An Irish startup has launched an Indiegogo campaign that wants to help people make the most of their existing bandwidth by combining all of their connections together. This means your 6 Mbps DSL line and your 5 Mbps LTE connection could work together to give you 11 Mbps.
Justin Collery, the CEO and founder of Multipath Networks, offers a few other variations and benefits, such as getting a boost from sharing a connection with your neighbor, or getting around network disputes like what happened when CBS blocked Time Warner Cable customers from watching its content during a retransmission fight.
Multipath has built a router that retails for about $200 and can combine up to four connections to boost both the connection speed and the reliability of the resulting network. There’s also a $5 per month subscription fee after a free trial period that covers the cloud-based intelligence that makes the product work.
This type of technology isn’t new — I wrote about three companies doing that back in 2009 — but a few things have changed. First is the wireless networks are so much faster now. Back in 2009, 3G was the norm on the cellular side, and home broadband connections were mainly DSL with few cable providers having upgraded to DOCSIS 3.0.
And the underlying technology that Multipath uses is actually fairly new. It’s using Multipath TCP, which coincidentally is coming to great prominence because Apple is also using the same tech inside the iPhone to let Siri combine 4G and Wi-Fi networks. Collery might be a bit miffed at claims that Apple is the first to use this tech, but the validation and market education Apple can offer will undoubtedly be good for his product.
Today that product is the router. Unlike previous bonding efforts, this router doesn’t actually send packets in order to see how fast your connection is, possibly eating up a large chunk of your data in the process. Instead it measures the difference in time between a request for a packet and the receipt and gauges the connection characteristics from that (that’s the cloud stuff you’re paying the subscription for). The router also runs software that can allow you to fill up the cheapest pipe first, so your wireless gigabytes don’t get out of hand.
However, Collery is aware that few people might get excited enough about redundancy or faster connections to actually shell out for a $200 (or more) router. The goal is actually to build out a service where Multipath buys the connections from providers and resells them as a service. Imagine buying a Mi-Fi or home modem from Multipath as opposed to one from a single provider. The benefit would be that several carrier networks and local broadband providers would be supported.
That’s a bit further down the road. For now the company, which already has customers in the first responder community, hopes to get consumers to contribute to the campaign and support the growth of a consumer-grade router that aggregates their bandwidth. I like the idea. Of course, I also like fast broadband and redundancy in my network.