How to Purchase a Static IP Address
By Eoghan McCloskey
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) typically provide Internet service to customers using either a dynamic IP address or a static IP address. A dynamic, or DHCP (dynamic host configuration protocol), network uses a "stack" of available IP addresses for each customer. When the customer's modem comes online, it obtains the first available IP address off of the stack and uses that address to browse the Internet. Thus, a modem may use a slightly different IP every time it goes online. A static IP address is just the opposite---one specific IP address is assigned to each customer and the modem always uses that exact IP address to go online. If you determine that you need to use a static IP address on your Internet connection, here are a few things to consider before contacting your ISP to order a static IP.
Determine what you need to use your static IP for. Most ISPs charge an extra fee for static IP addresses, so make sure that the use of a static IP is necessary. VPNs (Virtual Private Networks), which employees use to work from home, for instance, commonly require a static IP. Not all of them do; contact your employer's IT department to settle any confusion. There are many other uses for a static IP as well. The point is just that since static IPs cost money, make absolutely sure you need one rather than wasting money on something for which a standard dynamic IP would suffice. If you are sure you do need a static, consider what device should use it.
Determine what device you will have your ISP provision a static IP address to. If you need your static IP address assigned to your modem, your ISP will most likely have the modem's MAC address on file. If you are provisioning your static IP to a networking device like a router, switch, or hub, determine that device's MAC address (typically printed on a sticker on the device itself). A static IP can also be provisioned to a computer; determining the computer's MAC address is a bit more involved (skip step 3 if you are not assigning the static to a computer).
Determine the computer's MAC address. For Windows computers, navigate to the DOS command prompt (Start-->All Programs-->Accessories-->Command Prompt or Start-->Run--->CMD) and type the command "ipconfig/all" into the DOS window. Among the command output you will see "Physical address" with a string of numbers and letters off to the right. Those numbers and letters are your computer's MAC address.
For Apple computers, navigate to the "Network" System Preferences icon (System Preferences--->Network). Select your active connection (typically labeled "Built-in ethernet") and click either "configure" or "advanced," depending on what version of Mac OSX you are using. Listed next to "Ethernet ID" is the computer's MAC address (you may have to additionally click on the 'Ethernet' tab in older versions of OSX). Once you have determined the MAC address of the device that is going to use the static IP, it is time to contact your ISP.
Purchase a static IP address. Contact your ISP's customer service department. If you have the MAC address of a device other than the modem that the static will be provisioned onto, make sure to give this information to the customer service rep before completing your order. Also be sure to ask the salesperson how long the provisioning of the static will take and if you will need to reset any of your equipment in order for the network to assign the static IP to your home Internet connection.
- If you have questions of a technical nature, often they are better addressed by the technical support department of your ISP rather than the sales or customer service department that is selling you the static IP address. If you do not feel that the sales representative is sufficiently addressing your concerns, ask to speak to a technical support representative instead. Even if you are not yet a customer of the ISP, the tech support representative should be able to answer any questions you have and determine whether that ISP will be able to meet your static IP needs.
- Remember that changing ISPs will involve ordering a new static IP address from your new ISP before any static IP-dependent software will work. If you change service providers and your VPN suddenly does not work, for instance, make sure your new ISP has provided you with a new static IP address as part of your new Internet package.
Eoghan McCloskey is a technical support representative and part-time musician who holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in English and political science from Texas State University. While at Texas State, McCloskey worked as a writing tutor at the Texas State Writing Center, proofreading and editing everything from freshman book reports to graduate theses.