Why can I use PING but not HTTP on a yet-to-be-activated DSL account?
November 8, 2009 2:15 PM   Subscribe

Why can I PING with my new DSL modem on an inactive account, but nothing else?

Hi! My new modem arrived for Verizon DSL service, but my "service ready date" hasn't arrived yet, giving me some time to muse and experiment.

I noticed that when I set up the modem and connected my Mac via an Ethernet cable, my Network Diagnostics show that the computer is connected to the internet and the connection is working properly. I noticed I can also PING google.com, verizon.com, or any other website from the Terminal with zero packet loss.

On the other hand, everything useful about the internet is closed. I can't access anything in a web browser, and attempting to run the software Verizon sent me to "activate my account" or "troubleshoot my connection" fails. I surmise this is related to trying this before the "service ready date".

But the fact that PING works from the command line, and I'm able to send and receive data across the internet, makes me wonder how real the "service ready date" is. If it's possible to communicate with sites via PING, why not through HTTP? What's really going on?
posted by j0hnpaul to Computers & Internet (10 answers total)
Best answer: Your ISP has in fact connected you, but has not opened its firewall for you yet.

Some ISPs (my present one included) redirect all port 80 requests to a page offering instructions for configuring the DSL modem. Some will display such a page when you attempt to access the ISP home page, and block everything else. Try connecting to your ISP's home page and see what, if anything, is there.
posted by flabdablet at 2:19 PM on November 8, 2009

This story might be of interest.
posted by acro at 2:39 PM on November 8, 2009

Best answer: Pings use a protocol call ICMP. Web browsing, email, gaming, etc all use TCP or (to a lesser extent) UDP. So your provider is most likely blocking TCP and UDP but not ICMP.
posted by sbutler at 2:46 PM on November 8, 2009

sbutler has it. You're in a walled garden. ICMP helps techs determine if your service works before it's active.
posted by datacenter refugee at 3:42 PM on November 8, 2009

Thinking about this further... I doubt you are actually pining google. Go to a command line and type "nslookup www.google.com". Now, do the same for "metafilter.com". Do they both list the same address?

Almost sure that what you're pinging is the webserver that shows the "activate my account" page. It's common for ISP's to redirect all traffic to an internal server until you complete the registration. Whether it be over the phone, or through the provided software.
posted by sbutler at 3:43 PM on November 8, 2009

Best answer: The service ready date is just whenever Verizon thinks they'll have it on by. They easily could have turned it on early, normally they send you an email or give you a phone call on or the day after they actually think it's active.

Verizon actually does, at least in my case, this "security" on the DSL modem level. That is, it's intercepting DNS and other requests to only go to the single Verizon activation server, which you go to via a web browser that then gives you a program to run and then that configures the modem to leave activation mode. It's a completely crazy way to do it, but that's how Verizon does it (at least in my area).

I actually had three or four different dates from Verizon about when they would activate my service. After the first few, the modem never successfully connected to the internet. If yours is, that means your DSL is actually on and ready to be used (probably). Assuming you have the Westel G90 with the same firmware, here's how you can switch it out of pre-activate mode and into normal service (I got this information after spending about 20 minutes trying to convince Verizon to let me activate my DSL using only Linux):

(Minor warning: I've never managed to break anything by doing something like this, but it's possible, so don't try it unless you feel like you can do it. Go ahead and call the verizon DSL help and just keep saying you can't run the setup program and they'll probably end up telling you the same thing):

1. Hook up, via ethernet, to your DSL modem and browse to Username/password should be admin/password
2. It'll warn you that only Verizon should tell you to go there. Confirm whatever and move to the next page.
3. Then, you want to hit something like "Disable" or something to turn *off* the limited access mode. You can change your password then if you want, for the router.

After that, your internet should be accessible. Sorry I can't remember exactly what the pages said.

By the way, this is basically all the Verizon activation program does, other than also possibly set up your Verizon email accounts etc, if you care about that. But I'm pretty sure you can do that later at verizon.net.
posted by skynxnex at 4:02 PM on November 8, 2009

Response by poster: @sbutler: nslookup is returning different addresses for each url.

@skynxnex: I had the same experience— Verizon has told me two "service ready dates", and I think my current situation is similar to what you describe.

Unfortunately, doesn't return anythink with my modem. I have a Westel, but the model number is different. I'm wondering how to find out the IP address of my modem.

Thanks everyone for shedding some light on this!
posted by j0hnpaul at 5:26 PM on November 8, 2009

Your modem's IP address is probably whatever IP address your computer gets, some give out 192.168.0.* instead of 192.168.0.* and then .1 or .0. If you search for your model on the internet you'll probably find it. (Or say here, someone will know.)
posted by skynxnex at 5:31 PM on November 8, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks again, skynxnex! Your instructions worked after I changed some advance settings in my Mac's network preferences, using the IP you originally posted. My internet is now working!
posted by j0hnpaul at 6:36 PM on November 8, 2009

I'm wondering how to find out the IP address of my modem.

From any computer that gets its IP address via DHCP from the modem, this is easy: view the routing table. On unix-family machines including Mac, open a terminal and type


On Winboxen, open a cmd window and type

route print

The modem's IP address will be whatever is shown as the default gateway.

Most modems will have a web server running on port 80 at that address. Some use port 8080 instead. Googling "default password" will generally get you any number of pages that list the default admin username and password for your model.
posted by flabdablet at 9:59 PM on November 8, 2009

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