16 Sep 2009

Comcast, and spoofing MAC addresses

Two weeks ago I got married. Its amazing how so much planning (and money) goes into an event that just lasts a few hours. For our honeymoon we spent a week in Orlando, Florida. It was great. We had a nice hotel 10 minutes from Disney and a bunch of outlets. I now have GBs of photos (from both the wedding and the honeymoon) which I have to sort through (and post online).
I arrived back from Florida to my new apartment in Sandy, UT. I hate commuting, so I signed a lease with an apartment complex that’s 2 minutes from my new work. It gives me an extra 30 minutes in bed!
Moving into a new apartment is always an ordeal. I did a bunch of things before I got married (get the mandatory renter’s insurance, sign up for electricity bill, move all my stuff etc..) But I still had to get internet. I’d been spoiled the last few years by living in Provo and getting Utopia fibre. We get 15mb down/up for only $45 a month. Unfortunately, due to the location of my apartment, my only options are cable internet. It has a decent-ish download (It can reach 15mb/s, but it has most lag, and is inconsistent), but it has a pretty horrible upload of 1-2mb/s.
Anyway, since it was my only option, I signed up. Comcast had a special for $19.99 for the first 6 months. The problem is that they charge $99 installation fee. You’re joking right? $99 to connect a cable and click activate on his computer. I managed to argue my way to getting installation done for $24.99.

So, I waited for the comcast appt. to come. Finally it did. An older guy (late forties) arrived and hooked up a cable. He then needed to use my computer, but said that Linux wasn’t supported. My desktop and laptop both run linux, so I tried to convince him that a computer’s operating system has nothing to do with internet access. He got annoyed, so I brought out my work laptop (running Windows XP), and gave it to him. He installed some stupid spyware comcast software, but couldn’t get it working. He ran to his truck to check some stuff out.

Meanwhile, I redid the cabling he’d done (he messed it up). He arrived back, checked my laptop, and said I must have fixed it.
Then, I asked him if comcast restricts at the modem by MAC address. He didn’t know what I was talking about (or what a MAC address what). So I repeated the question. Have you restricted my internet access to just this machine?'
he replied no.

To cut a long story short, Comcast does. I checked, and apparently, they charge more money (installation fee) to activate a router’s MAC address vs. a computer’s MAC address.

Well, easy to fix. I just checked the MAC address of my work laptop with working Comcast, and spoofed it on my router. Now my whole apartment has internet access, and Comcast thinks it’s coming from that activated laptop.
What an unnecessary pain!

Ideally Comcast would just switch their activated MAC address for my router’s MAC address, but I’m not paying for that! All this for $99…..