solutions, code and advice will be available, with the onus on the community to drive improvement.
2. We’re envisaging that some elements will not be supported in the locked version but will be available in the unlocked. For example the forum request for a global DNS and Separate DNS by IP address. This functionality will not be implemented in the locked firmware, but possible through the open source model.
3. Vendors are still working on the scope of a Smartphone app that simplifies gateway control. We’ve found that the forum request for easy Guest WiFi access (covering the allocation of data caps, time limits, access to LAN versus WAN, access to restricted sites etc) has been done elsewhere globally, so vendors are now trying to map this functionality into an app. Similarly the request to set data allowance to flatmates / house mates – has also been done elsewhere globally. And while vendors have mapped out how to group devices to a user with an allocated data bucket over a date period. The challenge is to figure out how to store data in a non-volatile memory so that a reboot does not purge the data consumption history. Vendors are also yet to confirm a simple method for users to find out how much WAN data they have consumed and how much remains.
4. We’ve still got a couple of vendors investigating the use of Google Android as a gateway O/S. Though this may be more practical in the next 12 to 18 months, should ARM release boards that can be used in gateways.