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Broadband Access Solution

Need

Ten years ago only the largest companies could afford to provide remote access support for their home-based and remote workers. Most of these were based on dial-up lines using the telephone network. Connections were notoriously slow and expensive; especially when dialing from abroad. Such schemes were fine for synchronizing with the corporate mail server or downloading sales materials when on the road. But they were never able to provide the remote worker with all the IT facilities available to the central office based worker. But that has now all changed. The widespread availability of low cost broadband connections combined with the ubiquity of the Internet means that even the smallest company can provide their home and remote workers with full network support as if they were locally connected to the corporate network. And not just for data: advances in Internet Telephony mean that the Internet can also be used to connect remote workers to the company voice network to reduce the cost of voice calls both within the company and for external calls. 

A recent study funded by the European Commission has shown that teleworking has the following positive advantages for companies and their employees:

  • Economic: improved work performance, less absenteeism, improved recruitment and retention, reduced office costs, reduced travel costs and child-care costs.
  • Environmental: reduction in commuting at congested peak periods, improved air quality due to reduced transport, reduction in office space requirements.
  • Personal/Social: improved life quality and life/work balance, health benefits and less sick leave giving increased working hours, increased involvement in local community services and activities.


In particular the report concluded that: "Broadband and other advanced communication technologies are allowing higher volumes of data to be transported to and from people's homes. This can mean that tasks requiring frequent access to large files can now be done from home." 

But data isn't the only story. Recent advances in Internet Telephony mean that the same connection that can carry large volumes of data can also be used to carry voice traffic with the same quality as normal analogue lines. For home and mobile teleworkers this can mean that all calls back to the central office can be made at no charge as the calls can be routed over the Internet. Savings on national and international calls can also be significant. By routing the call over the Internet and switching the call through an exchange nearest to the person being called, such calls can be made for the price of a local call at the destination.

Solution

 

Broadband access can be used to enable a variety of remote office solutions. The basic configuration it offers is the traditional "office in a box" solution which provides a complete home or remote office network to connect one or more PCs, printers and servers. Closer integration with the corporate network can be implemented by using a secure Virtual Private Network solution. Similarly, integration with the corporate telephone network can be achieved with an Internet telephony or VoIP solution. 

Office in a box
SMC's "office-in-a-box" solutions provide all the features needed to set up a remote or home office. These features include:

 

  • Built-in ADSL modem or external connection to existing DSL/Cable modem
  • 4- or 8-port Ethernet switch for desktop connections
  • Optional wireless support for flexible connections throughout the premises
  • Optional print server support to allow all devices to share a local printer
  • Built-in stateful inspection firewall and VPN pass through support for secure access into the corporate network

 


Virtual Private Network
The "office-in-a-box" solution is fine for workers needing Internet access for web and email. If access to company shared resources at a central location is required, then a Virtual Private Network or VPN solution would be more appropriate. A VPN allows company resources such as file servers, print servers and mail servers to be accessed over the Internet using secure encrypted tunnels. 

Remote and mobile workers can connect back to their central office securely by using a VPN software client on their laptop or PC. When used with a broadband connection, the broadband router must be able to handle the VPN client traffic in a special way. This is known as VPN pass-through. At the central office end, a VPN server is used to terminate the VPN client sessions and allow authenticated access to the company resources. 

Internet telephony
Many Internet service providers are now offering telephony services that allow their users/subscribers to make very cheap, if not free, on-net calls within the provider's IP network, or the Internet. They also operate or have access to gateway systems so that they can route off-net calls to the traditional public switched telephone network (PSTN). 

A company whose remote workers make extensive use of telephones can gain major benefits from Internet telephony. Typical examples would be: technical support organizations, national and international companies with many offices or workers located in different countries. A typical application is to allow small business or home workers to use their broadband internet connection for making voice calls as shown in Figure 3. End user devices can be a mixture of: IP telephones, VoIP software equipped PCs, or ordinary analogue telephones attached directly to the user's voice router.

 

Diagram

 

Figure 1: "Office-in-a-box" solution

Diagram 1
 

SMC's "office-in-a-box" solutions provide all the features needed to set up a remote or home office. These features include:

 

  • Built-in ADSL modem or external connection to existing DSL/Cable modem
  • 4- or 8-port Ethernet switch for desktop connections
  • Optional wireless support for flexible connections throughout the premises
  • Optional print server support to allow all devices to share a local printer
  • Built-in stateful inspection firewall and VPN pass through support for secure access into the corporate network

 


Figure 2: Virtual Private Network solution

Diagram 2 

The VPN tunnels start and end at firewalls located at each premise. The firewalls may be standalone boxes or integrated into routers. VPN client software can be installed on PCs and laptops so that the VPN can be accessed anywhere with an Internet connection. Access to specific company resources such as file servers and email systems allows remote or mobile workers to share documents and send and receive email as if they were located on the central office LAN. In this way they can work with the same facilities as their office colleagues. 

Figure 3: VPN pass-through

Diagram 3 

Remote and mobile workers can connect back to their central office securely by using a VPN software client on their laptop or PC. When used with a broadband connection, the broadband router must be able to handle the VPN client traffic in a special way. This is known as VPN pass-through. At the central office end, a VPN server is used to terminate the VPN client sessions and allow authenticated access to the company resources. 

Figure 4: Internet telephony

Diagram 4 

Voice over IP is the generic term for a collection of protocols that are used to set up voice sessions, encode and transport voice data over an IP network or public Internet. 

These protocols include:

 

  • H.323 - H.323 is an interoperability standard that describes the operational modes required for various audio, video, and/or data terminals to work together.
  • SIP - The Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) is a relatively new Internet standard that specifies a simple signaling and application layer control protocol for multimedia conferencing and telephony.

Product used

 

All SMC Barricade routers support:

 

  • All-in-one solution: WAN IP sharing, LAN switching and firewall security
  • Network Address Translation (NAT)
  • Platform independent, works with Windows, MacOS, or Linux
  • Web-based configuration, remote configuration, firmware update

 

Broadband Router

 

The SMC7004VBR broadband router combines a 4-port 10/100 Mbps dual-speed switch, full-featured Stateful Packet Inspection (SPI) firewall, and Web-based management into one convenient device.

 

Wireless Broadband Router

 

SMC Wireless Broadband Router offer a high data rate of up to 300 Mbps. Different models support 802.11b/g or 802.11a/b/n-draft standards.

Model-no.: SMCWBR14-G2, SMCWBR14T-G, SMCWBR14S-N, SMCWBR14-N2, SMCGWBR14-N

 

ADSL2/2+ Router

 

SMC ADSL Router integrate a standards based ADSL2/2+ modem that provides high-speed Internet access to both the residential and the small and home office (SoHo) user.

Model-no.: SMC7901BRA2, SMC7904BRA2, SMC7904BRB2

 

Wireless ADSL2/2+ Router

 

SMC Wireless ADSL Router integrate a ADSL2/2+ modem and a 54Mbps wireless access point. SMC7908VoWBRA2 includes a VoIP gateway.

Model-no.: SMC7904WBRA2, SMC7904WBRB2, SMC7908VoWBRA2, SMC7904WBRA-N