The Compex Parallel Broadband Internet Gateway
Powerful, Flexible Connection Sharing Made Easy...

By, Marco Chiappetta
February 21, 2002

As Internet Service Providers (ISP) begin bringing broadband into the hands of more and more home and small business owners, the need to secure and share this bandwidth has become increasingly necessary.  Up until recently, if you were "talking tech" at home, rarely would the words "router", "gateway" or "firewall" get mentioned.  Times have changed though.  Now users are blessed with high speed internet connections and hardware prices have dropped so low that many homes are now equipped with multiple PCs.  A majority of these users also want to be able to share files and their speedy Internet connections amongst all of their computers, while at the same time protecting themselves from the RARE, malicious hacker.  These new services and multi-PC homes have spawned a whole new market, and products like the ones we are looking at in this article are now widely available.  We've got the Compex NetPassage 16 Wireless Capable, Parallel Broadband Internet Gateway along with all of the necessary supporting hardware to setup a wireless network on the grille today.  With these items, users will be able to network their PCs and share and secure their broadband connection using either traditional cables or swank new 802.11b compliant wireless adapters.

Let's take a look at the participants in this HotHardware review of the Compex NetPassage 16 Wireless Capable, Parallel Broadband Internet Gateway...

   

Included with the NetPassage 16 router is a serial cable, power adapter, a network cable and a very complete user's guide that clearly explains how to configure and use all of the available features.  In fact, if you're not too familiar with networking in general, you may actually gain some useful knowledge reading through the manual!  The WLU11 Wireless USB LAN adapter is bundled with a USB cable, manual and driver disks, while the WL11 PCMCIA Wireless LAN adapter comes with a simple plastic carry case, a manual and driver floppies.  Basically the bare essentials to get the products up and running are included...No more, no less.

Specifications & Features Of The Compex Parallel Broadband Internet Gateway
Make it simple and powerful
Features and Benefits:
Support external ADSL/Cable modem, V.90 56K analog modem
Integrated 4-port 10/100Mbps Switch
IEEE 802.11b Wireless LAN option
Load Balancing and Fail-Over Redundancy
Wireless Pseudo VLAN (Per Node and Per Group)
64-bit or 128-bit WEP
Wireless modes: Access Point or Wireless Client
Virtual Server (Port Forwarding and IP Forwarding)
Time-based Access Control
IP Packet Filtering
Remote Management

Product Information:
NetPassage 16 Broadband Internet Gateway
 
Technical Specification:
Industry Standards
IEEE 802.3 10Base-T, IEEE 802.3u 100Base-TX, IEEE 802.3x Flow Control
CE Mark, FCC Class A, Gost, C-Tick, UL

WAN Interface:
10Mbps RJ45 Ethernet (support external Cable/ADSL modem)
 
RS232 serial port (support external V.90 56K analog modem)

WAN Protocol:
Static IP, Dynamic IP, PPP Over Ethernet (PPPoE), RAS

LAN Interface:
4-port 10/100Mbps Fast Ethernet Switch
Type II PCMCIA slot for optional Wireless LAN Card

Parallel Broadband:
Load Balancing & Fail-Over Redundancy

Wireless LAN Mode:
Access Point or Wireless Client

Wireless Pseudo VLAN:
Per Node or Per Group

IP Addressing:
Classful or Classless subnet

Built-In DHCP Server:
Yes

DHCP Reservation:
By MAC addresses

NAT Firewall:
Yes

Virtual Server:
Port Forwarding and IP Forwarding

Access Control:
Time-based

IP Packet Filtering:
By TCP Port and Source IP

IP Routing:
Static and Dynamic

Routing Protocol:
RIP1 and RIP2

VPN Client Pass-Through:
PPTP and IPSec

NetMeeting:
Yes

Management Interface:
Web-based, TELNET Command Console, RS232 Serial Console

Remote Management:
Yes

Configuration Backup and Restore:
Yes

Firmware Upgrade:
Yes

Environment Requirements:
Temperature
Operating: 0C to 50C
Storage: -20C to 70C
Humidity
Operating: 10%RH to 80%RH
Storage: 5%RH to 90%RH


Make sure to not just scan over the features and specifications listed above.  Many questions you may have about these products can be answered there.

We snapped off a few pictures of the NetPassage 16 gateway, the WLU11 USB wireless LAN adapter and the WL11 PCMCIA LAN card to not only give you an idea of what these products look like, but to illustrate their size.

   

Considering the NetPassage 16 is equipped with an integrated 4-Port 10/100 switch, a PC Card slot to accommodate a WL11 card for wireless use, a serial port and nine status LEDs, it is very compact.  The NetPassage 16 is about the size of a box of 5.25" floppy diskettes (am I showing my age or what!).  Besides the power indicator, the remaining LEDs adorning the front of the unit show communication status between the broadband modem and router, link status, wireless network status and activity across the ports.  The WLU11 USB wireless LAN adapter is very compact as well.  The WLU11 is less than an inch high (excluding antenna height) and about two inches wide by three inches deep...about the size of a deck of cards.  The WL11 wireless LAN card is obviously the same width and height as any standard PCMCIA card, but the antenna lengthens the card by about 3/4 of an inch.

This is what the WL11 looks like when fully inserted into a slot on our Compaq Presario laptop.  As you can see, the card's antenna protrudes from the slot quite a bit, but if you're using a dongle and standard LAN card now (like I WAS), the protruding antenna won't bother you in the least!

Installation and Setup