My business is internet based; my phone is an IP phone, it uses the internet. If the internet goes down, so will most of my stuff until it’s back in a few hours or days. It doesn’t stop there though, as even my TV uses the internet these days, and besides, there are all of these cloud services, meaning some of my data may not be on any of my computers. I use a cable connection to the internet, and it’s pretty fast, especially when it comes to downloading. The faster the link, the more we can do with it and the more we rely on it. And… it doesn’t end there either! Laptops, mobile phones, tablets, televisions, set-top boxes, NAS drives, stereos, cameras, etc. all use wireless connectivity, so wireless is also very important.
If you run an internet dependent business or you really miss your home internet connection, you don’t want it to ever stop working! Well maybe when you’re on vacation … uh oh, I have a remote security camera connected to your phone via internet or some other device, maybe remote internet connected to a pet feeder or something.
I think most of us want all 9’s of reliable uptime for our internet, but of course that’s not always easy to achieve. Making it 100% Reliable I can’t promise even all nines aren’t that simple, but I’ll probably show you how to make your internet faster, more bandwidth, more reliable, and improve your wireless network at a reasonable cost !
A common problem
Most homes and small businesses have 1 internet connection, 1 line, and 1 router that acts as a router, switch, and wireless access point… right? If any of these items fail, it could also cause your internet access. You can ask a neighbor if you could pull a wire into the company from their supplies or ask for a wireless password, or maybe that’s okay sometimes, it’s kind of a temporary solution. If you want to be self-sufficient, you will probably need a better solution.
What happens when …
Your router is down
It’s simple, get another router, set it up (hope you know where your broadband credentials are) or better yet, have another router on standby, just in case! In my experience most people or companies don’t have a spare. Your current router may be a bit unique, but it will do anything to get you going if a direct replacement isn’t at hand.
Your internet connection is down
It could be your ISP, a line glitch or JCB digging out. Either way, it depends on your provider’s service-level agreements. You’ll probably be down for a few hours, maybe a few days, and if you’re really unlucky a few weeks, you will, especially if the road needs to be dug up.
Unstable wireless network
Wireless communication has come a long way, but is still an unstable service. It depends on many things, how many people are already connected, what’s in your building, the weather conditions, the type of wireless network you have and the capabilities of the devices you are trying to connect to, etc.
It’s also not that great when you have more than 1 wireless access point, but your device remains connected to the access point you were from close to 2 minutes ago and which is now almost out of range. You can stand next to another access point on the same network, but still can’t connect to it unless you do it manually.
Does this all or some sound familiar?
There are very fast internet connections with high uptime and excellent service level agreements which means if your internet connection is lost it will be repaired quickly but of course it can cost a lot of money and JCB going through the cable will likely ruin even that plan for a while. There is WiMax, the line connects to sites, and even satellite connections, but well, for many it’s a bit pricey and maybe a bit over the top.
My solution suggested below is not new, but it has improved over time and costs less than it used to be. Not all brands and / or models will allow you to do this, but the right devices are readily available and inexpensive.
More than 1
Broadband is pretty cheap so how about 2 deliveries on different networks so if your ISP or just 1 line fails, the other will likely still work. Just to fit and harness, how about powering your mobile broadband in case a clumsy JCB company came your way and cut all the cables to your premises (don’t laugh, this happened to the company I worked for).
In that case, you should have 2 broadband lines connected to the same router which will balance all internet traffic with 2 services for more speed and bandwidth. If broadband service 1 fails, the second service will continue until the service has failed. If both services fail, Mobile Broadband will work.
Mobile broadband depends on the mobile signal you can get, where the router is and whether it is 3G or 4G, but at least it will allow you to access the internet. If it’s 4G, then it could be pretty good! You’ll have to watch your mobile broadband usage depending on the tariff you’re using, but at least you’re still working.
What happens if the router fails? Well, of course that can happen, so for the price, I’d keep the second router as a backup. You can back up the configuration of the router you are using and upload it to the other router. You can back up your configuration every time you change it and load it onto a second router, or at least have it ready. For some devices, extended warranties are available to replace your defective device the next business day without any doubt. You can even use a second router as a second modem if you set it up correctly, but that’s a topic for another day.
Improving wireless connectivity
Wireless or Wi-Fi has improved over time. The range is greater, more reliable, and easier to connect than it used to be, but it’s still a fickle and sometimes quirky technology. If you need a consistent service over a specific area, you’ll likely need to go overboard with wireless coverage.
Many routers aren’t just routers; these include routers, switches, modems, and wireless access points. The wireless part of the main router will provide everything you need in a small space, but as your work space increases, you will need more wireless access points to cover that area. Wireless access points can be obtained in both indoor and outdoor environments and can work well in a campus environment.
There are two main variants which we can call push and pull systems. To use several technical terms, we will refer to a wireless system as a server and a cell phone, laptop, tablet, or other wireless client device.
Most home or small office wireless systems are downloadable, meaning you manually connect your client device to the wireless server. For example, an office or home has 2 access points, 1 is the wireless router on the bottom and the other is the wireless access point on the top. Once your client device is connected to the router at the bottom (the server), it stays connected to it until it goes out of range, so if you go upstairs you may need to manually disconnect from the router at the bottom and connect to the wireless access point at the top. It works, but it’s clunky and there’s no seamless transition from one wireless zone to another. Both wireless access points are part of the same system, but the connection to them is not managed automatically. You could say you have to pull connections.
Using the same scenario, the wireless system is now managed and connections forced. The effect is that when you climb the stairs, the wireless network management software built into the system monitors its connections, and when the signal from 1 wireless access point becomes weaker and the next stronger, it transfers the connection to the stronger wireless access point to the client device, such as like your phone.
Another great thing about Managed Wireless is that it shares the load, so if several devices are within range of more than 1 AP, these APs can share wireless traffic instead of 1 being congested and the other almost unused.
Now you can walk up and down stairs with your client device and stay connected without thinking. Where there are two or more access points managing a large amount of wireless traffic, they can take care of the traffic load so that the user has a good, reliable wireless service throughout the operational area.
That sounds expensive
Managed wireless used to be expensive, but now it’s not. It costs more than a wireless connection, but not much more, and is within a credible cost for home or small business users. If you need it, it’s worth the modest extra cost.
You will need routers and wireless access points that can act as part of a Managed Wireless system, and you will also need 2 broadband supplies which can be a combination of ADSL max, ADSL2 +, a fiber known as FTTC or any other suitable broadband / Ethernet source. You can use a broadband cable connection. 2 lines carrying BT as broadband also provide 2 lines of voice.