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I have installed a hotspot for our local harbor. The hotspot is mainly for Russian ships to use. The installation is a single network setup with several wireless links and access points, so all the harbor is online.

When we started, the norm was one ship at the time. Now, there is a constant stream of Russian ships seeking our local harbor, because of the free Internet access. This is good, because that's the point of the hotspot. There is one problem though: Our ISP in the Faroe Islands only offers 20/1 broadband connections at astronomical prices and a 20/1 connection isn't any good if there are 50 users all expecting a fast connection.

Is it possible to merge two or three 20/1 connections into the same network? Is there any hardware on the market, made for the job?

My hotspot is capable of 100Mb+ connection (long range), so merging three connections will not exceed the hotspot's capabilities and it would save me a lot of trouble of setting up a new complex network.

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5 Answers 5

Yes there are a lot of load balancers for ISP redundancy on hardware ammpliances. In fact most of the Firewalls have this feature.

Thought you can do it by software in a standard machine.

With Microsoft Forefront TMG 2010 you can enable the feature ISP Redundancy.

On Windows you can do not a really network balancer but something similar, this is called Distributed Network Sessions. It is that if you have two NICS with two gateways windows can random the send of the packets from one interface and other and due this happen very quickly in practice you get the addition of the both bandwiths. For do that you need to change the registry value RandomAdapter in

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Netbt\Parameters

and restart the computer as this Microsoft article says: TCP/IP: Load Balancing vs. Distributed Network Sessions

On Linux you can accomplis this task using IPTables, as you can see in this Server Fault question: Load balancing & NAT-ing multiple ISP connections on Linux.

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Mikrotik allows for bonding of multiple lines with their Router OS and Routerboard series hardware. We run this in a satellite office to improve upload speeds where "business" internet doesn't necessarily exist (at least, at a reasonable price).

More information can be found here

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You're going to need to place a device, most likely a router in front of your hotspot to load balance the connections, preferably a device that will do a round-robin load balance for you. A low-end sonicwall firewall can do this very easily, and provide you a little more protection at the same time.

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I have a firewall, and I also have traffic shaping up and running. But is it possible to merge several broad bands into one network? –  hogni89 Oct 17 '11 at 3:38
    
IIRC, round robin "merges" the connections by rotating connections through the broadband connections. Its about the closest thing you can get to merging connections –  TheLQ Oct 17 '11 at 3:47
    
Correct, and ideally the sessions will be "sticky" so that for each source IP it sticks with that broadband link per session so things like FTP don't complain. –  SpacemanSpiff Oct 17 '11 at 12:47

I believe that what you are looking for is channel bonding but this will require configuration from your ISP side. If they are open to it, you can always approach them to help with it. This can be done if all your down-link connections come from the same ISP.

Otherwise, the next best thing would be round-robin or some other neat routing trick. This can work even if your down-links are from different ISPs.

However, you must also realise that most of the bandwidth advertised by ISPs are best effort meaning that you may not get the linear increase in bandwidth that you may expect.

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Yes. There are several devices on the market, currently in use in trains etc. You need to place a concentrator in some datacenter that will merge the datastreams. I have built such software too (Linux), it has been in use for several months. Contact me if you want to try/use it.

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