Written by: Daniel Haurey on 03/09/21

Do you get as frustrated as I do when the power goes out?  How about when your internet goes down?  It’s not fun – and it always seems to happen at the most inopportune time.  Businesses, especially highly risk-averse organizations that have virtually no tolerance for downtime like hospitals, and those dealing with high finance, like stockbrokers have long enjoyed the benefits of having gas-powered backup generators for electricity and redundant internet access at work.  But for many of us, our homes are now our primary place of business.  So, is it possible, affordable, or even practical to enjoy redundant internet access at home?  You bet it is.

Now, I know what you are thinking.  “My cell phone (iPhone, Android, etc.) is a hot spot, and I can use that if my internet goes down.”    Of course, you can, but how about the television that you want to stream Netflix on?  What about all the other devices on your home network, like internet-connected door locks, thermostats, cameras, and Alexa?  I’m not talking about just getting connected on your laptop so that you can do some work or get on a Zoom call. I’m talking about keeping your entire home, all the people in the home, and all the devices on your network online and connected in the event of a complete failure of your main internet connection, and having it be so seamless, that you may be the only one that knows that the main internet circuit is down.

How to do backup internet access at home.

The first thing you need to do is secure a secondary means of internet connectivity.  This shouldn’t come as a surprise.  For my setup, I chose wireless internet access from Verizon Wireless.  There were several reasons for this, but here are a few.  First, the 4G LTE signal is modestly strong in my house.  Second, with 5G getting deployed rapidly, I could look forward to even faster backup internet speed soon.  Also, wireless means – no wires.  Most people know that downed power and telecommunications lines are at the root of many of the power and internet outages that we endure.

With my secondary means of internet access secured, I purchased the 5G-ready, Cradlepoint E300 Series router.  This is the device that makes the magic happen.  This thing is chock full of very advanced technical features – features that even a seasoned IT pro like me will never use.  But since this article is meant for non-techies, I will simply say that this is the device that allows for “failover” to your secondary internet provider’s connection when your primary goes down – automatically, and seamlessly.

For example, you just sat down with a bowl of popcorn and started streaming your new favorite series on Netflix, when your primary internet connection goes down.  In the old days (before you had redundant internet access at home), you were done.  Time to grab a book.  No internet – no Netflix.  But not anymore.  With your new backup internet access in place, your Cradlepoint router detected that your primary internet circuit was down, and in about one-second, started using your secondary internet connection.  The result – your TV didn’t even notice, and you continue to watch Netflix.  You didn’t have to do a thing.  But not only is Netflix still playing, but the kids also are still able to do their homework, and, your Nest thermostats are working, and Alexa is happy, and well, you get it.  And all of this happened in the background.  And through the magic of your new Cradlepoint router, as soon as it detects that your primary (usually faster) means of internet connectivity is once again in an UP status, the device will seamlessly switch you back to it, and the family unit is none the wiser.

Here is a picture of the actual complete setup (located in the basement). 

How much does backup internet access at home cost?

You guessed it – it depends.  As I stated above, I chose to use Version Wireless.  You may choose an inexpensive DSL connection.  It’s totally up to you.  Here are some of the myriad configurations you can choose.

Primary, Backup and Tertiary Internet Access for Home (especially in the northeast, USA)

  • Primary Internet Access
    • Verizon Fios
    • Optimum Cable, Xfinity Cable, or Other Cable Provider
    • Cable
  • Secondary Internet Access
    • Optimum Cable, Xfinity Cable, or Other Cable Provider
    • Verizon DSL or Other Cable Provider
    • DSL or Verzon Fios
  • Tertiary Internet Access
    • Verizon Wireless, T-Mobiel Wireless, AT&T Wireless
    • HughesNet

*Yes, the Cradlepoint E300 even supports a tertiary means of connectivity for a scenario where your primary and secondary means of internet connectivity are down. 

The Cradlepoint E300 is about $1,000.  I say about because there are multiple options in terms of support and such that can drive the price up or down that are too numerous to explain here.  For specific questions, contact us and we will be happy to help.

Common objections and questions for backup internet access at home.

  1. “Redundant internet access at home is too expensive.”

I guess that depends on your job role.  A lead trader at a hedge fund that transacts millions of dollars in trades each day from home may be able to justify it.

  1. “There is only one internet provider in my area.”

That is most likely false, at least in the context of this article.  Remember, your secondary can be any major wireless carrier like AT&T, Verizon Wireless, or T-Mobile.

  1. “Installing backup internet access at home is too hard or too technical for me.”

It is correct that, most non-IT folks won’t be able to do this on their own.  But, if you’ve come this far in this article, you are probably not opposed to hiring an IT consultant like me to do this for you.

  1. “If I am using wireless data while my primary internet is down, my cell phone bill is going to be insanely high!”

Not if you have an unlimited data plan or are part of a corporate plan that has a large amount of pooled data available.  I’m not saying this isn’t a concern, but it is negotiable and not a dealbreaker either.

  1. “How will I know if my Cradlepoint device failed over?” “How do I know if my primary internet circuit is down?”

You can program the Cradlepoint device to notify you via text or email when it is in a failed-over state.  This can help in terms of curbing your internet use to avoid cost if you do not have a cost-effective or unlimited data plan.

It is true that redundant internet access in the residential setting isn’t for everyone.  But for those of us that simply cannot be down, today’s modern technology affords us good options, such as the powerful Cradlepoint E300.  I hope that article was helpful to you.  If you have any questions, feel free to reach out.  My internet is up virtually all the time.

Daniel J. Haurey is the founder and president at Exigent Technologies, a managed IT services firm in Morristown, New Jersey.


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