In today’s “always online” business environment, connectivity plays a large part in day to day operations. There almost isn’t any business process or task which doesn’t rely on being connected.
The primary method of connectivity for a typical site or regional office remains as some form of business grade broadband, such as ADSL or FTTC, or Ethernet for larger sites. The one thing that connectivity like this has in common is that the last mile usually ends up at the local telephone exchange, the same location that a PSTN telephone line would go to.
When backup is considered for the primary connectivity, the option of an ADSL or FTTC based backup usually is at the forefront. A second line is installed into the customer’s site and a broadband service provisioned. While this definitely reduces the chance of a total loss of service, there are some things which should be considered.
Firstly, the fact that there appears to be a second physical line into the site doesn’t guarantee a totally “diverse path”. An example of this would be that the service provider uses the same systems to serve both circuits, for example the access routers or authentication systems. Another example, especially when it comes to broadband type services, is that the same exchange is used to provide all the services. If the exchange itself has a fault, for example a flooding, or a power issue, all services originating from that exchange would be interrupted.
For optimal uptime, a cellular based alternate path is an advantage. Mobile networks are built to very high tolerances, and cell towers provide overlapping coverage. If a cell tower lost service the SIM card would generally be able to establish a connection with another cell tower and continue to provide service. Many models of routers are also able to keep the SIM card “alive”, sending a ping every few seconds or minutes, and automatically switch over once the main WAN link is down. If the main WAN link comes back up, the traffic will use that link again, thereby saving on cellular data usage.
For even more resiliency, IP address on the SIM card can be configured to be the same as the IP address on the main WAN connection. This provides a seamlessly transparent switchover. While most applications are cloud based these days, this may help legacy applications which place more emphasis on a static IP address. Although there are some criteria for this, such as the customer owning their own IP block and having control over the advertisement and routing of that IP block to the Internet.
Finally, we are not quite at the stage where cellular data is an “unlimited” commodity, like most broadband packages. While the industry has made great strides recently, in offering ubiquitous 4G and multi gigabyte packages at low rates, attention has to be paid to data consumption.
However being realistic about data consumption, and clever construction of packages, allows Pangea to implement effective cellular backup solutions for customers which can actually be cheaper than a fixed line and broadband combo. A package can be constructed with low SIM monthly costs and a separate add-on block of data, which is shared between all the sites. The block of data can grow or shrink in size in line with the customers requirements. This allows the customer to intelligently forecast usage and have a diverse, customised backup solution.
4G connectivity can also match or even exceed certain fixed line services. For example response times can be sub 30 milliseconds, so real time services such as VoIP, screen sharing and remote working work well. Bandwidth can be up to 50Mbps which can match FTTC and beat ADSL or ADSL2.
Get in touch with Pangea about how our cellular packages can help backup of your WAN services, without relying on a second fixed line broadband service.