ISP's No Longer Issuing Publicly Accessible IP Addresses
Tonight I did a house call to help someone in my extended family with their computer (I already helped another, more extended family member's family on Monday night - this is a growing epidemic). For the sake of this entry let's call this person Jimbo. Normally when I help people with their computers, its related to spyware or viruses. But Jimbo and his family are good listeners, and last year when they had spyware and viruses plaguing their life, I got them cleaned up and showed them the light with Mozilla Firefox - and you know what... they listened. No spyware or viruses this time around. Good for them. And great for me, this was the quickest house call to date.
They couldn't access the Internet due to some network setting. And while I was debugging the problem I saw that their router was being assigned a local IP address (192.168.0.x) from their ISP (MSN Qwest DSL). I was sure this was the problem. So I called in to the Qwest tech support line and while on hold I found that even though Jimbo's system was set to DHCP, he had an incorrect setting hard coding the default gateway value. I deleted this setting, and blam-o the Internet worked again.
But it was working with a local IP address assigned by Qwest (in my past experience if my ISP was assigning me a local IP address it also meant that I did not have Internet access at that time cause there was some funk going down with my ISP's network). But I guess that this is what more and more ISP will move to - due to increasing their subscribers without having enough IP addresses to assign out.
For me, I would hate this. Unless I am missing something, this greatly limits what you can do on the Internet. No hosting Age Of Empires battles against your buddy 3 states away. No serving up a zero-day warez FTP server for your 1337 hackerz crew. Basically, anything that you have ever had to look up your IP address to give out to someone so they could hit your computer would no longer work. I would instantly switch providers. But this is getting me wondering if it's a sign of the times, and if more ISP's are going to adopt this as standard practice? What if there was no one to switch to - or if you had to pay some outrageous premium to get a non-shared public IP addess?
For most home users, and practices, not having a unique public IP address is far from the end of the world and you wouldn't even notice it. IM, web browsing, e-mail, Fantasy League Sports, P2P, etc. will all still continue to work fine. But it still eerks me that if needed, users wouldn't have the capability to directly connect to each other. Hopefully this is a temporary band-aid that ISP's are only using until IPv6 is standard issue and the world will have enough IP addresses to support its population. Also, it would be great if ISP's at no charge would switch you to a leased unique public IP address if you needed it. Ha, "at no charge" - silly me.