Edimax BR-6524K review
Broadband has brought fast Internet access right down to the smallest business. But while larger companies can protect their Internet connectivity by operating two leased lines from different suppliers, small companies have had no way of replicating such luxury.
Edimax claims to have the answer to this problem with its multihoming broadband router. Instead of just one Ethernet WAN port, the BR-6524K sports two, so you can connect two broadband connections at the same time. The two ports can be configured in a variety of ways. You can leave them both on, and load balance them against each other according to fixed percentages – for example, if you have a 1.5Mb cable modem and 512K ADSL, you might want to try 75-25. You could also set one up as the always-on primary, and the other as a secondary backup, which comes online only if the first one fails.
The Edimax supports a comprehensive selection of broadband connection types. These include cable modems, fixed-IP and PPPoE (Point-to-Point Protocol over Ethernet) DSL, plus Layer 2 and Point-to-Point Tunnelling Protocol xDSL. There’s no PPPoA (A standing for ATM) capability, although PPPoE is now being rolled out across BT’s ADSL infrastructure, so it’s less of an issue.
We were using a 1.5Mb/sec Telewest blueyonder cable modem as the primary, backed up by a 512K BTopenworld ADSL line. However, we had trouble getting the Edimax to talk to our test broadband connections to begin with – the Edimax refused to connect. We also found the web-management interface counter-intuitive, with the main navigation links hidden in the top-right corner. The browser’s Back button doesn’t take you where you’d expect either. Once we were used to that, the latest 1.35 firmware upgrade solved our broadband issues, and we were eventually online with both connections. Unplugging one merely reduced bandwidth, but otherwise Internet access went on as normal.
The Edimax has a few other novel features as well. The Quality of Service (QoS) bandwidth control allows throughput to be set for specific source and destination IP addresses and ports. For example, this allows you to dedicate a certain portion of your broadband to specific local applications, such as your web server or Internet telephony.
All the standard routing features are there as well, and each one can be applied to a specific WAN connection. So you could have your FTP server use one broadband connection and your web server the other. Both port forwarding and virtual servers can be set up, although the difference between the two is subtle. You can also temporarily open port ranges for special applications after a trigger from a specific port. There’s Application Layer Gateway support for some preset apps, but the list includes a number of outmoded games such as Quake III and StarCraft.
The Edimax’s firewall offers IP filtering for up to 20 addresses, unlimited MAC address filtering and URL blocking, plus Denial-of-Service protection from four types of attack. Once this is active, you can nominate a DMZ system for unrestricted Internet access. To help make your local services more easily accessible from the outside Internet, nine different dynamic DNS server options are supported, including DynDNS and TZO, but not No-IP.
The Edimax BR-6524K is a great idea, bringing fault-tolerant Internet connectivity to the masses. The initial problems we had setting up a basic broadband connection were a slight worry, but once we had it working the BR-6524K behaved exactly as described.