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3Gstore Router Failover Guide

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Tuesday, 09 April 2013

3Gstore Router Failover Guide

 

 

In today’s world virtually all companies need reliable Internet connectivity to conduct day to day business. Take for example a local commercial business that needs Internet connectivity to process credit card transactions. When the primary Internet connection goes down your business can no longer process transactions costing the company money in lost revenue. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got a Cable/DSL or a T1 line, connections can fail at any moment. Planning in advance for loss in connectivity ensure your business can continue to run without interruption.

At 3Gstore we specialize in a variety of routing solutions that can provide backup connectivity, or be integrated into your companies existing firewall. Now that Verizon, AT&T and Sprint offer 4G LTE to most major areas, businesses can now have redundant backup connectivity where traditional Cable/DSL services may fail without a loss in speed. In fact, many find that 4G LTE is faster than their traditional landline connection! It’s not uncommon for customers to see 30Mbps download and 10-15Mbps upload, with carriers touting average speeds around 5-12Mbps down and 2-5Mbps up. The guide below will help you identify exactly which hardware you’ll want to consider and the pro’s and con’s about different solutions.

Step 1 - Selecting your backup ISP:

The first thing you want to do when looking at failover solutions is to determine which providers are an option for you. If you want to have a wireless backup option the most popular carriers in the U.S. are Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and TMobile. We recommend checking our 3G/4G coverage maps to locate the provider that offers the best coverage in your area. If you plan to deploy backup coverage to multiple sites you may want to consider leasing or purchasing our carrier signal tester to easily identify the best carrier at each location.

 

If you plan to do a multi-WAN solution (Multiple Cable/DSL providers) instead of wireless, you’ll need to verify which Cable and/or DSL providers offer service in your area. You can use the National Broadband Map developed by the government to identify what options are available in your area. When using this map we recommend contacting the ISP you’re interested in to verify that service is available at your location. When searching by zip code it doesn’t necessarily guarantee that a specific ISP will serve your address, although it will help narrow down companies to contact for service.

In addition to traditional 3G/4G USB modems and multi-WAN solutions there is a third option that’s making a growing presence. Virtually everyone today owns a smartphone and this creates another unique failover option for customers. Smartphones that include a “Mobile Hotspot” feature allow you to quickly failover to your smartphone if your primary ISP goes down. The advantage is you don’t need to pay for another data connection, however, if you take your phone out of the office you’ll lose your backup In order to take advantage of this backup option your router must support WiFi as WAN, or you’ll need to use a Pepwave Surf Mini into an existing Multi-WAN firewall.

Step 2 - Know your hardware limitations:

After identifying which failover option you want you need to ask yourself one important question. Do you need inbound connectivity that is publicly routable? Examples of this include remotely managing the equipment, port forwarding, security systems, RDP (Remote desktop) and more. If these are part of your failover requirements it is VERY IMPORTANT to understand which wireless connections will allow this, and which will not. We recommend reading our article on carriers that block remote based applications from working unless you have a static IP. If you decide you want to go with one of these carriers and need a static IP here are the fee’s you’ll be looking at:

  • Verizon 3G/4G - One time $500 fee, covers up to 500 devices on one account

  • Sprint 4G LTE - $3 per device per month

  • AT&T 3G or 4G LTE - i2Gold account required $500 fee

  • T-Mobile - Fee varies depending on how many devices are activated

Step 3 - Identify your hardware requirements:

Now that you’ve identified which service providers you intend to use, you must figure out what type of hardware you want for your business. There are different classes of failover solutions that are geared from home users up to high end solutions that provide seamless failover between multiple ISP’s or fully embedded solutions. Below we break down the various solutions from entry level hardware all the way to enterprise grade solutions.

Entry level failover solutions:


(Cradlepoint MBR95 Pictured)

Entry level failover is geared for anybody that wants backup connectivity for their home, but isn’t using the equipment in a “Mission Critical” application. This is typically for the enthusiast that likes to remain online even if their cable line goes down, or the power goes out and you have a battery backup or generator. Please note - The following setups are strictly for people that want backup 3G/4G connectivity and aren’t using multiple WAN (Wide Area Network) connections.



Both the Cradlepoint MBR95 and Pepwave Surf On The Go will failover from a traditional WAN connection to either a nearby WiFi network, or 3G/4G USB Modem. In order to take advantage of the USB backup you’ll need  to purchase a USB modem giving you a secondary ISP if your primary goes down. Failover is not seamless on these devices and typically takes 10-20 seconds to switch between connections, which means if you plan to use a VoIP or PBX service these aren’t the ideal solution.

Mid-range failover solutions:


(Peplink Balance 30 Pictured)

Typically Mid-range solutions are ideal for smaller businesses that need backup connectivity with advanced features. Depending on the hardware selected in this category, they can connect to a WiFi source, utilize 3G/4G modem(s), or accept multiple WAN connections. Below you’ll find a list of popular choices in this category and a breakdown on some of the key differences.



