Kitz Forum

Broadband Related => Broadband Hardware => Topic started by: Pony1982 on November 21, 2020, 09:29:56 PM

Title: Bonded line help
Post by: Pony1982 on November 21, 2020, 09:29:56 PM
Hi there,
Iím a new customer to AA. Got a line ordered and looking at ordering a second line to bond the two connections together for increased VDSL speeds. My current setup is Virgin Media with a USG and Unifi Access Points.

Iíd like to keep my Unifi setup, only because Iíve spent a very long time getting it to work how I want. So, the questions are

- Do I absolutely need a firebrick, or can I save some money (key is increasing bandwidth)
- Is bonding at all possible with unifi kit?

I did have a look at the link around Ďsimple bondingí. Couldnt tell if that would double my speeds or simply act as a load balancer.

THanks
Title: Re: Bonded line help
Post by: Weaver on November 21, 2020, 09:50:52 PM
I have a Firebrick with four bonded lines. It really quadruples your speed, single downloads going four times faster.

I have to say, Firebricks are absolutely stunning; the quality and ease of use is spectacular. I bought my Firebrick from AA because of my desire for bonding and the free support.

I donít know if you can do this with Unifi Iím afraid, might be a good idea to ask Unifi or ask on the AA IRC.

Welcome to the forum too!
Title: Re: Bonded line help
Post by: Alex Atkin UK on November 21, 2020, 10:56:41 PM
It depends what you intend to download and do you need it for upload.

Simple load balancing will speed up downloads to game consoles and PC gaming.  I noticed Geforce Experience also gets this benefit for driver updates, vs web browsers that only run single-threaded downloads.

Full bonding does have huge advantages though, as it speeds up everything and should be more consistent as it doesn't depend on luck causing equal threads across both WANs.  It also works for upload which load balancing cannot really.  (well, unless you run two uploads at the same time)
Title: Re: Bonded line help
Post by: Weaver on November 21, 2020, 11:34:08 PM
I doubt you would be satisfied with a half-way measure, after all, you are spending money with the cost of extra bandwidth so might as well get the full value from it no?

And Firebrick ownership has huge benefits aside from bonding. Itís just a superb router. One of the things I love most of all is the readable config in XML, which I keep on my iPad, can back up multiple versions edit them with a text editor, diff them and easily upload them with http in an automated fashion. I have written a program for the iPad which edits config files and injects the correct current values for upstream egress rates so that the upstream load split is correct from day to day as sync rates vary, which does happen occasionally. It then uploads the correctly customised config file.

Enough frothing at the mouth over the Firebrick, but I would have bought one anyway had I known about their quality, even without bonding. And the support you get is out of this world too. I donít know if Ubiquiti will help you with complex configurations or give you a new unit free if yours gets damaged by lightning.
Title: Re: Bonded line help
Post by: Pony1982 on November 22, 2020, 02:30:35 AM
Thanks for the replies. I agree about not wanting a half way measure - I would want 2x the speed or as close to it as possible. My plan (if getting the firebrick) was to connect it to the Ubiquiti and therefore be able to use my pre configured network. If the firebrick is the best way to do this, then so be it  :)
Title: Re: Bonded line help
Post by: Weaver on November 22, 2020, 04:53:37 AM
For some reason, Iím not getting the full speed I expect from the upstream side. I have one line that is very slow upstream, but that shouldnít make a difference. I got 1.5 Mbps upstream according to speedtesters some while back and now Iím only getting 1.1.5 according to the AA speedtest2.aa.net.uk and the sync rates havenít changed; other speedtester testmy.net reports 1.4 Mbps upstream though so this is very weird. Iíve asked AA if they have any ideas and they have sanity checked me and are thinking about it. This is discussed in a recent thread.

The combined downstream rate is superb 10.1 Mbps from speedtest2.aa.net.uk from my four slow lines and very close to the theoretical maximum allowing for overheads, and with sync rates downstream of 2.9-3.0 Mbps total 11.8 itís very efficient indeed, close to 88% which is the theoretical IP limit. The speed tester figure presumable include a reduction for TCP protocol overhead and so it isnít directly comparable with the IP rates, and may be exaggerated. Four lines is really pushing your luck too far for TCP, and with three or fewer lines efficiency will be better. Donít know why the upstream efficiency I see as reported by some speedtesters varies a lot from month to month; long-standing mystery.

One thing; when you order your Firebrick, tell AA you want to do bonding as they need to give you the more expensive Ďfully loadedí software load. Theyíll configure it for you and I can give you my config file if you wish, as an example, which is very complex and very heavily commented.

There are a couple of other kitz members who have Firebricks too and half a dozen AA users.

