So, you’ve heard about this magic box that claims to solve your on-site networking headaches. What is it all about?
What is PUNCH!?
This is PUNCH!:
Or rather, this is the hardware component of a two-part system. This is the part you can see and touch. The unseen part is some clever software running on a server in the cloud, to which this little box establishes a connection.
What does PUNCH! do?
Once PUNCH! boots up, it attempts to establish a VPN tunnel back to its’ cloud infrastructure via any of the connectivity options available to it. We will call these the “Upstream Connections”.
These upstream connections can be a hard-wired RJ45 connection, a Wifi connection or a 3/4G mobile data connection.
Once it has connected, it can then optionally share this VPN connection via either of its “Downstream Connections”. These connections can be either a secondary RJ45 port, a Wifi Hotspot that PUNCH! broadcasts, or both.
Why is this useful to me?
This is where we get to the good bit.
You see, anything that is connected to a downstream port on PUNCH! technically isn’t connected to the intervening network that is present on the upstream port. Due to the nature of the point-to-point VPN link, any internet traffic that gets sent into punch from a downstream port disappears into an encrypted tunnel and re-appears on the public internet from our cloud datacenter, and the same is true in reverse.
This can be useful in solving some on-site firewall issues in itself, but here comes the best bit.
Any device that is connected to a downstream port on PUNCH! can also be MAC address registered on our server and have a dedicated Public IP bound to it. This function makes the PUNCH! system the definitive answer to restrictive firewall and NAT-related issues that prevent videoconferences from working in the majority of cases.
What other problems does it solve?
This is best illustrated in the following list, which details common problems encountered while videoconferencing, and how PUNCH! solves them:
No hardwired internet available on site –
PUNCH! can connect to 2.4 and 5ghz Wifi hotspots
No Wifi available on site –
PUNCH! can connect using a 3G or 4G USB modem
No/ Poor Cellular signal on site –
PUNCH! can establish a VPN using an external satellite connection, and has connection modes which vastly improve the quality of the transmission on such a connection.
The on-site connection requires a username and/or password to login before it works –
Unlike all known videoconference units, PUNCH! includes a built-in web browser, which enables the user to input whichever credentials the captive portal is requesting via its touchscreen interface. Once the connection is opened up, the VPN can be established as normal and the downstream devices can connect as if no login was ever necessary.
The on-site IT team are unwilling or unable to provide a Public IP for videoconferencing purposes or to make changes to their network to accommodate videoconferencing –
The PUNCH! system can provide the Public IP to your endpoint, removing the burden from the IT team.
There isn’t an on-site IT team! –
There doesn’t need to be, PUNCH! works fine on any grade of connection with sufficient bandwidth, from domestic connections to corporate domains. As long as punch can reach the internet from an upstream connection, it can connect to its cloud-component and establish the VPN link.
What about applications other then videoconferencing?
PUNCH! can assist in providing connectivity to devices in other situations as well. For example, if you don’t need the VPN functionality for your application you can disable it and continue to use PUNCH! for its ability to provide login credentials for connections that require them, for devices that have no facility to enter the credentials themselves.
PUNCH! can also be used in this manner to provide connectivity to devices that only have hardwired connections in locations without hardwired access. For example, PUNCH! could provide a RJ45 connection to a VOIP phone in a location that only has Wifi or 3/4G connectivity.
To this end, when not operating in VPN mode, you may choose to operate PUNCH! in NAT or bridging mode with it’s upstream connection, depending on which connectivity type is most useful to your application.
Who would PUNCH! be most useful for?
PUNCH! is ideal for videoconference professionals and audiovisual production companies who frequently supply videoconference equipment and operators to their clients in a multitude of locations.
By bringing a PUNCH! device to an event, a videoconference supplier can be confident that whatever connectivity facilities are available on-location; a working solution can be found.
PUNCH! can also be a useful tool for other applications that rely on establishing internet connectivity such as live streaming, aiding in proving the necessary link between what a venue can provide and what a device can accept.
For audiovisual production engineers, especially those working with networking, webcasting and videoconferencing; PUNCH! fits right alongside your other go-to gadgets, next to your Allen key set, adjustable spanner and pocket multitool.
How safe and how reliable is PUNCH!?
In terms of safety, all traffic is encrypted, and the servers are privately owned, operated and maintained. All traffic exits the system in the same state that it enters, with no interference.
To speak of reliability, PUNCH! has been designed to aggressively reconnect and self-diagnose emergent line-fault conditions in the event of a loss of connectivity once it has been established.
PUNCH! has had a intentionally prolonged and intense beta testing period across many different locations, applications and production environments. This has given PUNCH! a proven track record for alleviating headaches without causing additional ones.
Honestly?? My skills are in engineering, not marketing! However…
The adjective to ‘Punch through’ something is often used to describe the process of overcoming obnoxious obstacles in ones way. Overzealous firewalls often fulfil this role when seen from the perspective of an engineer who is just trying to make a piece of technology work. Although it doesn’t perfectly describe the operation of PUNCH!, the word has a nice energy and immediacy to it that reflects the effect that the device has. It immediately solves problems!
How do I get hold of PUNCH!?
Email me to discuss further how PUNCH! can enhance the experience that you offer to your clients.