RVU Networking for Genie Clients — is it necessary to set a static IP?

DIRECTV’s Genie Mini Clients are a really slick piece of technology. Although they have no hard drives, they act like DVRs. They are small, quiet, and easy to set up.

However, more advanced techies aren’t always comfortable with the idea that “it just sets itself up.” They want to know what it does, and if it would help to set some things manually.

Our Signal Pro RAD did some exploration and here’s what he found:

The Genie Mini Clients are assigned an IP address from the DHCP server. If you’re following established standards, your DHCP server should be assigning addresses in the Class C private range of 192.168.0.0 – 192.168.255.255. DIRECTV equipment can have issues with any other address range.

However, the clients themselves also have a link local address in the 169.254.x.x range. Traffic between the Genie DVR and the Genie Mini Clients actually takes place using those addresses, known as the RFC 3927 addresses. It’s likely that using those addresses ensures that the traffic stays within the coax network and does not attempt to travel to the larger local area network. This keeps the transport stream smooth, which is critical for video and audio.

The clients do use the address given to them by the DHCP server to connect with internet services like TV apps and Pandora, so they aren’t completely unused.

If all the important traffic is in the RFC 3927 range, why assign an address through DHCP at all? There are several theories. One is that it ensures that there will be no conflicts at all. Another possibility is that some devices treat a 169.254.x.x address as an invitation to get an address from a DHCP server and rather than trying to avoid this possibility, the client just lets it happen, but retains the original address as well. Since the address is used sometimes, it’s not a complete waste, although it probably would have been possible to have all that information flow through the Genie DVR if needed.

If you’re interested in getting some network information from your Genie Client, press-and-hold {SELECT} for about 10 seconds and you’ll see a screen listing the IP addresses used by the client.

At any rate, it’s not possible to assign a static IP address to a client and even if you did, it would do no good.