We depend on the internet more than ever with many aspects of our home’s connected to the internet therefore having a backup internet connection is a sensible idea.
In this blog we will explore how to setup a backup internet connection looking at a range of options and its not as hard or expensive as you may think.
Why you should consider a backup internet connection
Years ago having a second backup internet connection would be reserved for business where an internet outage would cost dearly.
It used to be more costly and complicated to setup a backup internet connection.
Now having access to a backup internet connection is much cheaper and simpler to setup as you will find out later in this blog it is more accessible to everyone.
If you have ever experienced an Internet outage you will know how frustrating it can be, If you have not experienced an internet outage recently unplug your router and switch your phones into AirPlane mode for 10 minutes and then see what you can and cant do without access to the internet.
You will soon get the sense of how much stuff relies on the internet to work:
- Browsing Websites
- WhatsApp, Messenger
- Social Media
- Most Apps on your phone
- VoIP phones
- Streaming Netflix, iPlayer, Disney+, YouTube, Spotify etc..
- Your smart devices like Alexa, Ring Doorbell’s etc.
- Cloud services like Dropbox, iCloud, Google Drive etc
- Working From Home
- and much much more!
If having the above not working has a detrimental impact then you need a backup internet connection.
Having a backup internet connection will mean if you main internet connection goes down you will still have Internet its like having bottled water in case the mains water goes off.
Choosing and setting up a backup internet connection
The easiest way to setup a backup internet connection is using something you most likely already have and that’s your mobile phone.
Your smartphone will have access to its own internet connection the 3/4/5G mobile internet connection included with your contract.
Your smartphone in most cases can also double as a WiFi access point this means in the event your main internet goes down you may be able to use your smartphone to provide a backup internet connection to your WiFi devices in your home.
Before you do this you need to check that Hotspot / Tethering is allowed in your mobile providers contract and be mindful of your data allowance if you have a low data allowance of a few GB suddenly tethering lots of devices off your phone will soon get though that.
To setup a hotspot from your phone look for a setting along the lines of ‘Personal Hotspot’ in your phones settings.
You can usually set your own password and sometimes the name of the network.
Once switched on you will see a new WiFi network appear on your other devices usually the name of your phone unless you set a custom name.
Simply join your devices to this network and they will then share your phones internet connection.
There are some limitations to this approach, It will use your phones data for one, perfromance may not be great depending on the mobile signal in your home and your phones WiFi transmitter wont be as powerful in most cases to your normal router.
It also requires manual work to change over your devices to use this temp internet connection and without additional equipment it wont work for any wired devices.
If you want something a bit more robust and that can seamless take over providing internet to your whole home without you needing to change anything then you want a router than can have multiple internet connections configured.
The good news is many ISP’s are now aware of people wanting a backup internet connection and offer usually for a few £s a month more a backup internet connection which is preconfigured so plug and play.
EE is one good example of this where they can provide you with a hybrid connector that utilises EE’s 4G network to provide a backup internet connection if your FTTC/FTTP line goes down.
The hybrid connector box connects to your main router either via cable or wireless and auto takes over if your main internet goes down providing a near seamless experience.
Other ISP’s provide similar all in one services.
In terms of what is powering your backup internet connection so far we have talked about using mobile 4/5G networks which providing you can get a good enough signal is a good option to go for in most cases.
What your looking for in a backup internet connection is redundancy therefore it is best to choose not only a different ISP but also different route into your home.
For example if you had two FTTP lines into your home or even an FTTC and FTTP line from two different ISPs if they share any of the same routes into your home inclduing undrground ducts, poles for overhead, same Wholesale network operator then you have a single point of failure.
If someone were to damage and cut though the duct near your home and sever though all the cables within then both of your internet connections would go down.
Using 4/5G to provide a backup to your fixed line FTTC/FTTP/Cable internet providing its a different ISP (IE dont pick EE if your on BT/EE for your main internet or O2 if your with Virgin Media) will provide a good level of separation and redundancy.
If 4/5G is not an option then a satellite based service like Starlink may be the only viable backup option but will be costly.
If your more techy and you use your own router then you may find it provides a dual WAN or multi WAN capability.
For example I run PFSense and have a dual WAN setup in failover mode.
My main connection being my FTTP line from Full Fibre Ltd and secondary connection a Three 5G Broadband which is connected to an external antenna to get the best signal.
If your looking for a cost effective 4/5G mobile backup connection then Smarty offer data Sims from £5 per month and have reasonably priced Data addons which means for most of the time you can get away with a lower data plan then if you have to use the backup connection you can boost using a unlimited data addon on for day/week/month.
If you require the use of a Static IP then using AAISP L2TP VPN like I do you can configure this in failover mode on routers like PfSense and route your traffic though this which means your connection will be seamless with the same static IP.