What's the Latvian for "is this DSL and if it is can we do the whole wifi thing, and oh yes, what's in that locked box?"
September 17, 2007 2:59 AM   Subscribe

How, exactly, am I connected to the Internet? This is in Latvia, by the way.

Here's what I can tell you. Today a tech from Balticom Internet (which you can examine at balticom.lv if you feel up to deciphering some Latvian and Russian) stopped by after someone at work ordered a connection for my apartment. He worked for about an hour - I'm not sure if all of that was work, or work and cigarette breaks - in a little box just outside the the front door that I can't open that looked like it contained some sort of connection to something; I didn't get a good look when he was in there, though I did see a largish gray box emblazoned with the Lattelcom symbol, which I presume is for landline phones, which we don't have.

From my computer, a standard-looking Cat-5 cable goes out a hole in the concrete wall next to my front door (things are a little homebrew in my charmingly post-Soviet apartment) and into the box. I didn't see if the Cat-5 cable went into the Lattelecom box or somewhere else. There were a variety of cables running to this box from the other apartments on our landing, I think.

The ad for the service we purchased said we'd get speeds of up to 10 MB/sec; it seems at least as speedy as my cable internet back in the States, which was advertised as 3 MB/sec.

This would all be fine, but my housemate and I both have laptops and we'd like to be able to use the connection simultaneously and via wifi. We don't have a modem or anything in the apartment - just the end of the network cable and the configured settings on my computer (which the tech wrote down - things like IP addresses and DNS servers).


- Is this DSL or something else?
- What is at the other end of the cable running from my computer and into the box?
- Can we plug a wifi router into the end of the cable and both be on that network, or do we need the modem itself - which we don't have - to connect the router to?

If it matters, he's got a Dell Inspiron 8600 running XP and I've got a Macbook running OS X 10.4.10. I'll try to answer any questions you have.

posted by mdonley to Computers & Internet (9 answers total)
When you plug either laptop into that wall-jack... what IP address settings does it pull ?

My gut feeling would be, that you probably can just plug a router w/ wifi into that wall jack.. and then plug both laptops into the router (or use wifi) and it should work. If the wall jack connection is using a standard cat5 network plug, then the mystery box at the other end of the cable is probably some kind of router or switch ?... would be my guess.
posted by jmnugent at 3:18 AM on September 17, 2007

Response by poster: Um, is the wall jack the same as the cable, or the place the cable plugs into? There's no wall jack that I can access - the cable literally goes out of the apartment through the wall and into the locked box. I can't unplug the cable from the wall.
posted by mdonley at 3:34 AM on September 17, 2007

Response by poster: The IP address settings, perhaps, from System Profiler:Network:Locations -

Configuration Method: Manual
Subnet Masks:

It lists a router address; presumably that's what it's plugged into in the locked box, right?
posted by mdonley at 3:38 AM on September 17, 2007

It doesn't really matter how you're connected to the internet. If you plug a wifi router in and configure it with the addresses that the tech wrote down, it should just work.

You can test this by setting up your macbook to act as a wifi router, via the Sharing pane in System Preferences.
posted by narge at 3:39 AM on September 17, 2007

Looks like some sort of DSL router or other WAN interface is in the locked box. You can probably use a wifi access point to share the connection between multiple computers.

However, you need an access point that can act as a DHCP server/NAT gateway if you are going to do this without help from your ISP. A WiFi DSL Router probably won't do, as the upstream port is DSL and you already have Ethernet.

If you do have one, it should be configured with the IP address the tech gave you ( ), with a subnet of and gateway address of on the wired interface. Set it up to give addresses in some non-routable block, like 192.168.2.* and everything should work properly.

If all you have is a simple wireless AP, you need to configure your clients with a gateway of and ask your ISP for two more IPs . They will probably charge you for this.

Guessing around for free IPs is a really bad idea: You will likely disrupt service for other people, and your ISP can tell that you're using them.
posted by the number 17 at 4:22 AM on September 17, 2007

I'm stupid - subnet should of course be
posted by the number 17 at 4:49 AM on September 17, 2007

But... if he has no jack/outlet how's he going to plug in a router?
posted by loiseau at 7:23 AM on September 17, 2007

loiseau: Almost all routers accept male cat-5 input.
posted by phrontist at 7:37 AM on September 17, 2007

In fact, the ever popular Linksys WRT54GL will do exactly what you want. And, when you leave, you'll still have a great piece of hardware that can do an amazing number of things. (You'll have to install custom firmware to let it do all those things, but the firmware isn't necessary for your situation.)

Like the number 17 said, set your router up to have a static IP of, gateway of, and have it do DHCP/NAT on some private address space. (like or
posted by philomathoholic at 11:38 AM on September 17, 2007

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