All of these models are capable of using multiple ISP’s to provide both failover and load balancing if desired. The MBR1200B accepts (2) USB modems, (1) Express card; the MBR1400 accepts (3) USB modems, (2) Express cards; The Balance 20 (1) USB, (2) WAN, Balance 30 (1) USB, (3) WAN connections and the Max On The Go that accepts (4) USB and one WAN connection. Users can elect to have multiple links physically load balancing with a failover ISP, or have more than two ISP’s configured as failover links.

The MBR1200B and MBR1400 typically take about 20-45 seconds to failover between ISP’s, while the Peplink Balance 20/30 units have seamless failover. This makes the Peplink units a better choice if you’ll be using VoIP or PBX services for voice in your office. This of course is assuming you’re using these routers as a stand alone solution and not trying to integrate them into an existing firewall. Many businesses already have a multi-WAN firewall like a SonicWall, Cisco ASA, Watchguard, etc in place.

If you have an existing firewall the only mid-range solution that would work is the Cradlepoint MBR1400. This model supports “IP Passthrough”, which allows you to pass the true IP directly into your existing firewall without NAT. The other models DO NOT support IP Passthrough, which means if you plugged them into a firewall they would get a DHCP address like 192.168.1.10 instead of the actual IP of your ISP.

The Cradlepoint MBR1200B features 2.4Ghz WiFi and the MBR1400 can be configured for either 2.4Ghz or 5Ghz WiFi. The Peplink Balance 20/30 units do not have built in WiFi and you’ll need to connect an Access Point if you want WiFi in your office. If you’re not sure what type of AP you’d like to use in your office check out our WiFi Access Point Comparison.

Another important factor that separates Mid-Range solutions is policy management on how failover connections are managed. The MBR1200B does not offer any policy management, while the MBR1400 offers WAN Affinity and the Peplink Balance 20/30 by far offer the best policy management. The primary benefit of policy management is managing each ISP in the event of a failover. For example, if your primary link goes down you won’t want to provide employee or public WiFi over a more expensive backup link. Policy management allows you to control every device on the network and ensure you’re not wasting bandwidth on devices that don’t need Internet connectivity.

For more info on load balancing and policy management checkout this article - Cradlepoint vs. Peplink/Pepwave Load Balancing/Policy Management

High End Failover Solutions:


(Cradlepoint ARC MBR1400LE-VZ Pictured)

This category is reserved for routers that have fully embedded 3G/4G modems for backup connectivity. These units include high gain dual diversity MiMo antennas, which typically yield 10-15% better performance than traditional USB Modem/Router combos. By having an embedded modem with high gain antennas you don’t need to worry about purchasing a USB modem or external antenna to enhance cellular reception. This also gives the equipment higher temperature thresholds and you don’t have to worry about a consumer grade USB modem failing on you. Below you’ll find the most popular embedded router solutions.



Please Note - Due to the complexity of these routing solutions we recommend contacting 3Gstore Enterprise Sales to go over your application or call us at 866-347-8673 Option 2, 2.

Ultimate Failover Solutions:

Solutions in this category are designed to integrate into an existing firewall or can be setup as a stand alone load balancing/bonding router. Both Peplink and Pepwave products in this category allows you to physically bond multiple links together via SpeedFusion bonding technology. This means you can have increased bandwidth across multiple ISP’s, or create priority rules that seamless failover if one ISP fails. Below you’ll find the link to the ultimate failover solutions.


(Peplink Balance 580 Pictured)


Please Note - Due to the complexity of these routing solutions we recommend contacting 3Gstore Enterprise Sales to go over your application or call us at 866-347-8673 Option 2, 2.

Step 4 - Setup Service:


If you plan to use Cable or DSL connectivity you’ll need to contact your local ISP to activate the service. Most providers offer smaller tiers that can make excellent backup connections for as little as $20 to $30 per month. Fee’s can vary depending on the ISP used, but most will offer some lower end plans that should be sufficient to run your core backup systems in the event your main ISP goes down.

Adding a backup Cable or DSL link is likely the most cost effective way to have redundancy, but a lot of customers will not have the option to add a more traditional DSL/Cable connection. When you find yourself in locations that don’t have multiple ISP’s the easiest way to add redundancy is to add cellular equipment to your network for wireless Internet. We offer lower data usage DataJack packages starting at $9.99/mo, Verizon 3G/4G business continuity packages starting at $16.00/mo and large data packages that include 20GB of data for $69.99/mo if your main ISP is unreliable and you’ll need to rely on cellular backup more often than not.

Step 5 - Ordering Equipment:

At 3Gstore we carry all the products listed in this article at our main warehouse in Cary, IL. Most items are available for immediate same day shipment until 3PM unless you have requested a special configuration to be installed prior to shipment. Custom configurations are an optional add-on service, which allows you to receive equipment that is virtually plug and play. If you know what equipment you need you can order directly on our website, or give our sales team a call at 866-347-8673 to figure out which failover solution makes the most sense for you!


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