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Failover Router(s) with Starlink (for auto switchover to a backup internet connection)


DirecPC
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I picked up and installed a TpLink ER 7206  multi WAN wired router to manage a backup internet connection to Starlink.   Reasons below for those interested, otherwise will explain the setup first. Long post, but wanted to provide the details of  the setup and how I did it as non network guy.

The setup before the failover router was Starlink as router  with ethernet adaptor connected via cable to a linksys  wireless/wired router  placed in switch or bridge mode.  Security cameras are  both wired and wireless to separate recording box which was connected by cable to the linksys 'switch'.  Femto cell connected via wire to the linksys 'switch'.   Centurylink operating as router  and wireless modem completely separate.  In  the event of failed Starlink connection, had to manually connect wirelessly to the century link modem  and manually pull the cable from the Starlink ethernet adaptor and plug into the Centurylink modem

I picked the TpLink ER 7206 multiwan wired router  based in part on price and its specs that it could support more than 100 mbs speeds (super cheap ones dont) and it had a variety of failover configurable options.   I decided against a new wireless and wired router  because we discovered between smart home and entertainment devices plus computers, tablets, phones we had a boatload of connections to the linksys 'switch' which might have to be individually reset to work with a new router if we got rid of the linksys 'switch'.

So the set up now is  Starlink modem (in bypass mode)  to ethernet adator to tplink router WAN primary port.  The centurylink modem was also put in bypass/bridge mode and goes to the Tplink  WAN/LAN secondary port. (it has a couple).    Linksys 'switch" and everything thats connected to it is connected via ethernet cable to the Tplink  Lan port.

In setting it up, I first connected the tplink unit with a cable to one computer to configure it.  Configuration was not that difficult, I am not a network guy so it probably took me longer than some other people might take.  To configure failover 'service'  there is a setting that has to be enabled in the Tplink router  to actually turn on the secondary Wan/Lan port so it can take a WAN connection. There is a second setting elsewhere in the router GUI to configure under what conditions  it will switch from the primary WAN to the secondary WAN: it can be set by time of day,  loss of primary service, and it can load balance, come on when bandwidth gets too restricted.   I think i got it setup for just loss of primary WAN,  at this writing I am not sure exactly what its doing with load balancing (like I said, not a network guy).  Then  I switched the centurylink modem into bridge mode, connected it to the secondary WAN/LAN port on the tplink router.  Tested the connection at the computer  and it worked ok.  Next step was to place the starlink modem into bypass mode,  had to do that through the  phone app.  It flashed some scary red letter warning message in the app but it seems to have gone into bypass mode OK.  Then connected the starlink from the internet adaptor to the primary WAN port on the tplink router.  In the tplink router on one of the status pages  I was able to see both the Starlink IP and Centurylink IP. Computer ipconfig indicated it was connected to Starlink.   To test failover I unplugged the starlink cable and the typlink router switched the connection to the centurylink modem; tested it at the computer, and checked the other devices hooked to the linksys 'switch' and they were all working.  Put the Starlink cable back in the primary WAN port on the Tplink router, checked the computer ipconfig, and it was back on Starlink.

Some post set up notes:  I still have access through the android app to the Starlink dish so I can get the status reports.  On a computer browser 192.168.100.1 or dishy.starlink.com  no longer connects to starlink. On the century link modem I have not found a way to access the modem from a computer at all. (I have read the only way to get it back is to do a reset on it back to its original state, but if anyone has  a suggestion, do appreciate it.)  The linksys router as switch GUI is still accessible via https://linksys08308.local/.

Performance: jury is still out,  I am not sure yet how the Tplink failover performs when I get a starlink "network issue", all I can say is so far so good.  Speed may be an issue.  When I was done with all this late in the  afternoon on  a labor day weekend and started doing speed tests it seemed like Starlink had totally tanked to sub 10 mbs speeds. Sometimes got 20+, mostly got 5-15. [This is a big concern, consistent super low DSL like speeds would be cause for cancelling service, whats the point in having it?)  However,   SL speeds typically go in the toilet   in the afternoon around here  so I tested again  earlier this AM and was back up to 60-100+.   Later in the AM I am back down to 20-30 mbs.  Weird thing is the lower the download speed, the higher the upload speed, seeing  10-20 mbs upload when I get <20 mbs download.  So I am thinking the dual WAN setup is not slowing me down, its just Starlink congestion, and its labor day weekend and everybody is home using bandwidth.

