Strange cellular internet conn. behaviour

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Strange cellular internet conn. behaviour

Postposted on Tue Feb 02, 2010 5:35 pm

Hi everyone

a friend of mine brought his laptop around to my house a few days ago so I could help him get his internet working. He has a telstra nextG USB-stick modem type arrangement - which I think would be equivalent to a typical cellular internet service in the US with the self-install USB modem thing.

Its a standard laptop probably a few years old, but he bought it a few weeks ago. I'm pretty sure its refurbished. Running XP SP2 or SP3 (ie. WIndows Firewall and Virus Protection checking)

The problem is that the modem says it has logged in and authenticated and all that, but no web access from the browser (IE7 IIRC - 95% sure it wasn't IE6 at least). I tried pinging my work IP and it didn't work. Then I went and turned off Windows firewall which probably didn't allow pinging or something. The pinging started to work. So i went and tried the web again using http://www.techreport.com - no cheese!

I opened up the cmd window again and checked ipconfig. Everything looked normal, but there was 4 connections in there. The wifi and ethernet ports were not setup and the cellular service generated 2 connections.

I looked in the TCP/IP settings for the primary connection to the cellular network and couldn't see anything unusual - it was all setup to auto-configure - no surprise there!

Initially I wondered if the connection was not the primary connection and so the browser was not using it, but that's impossible right!

Anyway, while I was looking at the connection properties I happened to notice a small packet count in outbound and inbound. So I left the counts visible and tried the ping. Sure enough, 4 packets out and 4 in. Exactly what i wanted. So again I left the counts visible and this time tried http://www.techreport.com from the browser. it didn't work and the counts didn't move. Ah ha!! that is bogus but I've got no idea how to instruct the browser on the finer points of routing its packets to a operational internet connection.

I cranked up the Internet Options in IE and made sure the "Never dial a connection" was checked. Then I looked at the LAN connection properties and tried to get the TR page with "Automatically detect settings" checked, and then again with it unchecked.

If any windows networking guru has some timely advice or clues or even good checks to make I'm all ears.

thanks Gerbils.

P.S One thing that made me wonder at the start but later I dismissed as irrelevant is that the cellular service my friend uses and my work internet account are both with Telstra so technically the pings could have followed some internal Telstra route and never got on the internet.
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Re: Strange cellular internet conn. behaviour

Postposted on Tue Feb 02, 2010 8:56 pm

Moved to Networking.

Find out the numbered IP of www.techreport.com and try entering that to IE. It may just be a DNS issue.
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Re: Strange cellular internet conn. behaviour

Postposted on Tue Feb 02, 2010 10:41 pm

Good tip.
I've thought of a few things to try myself.. like attempting a request on port 80 to the same IP as worked for the ping. I might see the fella tonight.

Any other thoughts from anyone are welcome.
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Re: Strange cellular internet conn. behaviour

Postposted on Tue Feb 02, 2010 10:49 pm

I've seen similar things happen to a few laptops, one thing to try is rebuilding the TCP/IP stack from the command line. That's fixed the issue for me on a handful of occasions when PCs were hardwired into a network but just didn't want to talk to anything.

Syntax should be:

Code: Select all
netsh int ip reset c:\netshlog.txt


This'll leave a netshlog.txt file on your c:\ drive telling you exactly what it's done. Make sure to reboot after the rebuild.

Hope this helps :)
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Re: Strange cellular internet conn. behaviour

Postposted on Wed Feb 03, 2010 3:42 am

A bit ham-fisted, but you can try disabling the other network connections. I've recently run into a similar issue on my girlfriend's laptop where I connected the laptop by the Ethernet cable then unplugged the cable and brought the wireless up. For some reason, only the most recent used connection is remembered or something. I don't know. But, disabling the wired NIC caused the browser to use the wireless. Weird but true. May not be repeatable.
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Re: Strange cellular internet conn. behaviour

Postposted on Mon Feb 15, 2010 9:37 pm

I probably should have mentioned this most important thing which I only remembered when he brought the unit in a few minutes ago. It's a netbook. a Lenovo netbook! I originally thought it was a refurbished laptop only because he paid so little money for it. Sorry if I lead people up the garden path :)

things I did just now.
Turn off Windows firewall for the entire test.
ping IP address from CMD.. works fine!
ping web address (www.techreport.com)... works fine!
watch packet count on network Connection Status window.. goes up for all pings, 4 tx's and 4 rx's
try web address in IE7... "failed to load page"
try IP address in IE7 ... same failure.
disable other 2 network connections (which weren't connected anyway) - Wifi and Ethernet - for remainder of test.
try Outlook Express 6 with web address mail servers ... errors obviously about connecting, but worded funny with socket IDs and other numbers.
install Firefox 3.0.1 (had the installer handy) and try IP and web address... similar cannot connect error messages.
watch packet counts for both browsers and email client.... when attempting to connect the packet counts DO NOT increase at all.
type "route print" into CMD... everything looks normal! mainly default gateway is the Ip address I expect.
plug in a Ethernet lead and let it connect via DHCP to my local network.
again, all IPs and route looks right.. but exact same results: no browser or OE6 goodness and no incrementing of packet counts.
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