MidPoint -- Entry-level/Mid-range proxy server for Windows 95/98/NT platforms
The MidPoint family of applications rise a level above and beyond competitive offerings by not only allowing users of a network to share modems and net connections but also allowing for the ability to consolidate multiple modem connections into a single, high-speed connection. Up to four individual modems can be "teamed" together in the Gateway package, so if you have four 56 Kbps modems you can effectively achieve a 212 Kbps connection (each modem is currently limited to a maximum connection of 53 Kbps by the federal government).
Four different releases of MidPoint are available to suit the various needs of small and large networks as well as non-network environments. All four of the MidPoint editions can be downloaded and evaluated as thirty-day trialware releases. The entry-level $119 MidPoint Companion client is designed for small networks of up to five computers and can be used strictly for modem sharing or for modem teaming as well. MidPoint Teamer, a bargain at $49, features many of the same features as MidPoint Companion but is designed to be used only by one user in a non-network situation (i.e. you get all the benefits of modem aggregation but cannot share the connection with other users). The MidPoint family of applications rise a level above and beyond competitive offerings by not only allowing users of a network to share modems and net connections but also allowing for the ability to consolidate multiple modem connections into a single, high-speed connection. Up to four individual modems can be "teamed" together in the Gateway package, so if you have four 56 Kbps modems you can effectively achieve a 212 Kbps connection (each modem is currently limited to a maximum connection of 53 Kbps by the federal government).
MidPoint Gateway supports workgroups of five or more users. It sports the same feature set as the Companion client and also offers both modem sharing and modem teaming capabilities. Pricing for Gateway begins at $299 for a five-user license and scales up to $1,199 for fifty users. The final version of MidPoint, MidPoint Satellite, is an add-on for Gateway that allows you to share connections from any computer on the LAN in order to increase the size of your Modem Team -- as opposed to only being able to use local connections on the host computer where Gateway is running. Satellite costs $49 for a single-line version or $89 for a dual-line release. Both versions require an existing copy of Gateway in order to run.
In MidPoint Companion and MidPoint Gateway, aggregated connections can be shared by multiple users or one lucky individual can have the bandwidth all to him or herself. The number of modems that can be teamed together ranges from two in the MidPoint Companion client to eight in the 100-user Gateway package. Granted, there are a couple of consolations to sharing multiple connections, but these are based more on the physical requirements of the connections than on any limitations in the software itself.
The first drawback is that unless the Satellite add-on is used, all of the modems must be on the host computer in order to be teamed together. Each modem will also need to have its own phone line, the cost of which should definitely be considered when comparing modem aggregation with alternatives like ISDN lines and cable modems. Of course, MidPoint also features the ability to combine multiple ISDN lines and even allows for ISDN and analog modem lines to be aggregated together. The client can team individual ISDN channels even if your provider doesn't support the combination of channels.
Another potential area of concern is that not all ISPs allow modem teaming. Before using MidPoint's teaming capabilities, you should check whether your provider allows for this by inquiring with technical support. Even if you can log onto your account using two different computers at the same time it's still a good idea to contact your ISP about their policies on this issue as some providers charge higher rates for multiple simultaneous logins. If your provider restricts your access to a single connection at a time, you can still take advantage of MidPoint's teaming capabilities, but you will have to use a separate Internet account for each connection.
Setting up MidPoint is surprisingly simple. First, the main program is installed on a host computer in a process that only takes a couple of minutes. Next you'll need to run MidPoint's Guest Setup on each of computer that will access the host computer's modem (or modems). The Guest Setup application automatically configures each computer's browser to work with MidPoint on an as-needed basis. If the guest computer also has its own modem, you can later switch back to this modem by simply changing the browser's proxy settings. For Windows NT users, this is all that is needed to get up and running with MidPoint.
An additional step is required for Windows 95 users who want to be able to take advantage of MidPoint's modem teaming capabilities and who are not using the latest upgrade of Microsoft's DUN client, v1.2. If this is the case, you'll need to purchase and download the $25 MidPoint Multi-Line Support for Windows 95 add-on client (this is necessary because older versions of Microsoft DUN did not permit multiple simultaneous analog DUN connections). For most Windows 95 users the best route is to download the 1.2 or 1.3 freeware release of Microsoft DUN and thereby save $25 by not having to purchase the add-on Multi-Line program.