The One Thing ISP’s Don’t Tell You About Access

Nothing is as frustrating as having to replace some of your internet equipment after a failure. In this case my router decided to go kaput after an intense thunder storm. I replaced it with a backup router configured exactly like the old one.

You would think it would just work but it didn’t. My ISP wouldn’t give the device an IP so all other devices connected could access the connection. I plugged my laptop in directly and I still wasn’t able to connect. This confirmed my sneaking suspicion…..only the MAC address of the original device could connect.

What is a MAC Address?

A MAC address is the hardware address of a network device. It is hardcoded to the device (although it can be spoofed) at manufacture. For those of us who are old enough to remember it was actually stamped onto older expansion network cards circuit boards! Put another way, it is a unique, 12-character alphanumeric code that is used to identify an individual electronic device on a network.

Your ISP Locks The MAC address

When you first sign up with your ISP, if you don’t use their router (I have always hated using ISP’s equipment, so I don’t). They take note of the MAC address of the first device that connects through the connection. In most cases it will be your router (Who uses the connection for one device these days?). Any other device that tries to access the connection directly with a different MAC Address, gets denied. Sorry!

It’s Done for Security?

I reached out to my ISP and asked why they do this and was told this was standard industry practice. Was it for security reasons but for who? If you are not an IT professional like me you would just think that your Internet stopped working. You would call support and they would see you changed routers and just re-register the new MAC address and you would go along on your merry way. Not me. I asked questions. I guess they are worried I might start my own ISP from there connection, LOL?

A good tip if you ever have problems connection after an equipment change.

You can watch the video of my experience on TikTok or YouTube.

Happy IT’ing


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I am an IT professional with over twenty years experience in the field. I have supported thousands of users over the years. The organizations I have worked for range in size from one person to hundreds of people. I have performed support from Help Desk, Network / Cloud Administration, Network Support, Application Support, Implementation and Security.

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