Internet connection without router

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Old 01-19-13, 03:21 PM
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Internet connection without router

Hi. I could use some help understanding what I'm seeing. I have:

Verizon FIOS Internet: The optical fiber terminates in a box ("ONT") mounted outside the house. From there a standard 8-wire ethernet cable (NOT co-ax) runs into the house and into the WAN input of a D-Link DI-624 router, which has wireless and 4 LAN outputs. The wiring and the router were installed by Verizon.

3 PC's:
- desktop running W2000 (LAN connection to router)
- laptop running XP (wireless)
- laptop running Vista(wireless)

I've had FIOS for six years and it's been extremely reliable. But a couple of days ago I suddenly lost the ability to connect to the internet, on all 3 computers. The status lights on Verizon's ONT box are all normal.

When I unplugged the "WAN" ethernet cable from the router and plugged it directly into the ethernet adapter on the desktop, I was able to connect to the internet normally. From that I concluded a) that there was nothing wrong with Verizon's network or their ONT box, and b) that the router was probably bad (even tho its status lights were normal).

I then moved the WAN cable over to the XP laptop, and again, immediate normal internet. But when I did the same for the Vista laptop, no internet. The Vista diagnostics say the computer is seeing the local network, but the network is unable to connect to the internet. So that's mystery #1: why is only the Vista machine unable to connect?

Then, without having changed anything, I plugged the WAN cable back into the W2000 desktop. This time I was unable to connect to the internet, even after checking and double checking all wiring and connections.

But with the WAN cable plugged back into the XP laptop, I continue to get normal internet access. In fact, I'm posting this message using that setup.

So mystery #2 is why the W2000 desktop stopped being able to access the internet with direct connection to the WAN, while earlier there was no problem.

I should mention that the W2000 desktop has run for years with a wired connection to the router, and I've never had a problem with it. Then with this router-less connection it runs fine for an hour (viewing live web pages, not cached), I remove the connection for a while, re-connect it, and nothing. Is the lack of a router somehow involved in this inconsistent performance?

(Out of curiosity, when the desktop was accessing the internet normally, I tried it both with and without a crossover cable in the circuit; it worked fine both ways. (I've heard that modern ethernet adaptors are auto-sensing.) Now I can't get an internet connection either with or without a crossover cable.)

I realize of course that I will eventually have to replace the router, but I'd love to understand what's going on with my direct no-router connections.

This note has gotten much longer than I expected, but I wanted to be explicit as possible with what I've done. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
 
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Old 01-19-13, 06:25 PM
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Hi first of all welcome to the forum I see by the number of posts that you are new here. I have Verizon FIOS too and I had a problem with one of the wired hubs going bad.

If I understand you correctly though your Windows 2000 desktop has wireless. With the wireless can you see other wireless networks? If you can't and you know other people near you have wireless then the wireless card has probably gone bad. If so I suggest getting a newer computer as Windows 2000 has been out of support for a long time. Of course if money is tight I certainly understand why you might want to keep it. Getting back to the wireless though if you see other networks in your area then most likely the wireless portion of the router is no longer functioning.

One other thing have you looked into your router lately and by that I mean have you used your computers browser to change the settings on your router? If you have maybe you accidentally turned the wireless off or if someone else had access to your computer then they might have turned the wireless off. Of course though the only way that could have happened is if someone knew the password to your router.

Routers though go bad all of the time and exactly why a particular router breaks down is a mystery except for age most likely being the cause. Certain brands too are probably more prone to breaking down one way or the other. My router that they gave me to use is an Actiontec and they are I would assume prone to having their hubs going bad and your D-Link I would assume is prone to having the wireless going bad.

Once you do get another router from Verizon you will probably find that the wep key will match the old router as it was in my case as it was changed by Verizon. Now that was handy in a way as it meant I wouldn't have to change things but for me I wanted the wep key to match what was on the new router. So what I did was reset the router and then I changed everything to match that router. The instruction CD they included and the booklet explained how to do all of the changes and you can find the information on the Verizon website too.
 
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Old 01-19-13, 06:52 PM
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Thanks for the welcome!

