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I am living for 2 months now in a pension and will probably stay there for 3~4 more months. The host provides WLAN. Sadly the WLAN is blocking some websites and a vast amount of ports required for VOIP, gaming, and gaming platforms (i.e. playsstation network, steam, blizzard and so on).

When I payed my lease for December, my host asked me if everything is fine. I said it is, and incidental asked if I am right in my assumption that the blocking of websites and services is intended. They responded that this can't be and the trouble must come from lacking signal strength. I said, I am quite sure that isn't the case, as the behavior of the services doesn't fit with what it would be for a bad connection. They promised me, they will check if they can figure out anything. Since then even more pages (some I was earlier able to access) got blocked now1.

The problem here is, I think my hosts don't seem to be technically very skilled. So I am quite sure, they either used some default setup for the WLAN not knowing that it will lead to a lot of services being blocked or they actually miss configured their router. It also could have been that they flat out lied to me, to avoid a conflict, but lets ignore that option here, since in that case I would fight a not winnable battle anyways.

So how can I approach them about this? The problem I see is, just going to them and telling them they are wrong and probably just unconsciously configured something wrong when they set up the WLAN, will most likely not do me any favor. If someone would approach me this way, I would get defensive, maybe even miffed, and most likely I wouldn't investigate if I indeed might have done something wrong. Especially not if that would require me to do some research to increase my knowledge on that matter.

So how can I approach them so that it is most likely, either them researching them self how to set up such a device correctly, or letting me physically access their private devices and checking the configuration under their supervision2?


1 This didn't necessarily happen after my request, as it is like 2 ~ 3 weeks ago I last accessed the now as well blocked website.

2 The latter is just an option if there is no real way I could archive the former. Since I expect neither they would really want me to enter their home and play around on their private device, for something just being in MY interest, nor would I really feel comfortable with that, since they will probably blame me, if in the future ever anything with devices involved would cause trouble.

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I think the best approach is to clearly demonstrate to them the problem you are having. If it is a website that you believe it is blocked, take your laptop to them or ask them to come over to your place and attempt to connect to the website and show them that the website is blocked. Obviously, whatever message that appears has to unambiguously be a result of the router mis-configuration and not something that can be attributed to your own computer. Alternately, you can ask them to connect to the specific website on their computer and if it is blocked as you believe, they should see the blocked message.

Only after they are clearly aware of and accept that there is a problem will they be receptive to either investigating on their own how to fix it or accepting your help in fixing it.

  • This is a good answer. Sadly this won‘t work here, since The behavior is just that blocked services instantly return that I have no internet connection. While non blocked services works properly. So their layman point of view is „So for that specific sites/services signal strength isnt enough“ But then it would be a timeout rather receiving can’t connect response. I will add that to OP – dhein Dec 3 '18 at 16:52
  • @dhein, They should be able to test those services themselves and have them return "no internet connection", that doesn't necessarily point to a router issue but at least it makes them aware of a problem. – sf02 Dec 3 '18 at 16:55
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TL;DR 'generic' version

  1. Explain your issue in simple, logical terms. Make it something that the other person can relate to.
  2. Once both sides agree that the issue exists, proffer a solution which does not inconvenience the other party. (Alternatively, and especially in the workplace, offer two solutions - the one that you want, and one that no-one wants - and let them choose. This makes them feel that they are in control of the decision-making.)
  3. Implement your preferred solution. (In your specific case, when implementing your solution, please be mindful that they've configured their router this way for a reason.)

What you've described sounds to me like a combination of a content-filtering DNS server (such as the OpenDNS service) and having Universal Plug'n'Play disabled.
The first will block certain domain names by not returning their real IP addresses.
The second will stop programs from opening arbitrary ports.

However there are other possibilities: it could be that their router doesn't have an IPv4 address. If this is the case then some services just won't work (link to RFC 6586).

How I would approach this situation:

  1. Speak to your hosts. Explain that you're experiencing a problem with the wireless network, and say that it only ever happens when you're connected to their network; therefore the problem must be with their network.
    (Use a specific example, something that they will also understand, eg. talk about not being able to make Skype calls to your family, instead of saying you can't play games with your friends. From their point of view, the former is a real issue, and the latter is not that big of a deal.)
  2. Then ask whether it would be possible for you to have a look at their wireless router's configuration. (Ask them to show it to you, rather than asking them for the administrator password)
    (At this point they may refuse your request. Maybe they don't have the password because their granddaughter set it up when she was home for the Summer holidays? If this happens, then the only thing you can do is attempt to escalate the request to the person responsible.)
  3. Assuming you're at the stage where you can see the router's configuration, you should be able to identify the specific issue, and then ask them to resolve it.
    (To make their lives easier, try to make this the one and only time you go poking about in their router configuration. That's to say, if you require ports forwarded, then forward all the ports you'll ever need. Don't go asking every two weeks for another couple of ports. Or, if you're brave and firewalled, you could add your machine to the router's DMZ, which will effectively forward ALL of the ports to you :-) )
  • "be mindful that they've configured their router this way for a reason." Well, as said I assumed it was this way for a reason and I was fine with that. So I didn't speak up about it the last 2 months. But as said, I asked incidentaly about my assumption being correct, and they said they have no intention to block anything. If they just said "it is for a reason, yeah" That'd be ok for me. But sicne they said "blocking something? No that can't be" is why I have a need to clarify that. Thanks for considering that, tho. – dhein Dec 5 '18 at 8:05

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