Multipath routers: the easy way to faster broadband?

If you’re stuck in an area with slow broadband, there’s little you can do to speed things up – unless you get multiple lines and bond them together.

Multipath routers: the easy way to faster broadband?

As that’s beyond the technical capability of many, an Irish company is crowdfunding a multipath router that does the work for you, letting you combine up to four connections – including 4G – to boost your bandwidth.

The multipath router, which is available via Indiegogo starting tomorrow, will cost $199 with a $4/month service charge – rising to $249 once the campaign is over.

We spoke to Multipath Networks’ CEO Justin Collery to find out more.

Q. How does your multipath router work?

A. The router has four WAN ports, so two Ethernet ports and two USB ports. It connects to a server we host, and it adds [together] all the speed and reliability of all your internet connections.

You could have a connection from BT, from Virgin and let’s say a 4G connection from EE, and… if you get 10Mbits/sec from each, you’ll get a 30Mbit/sec connection. It adds internet connections together.

Obviously for home users that’s really cool for IPTV; even though it’s a single stream, it’ll be split across all your internet connections. For businesses it’s even more important… if you have three connections and two of them go offline, you stay online. So you get bulletproof, really reliable Skype and VoIP calls.

Q. Where did this idea come from?

A. We’re based in Ireland, and a number of years ago I moved from Dublin… to quite a rural location. We could get 5Mbits/sec DSL from Eircom, the local incumbent, and I could also get a 5Mbits/sec fixed wireless connection, but I really like Netflix and 5Mbits/sec just wasn’t enough.

So I started to investigate solutions – my background is in broadband – and I started to investigate bonding solutions, and I came up with this. It was a personal need we’ve turned into a business.

Q. How does it work with 4G?

A. What you find for consumers is more and more people these days are using 4G MiFi devices, so we’re adding a wireless interface to the router, so that when you come home our router will wirelessly connect to your MiFi device and then add the speed of your connection to your 4G, and you basically get to use all the bandwidth you’re paying for.

You’re paying for two connections at the moment, but you only use one at a time, which doesn’t make a lot of sense. This allows you to use all of the connections you’re paying for at the same time, and get the benefit of all of them.

Q. What about data use – EE doesn’t have an unlimited data option?

A. For the 4G connections, what we’re allowing people to do is set the MiFi device in what we’re calling “overflow mode”. Let’s say you’ve got a 10Mbits/sec DSL line and a 10Mbits/sec 4G connection, it will completely use the DSL connection and only when that link is saturated will it use bandwidth from your 4G.

Q. To use this, then, you’ll have to have multiple connections though?

A. Another thing we’re promoting in this project is if you’ve got two neighbours living in an apartment block, you can share your bandwidth with your neighbour and your neighbour can do the same with you.

If your neighbour isn’t using their DSL connection, you can add their speed to your speed – in theory you can double the speed of your internet connection without actually paying any extra.

Let’s say there’s two people in an apartment block and they both have a multipath router. They can wirelessly talk to each other and they’ll share bandwidth between each other. If you’ve both got 10Mbits/sec connections from BT, if your neighbour isn’t using his, you’ve now got a 20Mbits/sec connection that hasn’t cost you a penny.

Q. You’ve also promised to put your servers locally if enough people sign up in an area. Why are you doing that?

A. Because we’re splitting data across many different operators, it has to connect to our server to put the packets back in the right order again and that’s your gateway now to the internet. Obviously that has a bit of latency in it, and you want to have that server as close to you as possible – it’s not long latency, it might be the difference between 1ms and 5ms, but people do care about this.

Let’s say we get 50 people from Manchester supporting our project, then we’ll put one of our aggregating servers in Manchester, and we’ll do it down to the finest location that we can. If it’s all of the UK, we’ll put a server in the UK, but if there are five towns around the UK that have more than 50 subscribers, we’ll put a server in every single one of them.

The Indiegogo campaign launches 1 October here.

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