Surprise, surprise: New modem works out of box.


I just received a D-Link DCM-202 modem, bought on eBay and listed as new.

I wrote down the MAC address, hooked it up and was preparing to call Suddenlink until I noticed my PC had established an online connection. A little browsing confirmed that the new modem is indeed connected. The MAC address is totally different from the old Toshiba.

How is this possible?

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There are a number of ways.

First, it may not really be new. It could be refurbished, or it could just be re-shrink wrapped. Retailers are allowed to sell returned merchandise as new if it appears to still be new, and shrink wrap machines aren't all that rare.

It could also be that if your cable operator allows their customer service agents to manually provision a modem, a MAC was entered incorrectly. (This is why most operators really, really want people to take advantage of automatic provisioning systems.)

Another possibility is that your cable system is configured to provide an IP address to any MAC, but when the lease expires, you have to get it provisioned properly. Encouraging people to essentially take an extended test drive can be a great way to make sales.

It could also be bad design by your cable operator. I mentioned automatic provisioning before. For that to work, your cable modem needs to establish a connection. That connection should allow connection only to the provisioning system, and not the outside world. A poorly designed system does this only by using DHCP to configure DNS servers that will resolve everything to the provisioning server. If that's the only safeguard they use, browsing by IP address, or statically configuring another DNS server are easy ways around it. (A well designed bottom-up provisioning system may do this with DNS, but will also do things like using private range IP addresses, or even more reliable methods to keep unprovisioned customers from getting anywhere but the provisioning server.)

And, of course, it could just be a mistake on the part of your cable operator. An employee may have made a simple mistake that will eventually be noticed. Or not.

Chances are that you won't be able to browse the Internet indefinitely unless you get the modem properly provisioned for your account. It may be tomorrow. Or it may be a couple years down the line. But chances are better that it'll be corrected sooner than later.

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Warren H

Some time back I bought a Toshiba modem as a backup, identical to the one I've had for years, but with a different MAC address. That one did not automatically work. That was before Suddenlink took over my local Cox operation.

I'll just wait and see what happens Thanks for the reply.

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Last year I bought an SB5120 from Best Buy. Come to discover (the hard way) that it had been provisioned in a Comcast system somewhere (I live in a Comcast system as well) Took a few weeks and Chicago to get the mess all straightened out.

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Ed Nielsen

I am curious as to why you had to purchase a broadband modem. Doesn't your broadband service include the modem. I know with RoadRunner the modem is provided as part of the service.

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I was using the original Toshiba PCX1100U modem from many years back, pretty much obsolete. I purchased the modem from the ISP to avoid monthly rental.

The DCM-202 is new and faster, according to all the reviews.

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ISP modem rental can be anywhere from $3 - $5 or more per month. At $5 or more, it might pay you to own your own. $3 is about the most I can justify paying to have the free swap out benefit any time you want.

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And if you live in a area where thunderstorms and lightning is a non trivial issue, being able to call up the ISP for new unit can be cheaper. Here the RR office is a few miles away and they'll swap them there.

Also from what I've seen, the areas where RR built the network seem to be some of the best run WANs on the planet for a public service. I've dealt with multiple DSL and cable ISPs and RR is the only one that has be able to deal with any issue that has come up without making you endure the reboot, turn on cookies, etc... Now the areas where they bought the customers from someone else is a different matter.

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$2.50 a month whree I'm at. I pay it even though I have a cable modem sitting here in reserve. Given the signal quality and resulting packet loss issues I've battled with these folks having absolutely nothing in the chain they can point a finger at other than themselves is worth the $30/year.

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