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Bonded ADSL is a broadband technology offered by specialist ISPs to give services superior to single ADSL lines and practical alternatives to leased lines and fixed links.
It involves bonding 2 or more ADSL lines, aggregating both the upload and download bandwidth into one single logical connection. By doing this, the connection becomes more resilient and much faster. But it doesn’t stop there. This is where choosing your bonded ADSL supplier is really important. There are different types of bonded ADSL, and there are different levels of quality and added value.
Bonding is an internet connection technology that combines classic broadband circuits like ADSL, FTTC and also Ethernet type circuits such as EFM and FTTP into a single connection, with the aggregated bandwidth of all the lines bonded together, and the increased resilience of having multiple lines and types for failover.Bonded ADSL is the most common form of bonded internet connection, as bonding was invented to solve the problem of slow ADSL lines, with no competing technology available other than expensive Ethernet circuits (Leased Lines) at the time.Now, other types of broadband can be bonded together as well, including bonded FTTC where BT have upgraded the local cabinet infrastructure with fibre broadband.
Evolving Networks bonded connections combine best-of-breed packet management algorithms with a world class contention-free network and unique user experience upgrades such as QoS and Bandwidth Amplification.Find out more here
When there was only ADSL and ADSL Max available, the reasons were simple for upgrading to a bonded ADSL connection, but now, as technology rollouts have been achieved throughout the UK, the reasons for bonding internet connections together can vary greatly depending on your location and your business’s needs.With Next Generation Access (NGA) technologies such as FTTP and FTTC only being installed in specific areas of the country, bonded ADSL 2+ and bonded ADSL Max are still part of the communication landscape. If anything, the need for bonding ADSL has increased in these underserved areas, as bandwidth requirements have increased over time, without the corresponding upgrades in connection speed.What we have found is that each location is different, served by a different combination of circuit types, and with different bandwidth levels and qualities. Add to that the differing and evolving needs of every business, the reasons below will likely be different for every business in every potential location.
At Evolving Networks, we advise on the best bonded internet connection for the situation, and then add further services on top to enhance the connection and the user experience as much as possible, to counter the problems inherent with broadband in the UK.Why choose us?
It might be that you just want to increase your resiliency by using more than one circuit, and that you don’t need the bandwidth that additional lines give, but for the businesses that are in a poorly served area, for those that have large bandwidth requirements, or just those who want a more cost effective solution to a leased line, bonding broadband lines together gives you increased speed.What we’re really talking about here is bandwidth, or the size of the internet pipe to your premises. In general people refer to this as speed, but really it is a rate of flow of data that we measure, the speed of the packets more accurately referring to the latency of the connection.When you bond lines together, you add the bandwidths of those lines together too. There are, unfortunately, bonding providers still out there that only bond at the speed of the slowest line – the one with the lowest bandwidth. That means that you could have an ADSL line at 4mbps and another at 5, and only get an aggregated bandwidth of 8mbps. This is a more primitive form of bonding, and doesn’t allow for differing line rates, or for different circuit types.
A useful by-product, for those who choose a bonded connection just for increased bandwidth, is increased resilience. The more lines you bond together, the less chance of going off line.The more types of connection circuit you bond, the less chance of going off line.There are obviously other factors to consider when choosing a bonded broadband provider, that will affect the robustness of the connection, including the central servers and how they are hosted, and the other parts of the ISP network and whether they have their own transparent failover.But as long as you have more than one ADSL line bonded together, your bonded ADSL connection will be more resilient than your old single ADSL line. A bonded FTTC connection will be more resilient than a single FTTC connection, and even EFM (which in itself is a form of bonded copper pairs), can be made more resilient by bonding it with other EFMs, or with ADSL 2+ lines, or FTTC if it’s available too.We’ll come onto the technicalities of how bonding works a bit further down this page, but the simple way of explaining it, is that as soon as there is an interruption in the flow of data on an individual circuit, the bonder and central server stop sending data over that faulty line.As soon as they detect the line is back, they start sending data again over that line – the failover times can vary greatly between different bonding suppliers so it’s best to ask for those details.Again, unless it’s an old type of bonding, or in actual fact load balancing, any bonded internet connection, regardless of circuit type, should give you a single public IP range to work with.That way, the failover is truly transparent – you don’t want to have to change IP addresses, or DNS for critical services when a circuit fault occurs!You also want this resilience to work in both directions, and not have some form of bonding that only bonds in one direction, or only bonds HTTP traffic.
Evolving Networks bonded internet connections bond every type of traffic, and give you a single IP range. As far as your firewall is concerned, you have a single internet connection – only better!Why choose us?
