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Do SMTP providers block IP address ranges associated with certain ISPs?

Last summer, my mother-in-law reported that she was unable to send email using Outlook Express.  I did a little research and found out that I had to configure Outlook Express on her machine to use a special SMTP server provided by her ISP.  At the time, I assumed that her ISP was blocking the traffic to her regular SMTP server.  

Did I have it backwards?  Is it the SMTP provider blocking traffic from IP addresses associated with her ISP in order to block spammers that are associated with her ISP?
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Sure, my mother-in-law's standard SMTP server requires authentication.  Why was she unable to access this server going through her ISP?  Was the ISP blocking traffic to the SMTP server or was the SMTP server blocking traffic from the ISP?
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use a different smtp addresss. best to use the gmail smtp.
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Great discussion.  Thanks!