If you are based in a remote area or anywhere else, there is a solution where average broadband speeds don't measure up to other locations. Network bonding (bonded broadband) can be very cost-effective and increase your bandwidth and internet connection speed. It can also provide increased network resilience for businesses that rely on continuous uptime for their operations.
What is network bonding?
The term 'network bonding' refers to the technique of installing multiple internet connections like broadband, Ethernet lines or fibre broadband on a single site. Those connections can all be combined into a bonding interface via specialist hardware, accommodating up to 6 bonded connections simultaneously, working in one of the following ways:
- They act together as a single line with a significantly faster download and upload speed.
- Appearing as multiple lines with load balancing for a more stable, reliable network.
- Separating voice and data into different lines so that they don't interfere with one another's bandwidth.
- Prioritising specific traffic types onto certain lines for optimal performance.
When you explore the options available, it's essential to understand what your business needs from its internet connection exactly. Channel bonding service providers are experts, so it may be helpful to discuss your circumstances with them to get an idea of what solution might work best for you.
What types of network bonding are there?
Generally speaking, there are two main types of network bonding to choose from:
True network bonding
Bonding is a technique of link aggregation combining two or more bonded lines, aggregating their connection speeds into a single connection. The result is that the download and upload speed of the internet connection is far greater in bonding mode, as it is the total of the connections combined. The single network interface is excellent for virtually any activity, from general browsing to live streaming and downloading/uploading large files. It's all available on a fixed IP address too.
You must install a specialist bonding router on-site to achieve this connection. This hardware is complemented with a master bonding device on the service provider's network to add greater resilience. Although the service is configured to be an individual bonded link, we can customise the solution so that it remains operational if there is a fault with one of the lines involved. This reduces the risk of downtime but will mean the connection slows temporarily until the fault is resolved.
Modern solutions include the ability to bond multiple network interfaces from several fibre broadband services. The result can be a bonded interface with speeds of up to 320Mb, provided at a fraction of the cost of an equivalent fibre Ethernet service. Such download speeds are often reserved for a precious few, but network bonding opens them up to a more significant number of people.
Load balancing is a similar concept with a fundamental difference. It involves the configuration of multiple internet connections, but the traffic that passes through each line is not shared across two or more lines. A load balancing configuration routes traffic through multiple connections in such a way as to optimise the use of the available bandwidth. It is not true network bonding, but it does facilitate the process of separating traffic across several lines. One popular network switch configuration is to send VOIP traffic across one broadband line while channelling the data connection through another.
The result is an efficient and resilient solution with higher network fault tolerance. You can amplify that resilience by providing each broadband line across different networks to reduce the potential of mass outages when using multiple lines from a single supplier.
What are the main benefits of network bonding?
There are various features and benefits of implementing bonded solutions that appeal to businesses of all shapes and sizes. Some of the main ones are outlined below:
- True bonding options add speed to both downloads and uploads for a wide range of purposes across a single network interface.
- You get greater network resilience when you have multiple lines to fall back on.
- You get a single mac address or IP address allowing for VPNs, VoIP and remote management.
- You can access the top speeds at a fraction of the cost of fibre Ethernet.
- With load balancing, you can prioritise specific types of traffic into and out of your business via different routes.
- The solutions are scalable for when your business needs increase or decrease.
- You get unlimited usage from your lacp bonded plans.
- Multiple technologies can be bonded, including ethernet bonding, broadband bonding, fibre bonding, 4G bonding and even microwave connections.
- Service providers offer 24/7 monitoring, so there will be virtually no downtime.
Whatever your reasons for upgrading your home or business internet connection, it is worth considering broadband bonding. The benefits of true bonding over a single network interface and load balancing are there to be seized, and it can even be a more cost-effective solution than individual options from broadband providers.
What's more, it can make faster internet available in locations where average broadband speeds are low. This solution can be superb for businesses in those areas, particularly those who rely on the internet for many operations.