[SOLVED] Multiple Services in Rural Area

aarhud

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Feb 13, 2016
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I'm moving to a rural area that offers DSL service 12mbps down and 1mbps up as the highest offering. Long term, we will eventually get cable/fiber more than likely. But I am not sure if that will be 1 year or 5+ years down the road. Is there such a thing as a router that would manage multiple services coming in? For example, if I pay the ISP for two or even three services. Is there a router that would accept the multiple connections and distribute out bandwidth to our devices?

You can probably tell I know just enough to be dangerous.
 
I was in your situation back in 2004 when I needed more bandwidth than the isp could provide with a single connection. I looked into business-class offerings but they were just more expensive without being faster.

My solution was a multi-wan router with 3x cable internet connections. They brought 3x modems, ran 3x coax wires and I had literally 3x full speed-connections. Now with dsl, this may not be possible without them having to run more phone lines since dsl is essentially piggybacking off of phone lines. But if they can, then you can get 3x connections like I had.

The limitations with how you can use these connections together will be the following:
  • A single upload/download stream will not exceed your isp bandwidth
  • You may or may not be able to assign devices to different wan connections
  • You may need to make special entries for certain web sites/connections that expect a single IP per session
These were all I could think of off the top of my head. Now here's what you will be able to do:
  • Web browsing will be Nx faster (N=% of isp connections) because a web page is made up of up to hundreds of different elements which will now be retrieved by more than one isp connection simultaneously.
  • Uploads can be faster if you are uploading multiple streams since multiple streams will use the multiple isp connections.
  • You will have multiple public IP addresses, each of which can be assigned to a different server if you are running servers.
  • With a good router, you won't even notice that a wan connection is down because any failover/balancing is seamless.
  • With a router that allows this type of configuration, you will be able to assign certain types of traffic to go through a particular wan.
Now, besides just getting the isp accounts, the router is critical to make this work the way you want. Peplink is the expert in multi-wan, but they were always too expensive for me. They can actually mux all the isp connections into one that go beyond what any other router can do, removing the limitations of individual session speeds.

I was using a Cisco rv016 back in the day for my multi-wan setup. It can take up to 7 wan connections, but it's routing capability was limited to 40Mbps--still very viable for your setup. It was discontinued many years ago, but still can be found quite cheap used. This would be a good one to get to test a setup, but because of being eol, I don't know if you'd want to use it in permanently. Cisco still does make newer units in the rv series so that's an option if you like the Cisco way of doing things.

I have also used an older Netgear unit fvs124g. This unit was limited to only 11Mbps in routing so I only used it where I needed less bandwidth, but it did work. It's interface and limitations was different than the rv016 in terms of assigning traffic to wans and vlan capability, and some of that was useful for that installation. I do not believe netgear makes any more pro-series routers. The srx5308 was their last good multi-wan router as it could route full gigabit, but again this is discontinued.

I have also used routers by watchguard. These are enterprise level routers that are more infinitely configurable, but this can also make them daunting to initially set up. Nevertheless, once I had it set up, the reliability was second to none with years between reboots and consistent, seamless performance. I've used the xtm22w, M200, and M300 and while the xtm22w was limited to only 35Mbps wan to lan, it was reliable and was the gateway unit that led us to using the brand.

Prior to buying the watchguard, I was reading the 1000+ page manual for Zyxel's USG series routers that could do multi-wan. I never pulled the trigger on these, but they seemed like they would be reliable once set up. They were also not as expensive as full-blown enterprise routers like the watchguard.

And recently I acquired an old Fortigate 60CM to see how it handles multi-wan. This particular unit is older and limited to just dual wan, but I wanted to get a feel for the interface and how complicated it is to configure. I think this is on par with how the Zyxel would have been with what I have messed with so far. Their newest versions 60F are priced reasonably and almost cheap if you find them open box new.

Sonicwall, Netgate, pfsense and others also support multi-wan as the demand and use of multi-wan in businesses is pretty much essential these days. I don't have any personal experience with them, but believe they are also reliable choices if you like their configuration methods instead.

If I was in your shoes I would first see what you can get from your isp and from other isps including cellular. Then if it does seem like you will have multiple isps, get either the xtm22w or the rv016 and see if you can set them up the way you want them to work. If so, then get the modern version of them and see if that works for you (both have evolved a lot), and if not you know enough about it to know what to look for.

Feel free to ask questions. I've been using dual and multiple isp Internet setups for over a decade now so I've got a little bit of experience. ;)
 
Last edited:

kanewolf

Titan
Moderator
I'm moving to a rural area that offers DSL service 12mbps down and 1mbps up as the highest offering. Long term, we will eventually get cable/fiber more than likely. But I am not sure if that will be 1 year or 5+ years down the road. Is there such a thing as a router that would manage multiple services coming in? For example, if I pay the ISP for two or even three services. Is there a router that would accept the multiple connections and distribute out bandwidth to our devices?

