Double the Bandwidth, Double the Fun?

I took a rather unusual step further into geekdom today: I picked up a second cable modem for my house.

I’ve been regularly exceeding my monthly bandwidth allotment of a measly 20 GB with the Northwestel Ultra package, which costs $90 per month.

I’ve been going over every month by anywhere from 4 GB to 15 GB. As Northwestel bills this extra data at an absolutely ridiculous fee of $10 per GB, I’ve been paying anywhere from an extra $40 to $150 extra each month.

It makes a lot of sense, then, for me to pick up a second cable modem account which buys me with an additional 20 GB at just 45% of Northwestel’s overage rate. Really, once anyone goes over Northwestel’s limit by 4 or 5 GB, it makes sense to pick up a second modem.

For some silly reason, Northwestel can’t just increase the bandwidth allotment on my original cable modem. I would have been sort-of willing to pay a full $90 extra each month to receive an additional 20 GB of data without even any increase in speed. Instead, they insisted that I pick up a second cable modem. Oh well, I’m not the one paying for the hardware.

But having two modems, to a geek like me, begs the question: how do I load balance these puppies?

Right now, I must swap the modems out once per month when each reaches its 20 GB data limit. But that seems kind of silly. At any given time, I have a perfectly good cable modem sitting there idle.

What I want to do, instead, is this:

Internet Load Balancing Hardware Architecture (v1)Yeah, that’s the ticket. I want both modems online simultaneously so that, on top of my new 40 GB per month bandwidth limit, I can reach a theoretical data throughput of 20 Mbps (a utopian dream with Northwestel, I know).

My problem is the load balancing device. I managed to locate a D-Link DI LB604 Load Balancing Router:


CNet reviewed it a few years ago. But the D-Link site reports that the device is discontinued. I haven’t been able to locate anything currently on the market that compared with this device (for less than $5,000, that is). Anyone else out there seen anything?

I’ve read up on how one could configure a Linux server to load balance multiple network connections, but that seems a bit like overkill for my needs.

Until I can identify a good load balancing solution, I’ll just swap the two modems regularly to avoid paying overage fees to Northwestel.

Once I get a load balancing solution in place, I’ll report back on what I put together, and whether I experience any increase in bandwidth speeds. (In case anyone actually wants to replicate the solution!)

Post Script

I’d like to note that, yeah, I’m now paying the ridiculous sum of $180 per month for a lacklustre, patchwork internet service that pales in comparison to other Canadian providers.

For example, in southern Canada Shaw offers a High Speed Warp service for the unbundled price of just $102 per month. Warp provides speeds of up to 25 Mbps and a whopping monthly download budget of 150 GB of data.

So while we pay comparable prices in the North for fruit and vegetables from Equador at Superstore, when it comes to an essential and modern infrastructure, we get shafted hard.

3 thoughts on “Double the Bandwidth, Double the Fun?

  1. I’d imagine that most Dual-WAN routers will also do the same job of balancing the load…

    The bigger question I have for those of you northerners is whether NWTel is still supplying the territory with a single T3 link? Trying to do anything live/streaming to the Territory must be absolutely futile. Last time I tried doing that with my mom who was in the territory at the time, the framerates on the iChat were probably less than 1 per minute.


    • Jon, I video iChat every day and, as long as Northwestel has managed to keep the Internet link south up, it’s flawless. Could be you mom was on a low-end Northwestel account?

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