Wireless failover for your MPLS network? If your company requires guaranteed data communications to a WAN or the Internet, what have you installed for a back-up circuit?  Is it a second Internet or MPLS loop?  A different carrier or the same?  Connectivity to an alternate POP? Is the back-up loop on a different geographical path?

When it comes to providing a secure secondary circuit, three alternatives that should be considered are:

  • Microwave, which can provide >20Mbps of bandwidth, and
  • Cellular routers using LTE, EVDO or HSUPA (600Kbps – 10Mbps)
  • A diverse local loop to a diverse POP, with diversity confirmed, which is often a challenge to do.

In this blog posted, I’ll discuss cellular routers.

Cellular routers are a technology that is widely used in the retail and banking industry.  Surprisingly, IT professionals outside of these vertical markets are often unfamiliar with them.

In their simplest form, they provide a black-box with an Ethernet port to connect to your network and a cellular antenna jack to connect an antenna.  There is hardware available to use with any of the wireless service providers.  If they are used for back-up, the data plan will typically cost only $30 to $50/month.

There are two approaches to installation:

  • Install as a second Internet connection on your router, allowing your present router to handle all the routing.
  • Install as the primary router, with your router connected to the cellular router WAN port.

With either approach, the intent is that the wireless connection will ping the carrier network to keep this VPN connection alive to allow fast roll-over if your primary circuit fails.  BGP and VRRP+ is used.

If you use this technology for a large number of sites, there are software tools to help you manage them all from a single web interface.  The cellular carriers offer special back-up data plans that have low monthly fees with maximum fees not to exceed $125 for a month, to protect you on the upside.

The two technologies offered, EVDO and HSUPA differ as follows:

  • EVDO provides relatively consistent speed as your distance from the cell-tower increases, or your field signal strength decreases.  Average speeds of 400-700Kbits/second are typical.
  • HSUPA, or High-Speed Up-link Access has a theoretical up-link speed of 5.76 Mbit/second, depending on the device the user uses and carrier throttling efforts.  Unlike EVDO,  with HSUPA, your speed decreases rapidly as your field signal strength drops.
  • LTE is 10 times faster than 3G—able to handle download speeds between 5 and 12 Mbps (Megabits per second) and upload speeds between 2 and 5 Mbps, with peak download speeds approaching 50 Mbps.

So what does it cost to install a cellular router?

  • Pass-through device to install as second internet connection: $500.  This assumes that your present router can support the fail-over functionality.
  • Device that supports BGP & VRRP for automatic fail-over, with built-in VPN hardware: $500 to $750
  • Your monthly wireless fee: $30 to $75

If you would like to learn more about using a cellular router for your network, please contact the SD-WAN-Experts.  There are wonderful tools to help you manage all the cellular routers that are installed on your network.