Network Neutrality and different kind of script kiddy.

I recently registered a vanity domain (utterback.name, nothing there yet, sorry) and the service includes several email accounts. My father just got AT&T DSL, so I set him up with one of the email accounts.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to get the “outgoing server (SMTP)” connection to work. We spent hours on the phone (he is California and I am in New Hampshire) and went over every thing I could think of,
but the connection still failed. Something finally clicked in my head, I realized that the problem was that the AT&T was blocking port 25.

Suddenly, network neutrality took on a whole
new meaning and I began to understand it better. While I understand some of the reasons for blocking port 25, it annoyed me that it prevents you from using the email vendor of your choice.

However, since many, if not most large ISP’s do block port 25, I figured my email hosting site
must have come across this before. After all, simply offering the SMTP service on an alternate port would do it.

So I called their tech-support line. The agent answered right away and was very kind and courteous. However, this is how the call went:

ME: I can't connect to your SMTP server because my ISP is blocking port 25.
TS: Yes sir, please connect to following URL to test if your ISP is blocking port 25...
ME: I already know that they are blocking port 25.
TS: Oh. Please check the following fields in the outgoing server dialog...
ME: The fields are all correct, I just need to know if you have an alternate port or
something that allows me to use your server even though port 25 is blocked.
TS: Just a moment. Okay, here it is. "If your ISP is blocking port 25, please contact
your ISP and ask them to unblock it."
ME: This is AT&T, they are not going to unblock port 25 just for me. Look, you must
have had thousands of customers with this problem. You must have an alternate SMTP port
or some other solution for this.
TS: I'm sorry sir, if your ISP won't unblock port 25, that really isn't a problem with
us. I can assign a ticket number to this call and pass it up to management. They might
be able to implement a solution.
ME: You really don't have a solution for this? Oh well. Please do pass it up. Will someone
get back to me?
TS: Yes sir. By the way, have you tried port 587, the alternate SMTP port?
ME: !?!?. No, I haven't. Let me give it a try...Okay yes, that worked, you can close the call.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Andrew Stöckert on June 15, 2007 at 6:06 am

    hmm, alternative SMTP port. You can learn something new everyday 🙂

    Reply

  2. My DSL provider, DSL Extreme, has what I think is a reasonable policy. They block port 25 by default. However, you can unblock it by clicking through a warning screen on their web interface. Blocking port 25 is probably the right setting for most people, but they make it pretty easy for us folks who want to have our mail hosted elsewhere.

    Reply

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