Sharedband: not enough bandwidth?
I noticed a discussion about Sharedband on Vecosys and I couldn’t resist finding out a little more about what they were up to, so I spoke with Keith Collins, who is their Sales and Marketing Director (you can find Keith on LinkedIn). Sharedband have recently started beta trials of their software with a couple of UK ISPs and plan for launch in the March timeframe.
What do they do?
The concept of inverse multiplexing goes back donkey’s years and was applied to traditional E1/T1 lines and to ATM. The term means that individual links are paralleled (or bonded) to multiply the available bandwidth according to the number of links paralleled. Sharedband have extended this concept in a “quite novel” way to the IP layer which enables ISPs to offer a DSL bonding service.
Sharedband is essentially a software company and they provide the tools necessary to manage the service. They license their software which is installed on the ISP’s routers and the ISP provides a firmware update for their customer’s routers.
Because the concept is IP based, it's claimed to be low cost and an ISP can get the Sharedband service up in a day or so. It’s also simple to install at the customer end as well.
The company believes that there will always be a need to gain some additional bandwidth if it is obtainable at a reasonable price. They are probably right. There will always be individuals who want to increase whatever bandwidth they currently have, turning 1Mbit/s into 2 or more likely 8Mbit/s into 16Mbit/s. According to Keith they “want to look for companies that want to use something now rather than having to wait”.
They are initially focusing on the small business market (SME) and home workers with some money to spend as this seems to be an obvious market.
What is really interesting, is that because the software is network provider agnostic, it could be possible to obtain real provider resilience and even “bond cable and DSL combinations”. For example, the two bonded DSL lines could use different ISP providers although care would be needed to ensure that both are not using BT to provide the DSL connection or the phone line use the same BT street box. This is such an interesting application area!
As Sharedband works at the IP layer, bonding does not have to be limited to being installed on ISP DSLAMs. It could be installed on servers at a datacentre which, I imagine, could lead to network-based services such as Salesforce.com offering some interesting services that could improve performance and resilience directly to their customers.
Their business model is that the ISP charges for the multiple DSL lines and then adds an additional bonding charge which is split between the ISP and Sharedband.
Sharedband are currently talking to 20 /30 ISPs and hopes to sign up this number within 12 months. One might also imagine, with their BT genesis, that we will see an announcement in this space as well?
They are currently in beta with two providers KeConnect and TeleComplete though I couldn't find the doubler service on TeleComplete's web site. You can see details of the service and pricing on the KeConnect site.
Some other vendors offering hardare based solutions:
There are other companies that provide a solution to bonding multiple DSL lines, the Australian ePipe is one example. The ML-IP access concentrator, is a hardware solution an enterprise can bond three DSL links into a multi-link tunnel without the involvement of the ISP.
FatPipe is another. "MPVPN enables bi-directional data transmission over multiple VPN paths, providing customers with the confidence that MPVPN will keep their VPNs “up” at all times regardless of router, ISP, line or backbone failures on one or two carriers. MPVPN allows companies to maximize the reliability, redundancy and speed of their VPN infrastructures while only requiring one VPN unit profile life." Here is a short presentation on MPVPN.