2024, March 05    

A common challenge of rural life is dealing with internet outages, which sadly occur more often than not. Where outages of a few seconds (even a few minutes) could usually be tolerated, losing your internet connection for > minutes at a time and in some cases multiple times per day has a serious knock-on effect to your work week.

A while ago I was fortunate enough to have Starlink run a production for my area, which made the setup cost palatable (the default is a significant outlay). Whilst this has been great at providing a fast connection for non-realtime use, video calls using it have suffered from noticeable latency at time, not to mention the occasional 1-2 second drop (nothing close to the landline but still a disruption).

So where did that leave me, and where am I at now? Well, thankfully in a much better place thanks to a service called Speedify. As always, no sponsors here, just another technology I've purchased in the hope of making life a little smoother.

Speedify is a connection aggregation service that depending on how its configured can either bond your connections together to give you their combined speed, or can be run in resilient mode whereby both connections are used simultaneously ensuring that if a connection dies you wouldn't know. This isn't failover, this is having your data streamed down both connections at the same time to a VPN server / aggregation point, which reassembles it based on whichever packet in the sequence arrives first (from either connection). The benefit of this is that in the event of a connection failing, there is no rerouting of connections / no breaking of existing, it's a seamless switchover.

My first attempt at using this (unsurprisingly) didn't go well. As it transpires, you need to use different ethernet interfaces for the software to correctly use multiple connections. Unfortunately, my first attempt had both gateways on the same network which no amount of tweaking would make work.

Fast forward by two months and it's time to have another crack at it, this time armed with different gateways on different VLAN's. Thankfully that was enough to get running and CLI showed that the service was connected. A few NAT rules later (and some configuration tweaks) and the service was running and ready to relay internet traffic.

It didn't take long before another issue decided to surface, this time in the form of the speedify daemon hanging seemly without reason. Thankfully, one support email and one software update later had it working reliably (no more cron scripts triggering an auto-reboot when it failed).

With everything working correctly it was time to put it to the test. Amusingly it didn't take long for this to take place, nor did I need to arrange it. Just like clockwork, the landline connection died mid-zoom and yet the video call continued flawlessly. No more dropped calls each time an engineer decides to mess in a cabinet, hello being able to work without disruption (providing Starlink remains stable).

Privacy-wise it's an area that remains to be seen, as for the service to work your connections are connecting to the internet via a datacenter IP, which realistically could be subject to monitoring etc. Using DOH provides some DNS privacy at least, but for now my hope is that their privacy policy is genuine / followed.