Double the speed of rural broadband: A beginners’ guide to bonded DSL, part 1

If, like me, you’re stuck in the dark ages in terms of your telephone exchange, all is not lost. 

While you may look at broadband comparison sites and think you’re stuck with an ‘up to’ 8Mb connection, in most cases this isn’t actually the case; chances are you can double or triple that speed.

This is possible thanks to a process known as bonded broadband, or bonded DSL. The concept itself is incredibly simple – take two to four standard telephone lines and ‘bond’ them together to make one faster one. Simple.

I’ll put my cards on the table right now: Eclipse has set me up with a connection to test in my home over the next few months. However, I’ve got no reason to lie about the experience since setting up the test, an unbundled broadband supplier has started to offer services in my exchange and I’m reliably informed another is on the way – so if I pour fire down on Eclipse from on high here I can actually go and get faster broadband elsewhere!

So, as I mentioned, I’m on a pretty poor exchange that has a maximum of 8Mb speeds. Luckily for me I can literally see said exchange out of my bedroom window and I’ve been reliably informed by a local BT engineer that the pipes that come into our apartment block run direct to it, without even passing go. He was actually surprised when I told him I’d struggled to get faster than 6Mb through my previous supplier, O2 – he thought I should be getting closer to the max 8Mb.

So it’s not all doom and gloom and I’m aware that many reading this may only get 1Mb or 2Mb. However, as someone who works from home, reviews online services and often needs to have several devices connected to my broadband at once, I’m very aware of how things can quickly become difficult. Over the next few months I’ll bring you some details of my experiences.

First, I need to note the fantastic increase in speeds since getting bonded DSL (I’m on just two lines, not the fastest possible). I’ve ran several speed tests at different times of the day this week since installation and I’ve consistently hit download speeds about 13Mb – more than double what I was receiving before on O2 (I say O2 – it was O2 I was paying the bill too, but it wasn’t unbundled of course). Upload speed has tested at more than 1Mb each time as well.

Second, I should note the price because Eclipse bonded DSL isn’t cheap. You’ll pay a set-up fee of £100-200 and then a monthly fee of between £90-120 (two bonded lines) to £160-190, depending on your monthly usage allowance. You’ll also have to pay line rental on each telephone line (from two to four, of course).

You may think this puts the service into the realm of just businesses and football players, but it’s worth thinking about the extra multimedia benefits you can reap too: I can now enjoy Spotify, movies streamed through my standard Freeview television (via an LG smart TV upgrader) and OnLive console gaming through my PC all at once – with no need to pay Sky, Virgin or BT for the privilege. It’s worth thinking about.