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3 Networking Tips and Tricks

Three solutions to common networking problems.

I love when I talk with a colleague in the industry and we just bat ideas around and we both have some tips that the other hadn’t heard of. Just the other day, while waiting for a Sonos Roadshow to start, my friend Mark called and we spent about 30 minutes just talking about business, and we each brought up some issues that the other immediately knew how to address.

1. Bypassing FiOS router
Verizon FiOS is the provider of choice in NYC for most clients. They are just so sick of Time Warner/Spectrum that anyone else is better. The problem with FiOS is that their router serves up all of the data to the STBs – Guide, Info, OnDemand, etc. Without their router in the mix, a ton of functionality is lost. Historically we would use the FiOS router as the primary router, putting ours into the DMZ and running the network off of our router. While it worked, it was far from ideal as we were double-NATed, and if FiOS ran any firmware updates, we were at risk of losing the DHCP reservation in the FiOS router that kept our router in the DMZ (which was better than setting our router at a static IP and risking losing connectivity completely if FiOS did something weird like change IP Schemes on us, or the client did something stupid like changing providers without telling us).

SnapAV had been telling me that their routers worked as the main router with no need for the FiOS router at all. Mark let me know how inaccurate that was, and how to actually get the system working with our router as the primary and the FiOS router just hanging out on the network to serve up STB data only. With the Araknis routers from SnapAV that we are now using almost exclusively, there is a toggle switch in the firewall settings labeled IPTV. All you need to do is activate that toggle, go into the FiOS router and release its DHCP address so that your router can pick it up, then and set up your network topology as follows:

FiOS ONT -> Araknis Router -> Network Switch -> FiOS Router (and then connect the Coax to the FiOS router as well so it can communicate with the STBs)

Just ensure you use a different IP scheme in the Araknis router than the FiOS standard of and leave the FiOS router in its defaults. Easy peasy, all done

Also by Todd Anthony Puma: Blending Custom and Consumer

2. Speaking of IP Schemes…
Mark was telling about his issues with VPN. His office and home are on and IP schemes, and all of his clients are on, so he can always VPN in from office and home to clients. The issue arises when he is at one client’s home and needs to VPN to another client to change or troubleshoot something. I told him about my IP scheme protocol and he loved it. Since our jobs almost always work with a /24 subnet, we always use a 10.x.x.x scheme. The first two ‘x’s’ are the client’s street address. If they live at 4298 Main Street, their IP is 10.42.98.x. If they live at 12 Springfield Road, their IP is 10.0.12.x. It makes remembering every client’s IP scheme easy and the chance of a conflict when trying to use VPN is virtually nil.

Also by Todd Anthony Puma: Make Life Easier for You and Your Clients

3. Enhanced Remote Support Ability
While we have been installing OvrC Hubs on all new jobs and love the capabilities, additional visibility, and access we get, we still set up a computer at most jobs. We just put in an inexpensive PC so we can access local devices easily with a Team Viewer or LogMeIn session. We set up the PC with a monitor and keyboard, then take them out so the client cannot get in and mess with the computer. When we do our regular firmware update as part of the service contract, we install any necessary Windows updates on the computer as well. This way we can access the Sonos system to see what the client is seeing if they have issues. Or the local Lutron Main Repeater. Or even run an IP scan to check everything out. It has saved truck rolls dozens of times.

I’d love to hear from all of you about some of your favorite tips and tricks to get make your lives easier and improve your installs, your work/life balance, and productivity.