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Sunday, December 14, 2014

1553. Using Multiple Internet Providers

I currently use AT&T’s U-verse service for my internet provider, but I really need a backup—it AT&T goes down, my business requires that I can still access the Internet. Cable Internet access is available in my area, as well. If I’m willing to pay for both services, can I use both concurrently? If one goes down, is there some way to automatically switch to the other?
Not only using dual connections a possibility, but it’s a good solution in cases where a home-based business requires constant Internet access. It can be expensive (paying for two online services concurrently), and in order to take advantage of the two services with automatic failover, you’ll need a router that supports the feature. Luckily, just about every router manufacturer sells a product that can handle two incoming Internet connections. Doug uses a Cisco router, and Ken uses one from Asus. In Doug’s case, because Comcast isn’t available at his office’s location, he maintains two DSL connections, and that configuration works as well. (In addition to failover, having two WAN—Wide-Area Network—connections may allow you to bond the two, providing you with faster access to the Internet. This feature depends on both the router and the two connections, so leave this planning to a professional.)

Another possible solution is to use a cellular connection as a backup. Depending on your location, one or more of the cellular companies might have good enough service so that you could use their connectivity in case your preferred connection goes down. Some advanced routers provide a USB port for a cellular modem, so that the router can automatically use the cellular connection in failure cases. The problem with this solution (isn’t there always a problem?) is that most cellular companies charge a fixed fee per month, whether or not you use their data. And the charges can add up quickly. There is a good alternative, however: A product named Karma provides a “bucket” of data that doesn’t expire, with no monthly fees—you pay only for the data you use. This plan is unlike most other cellular data plans. If you’re interested in a cellular plan with a sane cost structure, with a modem that you can carry with you anywhere in the country, check out Karma: (and if you use this link, you and Ken both save $10 on data—you can’t lose!)

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