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Will a second line increase broadband reliability?

chris123

Member
Hi there!

Been looking at ISPreview for a while for ways to make my broadband more reliable!

We get decent speeds of 15mbps but it drops out around 2-3 times a day (for around 3 minutes then comes back online again). Not good for video calls!

I was wondering therefore, if we got a second line wether it would create a more reliable connection. I expect that this second line would also drop out 2-3 times a day. My question is would they drop out at the same time? Seeing as they take basically the same route to get here, would they be expected to both drop at the same time? Or is there some other reason why they could drop and therefore the two are independent of each other?

I'm looking at having two different ISPs just to minimise potential overlaps. I would then look at internet bonding or a load balancing router.

What do people think?

Chris
 

Meatball

Regular Member
If your broadband is dropping out that regularly it sounds like you need to investigate why. Could be your line pair, internal telephone wiring, the router etc.

If it is the telephone line a second line pair will be very close to the existing one and may suffer the same issues.

Whether it is with another ISP or not its likely you will be sharing the same Openreach infrastructure and possibly back haul depending on the provider. This therefore doesn't provide good resilience.

You are better to consider a completely different network provider (such as VM if available) or 4G. The latter can be provided by getting a Router such as a Draytek that has both DSL and 4G or by using a 4G modem that has WAN sensing (Netgear LB2120) to provide a broadband backup.

If you want to load balance then again certain Draytek models will oblige. Alternatively use a DSL router in bridge mode and the Netgear LB2120 and feed each into a dual WAN router such as the Ubiguiti EdgeRouter. Load balancing can get complex but the EdgeRouter wizard can set up the basics. Which is best depends on what kit you already have. If you just have a basic ISP router I would go the Draytek route.
 

kommando828

ULTIMATE Member
I use a Draytek 2925, £30 to £40 off ebay. Over the years I have used it to load balance, ADSL and 3G, Wi-Fi and 4G and currently 4G and 4G from 2 providers. If one feed goes down you do not notice unless it's a download using full bandwidth, then it just slows down.
 

aesmith

Casual Member
Is this ADSL or FTTC? If ADSL then a 15 meg suggests you're quite close to the exchange. It really shouldn't be dropping anything like that often. What has your ISP done to try and fix it?

For comparison we're on a 5.3km line, subject to such severe interference from an electric fence that Openreach has issued a "deadlock". Essentially saying take it or leave it but we can't fix the fault. However even our line doesn't drop that often.
 

CharmingCent

Casual Member
I got a second line for this reason, and it ended up making the original line worse. The second was equally bad. This was all due to crosstalk
 

dabigm

Casual Member
Most load balancing routers don't work like you might think they would. Let's say you have two ISPs and a load balancing router. Then you engage in a video call on say Skype or Zoom. Most likely depending on how the router is setup what you will get is one connection goes via one link and another via the other link, called round robin.

This also means you zoom call is going to go via one ISP only. Sure if that ISP goes down, you'll be able to re-establish it over the other ISP if it fails over on the router, but you'll still get cut off if the ISP you are using cuts out.

As for bonding, that might make the line more stable. I don't know of very many ISPs offering bonding though except maybe AAISP, but there are also VPN solutions that can actually use both links simultaenously and handle failover, and not cut you off when one link fails. The VPN solution also works for different ISPs (so not technically "bonding" as we might think of it, but both connections are being used)

Google VPN bonding for more info on the last part
 

tims20

Casual Member
Hi, thought I'd add a comment as we've just been through what sounds like a pretty similar setup.

Two broadband lines can absolutely improve reliability under some circumstances but it would depend on the cause of your current dropouts. Back at the start of lockdown 1 we had a second FTTC line installed to help ease balancing 2 of us working from home along with continual streaming / Zoom calls with the kids. The second line was activated using the spare pair in our dropwire from the street and worked pretty well for a while.

We added a Unifi EdgeRouter and later a Unifi USG for load balancing which works pretty much as @dabigm described. Biggest win is balancing outgoing traffic across both links which, although it can't improve the maximum capacity on each line can give you more usable capacity by spreading the load. Worked well in the most part.

However. A fault developed about 8 weeks back with audible noise on first one line and later across both, steadily deteriorating until neither line was usable for voice and broadband speeds were significantly impacted.. with the added delight that an incoming phone call would drop broadband sync on both lines. Turns out that they shared cables all the way back to the cabinet and were connected using the same equipment. Not a lot of separation there and after weeks of effort a fault was eventually traced to the underground cabling serving our house - with an electrical short across the pairs serving our lines.

Shorter version is that you're not going to get meaningful redundancy on two residential lines.. better to fix a fault if there is one!

In terms of us, we've now gone a different route and ditched one line in favour of a 4G connection. Although we're in rural Norfolk, we've been able to consistently get speeds around 67Mbps down & 27Mbps up via Vodafone so are now using that as our main link with one FTTC line as a backup. Adds a bit more resilience as it's hopefully fairly unlikely that both Vodafone and Openreach's kit will fail at the same time!
 

chris123

Member
Thank you for all the replies. I decided to try 4g just so it could be completely separate. That was a whole complete challenge in itself using high gain antennas but after weeks of testing and troubleshooting I’ve got it sorted.

It seems to be reliable enough now by itself so I’m not worrying about any load balancing or bonding setups. I have tried Speedify VPN but I actually find it to be less reliable so will need to contact support to find out why.

Also I’m future hoping to find out the reason why my FTTC connection keeps dropping. We were with Vodafone Broadband which was a nightmare cos support was rubbish and they didn’t seem to understand that because there was no 4g in my area my live chat would disconnect whenever they told me to reset the router. So at least now I can contact support on the 4g connection to try and get the broadband fixed.
 

tims20

Casual Member
Thank you for all the replies. I decided to try 4g just so it could be completely separate. That was a whole complete challenge in itself using high gain antennas but after weeks of testing and troubleshooting I’ve got it sorted.

It seems to be reliable enough now by itself so I’m not worrying about any load balancing or bonding setups. I have tried Speedify VPN but I actually find it to be less reliable so will need to contact support to find out why.

Also I’m future hoping to find out the reason why my FTTC connection keeps dropping. We were with Vodafone Broadband which was a nightmare cos support was rubbish and they didn’t seem to understand that because there was no 4g in my area my live chat would disconnect whenever they told me to reset the router. So at least now I can contact support on the 4g connection to try and get the broadband fixed.
Good to hear you got your 4G up and running - must admit we're very happy with ours now to the point it's become our main connection. The remaining broadband line's finally fixed and is syncing at a reasonable speed but going back to 6Mbps upstream isn't an option :)

With your broadband fault - is it sync that's dropping or something else going on? Also have you tried plugging in a corded phone handset and listening to the line? Should be silent... if it's anything but silent get a phone fault raised to check the copper circuit..
 
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