Security; was not sure about how secure the Tplink router was, but I have tested it via Shields Up!  web site (as I did for the Starlink router) and it says I am good as far open ports or UpnP  or other such typical concerns.

*****

Reasons for doing this

I was hoping to pull the plug on our sub 8 mbs centurylink service we have had for years  and save $50/mo,  but we have found we need to maintain a backup.  "Typical" rainfall does not seem to bother Starlink but heavy rainfall we get sometimes does.  We also get intermittent "network issues" throughout the day, 90%+ of which do not effect our service, but the SO has complained of a few dropped cell calls through our femto cell unit,  and we are doing some live video distance learning which requires an uninterrupted  hours+ long connection that does not  drop.  Finally, in the event of prolonged network outage over hours [which has not happened yet ] the lack of customer service access is scary; centurylink told me if I cancelled service and asked to restart it it may take up to two weeks to turn it back on.  So we need a backup, and  we need auto switch over rather than manually pulling ethernet cables from one modem to the other for interruptions lasting more than a few seconds.  Also still looking at  boosting a 4G signal to see what that may do for us,  but thats another post)

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Short update,   figured out the load balancing control in the tplink (its either on or off)  and was wondering 1) why I would need to load balance between starlink and an 8 mbs DSL connection and 2) if it was load balancing would it be slowing down my overall connection speed?.  Dont know, but I turned load balancing off  and let failover stay on.   Got an immediate improvement in speed. With load balancing on, was seeing holiday PM speeds dropping below 10 on some runs,  with off, speeds are back up to they were before I had installed the failover router, which is to say all over the place at different times of day, as low as 20, as high as 100+.  Latest test is 42 mbs.

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One other update, been testing what works and what stops during failover:

- browsing continues seamlessely

- streaming continues without interruption

- Phone calls are dropped during failover.    Tried it both making a call via our femto cell and also just doing basic wifi calling.  The femto cell connection light stays on but the call gets dropped.  Something about the change in IP I guess.

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@DirecPC

This is good information. Thank you for posting.

Overall, what do you think of the TPLink ER 7206? Historically, I've not been a fan of TPLink networking products. However, it seems they might be doing some things right these days.

Did you consider any other multi-WAN routers? If so, would you be willing to share which ones and why you chose TPLink?

Thanks!

Ricochet

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 9/14/2022 at 11:32 AM, RIcochet said:

@DirecPC

This is good information. Thank you for posting.

Overall, what do you think of the TPLink ER 7206? Historically, I've not been a fan of TPLink networking products. However, it seems they might be doing some things right these days.

Did you consider any other multi-WAN routers? If so, would you be willing to share which ones and why you chose TPLink?

Thanks!

Ricochet

I don't recall doing alot of research other than I wanted to  have a router that would pass more than 100 mbs alot of the cheaper multi Wan routers don't do that also I wanted to not spend more than 150 bucks or so.  The tplink unit I have does its job ok, we have switched WANs a few times for weather. Its pretty basic though it doesn't have near the customizable settings my 300 dollar linksys router now doing  duty as a switch.

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  • 2 months later...

Update to this,  the Tplink router worked Ok for a couple of months, 99% of the time staying on Starllink with a few rare instances where it failed over due to weather, as it is supposed to, with our backup slow DSL.   Two nights ago the DSL link went belly up, which happens once a month, and takes a 10 minute call to the provider to get it back up.  (Annoying but at least there is someone to call when things go south).  On coming back on line, the Tplink promptly switched to the DSL and would not use Starlink. Tried rebooting router, same behavior.   As a temporary fix I just pulled the ethernet connection out of the DSL modem, and Starlink was accessible again.  Plug DSL cable back in,  Tplink switched back to DSL.  Rechecked all connections,  updated the firmware in the router, tried deleting and rewriting the failover rule,   unit  still wants to use the DSL.  Unplug the DSL it switches to Starlink.    In a perplexed fit I switched the ethernet cables from Starlink and the DSL around thinking  aha now I fooled ya, and it worked briefly but then switched to the DSL.  I then rebooted everything, including Starlink, and this time  Starlink is once again the  primary WAN and the DSL is the backup and not in use.   We will see how long that lasts.  As a side note, I was using speed test and whats my ip to see what service was running my internet.  Running just Starlink,  early in the AM had 60 mbs,  noon time hit 130 mbs,  now after all this messing around I have 12.    However thats non unusual for later in the day, so i dont think its related to the tplink router issue. 

Edited by DirecPC
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