Netgear debuts cloud applications on 'smart networks'

The router company shares its vision of intelligent networks at this year's CES in Las Vegas.

Netgear announced it would introduce apps to networks at this week's CES, with eight new products focused on its vision of a “smart network.”

The core part of this isn’t hardware at all, but a cloud application server from which users can download apps for their Netgear devices.

“Just as your feature phone evolved into a smartphone, with thousands of apps that allow you to personalise your device and add value to your hardware, Netgear is transforming the network into a smart network,” said David Henry, Netgear’s vice president of product development.

Henry demoed an app for monitoring how much data has been downloaded each month, one allowing you to share media with friends and family and another offering control over who has access to your wireless network.

The apps can be developed both by Netgear and third parties, thanks to an open development platform.

“This gives third parties, whether they’re software partners or hardware partners, the ability to write apps that run on Netgear’s smart network,” said Henry.

New hardware

The apps will only run on Netgear hardware and Henry announced several new products that would take advantage of the system.

One router, as yet unnamed and to come later this year, will include 802.11ac WLAN, which offers 1.35Gbits/sec bandwidth compared to 450Mbits/sec of 802.11n.

Netgear sees media as a core part of the future networks and unveiled the 2TB Media Storage Router (WNDR4700). This combines dual-band 802.11n wireless networking, with generous storage, and allows you to stream HD video to any internet-enabled device: your smartphone, TV and tablet, for example.

It also supports automatic backups for both Apple and Windows PCs, and you can connect two external hard disks via its USB 3 ports.

Netgear’s new N900 Dual Band Wireless Router will also support the Smart Network apps, and the accompanying N900 Wireless Dual Band USB Adapter is on hand to bring support for both 2.4GHz and 5GHz to non-dual-band laptops.

Netgear promises to also turn Wi-Fi dead spots into a thing of the past thanks to its dual-band Wi-Fi extender, the WN2500RP.

“Everyone has a situation – maybe it’s a back bedroom, maybe it’s a basement or maybe it’s the back yard – where you can’t get a network connection,” said Henry.

“And it’s not always as easy as going along to a store and buying a wireless router. Sometimes you’re stuck with a wireless gateway that your broadband service provider gave you. You can’t rip it out because you might lose your voice over IP, you might lose your video.”

The idea is to plug in the WN2500RP halfway between your router and your deadspot, and Henry claims that extending the coverage is as simple as pressing a button.

Completing the new hardware line-up are the catchily named N750 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit DSL Modem Router and two Powerline products. Netgear claims the Powerline 500 Nano is the world’s smallest such device, while the N900 Video and Gaming 4-Port WiFi Adapter is “the perfect device that can simultaneously connect up to four wired devices to your Wi-Fi router at top speed”.

Netgear has yet to announce UK availability or pricing.

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