You can probably tell I know just enough to be dangerous.
There are "multi-wan" routers that can do load balancing. Generally 1 device will be limited to whatever a single WAN connection speed is. Even if you had 12 DSL lines, you would be limited to the speed of one.
 

aarhud

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That is helpful, I did not know that. So two lines would only help in that if my work computer was using one connection, the "Multi Wan" Router could load balance and assign the second wan to the firestick streaming a movie?

Some of my co-workers said they do not have any issues on DSL beyond it being slow. We have weekly/bi-weekly calls over teams. And daily I access shared drives and a database tool. Beyond that, it is just email and excel. Any tips here?

I will cry if we get the option to stay home full time, but my internet is not up to par to make the job doable lol.

Edited to Add:
New home has a data panel and ethernet ports through the house. So everything possible will be hardwired. I had ethernet ports installed near every TV location. Data panel is in Laundry room, so it is hidden from view mostly.
 

kanewolf

Titan
Moderator
That is helpful, I did not know that. So two lines would only help in that if my work computer was using one connection, the "Multi Wan" Router could load balance and assign the second wan to the firestick streaming a movie?

Some of my co-workers said they do not have any issues on DSL beyond it being slow. We have weekly/bi-weekly calls over teams. And daily I access shared drives and a database tool. Beyond that, it is just email and excel. Any tips here?

I will cry if we get the option to stay home full time, but my internet is not up to par to make the job doable lol.

Edited to Add:
New home has a data panel and ethernet ports through the house. So everything possible will be hardwired. I had ethernet ports installed near every TV location. Data panel is in Laundry room, so it is hidden from view mostly.
Have you checked to see if Elon Musk's starlink beta is available in your area ?
More and more rural areas are adding co-op WISP (direct broadcast networking). That is worth investigating also. Even cellular may be an option.
 

aarhud

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I just checked the starlink website. It says StarLink is targetting to be available in my area mid to late 2021. If that is true, that is awesome. I will have to look into it. The only thing I know about the product is what he said about it on JRE. I am skeptical of the validity of it being available...We are in a rural area, but within 20-25 minutes of decent-sized towns. I thought Star-link was geared towards super rural areas.

Would cellular be in addition to a normal ISP-provided connection?. I will have to research Cellular, as I have never used it as the main connection. I don't think we are in a 5G area.
 

kanewolf

Titan
Moderator
I just checked the starlink website. It says StarLink is targetting to be available in my area mid to late 2021. If that is true, that is awesome. I will have to look into it. The only thing I know about the product is what he said about it on JRE. I am skeptical of the validity of it being available...We are in a rural area, but within 20-25 minutes of decent-sized towns. I thought Star-link was geared towards super rural areas.

Would cellular be in addition to a normal ISP-provided connection?. I will have to research Cellular, as I have never used it as the main connection. I don't think we are in a 5G area.
If you are in a new development (sounds like based on the network cabling), you should also check with a home owner's association. You may be able to use the collective buying power to convince a fiber ISP to provide service.
 
Not sure what happened to the 5G stuff. I suspect it doesn't work as well or is more expensive than they thought. And then you have tmobile calling stuff 5G that really isn't.

In general if you can get LTE it should be faster than you see on the DSL. The problem is the cost.
 
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aarhud

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We built a custom house on 30 acres out in an area that is mostly farmland. Its where my wife and I both grew up. The area is growing as the neighboring towns expand, but its still pretty rural. I just had the contractor install the ethernet and data panel because I knew DSL was going to be such a world of suck.

StarLink would be a game-changer. The local ISP is planning to update DSL lines to fiber, but they do not provide a timeline. The covid relief bills included money for internet infrastructure, so I think they will expand a little sooner due to that. But if and when they will come down our specific road is anybody's guess. The closest fiber and cable to "tap into" would be a few miles as the crow flies.
 
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aarhud

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Not sure what happened to the 5G stuff. I suspect it doesn't work as well or is more expensive than they thought. And then you have tmobile calling stuff 5G that really isn't.

In general if you can get LTE it should be faster than you see on the DSL. The problem is the cost.
That may be an option. Is there a tool that would quanitfy what kind of data I use per day? Example, something I can run while I am working and it tell me at the end of the work day how much data I used? The flip side to working from home is a 45-1hr commute. With gas prices increasing, I'm sure that is 150ish per month. So data may make fiscal sense in this situation?
 
