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on 12 June 2016
Dear all,

I wanted to share a little story we have with load balancing and ADSL routers.

We live in a rural area in the UK with rather slow & unstable 2-3.5 Mbps ADSL lines. The only way to increase this was to have multiple lines. The cost per one line per month is around 30 pounds including telephone line rental. To have a leased line for 10 Mbps is around 800 pounds (around 6 times more expensive). So we opted for multiple lines, with load balancing.

To manage the lines, we purchased the TP-LINK ER5120 v1 load balancer for around 120 pounds in 2013. Since we have a rack cabinet, we purchased this version from TP-LINK. We used is for almost 2 years, but had quit some issues with it:

1) Reboot every 8-12 days. The load balancer seems to slow down and not efficiently balance the load anymore.

2) Daily lost of PPPoE connection. Manually reboot the 4 modems (they were in bridge mode). Somehow the load balancer was not clever enough when the PPP connection was lost either for just 1-2 seconds or longer than 5 minutes, it seems it didn't attempt to reconnect. It will show the line is DOWN, but not action taken. So we had to reboot the modem, rather than reboot the load balancer. --> later we changed the bridge mode, to normal router mode on the modem. So this increased the reliability, because the modems were smarter in keeping the connection and also better in reconnecting afterwards. But the loadbalancer would not be quick enough to test whether the modem/router was online or offline. So often users will end up with sites that took (never) forever to load.

3) the load balancer has an option to check whether the WAN was healthy (up) or not (down). You could choose to do this by checking an IP address or DNS. But this was not always accurate, sometimes it said it was down (the load balancer will stop using this WAN) but it was up and vice versa.

4) minor issue: there is a section called application, where you can block this. It ask to import a list, but the support team told us that this list is not available and this feature does not work.

So, all in all it did the job of load balancing, but it cost us a lot of energy in the last 2 years (and many users were not particular happy).

After hunting some information about load balancers, you really get to narrow it down to one particular brand (unknown to many) that is talked about in this range: Peplink. Well... honestly it could have been any name, it just didn't provide the right confidence as let's say: Netgear, TP-LINK, Cisco, Microtik and the like. So we were hesitant, and it was also in a higher price range a bit less than 500 pounds to combine 4-5 lines. Anyway we got the Peplink Balance One Core with license to have 5 WAN (buy the license directly from their site with your serial code, and it was cheaper, cost $100).

So what changed?

1) Stable: no more issues with going to reboot the modems or anything. This load balancer can check the WAN port every second and will check the standard DNS servers and/or Google DNS servers or other way you want it to check. It also will attempt to reconnect for hours until it the WAN is back up again.

2) No need to reboot the load balancer, while we only have it for 3 weeks, it hasn't been rebooted at all. (quite a change)

3) Easy to use interface to give priority to some traffic. For instance it is a few click to prioritize imap, and give low priority to video streaming for instance. Also you can choose how certain internet protocols (http/https + which port) are using the 4 lines, either always 1 particular line, or least crowded one, or divided over all the lines, or the one with lowest latency. Pretty cool. The best is actually the option to have all HTTPS traffic consistently going over the same line. So especially with banking sites we used to key in the ip address in the TP LINK to go over WAN 1, 2, 3, or 4. So when the WAN was down, it didn't change it. But this load balancer will somehow always use the same WAN for that particular device. Furthermore there is a simple option to block content like pornography or P2P sites. Quit similar, but more simple, as in OpenDNS. It does save use from applying for OpenDNS and configure extra things somewhere else. But the frustrating bit is that you don't know what domains it 'blocks.' For instance youtube falls under the pornography header, so we had to explicitly allow youtube to pass.

4) Data! We got much more information about how many users/devices are using the internet, which device use most, how much bandwidth is in real-time/per hour/per day/per month. That is all on the device. It gave us a better idea when peak hours were. But if you reboot the device, most data is lost. They offer for 1 year (or more if you buy...) this online tool that connects your device to it. The load balancer basically send all the statistics to the site (called InControl), and you can monitor your device(s) from there. The advantage is that is provide some useful data for us, that is WAN up and down time. While you can perhaps go through the logs and look, on their site it just have a quick overview per WAN when it was down and how long and when it was up and how long. We could quickly derive a certain pattern. So we changed some modems and tested the lines. This helped enormously for stability.

