Tiernan's Comms Closet

March 22, 2016

2 Cable modems = Double Internet Speed? Well... not really... Part 1

[NOTE] This part 1 in a series of posts. The rest can be found here.

First, a bit of background, and then I will explain what I am currently running in Part 2

For the last 15 or so years, I have had at least 2 internet connections in to the house… 2 of them have always been Cable Modems from NTL, which became UPC, and now is Virgin Media. When I started, i think the modems where 150/50kbit/s and 600/150kb/s, and have steadily increased in speed, currently at 360/36Mbit/s each… But they have always been somewhat separate, and single thread downloads have always been limited to 1 of the connections… I have been looking for ways around this for years…

It started with a Linksys RV042 router which allowed me to load balance my connections… At the time, and i cant even remember when this was, my total bandwidth would not exceed the router. The RV042 has 2 10/100mbit WAN links and 4 100mb/s LAN links…So, when the connection bandwidth increased, I moved to a new router…

The next router vendor i tried was Mikrotik. I tried a few different options, including an RB1100 and running their RouterOS on x86 hardware… Both worked, well, ok, and the Load balancing with nth stuff did do what i needed, along with other stuff, like routing traffic destined for some sites (like BBC iPlayer) to go over a VPN. But in the end, hardware issues and performance problems with the x86 machine (Mikrotik at the time was limited to 2GB of RAM on x86 hardware) I ended up at PfSense.

PfSense was installed on the same hardware, a HP ProLiant ML110 G5 with 8GB RAM, a Core2Quad processor and 12 GigE Network cards… And, on PfSense, things were good… Performance was stable, load balancing worked as expected, I could set some traffic to go over certain links, etc. all was good… But I lacked IPv6… Plus, the HP used a LOT of power…

The current instalment of my network uses a Ubiquiti Networks Edge Router POE. To show the difference in power, check out the graphs from my Ubnt MPower device. ProLiant first, EdgeRouter second:

Proliant Power Usage

EdgeRouter POE Power Usage

Plus, the EdgeRouter does not produce as much heat, and its a LOT smaller that the PowerEdge! It does all the same things I could get PfSense to do, in a lot smaller package (I could, in theory, get a smaller box for PfSense).

So, where does that leave us? Well, I now have 720Mbit/s down and 72Mbit/s up, if I can do multiple threads for uploading… But what if I don’t? What’s next? Well, in the second post, I will explain what I have been trying to do in resent weeks, and what I can do now…