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How can I connect an Amazon Echo inside an Enterprise secure network?

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One big problem we face (developing Enterprise apps for the Amazon Echo) is when we do a demo at a large company. Then we are typically facing the WPA2 Enterprise version of WiFi, which the Echo does not seem to support. When I look here:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=201549640

I see it says:

"Amazon Echo connects to dual-band Wi-Fi (2.4Ghz / 5Ghz) networks that use the 802.11 a/b/g/n standard. It does not support enterprise or ad-hoc (or peer-to-peer) networks, or public networks that require a web browser for authentication (such as a hotel or coffee shop)."

This has been a frequent complaint for over a year and yet Amazon has done nothing to address this problem. See the questions/answers here:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/forums/ref=cs_hc_g_tv?ie=UTF8&forumID=Fx1SKFFP8U1B6N5&cdThread=TxZTY17P88TM2I

Kelly Carter wrote:

"For those of you (e.g., J Penrose) that think this is such an unusual case: maybe you're unaware that many WiFi networks belong to businesses or institutions, and an end user can't just "fix the router". For example, I work at a university with WiFi available over a huge area (actually, campuses in multiple cities). It uses authentication that requires username/password. Echo needs to be able to work with such networks."

Snake Doctor wrote:

"I'm an intermediate Science teacher and was really looking forward to using echo in my classroom. With the inability to connect to enterprise networks, this is no longer an option. Such a shame.... Echo would have been great in my classroom."

This is my own feeling too. There is a large opportunity for the Echo in schools and businesses, but it does not support the most common wifi found in those locations.

So my one other thought was that maybe there is a sneaky way I can use Bluetooth? If my cell phone is connected to wifi, and I pair with the Echo over Bluetooth, is there a way to get the Echo to use the wifi from my phone? I've tried this, but apparently the Echo and the phone need to be on the same wifi network before Bluetooth pairing can happen, and of course, I can not get them on the same wifi in places the wifi is Enterprise.

Anyone have any thoughts about the right way around this?





Offline dxguy

Re: How can I connect an Amazon Echo inside an Enterprise secure network?
« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2015, 03:02:25 am »
One way around it is to use your cell phone as a wifi hotspot. Then have your echo connect to the wifi hotspot.


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Re: How can I connect an Amazon Echo inside an Enterprise secure network?
« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2015, 04:22:02 am »
@smashcompany

Kudos for attempting to adapt the Echo for business use, yet I believe until Amazon agrees with the premise from your first post ("The Amazon Echo will primarily succeed in business settings, not in home settings") you and others will have some tough going.  Amazon sees the Echo as a home device; not a business device.  It is up to Amazon to see it as also a business device so folks like you can get to first base.

Meanwhile, is there any way Siri could do what Echo can't do?  Many more people in business have iPhones and iPads than they have Echos.

Offline dxguy

How can I connect an Amazon Echo inside an Enterprise secure network?
« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2015, 12:40:29 pm »
I believe that Amazon wants to classify Echo as a home device because eventually Amazon wants to encourage users to buy things by voice. In a business setting, purchases would definitely be turned off. I'm sure Amazon doesn't want Echo to just be a voice user interface without other ways to monetize.


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Re: How can I connect an Amazon Echo inside an Enterprise secure network?
« Reply #4 on: December 14, 2015, 02:00:20 pm »
Kudos for attempting to adapt the Echo for business use, yet I believe until Amazon agrees with the premise from your first post ("The Amazon Echo will primarily succeed in business settings, not in home settings") you and others will have some tough going. 

I agree completely. It will be tough going.

As I said to J Jaquinta, we realize it might be a mistake to try to do Enterprise software with the Echo. All I can say is, when we go into a big business and we do a demo, people seem excited. How much of that excitement is due to the novelty factor? I don’t know. It’s possible that executives get momentarily excited by our demo, but once we leave and they have time to think about it, they decide that the Echo is a curiosity and nothing more. Of course, that same question still hangs over the Echo in all spheres, including the home. Is this a gadget that people play with for a week and then abandon, or this a gadget that really becomes part of people’s lives?

