Increasing Internet Bandwidth by Bonding Inexpensive Coax Cable and DSL

Your multi location business could benefit by bonding individual wide area network circuits together in three ways:

  • It can increase bandwidth and speed throughout your MPLS WAN.
  • It can minimize the impact of an outage that one of your providers might occasionally suffer.
  • If bonding is done correctly, it can save you money.

My favorite solution provider that aggregates and integrates all carriers to allow entities with multiple locations with a nationwide network solutions is Bandwave Systems.  This is an (unpaid) overview on the process and how you can achieve some of the benefits they provide.

What is Circuit Bonding?

MPLS WAN Circuit ConceptBonding uses an appliance that lets you combine the individual throughput capacity of several circuits into a single circuit. For instance, you might have a DSL connection running 3 Mbps up and 1 Mbps down that you want to connect with a wireless connection running at 3 up and 1 down. The resulting bonding would give you a pipe that’s capable of 6 Mbps for uploads and 2 Mbps for downloads. If you’re using VoIP or passing rich media between office locations, bonding can offer you the throughput you need at modest cost.

Click here to see a glossary of terms.

With the much higher speed rating of coax and fiber, you can also see how bonding can give you tremendous flexibility in building the throughput you need for different kinds of traffic that each needs its own specific quality of service handling.

Bandwave Systems

First, Bandwave is an aggregator that works with all the national (and many regional) companies that provide cable, fiber, DSL and wireless. Bandwave handles multi-provider wide area networks for businesses like yours and offers a single point of contact for technical support, network management, invoicing and billing, and related services. Bandwave also provides the “last mile” connectivity you might need when you open a new location.

Because the company works with so many carriers, they’re familiar with the geographic footprint of each, as well as the rates each carrier charges. They’re in an ideal position to help you get the greatest bandwidth at the lowest price.

Further, they can help you increase the resilience of your WAN by recommending which circuits to bond from different vendors so you achieve carrier redundancy. For example, if you bond, say, a cable circuit from AT&T with a 4G LTE circuit from Verizon, you’ll survive an outage from either of them. That’s a far different approach than days gone by when a carrier bonded two T1 lines together, and then charged you twice as much. This major carrier alternative takes a carrier-agnostic approach.

Finally, I’ve found that Bandwave always puts their client in the driver’s seat. Sitting down for a technical consultation, you explain what you need to accomplish. Bandwave experts look at many options, then give you at least one solution, and oftentimes many possible approaches to solving the problem.

How Many Hops is Too Many Hops? Is Latency Hurting Your Business?

Let’s face it, we’re in the age of now.  Who doesn’t find it annoying when network latency forces you to wait while streaming video is buffering, degrades important VOIP calls or slows load time for critical applications?

As businesses are only as agile as the applications that support them, it’s critical to address the underlying causes for any latency issues you might be experiencing.Network Latency Is Less Ideal

The principal cause of latency lies in the route used to forward data from point to point. Routers are the devices that manage the path between any source-destination pair of addresses. They determine, usually, the shortest path between two points.

I’d like to share a few thoughts on how data moves across the internet to get from point A to B. Then we can talk about what is meant by “too many hops.”

Routers used by large enterprises, VoIP providers, most ISPs and other organizations that connect to two or more ISPs use Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) to route traffic through the Internet. = Whereas Interior Gateway Protocol (IGP) manages the low level details of Internet routing with methods like Open Shortest Path First (OSPF), the Border Gateway Protocol attempts to find the shortest path between two points using Autonomous System Numbers (ASNs).

ASNs are issued through the American Registry for Internet Numbers, commonly known as ARIN. (In Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East, an organization in Amsterdam known as RIPE handles Internet number assignment).

ARIN explains ASNs as follows: “An Autonomous System is a connected group of IP networks that adhere to a single unique routing policy that differs from the routing policies of your network’s border peers. An ASN is a globally unique number used to identify an Autonomous System. An ASN enables an autonomous system to exchange exterior routing information with neighboring autonomous systems.”

Once an organization is given an ASN, the BGP router accesses a list of Internet routes from its BGP router neighbors to find a path that minimizes the number of autonomous systems involved in forwarding data. That is, the router consults “nearby” routers to choose the shortest path.

Now that we’ve delved into those details, let’s take a look at a simple way to determine if your data is taking “too many hops.” The simplest test is the Windows program TRACERT, which you can launch using the CMD.exe command prompt. (Use TRACEROUTE for Linux or Apple computers). The program will show you the name or IP address of every router along the path that forwards your data toward its final destination, along with the time taken for each hop.

Depending on the ISP you use, data moving from you to its destination may have to make 10, 15, 20 or more hops across multiple ASNs. (There are about 20,000 ASNs in use worldwide today). To avoid the latency that’s bound to develop, it’s desirable to minimize the number of ASN’s on the route. One company, NTT Communications, solves the latency problem by using only one ASN (#2914) to span the entire globe.

