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[ NNSquad ] The Residential Gateway is back


Back in the 1990's the carriers all wanted to run fat pipes to homes so they could sell services and charge for each application, such as meter reading, that used the carriers gateway. Sprint ION was one example. Many services would go through the set top box.

The idea died with home networks -- once you could get a few bits past the carriers' gateway the carriers couldn't charge for services. ATT discovered this the hardware after buying MediaOne on the assumption that they could indeed get some of the revenue in the same way as they tried with 900 numbers.

Though the initial idea of the fat service pipe went away with the advent of home networking the term "residential gateway" persisted -- that was the way they thought of the routers in each house.

In terms of policy the RJ-45 jack at a cable modem or equivalent devices can be treated as the demarcation point between the Internet outside the house and the one inside. Beyond some attempts to block port I have unfettered access and can use any router and protocol. I can VPN into my house or I can try IPV6 tunneling from my router to another site over V4.

With FiOS (and MOCA) this changed. The router that Verizon supplied is acting more like a residential gateway in that the services provided depend on the router. This is not strictly necessary as Verizon's VoD can indeed run through a third party router but there are no guarantees. In fact VoD stopped working properly with my new router.

I did ask a senior Verizon executive what the policy is but after checking internally he came back with no answer. Same when I asked one of the Verizon technical person at CES -- he just hadn't thought about the issue. 

When I first called Verizon about my VoD problem I was told by the phone support person that I wasn't allowed to use my own router but I assume that there is simply an absence of explicit policy and not an intentional restriction. I'm giving Verizon benefit of the doubt.

At very least there is an absence of public documentation for Verizon protocols such as their VoD.

Verizon itself as a victim too as the lack of disciplined separation of transport and services limits their ability to provide services where they don't have full control.

I see this as an extreme, if not intentional, violation of openness and, perhaps neutrality, and hope that Verizon will respond with an explicit policy that assures openness.