Can a Home Network Share Two Internet Connections?

Multihoming permits two different internet connections over a network

Laptop and PC on desk
Getty Images/Andrew Brookes

Multihoming configurations allow one local area network to share multiple connections to external networks such as the internet. Some people want to multihome their home network to share two internet connections for increased speed and reliability. Several options exist for sharing two internet connections on a home network. However, they can be difficult to configure and are often limited in functionality.

Multihoming Broadband Routers

The most direct method for utilizing two high-speed internet connections on a home network is to install a router specifically designed for this purpose. Multihoming routers feature two or more WAN interfaces for internet links. They handle both the fail-over and load balancing aspects of connection sharing automatically.

However, these high-end products are designed for use by businesses rather than homeowners and can be complicated to set up. Due to the inherent overhead involved in managing such connections, these products may not perform as well as hoped. They are also significantly more expensive than mainstream home network routers.

Double the Pleasure

Installing two broadband network routers—each with its own internet subscription—allows you to use both connections simultaneously but only on different computers. Ordinary home network routers do not provide any mechanism to coordinate network bandwidth sharing between them.

Broadband MultiHoming Without a Router

Individuals with technical know-how may be inclined to build their own high-speed multihoming system at home without purchasing a router. This approach requires you to install two or more network adapters in a computer and develop software scripts that manage the details of network routing and configuration.

Utilizing a technique called NIC bonding allows you to aggregate the bandwidth of simultaneous internet connections.

Multihoming Dial-Up Network Connections

The concept of multihoming home network connections has existed since the early days of the web. Microsoft Windows XP multiple-device dialing, for example, effectively combined two dial-up modem connections into one, increasing the overall internet connection speed compared to a single modem. Techies often called this a shotgun modem or modem-bonding configuration.

Partial MultiHoming Solutions

Network operating systems like Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X contain limited multihoming support. These provide some basic internet sharing capability without requiring expensive hardware or deep technical understanding.

With Mac OS X, for example, you can configure multiple internet connections including high-speed and dial-up and have the operating system automatically fail over from one to the next if a failure occurs in one interface or the other. However, this option does not support any load balancing or attempt to aggregate network bandwidth between the internet connections.

Microsoft Windows allows you to configure a similar level of multihoming on a home network.

Older versions of Windows required you to install two or more network adapters on the computer in order to take advantage of multihoming, but Windows XP and newer versions allow setting up the support using the default adapter alone.