A Quick Guide for Customer Premises Equipment (CPE)

A Quick Guide for Customer Premises Equipment (CPE)

Customer Premises Equipment, or CPE, refers to equipment that is located at the premises of a telecommunications subscriber and is connected to their circuit at the demarcation point. This refers to a point within the building or area that separates the subscriber’s equipment from other equipment that may be located within the service provider’s central office or within the distribution infrastructure.

Among the devices that come under the CPE umbrella are residential gateways, routers, network switches, set-top boxes, and home networking adaptors, among others. It also includes internet access gateways, which are used to provide consumers with access to the provider’s communications services and then use an LAN (local area network) to distribute them within the location.

Types of CPE

There are different types of CPE, and this includes both active and passive equipment. Active equipment includes those mentioned above, while passive equipment includes the likes of analogue telephone adaptors and xDSL-splitters. Both equipment that has been bought by the customer and that which has been provided by the service provider comes under CPE.

There are various types of CPE, and some of these are:

Hybrid Devices

As the result of some operators providing services such as triple-play or quad-play ones, it was necessary for hybrid CPE to be developed. This was to ensure subscribers could access these multiple services such as data, voice, and video. Pay-TV operators played a leading part in the development of the technology.

Residential Gateway

The residential gateway connects other devices to the internet or Wide Area Network (WAN). A range of multi-function networking devices come under the residential gateway category, and these are ones that could combine technology such as cable modems, DSL modems, network switches, consumer-grade routers, and wireless access points. These used to all be provided through individual devices, but now they can be delivered through one single device.

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Set-Back Box

Used in the world of digital TV, this equipment is designed to provide users with access to both internet-based video and linear broadcast. In addition, it provides access to various interactive services including video-on-demand and pay-per-view. It is attached to the back of the TV set, which means that it is not on show in the same way as set-top boxes.

Virtual Gateway

This is something that makes it possible for users to utilize software in order to access data and video services and distribute them throughout the property. It is a relatively young technology in the grand scheme of things, as it was only introduced in 2010 by Advanced Digital Broadcast.


Any devices that terminate a WAN circuit may also come under the CPE category. This includes metro Ethernet and ISDN among others. Some of the hardware that falls under this umbrella includes network switches, routers, and firewalls, among others. This includes hardware that is owned by the customer as opposed to the provider.

CPEs can be managed in one place by things called auto-configuration servers. This is especially useful for Telco and ISP brands. A great example of this can be seen by Axiros.  

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