I probably should've been more concise. My question wasn't really focused on the router or on wireless. For some reason the router isn't working, which got me experimenting with taking what Verizon calls the WAN cable (the ethernet cable that normally feeds the router) and plugging it directly into the various computers. What I'm trying to understand is why I see the following: With the cable plugged into...
XP laptop - normal internet connection, always
Vista laptop - cannot get a connection no matter what I try
W2000 desktop - sometimes normal connection, sometimes nothing, even tho I don't change anything.
 
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Old 01-19-13, 11:08 PM
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O.k. now I understand a little bit better. The Verizon tech who did my install said he wasn't going to do an install with ethernet or cat5 or cat6 as it is also called depending on who the installer is. In your case the router is acting more like a hub for the cable.

You could ask Verizon to come out and install a wire something like what you would have more like for cable tv and you might get a better signal.

First though lets take a look again at your laptop and desktop again. With your laptop I am guessing that you have an ethernet connection on the back of your laptop. When you have time I suggest you take the laptop over to a neighbors and from their router plug in your Vista laptop. If nothing happens and you know the hub is good because it lights up then your ethernet port has gone bad. As I said before about your Windows 2000 desktop it has to be very old because Windows 2000 hasn't been distributed in years. So I am thinking another bad hub and since you said something about wireless probably a bad wireless card too.

There is a wireless solution though and that is a wireless dongle. I have a Trendnet dongle that still works that I bought used on e-bay that you just plug into your USB hub and depending on the hub it might be slow for internet or it might be fast. For the Windows 2000 desktop definitely slow but for the Vista laptop it should be o.k.. Of course there are other brands out there but Trendnet is the only one I am completely familiar with and that I found was easy to set up. Those wireless dongles though no matter who makes them are cheap and usually easy to set up.

First though you need a new router so make sure you call Verizon and have them replace what you currently have. I would though try one thing first just to make sure the router is at fault. Turn the router off then on with everything properly connected but wait about a minute before you turn it back on. See if you get the internet and if not unplug it and wait a while then plug it back in. Again see if you get the internet if not try resetting the router and see if that works. If nothing works at all then try what they call a loop back test using a free ethernet cable or one you take from one of your plugged in computers plug two connections in. As an example plug Lan 1 into Lan connection 2 and see what you see. Is the router flashing madly on both connections? If it is that is usually a good sign and means that those ports are working correctly. Continue taking the wire out and then plugging into each port until you see if one of the ports is bad.

Don't do a long loop back test just do a short test as it can damage the router if you do that for too long. A short test though is fine and will not damage the router. Next thing with your Windows XP laptop and your Vista laptop check for a wireless signal from the router itself. If no signal for anything then the router is completely dead. It could even be a bad box outside but from what you told me so far I kind of doubt that since you can get a signal into your laptop. Try your neighbor first though as that is the cheapest method and then once you do get a new router if the old one is toast buy a dongle or two to replace the bad hardware from e-bay.
 
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Old 01-20-13, 08:17 AM
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Thanks very much, hedgeclippers, for taking time to make the various suggestions. Some I had already done and some are not really relevant to what I am trying to understand.

Again, the router will be replaced, and I trust that then all will be well, but in the meantime I'm just trying to understand what I'm seeing when I plug Verizon's ethernet cable, without router, into various computers. So it's just intellectual curiosity, not an attempt at a permanent solution.

After sleeping on it, I think I now understand what's going on. I will post later to explain. In the meantime, anyone who looks at this thread, please view it only as an "interesting puzzle", not as a plea for help from a desperate member. Thanks!
 
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Old 01-20-13, 03:14 PM
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Ususally, I've found when the network connection is solid (like it sounds like yours is) and a machine doesn't work reliably, it usually can be traced to either a hard coded IP address or hard-coded DNS. For your Vista laptop specifically, it sounds like it's just not connecting the way it should be. The Win2K may just take a little longer to acquire or reset an IP address.

On each machine, try opening a command prompt and type ipconfig
This will show your computer's IP address and default router (gateway). It should be similar on each machine when you plug it in. When you're using the router, you'll probably see a 192.168.1.10x IP address and 192.168.1.1 as the default router.

Since you're plugging it in directly to Verizon's network, you'll see some other public address which depends on where you are.

