A Mushroom for your network?

* Mushroom Networks unveils broadband bonding technology

A San Diego start-up with an edible name unveiled an appliance last week that lets cost-conscious organizations cobble together various Internet access connections to create a single, fat broadband pipe.

Mushroom Networks is behind the Truffle broadband-bonding network appliance. With the Truffle, enterprises can virtually bond up to six high-speed Internet connections, including combinations of DSL, cable modem, T-1 circuits, satellite modem and fiber links. The idea is to combine the broadband connections to improve network speed and redundancy without having to upgrade to a more expensive network access option, such as a DS3 service, for example.

Mushroom Networks says its appliance is aimed at small and midsize businesses (SMB), large enterprises, multi-tenant buildings, and broadband service providers. By blending access technologies to form a single, virtual broadband pipe, organizations can achieve download speeds of up to 65Mbps -- without requiring coordination with the ISPs or any changes to the local network, the company says. If one of the bonded links fails or is degraded, the Truffle appliance can spread traffic across the remaining links.Available now at a list price of $2,995, the Truffle BBNA6401 appliance installs between the broadband modems and the local network at a customer’s premises. It includes an internal router and firewall capability and provides inbound DNS load balancing.

The concept of providing multi-megabit, bonded connectivity is not new, points out Erik Keith, a senior analyst covering broadband infrastructure for Current Analysis. Hatteras Networks offers mid-band Ethernet over copper, while Actelis Networks offers Ethernet-based virtual bonding solutions, according to Keith.

Though it faces competition from these established players, Mushroom Networks has an ROI proposition that’s legit, he says.

“By virtually bonding multiple broadband connections, the Truffle product enables SMBs to undercut the cost of paying for a higher speed connection,” Keith wrote in a research brief. “For example, instead of making the jump from an N x T1 connection to a far more expensive DS3, the enterprise can simply combine the existing N x T1 with a DSL line (or two), which in terms of per-month service costs, may be well under $100. As such, Mushroom’s ROI proposition of six months – with the Truffle costing just under USD 3,000 – is legitimate.”

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