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Topic Title: getting an email service while travelling (via SMTP etc)
Topic Summary: My ISP doesn't accept emails when I'm not at home - what to do?
Created On: 14 January 2012 04:12 PM
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 14 January 2012 04:12 PM
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I've been trying to send my email when away from home, such as at a hotel or another office, in particular using my @iee or @theiet email aliases. Whilst I can receive all my email, which is accessed via POP3 without problems, the sending of email stops working. [I have no issues when at home, or at my daughters who has the same provide]

My research shows that this is probably a deliberate limitation by the ISP on where it will accept mail from. E.g. it knows my home broadband circuit so will accept them from there, but doesn't accept the same email when away from home.

What limits does Ofcom, similar place on ISPs about accepting email via SMTP mail servers and how they may validate such emails?

I've located who will provide such a mail service (for a minimal fee) when you register your sending address (or alias). The fee covers a maximum number of message per day, so limiting the possibility of it being used as a spam relay, which is one of the reasons for such limitations.

Is the internet hearsay about the limitations (e.g. Ofcom) correct, and why can't ISPs provide 'on-the-move' services (usual fees ;-) )


philip oakley

Edited: 14 January 2012 at 05:58 PM by philipoakley
 14 January 2012 05:08 PM
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It is absolutely nothing to do with Ofcom and everything to do with ISPs practicing good security on their systems - no mail server admin leaves their SMTP servers as an open relay otherwise the world and their dog will use them to spam via.

Typically you have three ways of checking if the sender is a valid source for taking receipt of mail from;

1) is this email for a domain the server relays for

This is typically used to validate the inbound path, ie only take receipt of email that the server either delivers directly or is a designated relay for.

2) is this email from an IP address block I will relay email for

This is typically used for users originating email as they will be effectively be relaying to any and all domains and is undoubtedly what is stopping you using your ISPs SMTP servers whilst travelling.

3) is this an authorised connection

There are several ways of authorising an SMTP client for relaying - POP before SMTP is one of the simpler hacks which works in a similar manner to a stateful firewalls alg in that it authorises the SMTP connection if there has been a recent POP3 login from the same IP address. The more standardised alternative is SMTP AUTH - take a peek at RFC2554 and RFC4954 - this allows you to send authentication credentials as part of the SMTP transaction.

You do actually have quite a few options here. The first is to run a local SMTP server on your laptop, not quite as odd as it sounds, but this can run into problems as quite a few ISPs will block outgoing port 25 and some smtp servers will refuse connections from known dynamically allocated netblocks to cut down on spam. Secondly you could see if your ISP supports SMTP AUTH or some other authentication scheme which would allow you to send whilst roaming. Getting slightly more extreme you could run your own SMTP server out on the net somewhere or, if your network connection hardware supports it, run a VPN connection from your home router so that your ISP always sees the traffic as if it's coming from it's local network as far as it's concerned [I actually do a combination of the last two myself].

In answer to your last question, nothing to do with Ofcom whatsoever - just a standard security measure and ISPs can provide it, it's jsut a case of whether they want to and whether it is economically worth it to do so. My guess is you'll find that the mass market consumer isps tend not to support it whereas some of the more business oriented ones may do.

Hope this helps.

Jake Greenland, CEng MIET.
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 14 January 2012 06:19 PM
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Which ISP is this? Loads of ISPs have their systems configured to allow sending of emails while outside their broadband network infrastructure. How about changing to an ISP that does allow the features you need?

You may also find changing your email program to use SSL connections gets you around firewall policies being operated at the places you visit. I use port 995 for POP3 (incoming) and port 465 (outgoing) and that gets around most restrictions! This may result in a security warning unless an SSL certificate, issed by a certified provider, is in place. But again this relies on your ISPs servers being configured to support this configuration.

Best wishes & regards

John A Thomson
 14 January 2012 06:30 PM
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Many thanks Jake. I've been trying to get a sensible answer from my ISP (talktalk) but to no avail.

The 'customer service agents' just fall back on their default instructions for home use.

I've also correct the web reference for/to


philip oakley
 14 January 2012 08:34 PM
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The increased implementation of SPF also makes it problematic to run your own SMTP (outgoing) email server if you don't have control over the domain. When SPF is used on a particular domain, any SMTP (outgoing) mail server must be listed as an authorised server in the domain record or the receiving mail server will reject the email message.


It has all got pretty complicated thanks to our "spammer friends" and the need for the technology to keep them at bay.

Best wishes & regards

John A Thomson
 15 January 2012 08:09 PM
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Talktalk do not be allow SMTP connections from the outside their network.
When your email client connects to this will be valid at home or as stated at your daughters but not at a hotel (unless they happen to be on talktalk!)

Thus you would need to run a relay at home, a service as you have suggested or you could use talktalk webmail

Can you setup talktalk email on your mobile? If you can, have you tried those settings?

Ian Lowson MIET

Do or do not, there is no try!
 25 January 2012 10:04 AM
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I had exactly the same problem when setting up my daughters email for her mac. Worked at home on my DSL but not at her uni. I am with pipex, now talktalk. Their help desk is of little use.

I have not got the configuration to hand I set up but I can tell you it is possible. I believe i set the use SSL option cant remember if i also used smtp-auth When i get a chance i will check for you.

Alan Berry
 29 January 2012 10:50 AM
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I had the same issue with my provider on the Isle of Man. However, they do offer an option to have smtp connectivity from outside their network, but it needs to be requested and configured on their system. I rang "faults", and said that I was having problems setting up an smtp connection from another provider's mobile network. They passed the details onto "sales", and in a couple of days the issue was resolved.


 23 March 2012 02:18 PM
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Easiest way is to set up a Gmail account, which, via the Gmail website can be set up to 'hoover' emails from other accounts, and then use Gmail on your mobile device.

Also when sending e-mails - Gmail can be configured so that the e-mail recipient sees the email as coming from your ISP account, rather than Gmail.

The only minor downside is that Gmail only polls the ISP email account every 30 mins or so, so emails do not instantly appear on the mobile device.

Further if every thing is set up using imap (as opposed to pop3), then you can sync emails across any number of platforms (e.g mobile phone, home pc, ...) so for example if you delete an e-mail from your mobile device, it deletes every where, and if you send an e-mail it appears in the 'sent' box across all platforms etc.

Overall it works very well, and I suspect there are other mobile apps (not just Gmail) that will do the same thing.

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