Youíre used to your ubiquiti and so sticking with it is a good thing. You can download the Fb2900 manual at https://www.firebrick.co.uk/support/manuals/ so that might help you decide by showing you what itís capable of.
Title: Re: Bonded line help
Post by: Weaver on November 22, 2020, 06:38:03 AM
I have two Firebricks: an FB2900 and an older model the FB2500 which is the same apart from not being as fast, not having USB or SFP ports and maybe a few other things that I canít recall just now. The FB2500 is still in use, as a backup router in case of lightning strike.
Title: Re: Bonded line help
Post by: Alex Atkin UK on November 22, 2020, 07:00:44 PM
I'm still trying to figure out if the Firebricks use any sort of standard for bonding or is it an entirely proprietary hack to get around the UK DSL network not supporting MLPPP?  I can understand how it might be the latter considering this seems to be part of the reason the Firebrick exists in the first place.
Title: Re: Bonded line help
Post by: Pony1982 on November 22, 2020, 07:39:28 PM
I think I'm struggling with this as well. Is there really no other router that will bond two connections into one?
Title: Re: Bonded line help
Post by: burakkucat on November 22, 2020, 07:45:39 PM
Is there really no other router that will bond two connections into one?

There are many. Two manufacturers come to mind -- Cisco and Juniper. But lookout for the cost.  ::)
Title: Re: Bonded line help
Post by: Alex Atkin UK on November 22, 2020, 07:49:34 PM
There are many. Two manufacturers come to mind -- Cisco and Juniper. But lookout for the cost.  ::)

But do they work on the UK network?  AAISP specifically helped create the Firebrick for this purpose, thus why it requires a Firebrick at the ISP too.
Title: Re: Bonded line help
Post by: Pony1982 on November 22, 2020, 07:52:51 PM
Aah, think that makes sense now. Had read something about the unifi edge router doing this, but couldn't find more info.

As an ok techie, but no networking expert, slightly worried about how much overhead a firebrick might put on me
Title: Re: Bonded line help
Post by: DaveC on November 22, 2020, 10:28:06 PM
Hi,

Don't forget that it's not just bonding that the AAISP/Firebrick combination is useful for - it also gives a variety of failover/backup options (e.g. routing your AAISP IP addresses over a third-party 4G connection).

If you're happy with your USG, you could just put a firebrick between your VDSL modems and the USG, and use it to handle the bonding/failover - providing the USG with a simple WAN connection.  AAISP would give you enough public IP addresses so there would be no need for double-NAT.

It's also worth looking on ebay for used firebricks - an FB2700 can often be picked up for well under £200.  But be aware that the FB2700 comes in two varieties - normal and a more expensive "fully loaded".  Only the "fully loaded" version has bonding enabled.  Most FB2700s I've seen on ebay are fully-loaded, but it's worth checking with the seller.  If they don't know, then ask the seller for the firebrick's serial number (it's printed on the bottom of the case), and then ask AAISP - they should be able to tell you.

Title: Re: Bonded line help
Post by: Weaver on November 23, 2020, 02:25:34 AM
Thatís a good tip from DaveC. Alex has got this wrong :) ; afaik, thereís no need for a Ďstandardí, as bonding here isnít done with a protocol; it just distributes the IP packets between lines and thatís all there is to it, so there doesnít have to be a Firebrick at both ends. Any competent router will do at either end. At their end, AAís 6000 series routers have some clever technique for getting dynamic line rate info from eg BT or TTB and rate-limiting each line accordingly to get the speeds correct and the traffic-split right between lines. Like BT, AA rate-limits downstream traffic before BT does, so that AA is not sending a ton of high-speed stuff from the internet into BTís network only for all of it to later get dropped by BT because itís too much for a miserable lowly DSL line.

RevK claimed that MLPPP is not good when rates of lines are dissimilar; I donít know why this might be, perhaps out-of-orderness problems? I believe there is also a low level standard for bonded DSL at the actual DSL level itself, below PPP. I think itís mentioned in the second volume of Golden, Dedieuís and Jacobsenís DSL tomes, but I havenít read that chapter.
Title: Re: Bonded line help
Post by: Pony1982 on November 23, 2020, 04:36:13 AM
thanks. Dave's idea of getting the 2700 on eBay sounds like a cost-effective way of achieving this.Do we know if these routers will support 5g dongles or is it definitely restricted to 4g?

I also hadn't appreciated that AA can provide more than one internet IP. Does this mean I can route the external IP straight to the Unifi and 'con' it into thinking it's connected directly to the internet? All very exciting
Title: Re: Bonded line help
Post by: meritez on November 23, 2020, 10:31:46 AM
I think I'm struggling with this as well. Is there really no other router that will bond two connections into one?