5) More responsive web interface (vs TP LINK). Perhaps it is also the price class difference, but it was notable quicker and easier to apply changes.

6) Small device. We were used to a full rack size load balancer, and heavy weight as well. This particular device is no bigger than a standard 16 port switch (non rack model), it was small and light.

So all in all it was a tremendous improvement in our load balancing experience.

From then on we could isolate another issue we had on our rural lines: ADSL modem/routers.

Our lines are quite challenging, 6 ADSL lines: Attenuation (dB) 55, SNR 6-9 db, Rate (2500 - 4000 Kbps). The lines keep dropping with our provided Zyxel VMG1312-B10 router. With the InControl site mentioned previously, we could see the connection (bridge mode) dropped sometimes a dozen times each day, either for seconds to sometimes hours. We called our telephone provider and asked them to test the lines etc etc etc, to no avail. It was chasing a ghost, because the ADSL lost sync randomly over all the lines (we could see the patter clearer with the Peplink device, because it reacted much quicker and had better stats).

So we went hunting again for information about rural ADSL lines asking Mr Google. One site keep popping up with lots of information, but the site looked too slick to be unbiased. Also they keep saying on the site how great Billion ADSL routers were (and basically nothing else), which added to much more suspicion. But looking more in forums there are many who praise these Billions modems for their stability on rural telephone lines, and also praises the ability to easily tweaking the SNR margin (while it does take some time to understand what number to put in to tweak). So we got 2 of these Billions Modem 8800NL, this was cheaper than the 7800 series, since we will mainly use them in bridge mode (no wifi, NAT or any fancy features).

Guess what... this 'weird' and pretty 'unknown' brand (compared to netgear, zyxel, tp link and the like), just like Peplink, has done the trick so far, the Billion is keeping the connection rather than dropping 10-15 times a day, it might need to resync once a day! We are currently running for a week.. and the difference is amazing. Also the sync speed increases overtime due to the stability of the line, the exchange reduces the SNR margin and therefore increases the sync speed.

We don't really know how this all works, some say it is the broadcom chip, but it is apparently similar as the Zyxel model we used. I guess that is the best part so far. We will leave it like this and tweak the SNR margin in the coming weeks to see whether we can get a bit more juice out of our internet lines. This is only a bonus, the best part is that the ADSL lines and load balancing remains stable, without us need to hassle with it every day or week.

So I recommend anyone having issues with load balancing --> Peplink and anyone with difficult rural ADSL/telephone lines --> Billion.

Try it.. and see for yourself.

p.s. after a week, we got in total of 6 Billion modems for all our 6 lines.
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on 15 March 2016
After extensive research I decided to upgrade my sky fibre router due to a poor signal up in the bedrooms. I Received this router and I must say I was expecting big things. Reasonably easy to set up and due to the four Ethernet ports I had my steaming box on the main tv flying - as you'd expect.

The problem with this router is one of the very things I bought it for - the wireless capacities. I set about setting up my internet tv with a fire stick which just needed logging onto the new router. Easy two minute job - just enter the new wireless key. Well the wireless strength went from good to nothing constantly and never ever was stable enough to lock on. Moved my firestick downstairs and tried it right next to the router and I'm talking less than 1 metre away - went from very good signal to nothing again constantly when wirelessly connected. Awful and very poor.

Very very disappointed to say the least!! Returned and stuck with my sky router which incidentally locked onto my firestick within seconds.

