Adding a second internet connection to your home network

I’ve had a business DSL through AT&T (formerly SBC) for the 7 years we’ve lived here.  Initially I was hosting sites and my own email server, as well as having enough network equipment I wanted to play with to justify the expense.  I got 5 static IPs and the fastest they had available 6 Mbps/768 Kbps.  I’ve reduced the number of servers using that bandwidth, but increased the number of clients (and the per client bandwidth), and have had some times recently where things just don’t work too well, or pause, or just go wonky.  Some days, youtube videos pause every 20 seconds, making them almost impossible to watch.  I hear my wife constantly complaining about lag on her game server, and I can’t easily determine if it’s our side or server side.  This just isn’t enough bandwidth anymore.  Yes I realize that there is probably some optimization to be found, some new QoS rules I can put in place, but that all requires time, and I am critically short of that right now.  So I decided I needed to get another internet connection to offload some of the client bandwidth usage during peak times.  If Verizon would just put some FiOS service out here, I might be set with just one connection again (HINT HINT VERIZON!).

Obviously, I already have a DSL, so getting another one is probably out of the question (well, I didn’t research if it was, but I assumed so…besides, TWC has a faster connection anyway for cheaper…at least for now).  So I decided on a cable modem from Time Warner (TWC).  Their turbo is listed as up to 22 Mbps/2 Mbps, so this should handle our client needs just fine.  The big question was how to add this connection into our network without disrupting our extensive network setup (MP3 streaming server, various test servers, VMWare boxes and other network shares and printers).  I do have a RadWare LinkProof router load balancer (which would basically merge the 2 connections into 1), but I decided against it since I want to configure certain clients to use the new connection, while leaving others to use the older connection.

Here’s what I did, with a little background on the existing setup so you’ll understand it.

The previous configuration had all the client connections using a single static IP address routed through a Linksys RVS4000 router.  The RVS4000 is configured as IP on the internal network, handing our DHCP addresses for the clients from  All the servers are on a different IP address off the DSL router (the RVS4000 sits behind the DSL router).  The printers and other network devices all have static IPs mapped so I can make sure they retain the same addresses and all our shares and various services know where to connect.  Obviously, I’d like the clients using the 192.168 network resources to still be able to connect, so I needed to figure out how to get the TWC connection to fit that scheme.  Turned out to be so easy it amazed me (though I guess it probably shouldn’t since it makes total sense).  I hooked the TWC modem to another router (a spare Netgear one for now), and then configured that to be be at LAN IP, and DHCP off.  Since the router gets all it’s TWC info dynamically (the RVS4000 router has static WAN settings), I shouldn’t have to worry about that portion of it at all (though I am worried that TWC may change DNS servers based on dynamic IP allocated…that will take some time to determine.  If that happens, the TWC modem will become the DHCP server since the RVS4000 DNS settings are static and will remain so for the forseeable future).  Since the netgear router is now configured to be on the same network as all the clients, I connected it to the main gigabit switch in the server room and configured a client with a static IP address pointing to the netgear router as the gateway.  VOILA!  I was on, on the TWC connection vs. the AT&T one.  I then validated the speed and IP address I was expecting and all was well.  All I needed to do then was configure the rest of the clients to statically point to the correct gateway and DNS servers (I haven’t finished that yet).

Next up is to get a better router/firewall on that TWC connection.  I have a PIX 301, or a PIX 306 that I could use, or I might go with the M0n0wall system I keep wanting to play with.

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