Roku Mobile App

Help with the Roku Mobile app on Android and iOS, adding channels, using remote control functionality, playing content from The Roku Channel, using Play on Roku, mobile private listening, and more.
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EatCroc3
Level 7

Roku App won't connect on "public" wireless network

I installed a Roku Streaming Stick (RSS 3600R), connected it to my wireless network, and activated it. It is working and it streams channels from the Internet flawlessly.

Now I am trying to get the Roku Mobile App (version 4.0.4) to work on my iPhone, but I am getting nowhere. The reason is that my home network has an IP address that the App thinks is "public", because it is not in one of the normal ranges for private IP addresses. Specifically, it is 192.150.23.x, which I am using for good technical reasons (it was assigned by my employer).

My RSS has been assigned the IP address 192.150.23.163 (as shown in Settings). My iPhone has been assigned address 192.150.23.149 -- as you can see, on the same network. There is full connectivity between all devices on the network -- no AP isolation, VPN, or anything like that. I have a conventional NAT router; the only unconventional thing is the IP address on the LAN side of the router.

When I start the Roku App, it immediately pops up a notice: "IP Address not supported", with an explanation that my device is connected to a public IP address (which technically is true). If I tap OK, I am invited to Connect Manually. In the Connect Manually dialog, I enter the RSS's IP address 192.150.23.163 and tap Connect. After a short pause, this fails with the message "A Roku device was not found at this IP address. Please check the IP address and try again."

It seems that the Roku App is arbitrarily restricting the IP addresses that it can connect to, so that only standard private addresses are allowed. And it seems impossible to override this, even by entering the RSS's IP address manually. I'm wondering if this is intentional (and if so, why), or if there might be a bug in the "Connect Manually" dialog.
20 Replies
twiceover
Level 11

Re: Roku App won't connect on "public" wireless network

Really strange of your employer to do that, especially a whole block.

Roku probably does it to prevent the IP remote from just willy nilly looking for rokus all over the world. I doubt there's a way around it.
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atc98092
Level 16

Re: Roku App won't connect on "public" wireless network

I can't for the life of me understand why your employer would want you to use a public IP address within your home network. It violates IP addressing rules, and potentially you could have issues trying to connect to an actual public IP address within the same range you're using at home. It also increases your potential exposure to hacking, since you're using an IP address that can be routed over the Internet. 
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I don't want to get into that discussion here, as it isn't a Roku specific issue. But no, there's nothing wrong with either the Roku or app, and you won't find any workaround for it. It is blocked for valid security reasons. 
Dan
Roku Stick (3600), Ultra (4640), Premiere (3920), Insignia 720p Roku TV, Sharp 4K Roku TV, Nvidia Shield, Windows 10 Pro x64 running Serviio and Plex on a wired Gigabit network.
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EatCroc3
Level 7

Re: Roku App won't connect on "public" wireless network

The IP address block in question is owned by the company. No routers actually route to those IP addresses, so they are effectively private. The same IP address block is assigned to every employee for use in their home network, which they connect to the Internet using a NAT router in the conventional way. The company's IT department has a legitimate reason for doing this, but I don't remember the reason.

Anyway, this is tangential to the Roku issue. The Roku device itself has no problem with this arrangement -- it can find and access local resources (such as media servers) just fine. The restriction arises only in the Roku mobile app. If the intent is to restrict the scope of broadcast queries, there are better ways to do it than by filtering based on IP address.

For that matter, why shouldn't my phone be able to access my Roku even on a different network? Once they have been paired and authenticated to each other, there is no security issue. There is still the problem of how the app can communicate with a device on a private network, but there are ways to solve that, such as DDNS and port forwarding.
mikebdoss
Level 10

Re: Roku App won't connect on "public" wireless network

Those are much more complicated solutions for very rare situations, so don't fit Roku's SOP of "keep it simple". If I had to guess, I'd say 99.99% of Rokus in homes are connected to "standard" home networks. It's not really in Roku's best interest to engineer for the fringe cases. 

Why does your employer dictate how you use your home network, anyway?
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jmaynard
Level 8

Re: Roku App won't connect on "public" wireless network

I'm in this boat as well. I am the registered owner of a class C (/24) IP address block, which I use throughout my home network and have used since it was assigned more than 20 years ago. It's behind a firewall, blocked off from the open Internet.

What Roku is telling me is that I need to renumber my entire LAN to satisfy their one device, in the name of security - when I already know quite well how to secure my own network.

Why, exactly, should I put up with this?
trekkeriii
Level 10

Re: Roku App won't connect on "public" wireless network

"jmaynard" wrote:

Why, exactly, should I put up with this?

Well you can always return the device or just use it was it was designed to be. There's your choices. Also, put a request in Feature Requests, and if it's popular enough of a request (like the Restart from software) I imagine it will be implemented at some point. I think Roku had only Private IPs 10.x.x.x, 192.168.x.x, and 172.16.0.0 - 172.31.255.255 in mind.
http://trekkeriii.com/Roku_PHP_list.php
Router - ASUS RT-AC68U
ISP - TWC - 50 Mbps/5 Mbps
Net+ Cert
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jmaynard
Level 8

Re: Roku App won't connect on "public" wireless network

It just doesn't make any sense to me that they went out of their way to implement a check for an RFC 1918 IP range when there's no good reason to do so, or having done that, not adding a "shut up, I know what I'm doing" button.

In any case, it's not my Roku, but my roommate's. I don't know if he'll just put up with not having the ability to talk to it from his phone, or will get fed up and return it. It does tell me that Roku thinks they know how I should manage my network, and I don't recommend devices that take that kind of paternalistic attitude.
twiceover
Level 11

Re: Roku App won't connect on "public" wireless network

"jmaynard" wrote:
It just doesn't make any sense to me that they went out of their way to implement a check for an RFC 1918 IP range when there's no good reason to do so, or having done that, not adding a "shut up, I know what I'm doing" button.

In any case, it's not my Roku, but my roommate's. I don't know if he'll just put up with not having the ability to talk to it from his phone, or will get fed up and return it. It does tell me that Roku thinks they know how I should manage my network, and I don't recommend devices that take that kind of paternalistic attitude.

Imagine all these people opening their roku remote apps if they are allowed on any network.  The app would be scanning the entire internet to find Rokus.  It's appropriate what they are doing since, generally speaking, a roku shouldn't have a publicly routable IP address.  
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jmaynard
Level 8

Re: Roku App won't connect on "public" wireless network

"twiceover" wrote:
  It's appropriate what they are doing since, generally speaking, a roku shouldn't have a publicly routable IP address.  

You don't have to have an RFC 1918 address in order not to be publicly routable. My address block has no RIP advertisements anywhere on the Internet. Anyone who tries routing to it will get "not reachable".
And what does the app scan? All of the RFC 1918 space? Or just the subnet the phone is on? Someone taking their phone to another place where a Roku box is connected will find that one?
Like I said...paternalistic attitude. Don't tell me you know how I should administer my network. "Be liberal in what you accept, be conservative in what you do" is a fundamental principle of the Internet. That goes for letting people set things up.