One thing I will say - there support is top notch with quick replies to emails.
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on 6 November 2014
Router is well made, billion I feel are a quality vendor, I am actually only using it as a modem in bridge mode. For those who want to do the same perhaps to replace the hg612 openreach modem, this has a newer broadcom dsl chip and has also newer broadcom dsl drivers. So will sync a bit higher on most lines.
Also if collecting stats of the line it can be done over the wan cable without needing a seperate lan cable as in bridge mode it has a 2nd lan subnet.
It will work fine as a router as well tho, has a good feature set and nice looking GUI.
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on 30 September 2014
Very configurable alternative for the (crippled) modem that was supplied by BT. It would work as a stand alone modem/router, but I use it with a WNDR4500 router. There are a lot of setting up options, but the instructions were easy enough for it to work the first time it was connected to my FTTC/VDSL2 enabled phone line.
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on 21 June 2017
great product arrive very quickly exactly what i needed...
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on 8 March 2017
The best router for poor internet!
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on 7 October 2014
I was looking for an alternative router to use for my BT Infinity instead of the supplied Home Hub 5.

At the time this had mainly positive reviews so I took the plunge, usually I would head towards a Netgear or Asus product for this type of thing, but for the price this was worth a punt.

So far the unit excels in a couple of areas and is a bit poor in others, so let me explain.

In terms of the connection from this modem/router towards the BT exchange its rock solid, it gives me consistently better download and upload connections than the HH5 ever did, and the annoying random disconnects have now stopped. That's not to say that the Billion never disconnects, but it does manage a minimum of 3-4 days before it does this.

The user interface for the Billion is very good, it has a lot of good features built in, many of which I may use at a future time but out of the box it just works and does the job well. It has a single gigabit Ethernet link that I use to reach my BT Youview Box and three 100mbps links that are fine for my other wired devices.

Now your mileage may vary but the wireless part of the device for me is not very stable. I have tried different channels, various other settings, but randomly it drops and I have to reboot it to get it to bring the wireless back, it got so bad that I invested in a TP-Link WR834ND Access Point to take the wireless load, this works seamlessly with the billion.

Overall I still give the product 4 stars as I think it delivers in the key area of connecting to the BT network, the wireless could be me, but my other devices work without issues, so I tend to think its the device, however I would recommend it as a viable alternative to the HH5.
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on 29 August 2014
I had TalkTalk fibre installed and decided to replace the clunky BT openreach modem and cheapy TalkTalk router with this beasty.

Hook this router directly into the VDSL line and it syncs straight away, but it won't authenticate automatically when you follow the "quick install" instruction included...

What you need to do is click onto the configuration section and click on the WAN section go to your PTM0.1 connection and click the "edit" button... on this screen select "IP over Ethernet" from the top dropdown... then change the VLAN mux ID to "101" and change the 8021P to "0", finally change the MTU to 1492.... and click "appy" that should be that!!!

Only been using it a few hours... but it was a pain to get the settings right so I thought to pop them here... enjoy!!
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on 5 August 2014
Updated 13/11/14 (See last paragraph for update)

Believe me over the years I've used a lot of different routers (probably over a dozen different makes and models) and I've never come across one single router that does everything it should. There has always been some sort of niggling problem. And the Billion so far for me after several weeks of use really comes into this same category. I'm using the Billion on a BT Infinity 2 broadband connection and it does give me good download and upload sync speeds - as good as I was getting on the BT Homehub 5 - and it holds a stable VDSL connection.

Let me just say, before I go into the cons of this router, how great the user interface is. It has a comprehensive suite of features making this a very configurable and feature packed router. This router can have up to three guest wireless networks. So if you don't want your Son/Daughter to spend all day (or all night lol) on the internet give them their own wireless network and schedule it to switch off over night. Splendid feature. My partner and I use the main wireless network, the kids each have their wireless network on the Billion, each with their own password, both of which switch off in the evening at different times.

So far I have two issues with this router.

