ISPreview - ZyXEL UK Interview
ZyXEL UK Interview
By: Mark Jackson - October 14th, 2008 : Page 1 -of- 1
"ZyXEL will provide IPv6 software upgrades for current router models capable of supporting IPv6"

ISPreview recently got the chance to put a few questions about broadband router / modems over to James Harris, Head of Product Management for ZyXEL UK. ZyXEL is a well known end-to-end designer and manufacturer of xDSL (ADSL etc.), Security, VoIP, IP DSLAMS, Wireless, Home Plug, Routing and IP switching equipment:

1. Have existing ADSL broadband routers reached their pinnacle and excluding the use of different connection technologies, how do you expect routers to improve over the next few years?

ZyXEL: No, ADSL broadband routers will continue evolving to keep pace with peoples usage requirements and expanding bandwidth needs. We are already seeing the integration of the latest high-speed home networking technologies such as Gigabit, Homeplug AV and 802.11n wireless, as well as the Integration of VoIP and QoS features necessary to support the modern day digital home. We can expect this trend to continue over the next few years as well as enhancements in usability and reliability.
2. Traditionally networking kit has been segmented into conducting different tasks, yet some consumers would like to see broadband routers enhanced to combine additional features, such as Giganet switches and USB2 connections for networking printers or external hard drives (to be used as a web/media server while the computer is off). Can we expect to see these sorts of features in future routers, as opposed to separate bits of kit to do the same things?
ZyXEL: Gigabit and USB2.0 for file and printer sharing are already becoming commonplace and we can expect to see more if this in the future. Some routers even build-in the file-sharing software allowing users to download directly to USB attached storage without needing to leave the computer switched on.
3. The availability of router source code is often a sticking point for some manufactures, yet many more knowledgeable consumers would like to see access to this opened up for custom enhancement. What is the argument against open source firmware, both from a technical and business stand point, and can we expect to see it happening more in the future?
ZyXEL: Source code is great from the perspective of allowing the public community to innovate and develop new features both users and manufacturers can benefit from. However a manufacture needs to have a system in place for maintaining and supporting the source code released back into the community. DD-WRT is an existing open source initiative where the community develop innovative software for various hardware platforms, but this is not generally driven by equipment manufacturers and therefore users have to install software at their own risk.
4. Support for the "newer" IPv6 standard still appears to be a bit flaky in the industry, which is especially worrying because IPv4 addresses are running out so quickly. When can we expect to see IPv6 support as standard?
ZyXEL: It will be several years before the number of IPv4 addresses run out so no need to start worrying just yet. ZyXEL will provide IPv6 software upgrades for current router models capable of supporting IPv6.
5. The growing prevalence of download allowances in the broadband ISP industry has made it more of a concern for consumers to know precisely how much data is passing over their Internet connection. Naturally one useful feature that many consumers would like to see on routers is some form of simple statistical monitoring, which could record and display how much a person had downloaded during any given period. Presently it is only possible to do this via third party software programs, although their accuracy can be questionable. How viable would this idea be for installing at the router level?
ZyXEL: I think this is very interesting and valuable feature for customers with a data usage limit. Technically itís viable but the router would need enough memory to maintain and store data usage logs when the router is switched off, otherwise the logs are lost. This is something Zyxel are looking at.
6. Similarly, consumers would also like a feature added on to statistical monitoring, which would allow more QoS (Quality of Service) style control over their bandwidth consumption and distribution. For example, if your ISP has a usage cap then you could set a client-side limit on the router to slow or stop additional surfing at certain times of the day if more than 20GB were used up in any given period. What are your thoughts on this?
ZyXEL: Again I think this is a great idea. Similarly the router would need enough memory to maintain and store data usage logs when the router is switched off, but technically I believe this could be done. The access control functions on ZyXELís routers already allow you to control access to the internet or specific services based on time and date.
7. Some consumers would like to know what chipset and DSL code the modem uses so it can be changed as required to suit line conditions, is this feasible?
ZyXEL: Yes, this is already done. ZyXELís DSL Routersí web interface tells users what firmware code is being used and what chipset being used can be found on our website or in the product user guide.
8. Will we ever see routers that are capable of booting from a memory stick, thus allowing custom firmware to be tested without needing to flash new code first?
ZyXEL: The difficulty is that firmware needs to be installed on the chipset and memory on the circuit board. It might be possible, but would be no real gain as uploading firmware onto DSL hardware is both easy and quick with multiple methods of uploading.
9. Finally, where do you think ZyXEL will be in 10 years time?
ZyXEL: ZyXEL will continue to be a leading, innovative, networking vendor for both business and consumer and the name ZyXEL will be a recognised brand name in the home and SMB environments.>

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