What exactly is CPE (customer premises equipment)?

What exactly is CPE (customer premises equipment)?


Telecommunications and information technology equipment stored at the customer’s physical location rather than on the service provider’s facilities is referred to as customer premises equipment (CPE). Phone handsets, cable TV set-top boxes, and DSL routers are examples of CPEs.

A carrier’s telecommunication circuit establishes connectivity at a demarcation point, or demarc. The demarcation point is usually a service provider’s central office.

Telecommunications firms or networking and communications vendors like Cisco are examples of service providers. Hardware-based firewalls and intrusion prevention or intrusion detection systems, for example, can be included in this list of cybersecurity providers.

How long has customer-premises equipment been around?


CPE was traditionally installed at the customer’s end of the phone line by telecommunications companies. This equipment was usually owned by the Bell System, a group of companies that operated under the Bell Telephone Company (later AT&T, until it was broken up in 1983).

The Federal Communications Commission of the United States eventually decided that carriers could no longer bundle CPE with a telecommunications service. As a result, customer premises equipment can now refer to practically any end-user device.

These devices might be owned by the subscriber or provider.

What are the various types of equipment used in customer premises?


CPE now encompasses a wide range of different devices. Some instances can be found in the list below:

  • adapters for network services;
  • Devices that connect to a local area network (LAN) or a wide area network (WAN)
  • Routers or wireless access point devices; Channel Service Units/Data Service Units;
  • Broadband, Ethernet or DSL modems;
  • private branch exchanges (aka routing switchboards);
  • voice over Internet Protocol devices; and
  • firewall hardware.
  • telephones and telephone handsets;
  • cable set-top boxes;

What exactly is vCPE (virtual customer premises equipment)?


VCPE is a software implementation of the CPE hardware idea. vCPE, unlike traditional CPE, which takes provider-owned equipment to customers’ premises, delivers network services to users virtually through software, such as virtual private networks, firewalls, and routing.

vCPE, also known as cloud CPE, separates device intelligence from faraway data centres and brings it to low-cost, basic on-site hardware.

The vCPE concept, like the CPE model, can combine specialised devices into a single general-purpose box. This makes the distribution and maintenance of these services more cost-effective and easy, potentially cutting capital and operational costs, streamlining processes, and speeding up delivery.

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