A method and system for load balancing in a network system such as a data-over-cable system. One method includes receiving a first message on a first network device such as a cable modem termination system (“CMTS”) from a second network device and marking the first message with an identifier of a network access device. The method further includes intercepting the first message on a third network device such as a provisioning/access manager prior to any first protocol server such a Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol server receives the first message. When the third network device intercepts the first message, the third network device determines capabilities of the second network device and applies a set of rules to load balance any requests between a plurality of channel pairs. Each charmel pair is associated with at least one capability of a network device and also has a load factor parameter and a threshold value defining a capacity of a channel pair. The third network device assigns the second network device to a predetermined channel pair based on the capabilities of the second network device, a load factor of the channel pair and a capacity of the channel pair.