Next try typing nslookup google.com
This will perform a DNS lookup (like a telephone book). You should get a few IP addresses back in response. This is how your computer knows how to connect to the site in question (in this case, google).

Those two commands should help identify 95% of any networking issue you may have. Let us know what you find!
 
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Old 01-21-13, 05:22 AM
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Thanks Zorfdt - you and I are on the same page.

A key fact: when you access the network, Verizon assigns you an IP address. If you disconnect, Verizon waits roughly an hour before re-assigning that IP address. So if you try to reconnect within that hour...

on the same machine - no problem, since that PC's IP matches what Verizon has assigned to your line.

on a different machine - no internet access, since this machine doesn't know the active IP addr (recall I'm not using a router here, which would request an IP)

But - and this is key to all that I was observing - if you've made no attempt to access the network for an hour or so, and Verizon has released the IP, then when any machine tries to access, Verizon says, in effect, "access attempt on a line without IP, I need to assign an IP addr", so everything is OK, even without a router.

My first router-less attempt was with the W2000 desktop. Everything was OK since I had done nothing for over an hour. I then shut that down, and it happened to be over an hour later that I started using the XP laptop. So it got a new IP, which I happily used for many hours. Then I quickly switched the cable to the Vista laptop, and couldn't connect because it didn't know the IP addr. Then quickly back to the W2000 desktop that had worked before, but same problem here. That explains everything I reported in my orig post.

As soon as I figured out what was going on, and waited an hour or so before switching computers, there was no problem with any of the three machines.

it usually can be traced to either a hard coded IP address or hard-coded DNS
Exactly! Thanks again for writing. (BTW, I did know about the ipconfig cmd, and in fact had tried to get around the problem of the wrong IP addr on a given machine with the cmds ipconfig/release and ipconfig/renew, but I wasn't able to make that work.)
 
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Old 01-21-13, 05:57 AM
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Interesting, I've honestly never done much testing with my FiOS setup since it always just works.

Cable modems traditionally bound the IP address to one MAC address. So if you connect a different device, the modem has to be rebooted to recognize the new device. Verizon probably figured out an 'easier' solution with a 1-hour timeout or something similar.
 
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Old 01-21-13, 11:40 AM
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I certainly have heard about IP addresses and IP configurations but never really understood all of the ins and outs myself as I just use the router they give me and occasionally look at the IP address but not real often. I usually look at the mechanics of things over all of the software issues.

I have heard for instance that if Verizons DNS server is down that you can switch to another server which is not entirely off of the subject as that is where the IP addresses are generated. Once not long ago in my area Verizons DNS server was down and I had to switch to dial up again until everything was fixed. Luckily that wasn't long and I again had the internet but I wasn't happy. I am still a bit new to my router even though we have had the service I guess for about three years now maybe a bit longer. Until just recently though I never realized just how important a role the router serves.
 
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Old 01-22-13, 08:02 PM
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Just to complete the story. Verizon came by today, agreed with my diagnosis, and gave me a new router, which immediately fixed the problem. All machines happily accessing the internet, simultaneously. So, a bit of inconvenience for a few days, but I learned a little more about networking and routers.

Thanks Zorfdt and hedge for jumping in and offering help.

To readers considering Verizon FiOS - I've had it for over six years and am generally satisfied.
 
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Old 01-22-13, 09:35 PM
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Thank you for the thanks I think Zorfdt knows more than I do about the IP adresses. Like I said I am still a bit new to the router. I agree with your assessment about Verizon sometimes I have had problems but generally I too have been satisfied. Glad everything worked well for you I know how frustrating it can be when it doesn't work.
 
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Old 01-23-13, 08:32 AM
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No problem... I enjoy helping here when I can. I sometimes feel like I'm behind the curve these days, but things like this I can help with

I have to agree with you, I've had my FiOS for 4 or 5 years and I am a huge fan. I've found their telephone and on-site support is leaps and bounds beyond the cable companies (and Verizon phone service for that matter) and their reliability is even better. Following Sandy, where we were without power for 6 days and without gas for much of it, the FiOS service worked the whole time! (at least when I could get power).

Anyway, glad it worked for you!

-Mike
 
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