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I would first spend some time seeing if your area is served by a WISP. Generally you will see either a flat panel antenna or a what looks like a satelite dish pointed flat rather than at the sky on you neighbors houses. These are used to connect to things like a water tower or other high point. These tend to be much cheaper than mobile broadband.

It depends on how many devices and what type you are trying to monitor. Some routers have very basic abilities to collect usage data.

I am not sure if windows has a long term data collection, you can see short term in the resource monitor.

Unfortunately when I need this type of data I use the brute force method and run wireshark. KInda overkill but since I know the tool well I tend to use it rather than looking for another application. Unless you have fancy switches it will only collect the data on the pc you run it on.
 
Reactions: SamirD
I was in your situation back in 2004 when I needed more bandwidth than the isp could provide with a single connection. I looked into business-class offerings but they were just more expensive without being faster.

My solution was a multi-wan router with 3x cable internet connections. They brought 3x modems, ran 3x coax wires and I had literally 3x full speed-connections. Now with dsl, this may not be possible without them having to run more phone lines since dsl is essentially piggybacking off of phone lines. But if they can, then you can get 3x connections like I had.

The limitations with how you can use these connections together will be the following:
  • A single upload/download stream will not exceed your isp bandwidth
  • You may or may not be able to assign devices to different wan connections
  • You may need to make special entries for certain web sites/connections that expect a single IP per session
These were all I could think of off the top of my head. Now here's what you will be able to do:
  • Web browsing will be Nx faster (N=% of isp connections) because a web page is made up of up to hundreds of different elements which will now be retrieved by more than one isp connection simultaneously.
  • Uploads can be faster if you are uploading multiple streams since multiple streams will use the multiple isp connections.
  • You will have multiple public IP addresses, each of which can be assigned to a different server if you are running servers.
  • With a good router, you won't even notice that a wan connection is down because any failover/balancing is seamless.
  • With a router that allows this type of configuration, you will be able to assign certain types of traffic to go through a particular wan.
Now, besides just getting the isp accounts, the router is critical to make this work the way you want. Peplink is the expert in multi-wan, but they were always too expensive for me. They can actually mux all the isp connections into one that go beyond what any other router can do, removing the limitations of individual session speeds.

I was using a Cisco rv016 back in the day for my multi-wan setup. It can take up to 7 wan connections, but it's routing capability was limited to 40Mbps--still very viable for your setup. It was discontinued many years ago, but still can be found quite cheap used. This would be a good one to get to test a setup, but because of being eol, I don't know if you'd want to use it in permanently. Cisco still does make newer units in the rv series so that's an option if you like the Cisco way of doing things.

I have also used an older Netgear unit fvs124g. This unit was limited to only 11Mbps in routing so I only used it where I needed less bandwidth, but it did work. It's interface and limitations was different than the rv016 in terms of assigning traffic to wans and vlan capability, and some of that was useful for that installation. I do not believe netgear makes any more pro-series routers. The srx5308 was their last good multi-wan router as it could route full gigabit, but again this is discontinued.

I have also used routers by watchguard. These are enterprise level routers that are more infinitely configurable, but this can also make them daunting to initially set up. Nevertheless, once I had it set up, the reliability was second to none with years between reboots and consistent, seamless performance. I've used the xtm22w, M200, and M300 and while the xtm22w was limited to only 35Mbps wan to lan, it was reliable and was the gateway unit that led us to using the brand.

Prior to buying the watchguard, I was reading the 1000+ page manual for Zyxel's USG series routers that could do multi-wan. I never pulled the trigger on these, but they seemed like they would be reliable once set up. They were also not as expensive as full-blown enterprise routers like the watchguard.

And recently I acquired an old Fortigate 60CM to see how it handles multi-wan. This particular unit is older and limited to just dual wan, but I wanted to get a feel for the interface and how complicated it is to configure. I think this is on par with how the Zyxel would have been with what I have messed with so far. Their newest versions 60F are priced reasonably and almost cheap if you find them open box new.

Sonicwall, Netgate, pfsense and others also support multi-wan as the demand and use of multi-wan in businesses is pretty much essential these days. I don't have any personal experience with them, but believe they are also reliable choices if you like their configuration methods instead.

If I was in your shoes I would first see what you can get from your isp and from other isps including cellular. Then if it does seem like you will have multiple isps, get either the xtm22w or the rv016 and see if you can set them up the way you want them to work. If so, then get the modern version of them and see if that works for you (both have evolved a lot), and if not you know enough about it to know what to look for.

Feel free to ask questions. I've been using dual and multiple isp Internet setups for over a decade now so I've got a little bit of experience. ;)
 
Last edited:

aarhud

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Feb 13, 2016
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I appreciate the help!

so the next thing is trying to figure out what my requirements actually are. Ill see what capabilities my router has.

once I do that I will check all my options.
 
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