With exchange points around the world, your data gets to any access point on NTT’s Tier 1 network in fewer than five hops. That means your data travels smoothly around the world and back with fewer delays. For VoIP service where latency can’t be tolerated, NTT Communications is our choice of ISP partners.

Additional Resources:

Networking 101: Understanding BGP Routing

Overview of Autonomous System (AS) Numbers

Using Coax Cable Aggregation to Backup or Augment Your MPLS WAN

The major cable companies like AT&T, Brighthouse, Comcast, Charter, Time Warner and others offer business owners wide area networking to connect multiple office locations. When only data passes between those locations, their cable architecture can usually meet your needs in terms of reliability and throughput.

The problem is, when you add voice or video to the mix, cable falls short because you can’t manage the QoS of a cable network.Overcoming QOS Problems With MPLS WAN

Jitter and latency can turn a routine phone call into a garble. Fortunately, Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) offers a solution that paves a direct path through the cloud and manages QoS so your calls and rich media go through as expected. But MPLS is only part of the solution for most multi-location businesses.

Here’s why.

Running your voice, video and data over multiple cable WAN‘s that are each managed by a different cable company becomes a logistics nightmare. Your office in San Jose may run on a WAN from cable company “A” while your Atlanta office runs on company “B”, while the New York headquarters uses yet another company. Most IT departments don’t want to have to deal with a plethora of cable companies. It begs for inefficiencies.

For example, each of those providers requires a separate contract. Each one bills you separately. Each has it’s own support team and 800-number. Whether you need to augment your corporate network or backup your corporate data there’s no need to struggle with that kind of arrangement. Aggregating multiple services under a single company makes sense.

Coax cable aggregation simplifies everything by putting one company in charge of your entire WAN no matter which company manages any given geographic area. I’ve long been a proponent (unpaid) of Bandwave Systems as an aggregator because they make things easy and handle all those details for you.

Bandwave gives you a single point of contact, continuous monitoring and management of your WAN’s. They can even provide that “last mile” connectivity you’ll need when you open a new office. And they do more than cable: 4G wireless, DSL and T1 can all be rolled into your infrastructure. Bandwave is up and running in 180 countries and ready to handle the international segments of your corporate network as well.

If you’re considering this kind of solution to the “too many carriers” problem, feel free to reach out and I’ll try to get you pointed in the right direction.

Product Review: An Overview of Broadview Networks’ “BYOB” Hosted VoIP Solution

Over the last few years I couldn’t help but notice how the proliferation of “BYO-something” has invaded the world of telephony and IT.

First it was Bring Your Own Device, and that wave of people (students at universities, mobile employees and others) forced organizations everywhere to beef up their wireless networks to accommodate the tsunami of users who demanded permission to use their own devices. Then, a few years ago the Gartner Group talked about BYOT, Bring Your Own Technology, which caused IT managers to redefine their role as managers of the network rather than managers of users who are “consumerizing” tech. Now comes another known as BYOB, but it’s not a bottle I’m talking about. It’s Bring Your Own Broadband.

BYOB JokeUsers, whether they’re small business owners or employees, are accustomed to having a broadband connection at home and at the office. Why not use that existing business service for VoIP phone traffic? After all, business service from companies like AT&T, Verizon and other alternative providers routinely offer speeds of 40 Mbps and greater.

So why not use the Internet for VoIP? Strangely, the answer to that question immediately reveals the problem, and the problem is the Internet. It’s a public network with no quality of service (QoS) other than what your router might give you. But once your VoIP packets leave your router, QoS disappears. Your router only affects packets within your local network.

Where to Turn?

Hosted VoIP companies like Broadview Networks recognize that BYOB isn’t the answer.

The company was established in 1996 as a regional telecom operation. Today it’s a national provider of cloud-based telephony and related services. It owns and operates its own redundant backbone fiber optic network and can therefore guarantee quality. Tens of thousands of SMB’s use Broadview, and I think they’re well worth your time to investigate.

They’ve developed a solution known as OfficeSuite that manages QoS from point to point and gives you clear, landline grade telephony your business needs if you expect customers and vendors to take you seriously. Here’s a summary from their FAQ page:

“When OfficeSuite service is delivered via On-Net Broadview access, Broadview will use Quality of Service (QoS) policy statements in the Broadview-provided router/Internet access device, to mark signaling and media packets with IP precedence. This will classify those packets across the Broadview Networks’ IP access network, by priority, available across the access link and the network core.”

If you’d like to learn more, here’s another video from Sanjay Patel, VP of Technology at Broadview. He explains that the company uses MPLS to manage QoS.

Now, after making a case against BYOB, I need to explain that Broadview does also give you the choice of using your existing broadband connection. Yes, you can BYOB with Broadview. When you sign up with them they’ll conduct a site survey to assure you have adequate bandwidth available.

So whether you choose to take the rough ride over the Internet, or the MPLS-managed highway that guarantees voice quality, Broadview offers a pretty complete solution.