The argument for the Echo in the Enterprise has little to do with the Echo’s strengths and a lot to do with the weaknesses of Enterprise software. Most salespeople hate Salesforce. Most executives hate Salesforce. God knows why Salesforce doesn’t invest some money in improving its interface, but for now it is an awful mess. Companies spend millions setting up “reports” so that top level executives can get a sense of their own sales pipeline, and then the executives don’t ever check the reports, because logging into Salesforce and navigating to the report remains too much of a chore for them. The idea that they can simply say “Alexa, ask Cricket to tell me about Big Steak Grill restaurants” (and then get a high level report about the sales made to that restaurant) elicits real excitement.

Based on that excitement, I would guess there is a real market for Enterprise software for the Echo. Again, I realize I could be wrong. We’ve only been working on our little startup for 1 month (though I was previously working on a Natural Language Processing startup that was doing something similar, but with text rather than voice. The long and complicated history of that startup is here: http://www.smashcompany.com/business/what-happens-when-the-board-of-directors-begins-to-panic).

Only time and effort will tell.

Re: How can I connect an Amazon Echo inside an Enterprise secure network?
« Reply #5 on: December 14, 2015, 08:27:28 pm »
"Most salespeople hate Salesforce. Most executives hate Salesforce."got into many others, and is total crap

Yea, I know.  It was launched in my past company shortly after I retired, and all I heard from ex-colleagues was how terrible it was.  A few years later my IT wife had to support it at her large employer, and again I heard how bad it was.  The Salesforce salespeople must be the best in the world since it appears they even sold it (along with ice) to the Eskimos.

Anyway, good luck with your project.

Re: How can I connect an Amazon Echo inside an Enterprise secure network?
« Reply #6 on: April 23, 2016, 02:09:44 pm »
Do we have any update on this? I'm trying to connect to the campus wifi (WPA/WPA2 Enterprise).

Offline jwlv

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Re: How can I connect an Amazon Echo inside an Enterprise secure network?
« Reply #7 on: April 23, 2016, 03:03:55 pm »
I think the solution might be using a travel/portable wifi router. Someone else mentioned that they use a portable wifi router in hotels. This way they don't have to bother with logging in and authenticating every time they connect a device. The router remains connected to the hotel's network and all devices connect to the portable router.
In an enterprise network, the same setup should work. The Echo would connect to the portable router the same way it does at home. The only snag that you might come across is finding a portable wifi router that supports the protocol of your work enterprise network.
I just found this review of the TP-Link TL-MR3040 travel router and the article says it supports WPA/WPA2 Enterprise with a RADIUS server. If that's the protocol your work is using, then it should work.
http://www.techhive.com/article/2151011/network-storage/tp-link-tl-mr3040-travel-router-review-it-packs-light.html

Re: How can I connect an Amazon Echo inside an Enterprise secure network?
« Reply #8 on: April 23, 2016, 06:38:47 pm »
I have a travel router, and I recommend not using one, but rather use a regular dual-band router.  If a regular router is connected to an Ethernet port of another router that is connected to the internet signal, all that "comes out" to slave router is the internet connection; second router is not part of the first router's network. It is just connected to the internet signal coming in to the house.  My second router is connected to a network switch connected to an Ethernet wall outlet which gives me access to the first router on the other side of the house, while my PC connected to main router is plugged into same network switch.

I have such a setup going at home right now, and I can connect to "slave" router's Wi-Fi signal and access the hard drive that's connected inside the slave router, AND access the internet from main router.  There is no way I can access the main network via this setup to access devices on it.

So, I suggest giving this idea a go; unless an enterprise router prevents something like this, and/or its router ports are inaccessible; even with a network switch connected to it.

Re: How can I connect an Amazon Echo inside an Enterprise secure network?
« Reply #9 on: April 24, 2016, 03:33:08 pm »
I think I'll wait until I move out of the campus (3 more months) or just sell it. :/

Re: How can I connect an Amazon Echo inside an Enterprise secure network?
« Reply #10 on: August 03, 2016, 04:26:29 pm »
Well, I guess the person who first posted has finished up school, but may still want to know as did one other poster about the Enterprise. There are issues with this on several levels, but I'm going to talk to the network level and then if are any other questions, I can go from there.

