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Your IP address is set by your internet provider so that they can identify your computer and send you information from the internet. Changing it to set up a static IP address may not have the result that you expect.

I currently have internet service with AT&T and high speed. I just installed a CCTV (Closed Circuit TV System) and the tech advised that I need a static IP address. AT&T wants to charge me an outrageous monthly fee for a static IP address. I found info on the internet on how to set up the static IP address. If I do this myself, will I lose my AT&T DSL service or will I still also have to have a dynamic IP address and the internet service? Thanks in advance for any info you can provide.

In this excerpt from Answercast #13, I describe the way static IP addresses work and question if it is needed for your connection.

How a static IP address works

There's a difference between configuring your machine or your router to respond to a static IP address and actually having a static IP address.

In order for things to be found on the internet (your machine, for example, in this case), your ISP has to know how to route the data to your computer. If you just set a new static IP address on your computer or on your router, your ISP won't know about it and it won't know how to get data to you.

As a result, yes, you will lose your connectivity when that happens.

Assigning a static IP address

A static IP address, in order to be useful, must be assigned by the service that you're connecting to (in this case, your ISP.)

In this case, AT&T has to actually assign you the static IP address. They will tell you what the IP address is. It's only then that, with that IP address in hand, you go into your router or your PC and configure that static IP address for use.

Unfortunately, there's really no way around this. The static IP address, like any IP address, is assigned by your internet service provider. If they want to charge an outrageous fee for it, they can.

It is additional work on their part. Non-static IP address are all handled automatically. Static IP addresses have to be manually assigned, so there's manual intervention and some amount of maintenance involved in making sure it continues to work.

Do you need a static IP address?

So, unfortunately, I don't know a way around this for you.

I would question whether or not you actually need a static IP address. It's very possible that your dynamic IP address won't change very often and that could be enough.

Ultimately, it all depends on exactly how you're attempting to use this system and why the service person suggested a static IP address in the first place. Sometimes, there are workarounds, but the workarounds depend very heavily on exactly what it is you're trying to do.

Article C5267 - April 29, 2012 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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4 Comments
Mack Peters
April 29, 2012 1:12 PM

You can setup an account with a dynamic DNS service that is supported by your router. An example would be dyndns.org but there are others to choose from; (use your favorite search engine). This service will allow you to create a hostname which is always live on the Internet. This service will map the hostname to your external dynamic IP address. Anytime that the ISP changes your IP address, the router will update the DNS record at your chosen DNS service provider. You can use client software on an always-on computer to achieve similar results if your router does not support this feature. This implementation is not fool proof since the computer should also be configured to restart automatically should it ever lose power or crash. The DVR must be configured with a Static INTERNAL IP address that corresponds with your Local Area Network settings. This IP address should be excluded from the DHCP scope that is used by your router to assign internal IP addresses to other devices on your network. This is a crucial setting which will prevent duplicate IP addresses from being assigned to different devices. You will then need to poke some holes in your router and port forward the required listening ports to your DVR (Check the documentation for your specific hardware). Some companies will provide you with a Smart Phone app that will allow you to monitor your cameras from your phone as well.

Ken B
April 30, 2012 8:49 AM

Another reason that ISPs charge more for static IPs is that they have a fixed number of IP addresses available to them. A static IP address is assigned to one computer/router, and only that computer/router. If you go away for a two week vacation and turn it off before you leave, that IP address is still assigned to you. If they have 1000 IP addresses available for static use, then they can only use it for 1000 clients.

A dynamic IP address, on the other hand, can be reassigned to anyone, at practically any time. If they have 1000 IP addresses available for dynamic use, they can (theoretically) sell their services to as many clients as they want. As long as no more than 1000 clients are connected at any given time, everything still works.

In short, they can charge more because, to those who need it, it's worth more.

As for the original poster's question, it comes down to whether or not you "really" need a static IP address. As Mack Peters points out, it may suffice to have a fixed domain name which points to your dynamic IP address. There are numerous free and paid services available for this.

Finally, as Leo pointed out, depending on your ISP, dynamic IPs may not change very often, especially for broadband providers with always-on routers. For example, my IP address has changed, I believe, only 3 or 4 times during the past 12 months, and one of those times was after turning the router back on after returning from vacation. Even of your service "needs" a static IP, as long as there is a way for you to say "my address changed, here's the new one", that may suffice as "good enough".

Jon
May 1, 2012 12:26 PM

I believe what the tech was referring to was a static address behind the router. You just need to assign an IP that doesn't change behind your router not from your internet service provider. You can do that within your firmware for the router

Scott Currier
July 27, 2012 12:46 PM

Excellent answer from Mack Peters. I chose to go the static IP route. The ISP's that I deal with do not charge an unreasonable fee for a static IP. If they did I would go with the solution he recommended. I have two choices for setting up the DVR. I usually do what Mack suggested and assign it a local static IP outside the range of DHCP addresses that the router can assign. I can also tell the router to assign the same address to a particular mac address every time. When I go that route I set the DVR for DHCP and the router automatically assigns the same internal address every time. Then it's just a matter of poking the holes in the firewall with port forwarding. Works very well.

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