Mikrotik is worth considering, there are lengthy articles on the AAISP wiki about how to do it with 5 x ADSL Lines: https://support.aa.net.uk/RouterOS_bonding
Title: Re: Bonded line help
Post by: Weaver on November 23, 2020, 12:15:53 PM
Donít have one IPv4 address. Ask AA for as many as you need and cover your whole LAN with real addresses, so itís goodbye to the horrors of NAT.

The question about 5G is all down to the dongle models. Ask AA about particular dongle models. itís just that they have tested certain ones, thatís all. If one presents a compatible interface then it doesnít matter that itís 5G. It depends on whether or not you want to put an AA SIM in the dongle ; if itís an AA one then it will be 4G/3G.

Whatever router you use, AA will typically give you one IP for the routerís WAN i/f and then route the whole of your IP blocks through the router to your LAN. Thatís how my network works for IPv4; I have one address for the WAN-facing i/f of the Brick and a /26 for my LAN. IPv6 you just route one of your /64s say to you LAN and you can fiddle about with the routing using the knobs in AAís clueless.aa.net.uk server. Do ask AA about this. Theyíre extremely helpful.

Mikrotik are good. The advantage of an AA Firebrick is all the free support and the buck-stops here syndrome, any problem and itís always AAís fault. I wouldnít save money and experience more hassle, but thatís just me.

Iím pretty sure that Mikrotik would do what you want; ask them, but then youíll have a learning curve getting it set up and AA wonít be able to debug it for you. I had an either a Juniper or Cisco router secondhand (Iíve gone blank which as it was a long time ago) when I had two lines, and of course AA couldnít help me with it and I couldnít get it working properly so I bought a Firebrick instead which just worked instantly.
Title: Re: Bonded line help
Post by: Alex Atkin UK on November 23, 2020, 02:11:43 PM
Thatís a good tip from DaveC. Alex has got this wrong :) ; afaik, thereís no need for a Ďstandardí, as bonding here isnít done with a protocol; it just distributes the IP packets between lines and thatís all there is to it, so there doesnít have to be a Firebrick at both ends.

What I meant by "standard" was a documented method that is compatible with stock Linux/BSD kernels (or at least documented patches) and standard routing/packet filtering.  From what you just said, that IS what they've done?

I understand why they push the Firebrick solution, they developed it specifically as a managed solution for businesses which is fair enough.  I take exception however at the lack of documentation for hobbyists.
Title: Re: Bonded line help
Post by: Weaver on November 23, 2020, 04:16:05 PM
The manuals for the Firebrick are on the website, so there is some documentation. Thereís also the support wiki. The manuals need a lot more work: they need example XML snippets or sometimes complete config file examples. Burrakucat goes mad about the manuals; do not set him off  ;)

If afraid Iím not following you Alex about the point about Ďstandardí and compatible with Linux kernels. Remember thereís no protocol here, itís just a stream of ordinary IP packets distributed over n links and nothing more; itís not like MLPPP or LACP, or multi link TCP, itís just pure IP only and the receiving end has no way to know that thereís anything funny going on, itís just pure, normal IP that theyíre receiving. Apologies if Iím being too dim here.  :(  Penny drops : you said Ďstandardí (adj.) ie = normal and I perhaps read that as Ďa standardí (noun) meaning a document?  :-[

They donít push the Firebrick solution as part of being an ISP: you can use anything you like and they have a support wiki where you can add more documentation and howtos for any kit you want. Itís just that they understand Firebricks so can directly support them and Firebrick Ltd is a joint venture of AAís with WatchFront. So on the other hand they are a Firebrick seller and sell kit to high-end home users, corporates, resellers and ISPs. Resellers offer managed service packages I presume.

Itís the Office::1 service which is a managed solution for business. They donít manage your Firebrick for you, they just will support you or configure it for you.

I might be going mad here, but I suspect that at the CPE end, you could just have two modems connected to two lines and connect them to a switch and then the IP packets from the two lines would just arrive in the LAN and youíd have double-speed downstream with no Firebrick at all, just no double-speed upstream. Is that right or am I going crackers?  ??? :-[
Can you do ECMP with a Linux box acting as a router?

