Although the vision for the future Integrated Broadband Communication Network (IBCN) is an all optical network, it is certain that for a long period to come, the network will remain very heterogeneous, with a mixture of different physical media (fiber, coax and twisted pair), transmission systems (PDH, SDH, ADSL) and transport protocols (TCP/IP, AAL/ATM, frame relay). In the current work towards the IBCN, the ATM concept is considered the generic network protocol for both public and private network, with the ability to use different underlying transmission protocols and, through adaptation protocols, provide the appropriate services (old as well as new) to the customer. One of the major difficulties of heterogeneous network is the restriction that is usually given by the lowest common denominator, e.g. in terms of single channel capacity. A possible way to overcome these limitations is by extending the ATM concept with a multilink capability, that allows us to use separate resources as one common. The improved flexibility obtained by this protocol extension further allows a real time optimization of network and call configuration, without any impact on the quality of service seen from the user. This paper describes an example of an ATM based multilink protocol that has been experimentally implemented within the RACE project 'STRATOSPHERIC'. The paper outlines the complexity of introducing an extra network functionality compared with the added value, such as an improved ability to recover an error due to a malfunctioning network component.