We’ve spoken about how bonding started just with ADSL lines (before other technologies were available), but for those who still don’t have access to FTTC, EFM, or even ADSL 2+, a bonded ADSL connection is a lot cheaper than a leased line in most locations.All connections are location dependent, whether it’s the bandwidth you get, or the price that you pay, they all have an element that will vary with where the connection is being delivered.A bonded ADSL service may not be synchronous, but for a lot of businesses, being able to breach 2 or 4mbps of upload, and dramatically increase the download bandwidth is more than worth the price of the upgrade, and often tens of thousands of pounds cheaper than a fibre leased line.With the FTTC commercial rollout, and the BDUK projects starting to fill in some gaps, fibre broadband lines bonded together can now deliver the same kind of value compared to the faster leased lines.Where before, we were comparing bonded ADSL services to 10mbps fibre leased lines, now we’re talking about bonded FTTC connections competing with 100mbps (or more) fibre leased lines.The same is true for FTTP, which currently tops out at 30mbps upload. If you do require more upload, then bonded FTTC will give a higher bandwidth connection, and again with the added resilience that you get from bonding broadband lines in the first place.
More than a third of telephone exchanges in the UK have no plans for upgrading to FTTC (fibre broadband) and there are still less than half of exchanges enabled for FTTC right now.The upgrade of the exchange is only the first step anyway, and no guarantee of whether your cabinet will be one of the lucky ones upgraded, so it’s worth doing a thorough check of the availability of all circuit types, particularly fibre broadband, before making any purchasing decision.We’ve written extensively about the FTTC checking process, and how the data given to the public is incomplete and often wrong – read about it here.If you are one of the many areas of the country that not only are not served now by an upgraded cabinet, but won’t be for any time in the foreseeable future, then bonding ADSL lines to form a single connection is going to be one of your only options.Not even all of the telephone exchanges have had the upgrade to ADSL 2+, let alone to FTTC, so it’s worth having an audit performed of what you can and can’t get, and what BT and your local BDUK project will likely give you.Having this information is valuable, as if you are waiting for your cabinet to be upgraded, but it won’t be, then you are wasting precious time, suffering with what you have, when you could have an improved internet connection.
Some bonded ADSL Suppliers use an old outdated protocol called MLPPP. Others need you to use an expensive Cisco router or a Linux server (that you then have to manage).Some suppliers think its ok to bond the download but not the upload! Or that true bonding of ADSL on both upload and download should be limited to 6mbps!Hardware can limit how fast bonded ADSL can be, and so can the bonding software itself. Make sure you’re buying from a provider that has a flexible, modern hardware platform that has no limits on connection speed.Make sure the bonding system itself can cope with differing speeds of lines, and of different types of lines.Also, make sure there are no minimum limits either. We’ve heard that some bonding providers have a minimum 2mbps per line requirement before they will bond them together. That restricts the people in the greatest need of bonding lines together to improve throughput. A good supplier will have no minimum limit or maximum limit.
Bonded ADSL involves creating connections into a central bonding server somewhere and then onto the internet itself.Some ISPs have a bank of these servers, but no redundancy or fail overs at all! They might have a spare sat there ready, but there is nothing automated about seeing 30 customers go down, and then manually writing the configuration to the spare device, and then swapping them over.So it’s vital that you understand how resilient the bonding provider’s central infrastructure is. A single server isn’t resilient, but if you can go to a provider which has central bonding servers on a resilient virtual platform, then that’s much better. You’re still relying on a datacentre not losing connectivity though, even then.If you can choose a bonded ADSL provider that hosts their central bonding infrastructure mirrored between geographically distinct datacentres, then you can truly have a resilient bonded connection without the bonding provider being a single point of failure.
Improving reliability is high on the list for people wanting a bonded ADSL connection, and often, some suppliers will shout about being able to bond any ISP’s connections. Here are the problems with that set up:Bonding over the internet, instead of through a private network, means that you are subject to the full end to end latency of each ISP network, which varies ISP to ISP. Tunnels are made across the internet to a central ISP datacentre with bonding equipment in it, and here’s where the resiliency argument falls over. This datacentre is with one ISP, and you are then relying on their IP connectivity to the internet for your bonded ADSL connection, no matter how many different ISP lines you have.So you might have an extra layer of resiliency at the line end (although take a look at what happened recently at the Paddington BT exchange, and you’ll see every ISP in that area suffered, including mobile broadband), but you are still relying on a single ISP for your routed connectivity.If you are going to buy ADSL lines yourself and then approach a bonding provider to bond those lines for you, it’s essential that you understand that you will be responsible for all the lines faults of those ADSL circuits, and for getting the most out of them.You should also satisfy yourself that their central bonding servers, as mentioned in the section above, are resilient across multiple datacentres. That way, you can trust that if there is a central failover of some kind, that the failover will be instant, or at the very least only restricted to a few seconds or minutes. There’s no point buying lines from multiple providers if you aren’t going to invest in a resilient bonding provider.
Most ISPs who offer bonded products, don’t add to it an essential component to ease support, and allow IT managers complete visibility of their network. But there are a few that do, and the best ones will be able to show you live throughput and historical graphs of speed, download and upload usage, and percentage utilisation.Good monitoring also greatly enhances technical support. If all of your bonded ADSL connections are constantly being looked after, then you can get on with your work, knowing that if something happens, the support guys will be on the case before you probably know there is a problem.