Verizon static IP’s, opengear, APN’s, oh my

I’m a happy proponent of Opengear devices for out of band management (serial and/or VPN); been using them back to 3G days with great success.  Fast forward to 2018 and Verizon’s network config has been acting unpredictably for me, for reasons no one at Verizon can explain.

For the past six years minimum, I’ve deployed Opengear cellular to serial devices with Verizon static IP’s on their ‘machine to machine 5gb’ plans; basically $50/mo retail rate minus your negotiated discount for a line with a publicly routed static IP, or private network if that’s your need.  They can work in an always-on fashion, or you can trigger the device to bring the line up via a text message.  You can SSH directly into them, or you can set up firewall rules, VPN requirements, etc.  This has always worked fine until August of 2018 when all my devices randomly started falling off the network.

I have never previously set an APN; didn’t even know what one was given I could always ignore that setting.  The normal setup process was order a new line from Verizon, select to have a SIM shipped to me, plug it in, boot up, static IP is auto assigned and everyone is happy.  I had a new device unable to get an IP from the cell network, let alone my correct public ‘unrestricted’ static IP.  Support’s answer to that was try to hard code an APN value of VZWADMIN.  I did this, and suddenly the device began receiving a usable private IP; so the device could get outbound, but obviously couldn’t accept inbound.  Days of back and forth with their support didn’t get to a resolution.  I contacted Opengear asking if they were familiar with this scenario and they suggested trying an APN of we01.VZWSTATIC.  Woah, it worked!  I got my static IP and everything began working fine.

What I didn’t realize is that Opengear had just been lucky on that guess, because apparently we01 is specific to SIMs/wireless lines that are in the US ‘west’ region.  Fortunately this particular device had a California area code, even though it didn’t reside in California, so the west region was correct.

A few days later, other devices of mine start falling off the cell network, same symptoms; no IP address assigned by the tower.  I trired the we01.VZWSTATIC APN, but no success.  I try the VZWADMIN APN and partial success; now I get that familiar private IP assignment again.

Armed with the information Opengear support used to help me get past this issue, I got to Verizon level 2 support and read through the whole story with them.  This triggered a thought on the part of the support rep who suggested that the modem I was trying to get back online was probably assigned to the ‘south’ region, so he suggested putting in an APN of so01.VZWSTATIC instead of the we01 west region.  This worked!

Unfortunately I don’t know how many regions there are or what their codes are, as all my devices have area codes from one of those two regions, even when out of the region.  If you run into similar issues though, start asking Verizon about the proper region-specific APN for your static IP address.

Edit; Opengear support came through again and gave me this list:

ne01.vzwstatic (North East)
nw01.vzwstatic (North West)
so01.vzwstatic (South)
mw01.vzwstatic (Mid West)
we01.vzwstatic (West)

For search engine purposes, the types of errors you may see from your Opengear /var/log/messages file when you’re having this APN issue are similar to the following:

Aug 17 23:16:13 syslog[1577]: <info> error: couldn't start network: QMI protocol error (14): 'CallFailed'
Aug 17 23:16:13 syslog[1577]: <info> call end reason (1018): 'gsm-wcdma-option-unsubscribed'
Aug 17 23:16:13 syslog[1577]: <info> verbose call end reason (6,33): [3gpp] option-unsubscribed

Aug 17 20:44:33 /bin/cellctld[952]: ERROR /bin/cellctld - Could not start data session on profile 3: 1018: Option unsubscribed

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