Home Gateway Equipment Selection May 10, 2016

As the very informative emails detailing progress on constructing the Sea Ranch Connect network flow into our inboxes, it’s clear that we are making good progress towards providing Sea Ranchers with a state of the art, high performance and highly reliable Internet service. This service will not only revolutionize Internet access across the entire ranch: it will also provide the essential 21st century services to improve our real estate values and make The Sea Ranch an attractive option for the next generation of owners.

Part of the process of constructing and implementing the Sea Ranch Connect network has been the selection of the gateway device that will allow every home to be connected to the network. Many of you will recall that when we described the service to you initially, we said that owners would need to purchase a gateway box for around $150 that would provide the in home connection to the SRC service.

In close consultation with our operating partner, Gigabit Now (GBN), we have selected the Calix family of gateways, with the model most owners will choose priced at $156. This model does not have WiFi capability. There is a higher end option with powerful WiFi capabilities that will be offered at $225. However, the Calix 716GE-I at $156 will provide a solution that will meet all normal needs because many Sea Ranchers already have Wi-Fi routers for their current Internet service.

Let’s look at these two devices from a user’s point of view. Most homes on the Sea Ranch today that have Internet service have a router (a small box) already installed that the owners have purchased. Typically, it sits next to the cable modem provided by Central Valley Cable if you are using their services. This router provides both wired and wireless attachment to the devices you are using in your home. These could be desktop or laptop computers, tablets (iPads), smart (cell) phones, game consoles, TVs or set top boxes with Internet capability and so on, including all the devices, in fact, that one is likely to find in multi-generation homes where children and grandchildren are often more adept than their elders at configuring routers and Internet connected devices.

The gateway you are most likely to install (the aforementioned Calix device priced at $156) can be connected to your devices either by direct ethernet cable or via the router you probably already have in your home if you are a CVC user. In the case of the router, wireless connection will be provided essentially identically to the way it is now with your existing service. But of course at much higher speeds! Because wireless capabilities are constantly being upgraded and routers are inexpensive (often $50 or less) you will be able to change your router to take advantage of higher performance when it is available without any impact to your Calix gateway. However, the one you already have is likely to be quite sufficient for attachment to your new Calix gateway.

If you use DSL or a Verizon hot spot for your current Internet service, you may not have a WiFi router installed. They are easily available locally as well as online and typically cost $50 or less. They are easy to install and configure and offer you the opportunity to add password protection so that your in home network is secure—at least, more secure than it would be without one! Any local consultant can give you advice on what you will need. A list of local consultants is available on our In-Home Setup Support page.

The Calix 844GE Home Portal, priced at $225, provides powerful WiFi capability in addition to smart gateway functionality. This allows the device to “listen” to wirelessly connected devices and optimize their performance. This may be of interest to owners with high performance requirements, larger homes or multiple buildings. However, for most purposes, the basic model and your existing router will be more than sufficient.

The Calix family of gateways also allows for the addition of a battery backup UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply) that will provide 8 hours of backup in the event of a power outage, insuring that your telephone service remains available even if power is not. This is available at an additional price.

Part of the decision on which devices to choose also involved understanding the impact on the two data centers (at Del Mar and the Association offices) that will be operating the network. It was important to select devices that would operate seamlessly with the network management hardware and software at these data centers. Calix data center equipment allows for much more remote control of in home gateways, leading to more reliable operation, and the ability for SRC to know more about how your system is working and provide better support. In order to use the Calix data center gear, the in home gateways to be Calix equipment as well.

All of the decisions we have been making since the beginning of the SRC project have been focused on delivering the most reliable, high performance Internet service possible. Finding the right gateway and data center equipment has been a key part of delivering this service. We are comfortable that the Calix equipment decision is the right one for all the reasons given in this article.

Sea Ranch Connect has already begun doing home-runs from the curb to individual homes and we expect to start doing the in-home installation of the fiber and gateway as early as the beginning of August.

While some of the technical issues leading to this decision are quite complex, from the point of view of all of you, the future users of the SRC services, there is no greater complexity in networking your devices using SRC and the Calix gateway then there is with the service you are using today. But you will, of course, get much better performance and reliability than you experience today—and that’s the whole point.