If your ISP claims your router is the cause of an outage, you may be able to get around the problem by cloning your computer's MAC address.
My Internet service went down, and my ISP told me it’s because I’m using a router. I need the router, since I have multiple computers in my home. Is there anything I can do to fix this situation?
This problem is all too common, and I’ve actually had it a few times myself. I too have been told that my Internet service is “not compatible with routers”. If customer service has ever fed you that line, you should know that it is simply not true.
This router incompatibility is based on fact, but is usually phrased in a way that makes it misleading and untrue. Your computer has a hardware address called a MAC that never changes, and therefore uniquely identifies your computer. When your Internet Service Provider sets up your connection, they register your computer’s MAC address with their system. From that point on, your computer must identify to their system with it’s MAC in order to be allowed access to the Internet. Since your computer’s MAC is a unique address, any router that you might later set up as an intermediary between your broadband modem and computer(s) will have a different MAC. Your router’s MAC will be unknown to your ISP, and so they may deny Internet connectivity to your router. This is the reason you might have heard that your router is “incompatible” with your Internet service.
Your router is not incompatible with your Internet service. Your router’s MAC is simply unknown to your ISP. Herein lies the problem — why have your ISP set up Internet service to each device in your home? I certainly do not feel like dealing with my ISP whenever I get a new computer, video game console, DVR box, or any other network-enabled device. I want to plug in and go. Why purchase a new router from your ISP when you already have your own? That’s certainly not cost-effective.
If your Internet service is down because you are using your own router, you can bring it back up within seconds by cloning your computer’s MAC address to your router. The process of “cloning” your MAC address to your router is quite simple:
- Log into your router’s administration panel and clone your computer’s MAC address.
- Restart your broadband modem.
- When the system reboots, your ISP asks for a MAC address, and your router responds with the MAC of your computer instead of it’s own.
- Your ISP thinks it’s talking directly to your computer, and restores Internet access.
The actual act of clone your MAC address is pretty simple. Most routers have a button in their administration panel that, when pushed, will clone your MAC address and save those new settings. Log into the administration panel, and look in the different “setup” screens for a button or link to clone your MAC address. This tutorial from Broadband Reports has instructions and illustrations for the cloning process on a number of popular router brands, such as Linksys, D-Link, SMC, and Netgear.
To access your router’s administration panel, you must start up your web browser and type an IP into the address bar. Here are the addresses for a few popular brands:
- Linksys: 192.168.1.1
- Netgear: 192.168.0.1
- D-Link: 192.168.0.1
- US Robotics: 192.168.123.254
- SMC: 192.168.2.1
- Siemens Speedstream: 192.168.254.254
This list is by no means absolute. You may have a different router than what is mentioned here, or you might have a newer (or older) model that uses a different address. In case these addresses don not work, consult your router’s manual. The manual will surely mention how to access the router’s administration panel.