What Is Cellular Bonding?
Cellular bonding is the process of combining two or more cellular Internet connections simultaneously using specific algorithms. The resulting bonded cellular Internet connection should provide the combined bandwidth of the individual mobile connections, as well as failover protection. Cellular bonding is a specific case of channel bonding or link aggregation - only using cellular type connections.
Mobile bonding can be done with any combination of cellular service providers. However, for best results, it is recommended you bond cellular connections from different carriers. By doing this, if there are any issues with one of the carriers' network, traffic will be moved automatically to the others, to optimize usage and application performance.
Under the hood, modern cellular bonding solutions monitor in real time each connection's parameters - available bandwidth, latency, jitter, packet loss. Error correction algorithms are also used to minimize losses which are inherent to wireless connections.
Benefits of Cellular Bonding
There are three major benefits of bonding cellular Internet connections:
- getting increased bandwidth.
- failover protection.
- having mobility.
How fast can the resulting bonded cellular Internet be? This depends on the connections you're tossing into the mix - 4G / LTE, 5G, even 3G or 2G at times, especially in remote areas. As a rule of thumb, you should not expect the resulting bonded connection to have the bandwidth of the added individual bandwidths. Any cellular bonding solution has a specific overhead it adds, which makes it more or less efficient.
What about redundancy / failover protection? That's the beauty of cellular bonding. If one of the cellular connections you're combining has any issues, like you getting into a poor coverage area, the bonding hardware or software will automatically shift traffic away from that cellular modem onto the other working one(s). You should not notice anything while using the bonded Internet connection when this happens. Naturally, once the affected connection is back functioning within quality parameters, the mobile bonding solution will start using it again.
Cellular Bonding Use Cases: Live Streaming and Broadcasts and Remote Work
Cellular bonding enables users to have mobility while providing fast and reliable Internet. So where does it make most sense to use this?
Live streaming / broadcasting - whether it's IRL streaming, events, sports or reporting from the field, a bonded cellular Internet connection saves the day. That's because you can never be 100% sure of the reliability of a single Internet connection, plus you can go online from anywhere as long as you have cellular coverage from at least two providers.
Remote work - apart from those doing the live streaming and broadcasting, some remote workers need a stable Internet connection to be productive. Think of people who spend most of their time in Zoom video calls, like teachers, trainers or people in management. Also - day traders depend on fast and stable connectivity.
Cellular Bonding Solutions on the Market in 2022: Hardware, Software-Only
There are two major types of mobile bonding solutions: those that include dedicated hardware devices and those that are software-only, bonding directly on your own device.
Hardware mobile bonding solutions are provided by vendors such as Teradek, Peplink, Mushroom Networks and LiveU. These all have in common that central hardware bonding device, which allows you to add SIM cards or external USB cellular dongles and combine them. Some of them even claim to be "set it and forget it" type of solutions.
Software-only cellular bonding solutions are represented by vendors like Speedify. Instead of using dedicated bonding hardware, it combines the connections directly on the device it's running on: computer, Raspberry Pi, mobile device, etc.
Which one is better - hardware or software-only bonded cellular Internet? Given that both types of solutions deliver the same result, here are three items you should take into consideration:
- Flexibility: You want your cellular bonding solution to always be up to date with the latest protocols and innovations. From this point of view, Speedify’s mobile bonding technology is the winner. It's software-centric and uses fast cloud servers which act as a middleman between you and the rest of the Internet. No more outdated cellular bonding hardware that need to be replaced every few years.
- Value for money: how much you get for what you pay. Hardware cellular bonding solutions cost anywhere from $1,000 and higher. For some of those solutions, you also need to get a subscription for their services, which is sold separately form the hardware bonding device.
When it comes to software-only cellular bonding, the cost is just a fraction of its hardware equivalent. Speedify starts at just under $10 per month, and if you add a dedicated server to that, you'll still pay just a little over $100 per month.
- Security and online privacy: As a software-only cellular bonding solution, Speedify brings encryption to the table and securely combines multiple Internet streams. You can be sure no one can eavesdrop on the bonded online traffic. All the private browsing data is safe.
Learn more about dedicated hardware vs. software-only bonding in this article.
DIY Cellular Bonding Solution
You can use your computer or a device like a Raspberry Pi to create your own cellular bonding hardware powered by Speedify:
- Here's a guide on how to build your own Raspberry Pi bonding router
- You can also use a Windows laptop to share a bonded cellular connection via Wi-Fi.
- You can also create a cellular bonding device on a Linux laptop using Speedify.
As long as your device runs one of the operating systems supported by Speedify - Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS or Android - you can turn any device into a cellular bonding solution.