“What has four internet connections, but only one RJ45 socket?”
A French hosted service provider OVH presented this question before beginning their customer conference just outside of Paris on Thursday. The answer is OverTheBox. It is OVH’s SOHO router with just one Ethernet port that provides the ability to access up to four broadband connections, all at the same time. It provides a way for users of SOHO to use up to four ISPs addresses. They can be cable, VDSL, ADSL, SDSL and/or fiber. It puts the user behind a single static IP address having extensive protection for denial of service.
Routers are nothing new, even load balancing routers are nothing new. However, there is something new about this router – it gives you the ability to do all of the following:
- Use existing network hardware.
- Gives you fault tolerance.
- Provides load-balancing.
- It uses a multipath TCP just in case any of your connections fail.
The OverTheBox comes with only one port, however, you will still have a chance to trip over a spiral of Ethernet cables that are lurking around the room. In addition, there’ll be one more added to those. With that being said, it also includes an easy to follow set-up guide. It’ll be simple and quick, but only if you can read French!
The modems supplied through most companies that provide internet services (so called ISPs) will usually come equipped with multiport routers, as well as a DHCP host, which is easy enough for OverTheBox to take advantage of. Now, by using a little common sense, you will be able to connect the routers together. Once that is done, go ahead and plug the OverTheBox somewhere in there and connect your PCs and printers into any remaining ports.
It is very possible that you can create a LAN and have the OverTheBox take control, being the DHCP server of the LAN. This is done by aggregating a WAN links to create a single VPN (encrypted, of course) to the server at a OVH datacenter. Once it was connected, OVH CTO Octave Klaba turned to the attendees and said with a grin, “Ahh-ha, it’s an encrypted connection!”
The reason it allowed a datacenter operator to be able to do a hacked hook-up, especially one that was encrypted, is due to mass surveillance law of the French legislators exempting the datacenter operators from certain provisions. Put into force last summer, this law allows things like ISP trafficking to make use of warrantless tapping. Systematically encrypting the traffic makes it invisible to law enforcers if they don’t have a warrant. With that encryption in place, even spies would have to have a warrant.
In fact, the next unit of computer technology (NUC) by Intel is going to be the reference hardware OVH for the OverTheBox. The OverTheBox is about the size of a medium paperback book. It has a 1.46GHz Atom processor, with 2GB RAM and 3 external USB ports, HDMI, VGA, input/output for audio, power jack, and a 1GB Ethernet port. It can be purchased from OVH for only C149 (US$166). It comes preconfigured having open source software – a fork of OpenWRT – installed.
There will be a monthly charge of C9.99 if you want OVH to terminate the encrypted VPN of a server in their datacenter, as it is going to benefit from having a static IP address. The company’s 4T bps bandwidth pays for the DDoS protection that attackers will not be easily flooding with traffic. According to Klaba, it is not necessary to purchase the NUC from OVH since you can now have it downloaded on a commodity PC, through a network card.
The OVH datacenters are located as follows: one datacenter is in Canada, four are in France, and there are plans to open twelve more datacenters in the near future allocated in the UK, Germany, Asia, and the US, Klaba said.