By now most RVers are pretty well acquainted with the difficulties inherent in trying to maintain 24/7 internet connections when your only options are cellular connections. There are many, many threads on the subject. Even the best of cellular connections can result in varying download speeds on a continuous basis. Quite often the download speed can vary from superb to downright awful over a very short time interval.
One obvious approach to the problem is to have cellular service with more than one Carrier (e.g. Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, etc); but having to change connections from one hotspot to another – after a pause in video streaming – is not a particularly satisfying solution (not to me at least).
To try and improve the situation I’ve recently turned on Load Balancing mode in my router. This enables the following:
Enable Me to Use Multiple Internet Connections Simultaneously!
I’ve been doing this successfully with my two LTE Hotspot devices for a couple of months now, and today I managed to add the local park’s WiFi connection to the mix. So essentially my router can now auto-select – on a moment by moment basis – which of three internet connections it wants to use.
Below is a real-time graph of the data running through my router. As you can see it’s color-coded by which device is handling the Internet data at any given moment. The green line is the Ethernet connection from my AT&T hotspot. The orange line is my Verizon Jetpack, and the blue is the park wifi. Notice how the speeds vary dramatically in just a couple of minutes of use.
On the left side of the graph you can see when all the speeds were very slow. However, I can verify that the video stream I was watching at that time did NOT pause or buffer; rather, it only got “grainy” in apperance for less than 30 seconds. Keep in mind the video was briefly grainy even though none of the connections were more than ~1Mbps. Normally – when at least one of the connections is running at 2-5 Mbps – video streams appear crisper at 720p or better.
Before anyone accuses me of posting a sales pitch, let me point out that Load Balancing is a feature found in a number of brands of higher-end routers. In addition to WiFiRanger(TM) routers, it’s likely this feature also exists in some Peplink devices and I would assume in some of the Cradlepoint products as well. For this test I was using my WiFiRanger’s(TM) Spruce TetherPoint(TM) Router that’s part of the new Converge(TM) product line. So, for those of you rely on 24/7 Internet from your RV…
Joel Weiss “docj”
Using the redundant approach of Load Balancing will help provide an additional degree of assurance
that you can book that next video conference with family, friends, or Colleagues.
One obvious question is, “How complicated is it to set up Load Balancing?” The good news is that with the latest version of WiFiRanger(TM) firmware running on your device, the multiple connection configuration is virtually automatic and restores itself if one of our connections has an outage. Visit WiFiRanger.com/support for more on load balancing.
Written by “docj” – RV Senior Ambassador
Edited by Jim Owsley – WiFiRanger VP of Marketing & Communication