Netgear may have found a winner with it’s newly announced
wireless-G router that provides open source developers with an appliance platform that can be customized. Linksys has been enjoying a certain amount of popularity from the open source community since it released its original Linux based WRT54G router back in 2003. Since then a number of projects to change the firmware on the WRT line have come about like Tomato and OpenWRT. Of course flashing the firmware to anything other than the Linksys designed firmware voids your warranty. Netgear has chosen to embrace this community with their new WGR614L, rather than fight it.
Som Pal Choudhury, senior product manager for wireless at Netgear is quoted as saying:
“The launch of the WGR614L is significant to the open source community as there has been a growing demand for more powerful platforms to support a rapidly growing segment of open source enthusiasts that are seeking to create more robust, commercial-grade applications for their wireless routers.”
“In addition to adding a more powerful processor and additional memory to the proven Broadcom platform, the most popular open source firmware, Tomato and DD-WRT, are available on WGR614L making it easier for users to develop a wide variety of applications. An important feature of our offering is the dedicated and responsive open source community which enables users to easily exchange ideas and troubleshoot issues. New applications currently being developed by this community include traffic shaping applications, redirections to captive portals for hotspots, guest access via a separate SSID, upstream and downstream QOS, and intelligent bandwidth monitoring.”
The WGR614L features a 240 MHz MIPS32® CPU core (overclockable) with 16 KB of instruction cache, 16 KB of data cache, 1 KB of pre-fetch cache, and incorporates 4 MB of flash memory and 16 MB of RAM. It also includes an external 2 dBi antenna and a second internal diversity antenna. On the network side it has a 10/100 Internet WAN port and a four-port 10/100 LAN switch, incorporates an 802.11g access point to support wireless connectivity at speeds of up to 54 Mbps. The WGR614L also supports static and dynamic routing with TCP/IP, VPN pass-through (IPSec, L2TP), NAT, PPTP, PPPoE, DHCP (client and server), and Bigpond. A Stateful Packet Inspection (SPI) firewall protects the network from intruders, and the wireless connection is secured with support for 40-, 128- and 152-bit WEP encryption, Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA), WPA2-PSK, and Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS). Additional security features include: Exposed Host (DMZ), MAC address authentication, URL content filtering, logs and e-mail alerts of Internet activity. It will list for $69.00
Netgear has also launched myopenrouter.com to form a community around writing firmware for the WGR614L. This is a brilliant move on Netgear’s part. Rather than fight the open source community on fiddling with the firmware, choosing to embrace it will only result in a better product, without Netgear needing to engineer the software. I believe this will prove to be a very popular system for home based routers for enthusiasts who want to be hands on with their hardware, and seek to get the most performance possible.