Why is my ISP getting my location wrong? [IPinfo Basics]

Where is my IP location, exactly (2)

What is an IP address, and what is the IP address location

When you get an internet connection from an ISP (Internet Service Provider- Cox, ATT, Xfinity etc.) or a phone carrier (Verizon, T-Mobile etc.), you are assigned an IP address. The IP address is essentially like an ID number assigned to you when you use the internet via your phone, computer, TV, or anything that connects to the internet.

So, when you visit any website or web service (Google, YouTube, Netflix, or any service), the website can see this IP address. The IP address to the website is nothing more than an ID number and does not tell much.

However, this is where IPinfo comes in as an “IP data provider.” We have massive databases of IP addresses with some information regarding that IP address. This information includes:

  • Where this IP address may be located (New York, Los Angeles, etc.)
  • Which company (AT&T, T-Mobile, Orange, etc.) owns this IP address
  • Whether this is a VPN IP address etc.

So, when you visit a website, the website sees your IP address and looks it up in our IP address location database to see where we think this IP address is located.

The gist of it is:

  • You are assigned an IP address by your ISP/carrier
  • Websites see your IP address
  • We tell where the IP address is located
  • Websites determine where you are located based on our data

Why can the location data be wrong?

There are billions of IP addresses around the world. We use various methods to “estimate” their location. Sometimes, your internet provider helps by telling you where the IP address could be located.

But the interesting point is that you are not assigned the same IP address all the time. In fact, your internet service provider assigns you random IP addresses quite frequently. So, we have to keep up with the random shuffling of IP addresses that happens on a global scale. The IP address that you were assigned yesterday is now assigned to a person in a different state. An IP address from a different state can be assigned to you today.

For the IP geolocation dataset:

  • Daily changes: 4%-10% (Average change 6.8%)
  • Monthly changes: 60%-50%

So, the IP location data needs to be constantly updated.

So, we recommend to our customers (the websites you visit) that use our data to update the IP location data they receive from us frequently, or else they will get stale location information like the IP address that was used in NY is now in LA. If they do not update our data, they will keep thinking it is in NY.

Educating end users about IP location

We are super proactive about this stuff and like to talk and educate everyone about it. However, we are only one of many third-party providers. Even though our data is super accurate, it is not used by every website.

Some websites can choose a provider that has bad or stale data. Moreover, the websites may not update the location data as frequently as they should. So, that is where IP location mismatches happen.

On rare occasions, we sometimes get location information wrong, we try our best to listen to everyone and fix our mistakes immediately. Please check our IP location at our website, IPinfo.io, and let us know if we are providing accurate location data for you. Thanks!