Feeling a little poorer but browsing the internet a lot quicker!

Back in 2014, I posted that I’d bought a 4G router having reached the point with my home broadband where it would go no faster…!  http://blog.v-s-f.co.uk/2014/10/fed-up-of-waiting-for-superfast-broadband/

I’ve used eight 6GB EE sims since I bought the router, but those sims were costing too much and I’d stopped buying them after summer 2015.

At the end of 2015, when I was considering selling the 4G router, I managed to get one of the Christmas 2015 deals which allowed me to find out how much data I’d need if I were to get a contract.

In those 2 months, we used under 20GB each month, despite using Youtube for streaming music and downloading a bunch of Sky HD programs.  I therefore worked out any contact would have to have 20GB+ of data per month, but most importantly be affordable! (ideally £25 or less)

A week ago, I received my 32GB, £28 a month sim and have been enjoying 10+Mb/s* speeds since 🙂

It is more than I hoped to pay per month, but I’ll be swapping over to a cheaper and bigger data tariff as soon as  see one!


* the WAN connections are load balanced, but the 4G connection is set to take more of the load than the ADSL

Load Balancing WAN Connections

I’ve previously posted about how slow my ADSL connection is (5Mbps max!) and that I bought a 4G router just over a year ago (http://blog.v-s-f.co.uk/2014/10/fed-up-of-waiting-for-superfast-broadband/). Before I bought the 4G router, I decided to look at how to load balance the connections. There were two reasons for doing so. One was that I planned to buy another ADSL connection to get a stunning combined* max of 10Mbps!!! And the other reason is that the 4G connection has a few quirks that mean I prefer to send and receive certain traffic down the ADSL connection.

I did a lot of research and bought a Netgear FVS336G v2 off Ebay. At the time I bought it, I only had the ADSL connection, but the device only lasted a month. The device wouldn’t work on the newest firmware, would work for a few days and then grind to a halt and also my tablet couldn’t access the internet! Needless to say, it went back on Ebay…

After more research I then found pfSense. At the time I had a spare media centre pc lying around which had become redundant, but ran at 80 watts idle. I repurposed it for the task of determining if pfSense would be suitable.

pfSense is brilliant and free! As a router it does everything I could possibly want (Port forwarding, OpenVPN, Firewall and Load Balancing to name but a few). The administration portal never crashes or decides not to load a page – it simply works.

I started off again with just the ADSL connection and then bought the 4G router. Setting up the load balancing took a bit of time along with determining what firewalls to put in place.

I’ve recently upgraded the hardware to use a low power cpu on board motherboard and the entire system now runs at a max of 20 watts.

Even when the 4G conection was running at 50Mbps for over 10 minutes, the cpu never went above 5%.


(Example of the firewall rules for sending traffic down ADSL for banking and email)


* Load balancing WAN connections does not mean you will achieve A+B – you would need to bond the connections to get close to achieving A+B speeds. For example in the screen shot above where 50Mbps is being transfered, it’s all across the 4G connection as the connections are not bonded. Load balancing however in my situation is great as a family member can watch iPlayer and I can still browse the internet without affecting the video stream as the data will normally be distributed across the connections available according to load.

Follow up to: Lost Faith in BDUK

Back in 2013, I blogged about losing faith in BDUK after Hertfordshire published the upgrade map of exchanges for the project that would end in 2015 (now end of 2016/beginning of 2017!).

Last month Connected Counties who are running the upgrade for Herts and Bucks published a new map showing areas which would be upgraded as part of the “Superfast Extension Programme” and surprise surprise, my area isn’t going to be covered! Our exchange is going to be/has been upgraded, but the cabinet which supplies the entire of the village I live in, will not be upgraded.

So… will we be in the 2020 round of upgrades? Hahaha, I’d make a bet we’ll be missed out then too!