Nildram have this morning announced the launch of their new multi-link ADSL service allowing users to combine the speed of more than one ADSL line into a single virtual connection. This ability has already existed for some time to anyone running virtual private networks (VPNs) with equipment at both ends of a connection but this does remove the requirement of running a VPN.
This service, mainly targeted at businesses has many advantages. Not only does this mean users can exceed the 1Mbps and 2Mbps speed currently available in the mainstream throughout the U.K., it allows those whose lines are incapable of supporting a service faster than 500kbps to combine lines to achieve a 1Mbps or greater speed. In addition to all this, it allows users to experience a faster uploads as 2Mbps lines still only have an upstream speed of 250kbps and most of us don't have the luxury of choice of SDSL products offered by some ISPs. Finally, it offers increased redundancy in case one of the telephone lines has a fault. In terms of performance, tests indicate that a 4-6% overhead is added in the multi-link protocol.
Nildram has been one of the cutting edge medium-sized ISPs and therefore we have no doubts other providers will seek to offer it soon too, although it should be mentioned that Andrews & Arnold (AAISP) has already been promoting such a service for quite some time in conjunction with their Firebrick product although the method of linking the lines differs.
The Nildram service is launching on December 1st with pricing not yet available, however the indication is that this service will cost more than two single connections and there is little doubt business users will pay for this. Currently the service has only been trialled on Cisco routers (which have the modularity in many cases to do this in a single device), but Nildram is looking at other options to bring down the cost. Home users should be warned however that this is not currently being targeted at them, although a residential service cannot be far away.
Currently, the service is available for up to four ADSL lines, but this is only because of lack of testing, with plans to expand testing to 30 lines in the pipeline. More discussion about the Nildram service can be found in our forums. [seb]
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