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Networking 101: Network Address Translation (NAT) - - Fri, 26 May 2017

NAT stands for Network Address Translation, which is the process of remapping one IP address into another IP address. NAT was developed by Cisco, and is used by devices such as routers and firewalls.

With the proliferation of devices that are on the internet, the challenge is that the number of devices would exceed the number of IP Addresses. One way to get around this is that the router gets a single IP Address, and then all the devices that connect to it get separate addresses on the internal network, and these addresses are internal to the network.

This internal network gets referred to as a Local Area Network (LAN), or a stub domain. When a device wants to communicate from the LAN to the internet, it goes through the router, and NAT is used so that all requests outside the LAN are just seen as originating from the same IP public address of the router. While the router gets a registered address on the internet, each of the devices connected to the router get an unregistered address. These unregistered addresses are assigned by the router, and traffic between these devices that stays on the LAN gets negotiated by the router.

The end result is that the network gets hidden, and appears to be one address to the internet. The actual process of NAT involves changing the data request from the IP address of the host machine, to the public IP address to request this data from the internet.

So how does the router know then when data comes back which host machine to send it to if it is all tagged for the same router IP address? This gets taken care of via the NAT Table, which is located at the level of router on the network. This NAT Table keeps track of the which data request came from which host. When the requested data packet arrives, it is stored in router memory temporarily, the address is changed back for the host machine to the destination IP, and then it can be routed back to the correct host. It is a dynamic process with requests being deleted as they are fulfilled.

While NAT allows for more efficient sharing of the single IP public address, the drawback is that it introduces an additional layer of complexity.

There are several ways that NAT can function:
NAT Overload: This is also known as single address NAT, or PAT- port address translation. In NAT Overload, several IP addresses behind the router get mapped to a single public IP address. Each internal client gets assigned a specific internal IP address. NAT Overload is the most common way for a home network to connect to the internet.
Dynamic NAT: The router has a list of available IP addresses. As a client behind the router needs to request data on the internet, the router will choose an available IP address. As the IP address is subject to change, this gets referred to as dynamic NAT. This is a more common mode for larger corporate networks with access to a number of IP addresses to connect to the internet with.
Static NAT: Generally, a host from behind the router is does not have its own address that is directly reachable, and in a dynamic NAT setup, the IP address is subject to change. However, what if you want to run a web server and you want the IP address to be able to communicate directly? In that example, this requires a static NAT, which is also called inbound mapping. This is a less common mode in for a residential router, as it presents security risks.

In addition to the sharing of IP addresses, NAT also has another benefit- security. By having the IP address internally on the network as an unregistered address, and the requests going through the router, with its public IP address, this make the computer s address unregistered, and therefore not able to be directly reached (as an aside, in order for the host computer to be directly reached, that process is known as port forwarding).

While NAT generally occurs quietly behind the scenes, it is worth knowing about, and the options available. Feel free to discuss NAT, and how it figures into your network, in the comment section below.

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AT&T's DirecTV Now Growth Rate Sputters - - Fri, 26 May 2017

AT&T's initial success with its live TV streaming service DirecTV Now appears to be sputtering, according to a report by Bloomberg. Two months after it was unveiled, AT&T's streaming service had surged to about 328,000 subscribers, sources tell the website. But the service actually lost 3,000 customers in February, and subscriber growth was largely flat in March, those same sources claim.

AT&T isn't commenting, but there's some indication that at least part of the slowdown was self-inflicted.

AT&T appears to have scaled back promotions for the service after its initial success, concerned that it could cannibalize the company's existing DirecTV Now subscriber base.

At a recent investor conference, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said DirecTV Now initially "caught fire" at a rate that was "much faster than we were wanting to go." "And so, we ve kind of pulled back," added the CEO.

The company also quickly backed away from a promotion providing 100 channels for $35 a month, a deal heavily promoted by execs as an example of the "synergies" its looming acquisition of Time Warner could provide. The company also appears to be in no rush to extend device support to popular hardware from the likes of Roku.

AT&T's initial launch was also plagued by numerous disruptions that may have turned would-be cord cutters off from the service.

The competitive field isn't expected to get much easier for the service with the arrival of new streaming services from Hulu and YouTube. Additional services from the likes of Amazon are also waiting in the wings.
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Friday Morning Links - - Fri, 26 May 2017

AT&T's DirecTV Now sees subscriber slowdown, raising questions about consumer demand
Internet giants wary of Republican-backed bill for online privacy protections
T-Mobile's Digits, which lets users make/take calls with same phone number on all their devices, launches on May 31 for free, with a second line costing $10/mo
Frontier Fast Tracks Gig Plans With G.Fast
Cable One Strategy of Leading with Broadband over Video Was the Right Choice, Says CEO Julie Laulis
Consolidated Communications has pledged $52.2 million to conduct network upgrades in Maine if its acquisition of FairPoint gets state regulatory approval
The Oregon House of Representatives approves bill aimed at Comcast that will charge companies interest on disputed tax debt; new law comes as the cableco continues its eight-year dispute of a $147 million tax bill
Altice carriage deal returns Viacom channels to Suddenlink subs after a two-and-a-half-year absence
WOW Doesn't Wow Wall Street
Spectrum kept raising my monthly TV and internet bill but wouldn't tell me why
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Frontier Plans Limited Gigabit Speeds Via G.Fast in Connecticut - - Fri, 26 May 2017

Frontier has announced a partnership with Nokia to use G.Fast technology to deliver gigabit broadband speeds over copper to an unspecified number of consumers in Connecticut. G.Fast is a technology that uses vectoring to reduce the cross-talk interference that traditionally plagues copper lines, helping companies reduce line noise and boost DSL speeds over short distances. A press release by Nokia is however painfully short on hard details, and the company isn't specifying just how many customers will be seeing the upgrades.

