DSL is dead to me. Seriously – I really don’t see the point of it anymore. Yes of course if you’re in the middle of a city I’m sure you can get pretty good speeds on DSL, I used to get 24Mbps when I lived a spitting distance from the exchange, but if you’re that close you should be on a fiber connection by now rather than DSL anyway.
I now live only 3.5miles distant from the exchange and my DSL is shocking. I get 1.5Mbps if I’m lucky – and even that drops to less that 1Mbps in the evenings and weekends.
Bonded DSL is Too Expensive
Up until recently there really wasn’t much of an alternative. Yes you can bond DSL, but when you’ve only got a little over 1Mbps per circuit even with 4 or more DSLs it really doesn’t add up to much more speed. And every new DSL comes with a standing charge for the copper line as well as the DSL service itself and then with the bonding technology on top of that – the monthly charges really begin to climb, with prices for commercial DSL bonding starting at £160/month for 4 bonded DSL lines with a 50GB cap.
Of course you can use Peplink routers for DSL bonding giving a considerable saving over typical commercial offerings, but even then its only 4-6Mbps of bandwidth – unless you opt for one of the enterprise routers that can handle 5-13 DSL connections at a time, but who can justify that expense for home or small business? Not many I’ll wager – although if you do need a highly resilient connection and are able to pay for it, then the Peplink 580 routers and up are well worth a look.
Satellite’s High Latency Hurts
There’s satellite of course – historically the go to internet service for people in the middle of nowhere who need bandwidth, but it comes at a price too, and with its high latency isn’t always the best fit for all types of traffic.
4G Is Fantastic
No friends, as the title suggests, the right solution right now nine times out of 10 is cellular. 4G/LTE if you have it, HSPA+ if you don’t. Why? Because its cheap (and getting cheaper) coverage is good (and getting better every day), and the bandwidth availability can be crazy good (if a touch variable).
In my office with 1.5Mbps on DSL I am currently achieving 40Mbps load balancing across a pair of 4G sims. 40Mbps! Sure its highly variable still- I might only get 8-12Mbps at times, but I’ll always get more bandwidth than is available on my rusty waterlogged DSL line.
4G Has Been Expensive
Until recently I wouldn’t recommend cellular as a viable primary option for home users – this wasn’t because of technical reasons but rather due to cost, £20/month might have bought 3/4Gb bandwidth allowance and that is nowhere near enough for most peoples home use. Stream a single HD movie and its gone and woe betide you of you dip into bandwidth outside of your allowance – overages are very very expensive.
There Are Some Great 4G Deals Now
However with all the UK’s mobile network operators pushing to make some money back on their infrastructure investments there are some great deals out there now. Three for example does a 10Gb pay monthly (30 days rolling contract) for £15/month. iD (carphone warehouse’s new MVNO on Three) do 20Gb for £20/month (again 30days rolling) – Grab a HD4, slap 4 sims in and it will cost you £80/month – half the price bonding 4 DSLs with more bandwidth allowance and throughput that can top 70Mbps.
4G For Failover
You may well be reading this whilst connected to a fiber line, chuckling to yourself at how much that is. I know what you’re thinking, I have friends in Hong Kong who are on 1Gbps fiber links at home paying less than half of that with unlimited bandwidth – so anything over £40/month for home broadband seems a little too expensive to make sense. But think of this. What would you do if your fiber failed? Sure you could perhaps just wait it out – its your home broadband after all, and you’ll have your smartphone you can tether (if your MNO allows it) so you can watch facebook videos and check twitter. Now picture that outage running for a couple of days – that becomes more painful doesn’t it?
Like many others I work from home and my internet connection is my umbilical cord to my profession, my home office doesn’t work without reliable connectivity to my VoIP provider and my central corporate resources. Like all office environments I am reliant on cloud based resources (like email and Dropbox) and I need regular use of secure VPNs to get to the sensitive data I use on a daily if not hourly basis.
Use it as a Primary or Failover Connection
So. If you are in need of bandwidth, have rubbish DSL and are way down on the list of exchanges due to be upgraded to Fiber by BT OpenReach, grab a cellular router and slap some sims in, you won’t regret it.
If you are already on Fiber and rely on it to make your business work, to connect you to your colleagues and your customers, pop a 4G sim in alongside your fixed line connectivity – One day you’ll be glad you did.
Oh, and if you’ve got DSL already my advice? is you might as well keep it, but buy a pay monthly 4G sim, cap the allowance so you don’t get any nasty bills for overages and failover to DSL when your allowance runs out 😉