Take a look at the docs and see what you think. I canít lend you one to play with as Iíve already given my FB2700 to another of our kitizens as I didnít need three Firebricks.
Title: Re: Bonded line help
Post by: vic0239 on November 23, 2020, 05:50:46 PM
I got a refurbished Firebrick from A&A at a reduced cost, when the power supply failed it was replaced at no cost to me. At the time of purchase I had two lines and wished to bond them and found the sample HTML on their support site was perfectly adequate to get it working. I do recall that some configuration on the Control Panel was necessary to route traffic down both lines, but this was self-explanatory. Iím no longer using the brick since I moved to FTTP, but do retain the configuration files for reference. I do agree with Weaver that the official manuals are hard work.
Title: Re: Bonded line help
Post by: Alex Atkin UK on November 23, 2020, 07:12:46 PM
If afraid Iím not following you Alex about the point about Ďstandardí and compatible with Linux kernels. Remember thereís no protocol here, itís just a stream of ordinary IP packets distributed over n links and nothing more; itís not like MLPPP or LACP, or multi link TCP, itís just pure IP only and the receiving end has no way to know that thereís anything funny going on, itís just pure, normal IP that theyíre receiving. Apologies if Iím being too dim here.  :(  Penny drops : you said Ďstandardí (adj.) ie = normal and I perhaps read that as Ďa standardí (noun) meaning a document?  :-[

AFAIK on a IP network there is usually only ONE route to any destination, using multiple interfaces to reach the same destination is kinda none-standard.

You may be right about how incoming works, as presumably BGP takes care of the routing for that at the ISP side.  As you said though, the problem is determining which interface traffic going back to the other way uses.

Its those instructions I'm referring to when saying there is no documentation, exact details on how to configure the OS to do the packet delivery the same way the Firebrick is configured.  I'd be very tempted by their tunneling service if I could replicate bonding over it using my existing equipment, but its absolutely not worth the cost of a Firebrick to achieve it when I won't need it in 1-2 years time as I will be on FTTP.

There may be documentation, but if its Firebrick specific that's not really helpful.

I have OpenWRT routers and PCs coming out of my ears, it wouldn't be hard to dedicate one to doing this and just proxy any traffic I want going out that way, or re-route it from pfSense, although I'd hope this could be done entirely on pfSense itself.
Title: Re: Bonded line help
Post by: Pony1982 on November 23, 2020, 07:16:37 PM
I might be going mad here, but I suspect that at the CPE end, you could just have two modems connected to two lines and connect them to a switch and then the IP packets from the two lines would just arrive in the LAN and youíd have double-speed downstream with no Firebrick at all, just no double-speed upstream. Is that right or am I going crackers?  ??? :-[

Thanks very much for all the help. Really useful. The quoted bit is key as far as I'm concerned. If I could double speeds using a standard routing setup, it'd help me out considerably. Question in that instance is - what does the FB give me, if I was purely using it to combine two lines.
Title: Re: Bonded line help
Post by: Weaver on November 23, 2020, 07:52:36 PM
I have an FB2500, later got an FB2700 and more recently an Fb2900 and the FB2700 went to one of our forum members.
Title: Re: Bonded line help
Post by: burakkucat on November 23, 2020, 10:53:28 PM
Burrakucat goes mad about the manuals; do not set him off  ;)

They are absolutely fine if you want to read a lecture on some aspect of networking but are close to near useless as to how to configure some aspect of the device to which they relate.  :-X
Title: Re: Bonded line help
Post by: Weaver on November 23, 2020, 11:24:05 PM
Burakkucat speaks the truth. Luckily there is limitless free support if you get one from AA.
Title: Re: Bonded line help
Post by: Alex Atkin UK on November 24, 2020, 04:53:10 AM
They are absolutely fine if you want to read a lecture on some aspect of networking but are close to near useless as to how to configure some aspect of the device to which they relate.  :-X

That's basically my problem with networking in general not just AA.  The documentation is either really simplistic and doesn't cover the detail you need, or its super detailed and impossible to understand as a human being.
Title: Re: Bonded line help
Post by: Pony1982 on November 25, 2020, 07:18:09 AM
That's basically my problem with networking in general not just AA.  The documentation is either really simplistic and doesn't cover the detail you need, or its super detailed and impossible to understand as a human being.
you're all scaring me a bit here. from everything I've read, I think the FB will make the bonded line experience better. I also understand that it works well with the AA VOIP telephony service. So, the plan is to have the just route to the Unifi and hopefully not that much changes. If - big if - I do get comfortable with the FB, I might try and drive the unifi APs and little switches off the FB.

Title: Re: Bonded line help
Post by: Weaver on November 25, 2020, 07:48:08 AM
As for WAPs, I just have a switch connected to my FB2900 and then two old ZyXEL WAPs connected to that with long ethernet cables.

One of the WAPs is in turn connected to a black and white cat who interfaces to it by parking her bum on the top, for warmth. (Beileag)