It's not that I am for or against Amazon, but from a technological standpoint, Amazon will never support those legacy 802.11 wireless protocols. Take for instance a/b/g/n, which is now legacy. Your wireless router and your smart phone have 802.11n and you think you should be humming along at speeds between 150mbs+ (802.11n theoretical max throughput is 300mbs). All you need is an 802.11g device or worse, an 802.11b device to ruin your day. Here's why. By the IEEE standard for 802.11n wireless routers, any devices with 802.11b or g will cause all devices to have their bandwidth down regulated by the router to either b (theoretical max 11Mbs) or g (theoretical max 54Mbs) bandwidth speeds and everyone now crawls along. Your sitting there with your echo that supports 802.11n and you are wondering why your music won't play.

My organization provides data to the public the moment it is calculated. Our network speeds are driven by some factor related to the ever increasing speeds of the residential sector. We are starting talks about converting one day to terabit networks. Amazon has that same pressure. Media is data and it's a lot of data. Business does not typically have that volume of data and I'm talking they don't have it by orders of magnitude less. I know because we have business offices too and the bandwidth they need is the bandwidth our data networks used in the mid 1990's.

As much as you want to believe business is everything, trust me when I say, Amazon has a data plan that will only continue to keep them moving forward for faster and faster bandwidth speed when it comes to them supporting their customer base, their home users... They aren't ever going to look over their shoulder. Aren't you always looking for the next fastest cell phone and/or wireless home routing device?

Most residential people do want the next fastest whatever it is. They are the people that are in the Amazon consumer market (games, videos, voice and other data products). For Amazon, that IS their business.

Your only hope is in the 3rd party arena. You need a VPN client on your Echo. It may exist; it may come in two years; or it may never materialize. Everyone is going to have their own requirements for endpoints, too, which will complicate the 3rd party solution. Hopefully, something will eventually bubble up to the top and solve your problem. Goodluck!


(P.S. For those of you wondering what to do with your 802.11n wireless router/switch/hub or some combination therein, upgrade it to 802.11ac. It's theoretical speed is around 1.3Gbs and it supports legacy wireless. 802.11ac has nothing to do with 802.11a. It is its own wireless protocol altogether).

Re: How can I connect an Amazon Echo inside an Enterprise secure network?
« Reply #11 on: August 03, 2016, 05:41:42 pm »
(P.S. For those of you wondering what to do with your 802.11n wireless router/switch/hub or some combination therein, upgrade it to 802.11ac. It's theoretical speed is around 1.3Gbs and it supports legacy wireless. 802.11ac has nothing to do with 802.11a. It is its own wireless protocol altogether).

802.11n's theoretical throughput is 600Mbs (not 300Mbs), and the fastest residential internet service tops out at about 500Mbs (which is an order of magnitude faster than any server will serve up content, and will set you back something like $270/mo).  Also, in reality you're never going to realize anything close to 802.11ac's 1.3Gbs theoretical throughput outside of a laboratory.  Between that and the fact that 802.11ac would leave my older 2.4GHz-only devices high and dry, I'm not sure why I'd bother ditching a perfectly good 802.11n router in favor of a 802.11ac one.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2016, 09:26:26 pm by DParker »

Re: How can I connect an Amazon Echo inside an Enterprise secure network?
« Reply #12 on: August 03, 2016, 10:48:38 pm »
I know about the brakes being put on by mixing legacy speeds with faster N speed.  My (Asus) router has a cure for that by some tweak settings that allow both speeds to coexist.  I ran the router like that for a while, until I realized all important G devices were not in use here anymore, so I set the router wireless mode to "N only" and every N device runs at top speed.

I suggest everyone using only N devices do the same so you get the maximum speed for your N devices; most routers out of the box are not setup this way.  This includes the ones rented from ISPs.  Get the user manual for your own (Or RENTED) router for how to set up wireless for N Only mode.

Re: How can I connect an Amazon Echo inside an Enterprise secure network?
« Reply #13 on: October 18, 2016, 04:08:57 pm »
I found that by contacting the university's IT department I was able to enter the MAC address of my Echo into their system, so it bypasses the login page. You can find your Echo's MAC address in the Alexa app under "Settings." Choose your Echo and scroll to the bottom.