Firstly wireless performance could be better - it seems to give me good signal strength around the house but speeds are less than that of the Homehub 5 (HH5), by a good 10-20Mbps. On the whole though I get anywhere between 10-35Mbps on a 65 Mbps connection over wireless on the Billion. The Billion gets a full 65Mbps on a wired Ethernet connection so the problem is definitely a wireless one. 10-30Mbps is good enough for most uses for me but let's face it should be better, especially when the HH5 performs much better over wireless. And in one room in the house - really not that far away from the router - I only get 3Mbps on wireless on the Billion. With the HH5 I don't have the same problem but it seems to be a blind spot for the Billion. And I've tried all the wireless channels - and wireless analyzers to check that there isn't any interference. And I can only use 20MHz wireless, not 40Mhz, on the Billion. 40MHz loses connection constantly. Plus I have noticed buffering on Netflix on my Chromecast dongle, on a rare occasion it has to be said, but I never saw it even once before on the HH5.

Second problem I've found, I'm a big gamer so I make extensive use of port forwarding, uPnP and DMZ . This is why I bought the billion as uPnP on the HH5 is fundamentally broken and BT don't seem to want to fix it - it's so broken not even a power cycle of the HH5 fixes it. So let me just state that uPnP works better on the Billion but it has the same problem as the HH5 except the Billion can be fixed by a power cycle of the router. What happens is that ports for gaming applications are opened by the Billion uPnP and are listed in the Virtual Server List, once these devices (consoles) are powered down these ports should be released for use by other devices and therefore disappear from the virtual list - they don't, at least not reliably. Sometimes they are released, but other times I have to power down the router to release the ports - even manually deleting the ports doesn't actually free up the ports. DMZ works fine so there is a fall back position for single console owners but if you have multiple consoles uPnP port forwarded ports getting stuck is a problem. I've reported this to Billion, exchanged some messages and they are going to look into it so it may well be fixed in a future firmware update. I will let you know if it is. It would be a four star review rating if this is fixed.

I'm sticking with the Billion as it does actually work and for gaming it is better for me than the HH5 albeit with some niggles. Over the last couple of weeks I've not had any buffering on movie streaming so it has been better although wireless speed tests are still lower than the HH5.

And if you are getting this router for an ADSL broadband connection the SNR tweaking feature will be a god send - for improving stability on noisy lines and sometimes adding Mbps of download speed. I've used other routers that have had this same feature and it can make the world of difference on an ADSL connection.

Update 13/11/14

Unfortunately after intermittent problems with the wifi on this router I've had to replug in the BT HH5. I get good wireless strength around the house with the billion but for some reason actual speeds are mediocre sometimes dropping down to poor - I've tried literally every wireless channel too. Netflix has been intermittently streaming with terrible quality resolution. Put the HH5 back on, watch five episodes of Breaking Bad and the HH5 wireless is flawless. One other problem the other night the upload speed dropped to 0.25Mbps, on a 20Mbps upload fibre connection. Even the ethernet connected devices were seeing the problem. A reset of the router fixed it but never had that before, hopefully a one off. So although I'm still using the Billion, I've disabled the wireless and connected the BT HH5 as a wireless AP - connected by a short ethernet cable into the ethernet port on the back of the Billion. Works really well now. The Billion is a good router (terrible wireless though) but with the BT HH5 wireless back on everything works much much better. A compromise, but needs must. Not sure if I have a faulty Billion but like I say wireless signal strength around the house is good just not very fast.
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on 14 July 2015
What a amazing device. Prior to this I ordered a Asus DSL-N55U as the specification out performed this router by quite a margin and it was also vDSL. It has 5Ghz wifi which this one doesn't had 4 Gigabit ports instead of 1. But upon using the Asus router I had nothing but issues, I had to dig deep to try and resolve it but never did so I returned it and following some other people's advise on my ISP's forum I got this little baby.

Yeah it looks a bit plain, but damn it works well! Really well, out of the box and running within 5 minutes, I was so happy to throw out my Technicolour + OpenReach Modem combination just for a single device that works. My latency sits nicely back at a reasonable figure now and my downloads are improving since I got hit by DLM from the other router.

The 2 screenshots show the performance increase after installing the Billion 8800NL, and I am very pleased even without the 5Ghz wireless etc.
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