Frontier has been repeatedly under fire for lagging when it comes to network upgrades, something even traditionally upgrade-averse investors have started to complain about.

"It is hard to fix a problem just by cutting costs when your competition (cable) is only pressing its foot heavier on the capex and fiber pedal," a Wells Fargo analyst said last month in a research note to investors.

As telcos lag on upgrading aging DSL lines, cable has begun to absolutely dominate a broadband market where consumers increasingly only have one choice for speeds over 25 Mbps: cable. That's only expected to get worse as cable providers deploy relatively DOCSIS 3.1 technology that -- compared to the DSL to fiber path -- is relatively inexpensive to deploy.

G.Fast is seen as one solution for these telcos, even though again we're primarily talking about multiple dwelling units (MDUs) and apartment complexes, and the scale of these trials remain severely limited despite the marketing hype for them.

"Nokia's field-proven solution will help Frontier quickly bring ultra-broadband access to customers by using the existing copper twisted pair wiring that is often found in apartment buildings, says Frontier CTO Steve Gable of the G.Fast announcement. Without it, we'd have to drill holes and pull fiber into each apartment unit we serve, a time consuming and challenging process that can be frustrating for customers.

Windstream and CenturyLink are also conducting G.Fast trials. Again though, the fact Frontier isn't willing to specify any hard numbers in regards to its deployment plan suggests that the company still isn't interested in upgrading its lagging DSL network to next-gen speeds at any serious scale, anytime soon. Still, a few lucky customers in Connecticut may soon see some notable speed improvements.
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Republicans Push For 'Ringless Voicemail' Spam - - Fri, 26 May 2017

The GOP s leading campaign and fundraising arm, the Republican National Committee, is throwing its support behind a push that could let robocallers spam your voicemail inbox -- without your phone ever ringing. As it stands, annoying consumers (you) with robocalls currently violates the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). More specifically, the law bans any non-emergency calls made with auto-dialers, computer-generated or prerecorded voices without the "prior express consent of the called party."

But a number of companies (including a marketing company named "All About the Message") are petitioning the current FCC for an exemption that would allow them to bombard your voicemail inbox without technically causing your phone to ring.

And the push this week got some major help by the Republican National Committee, who in filings with the FCC tries to argue that the marketing industry's ability to annoy you is a First Amendment right.

The FCC's failure to allow an exemption for ringless voicemail "would not only restrict an important form of non-intrusive communication; it would have serious consequences for the First Amendment rights of those engaged in political communication via telephone," claims the RNC.

In other words, the RNC is claiming it's the marketing industry's First Amendment right to be able to send marketing missives directly to your voicemail inbox. Obviously lacking from the RNC letter is any real concern about the fact that consumers don't want anything like this implemented.

The US Chamber of Commerce and the American Financial Services Association have also thrown their weight behind the push for a ringless voicemail exemption. The Chamber of Commerce goes so far as to call anti-robocall and anti-spam protection provided under the TCPA as "archaic," suggesting it prevents the marketing industry from developing new and amazing ways to annoy you.

Raise your hand if you'd like your voicemail populated with marketing and political missives each morning?
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Villagers in Poulshot Block BT from Building New Poles for “Fibre Broadband” - Fri, 26 May 2017
Residents in the village of Poulshot (Wiltshire) reportedly used their cars to block an Openreach (BT) contractor after they began erecting 5 new telegraph poles for superfast broadband in a conservation area, which a local Parish council chairman said was done without prior consultation. The Gazette and Herald quotes council chairman Geoff Collett as saying […]

UK Cable and “Fibre Broadband” Lines Overtake Pure Copper DSL Services - Fri, 26 May 2017
A new update from Point Topic has summarised the latest data from ISPs in the United Kingdom, which found that faster Cable (DOCSIS) and “fibre” (FTTC/P/H/B) based broadband lines have finally overtaken older / slower pure copper Digital Subscriber Line (e.g. ADSL) services. The analyst notes that the UK’s total broadband market stood at just […]

UPDATE4 Political Twist as Sky Broadband Fix Wrongful Block of ISPreview - Fri, 26 May 2017
Customers of Sky Broadband, specifically those who have enabled the ‘Shield’ (Parental Control) service, won’t have been able to view since yesterday evening because the ISP has wrongfully blocked us under their “Phishing and Malware” category. But there’s a political twist.. Upon first hearing about the unusual censorship (thanks to all those who Emailed […]

Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass will end your free time forever - Fri, 26 May 2017

Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass will end your free time foreverMicrosoft's new Xbox Game Pas service will give you access to more than 100 Xbox 360 and Xbox One games for $10 a month.

Mark Zuckerberg: The most important thing I built at Harvard - Thu, 25 May 2017

Mark Zuckerberg: The most important thing I built at HarvardFacebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says the accomplishment he's most proud of from his days at Harvard University is his relationship with wife and fellow Harvard alum Priscilla Chan.

Zuckerberg to Harvard grads: 'You have to create a sense of purpose for others' - Thu, 25 May 2017

Zuckerberg to Harvard grads: 'You have to create a sense of purpose for others'Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg returned to Harvard University to give the class of 2017's commencement speech.

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