One of our Zambian clients is having some severe connectivity issues with Airtel, and two other clients have reported similar issues. The problem is that, while connected to the Internet, the IP address assigned to the customer’s phone keeps changing every few seconds. This wreaks havoc with any systems that the Airtel customer is trying to connect to that require, for security reasons, that the phone’s IP address remain constant throughout the session. This also applies if you are using an Airtel “stick” plugged into your computer.
This is most often relevant, for our clients, when trying to use either regular email or webmail. In the former instance, if the IP address assigned to your phone (or “stick”) by Airtel keeps changing every few seconds, you will likely be unable to send email, or you may get lucky and be able to send email every few tries. In the case of webmail, you will find that you will be logged out of the system constantly, often while you are actually trying to log in. This can also happen when trying to log into the control panel or any other service hosted by NinerNet that requires you to log in.
This problem exists, as noted above, with any system that requires that your IP address remain the same during a session. A “session” is the time between when you log into (using a user name and password) a website or other Internet-based service, and when you log out. Many web- and Internet-based systems require your IP address to remain constant throughout a session to prevent someone taking over your session and pretending to be you, thereby being able to log into whatever account you were logged into at the time they managed to hijack your session.
You can check your IP address by pointing your web browser to www.niner.net/go/ip. If you refresh the page every few seconds and your IP address keeps changing, then you will have the problems described above.
If you are having this problem, please contact Airtel and explain that your IP address is apparently changing every few seconds, and that this is preventing your from logging into Internet-based services. Please also let us know that you have done this, so that we can track this issue to resolution. Airtel have, apparently, been reasonably responsive on this issue with the NinerNet client mentioned above, but the issue has been going on since last week and has still not been resolved.
We apologise that your experience with NinerNet is affected by this issue. However, the problem is caused by Airtel, and the IP-based security on our systems and on many other systems used by other companies is there for a reason. It’s a very common form of security, and any connection systems provided by companies like Airtel simply must take this into consideration.