Don't Pay Your ISP for Cable Modem/Router

U.S. Congress actually managed to do something meaningful last year (even if FCC bollixed it for 6 months):


But hey, AT&T Fiber customers, not to worry. You can’t supply your own modem whether you want to or not! And it’s legal because it’s not a “cable” modem, or somesuch.

I saw this recently and have a challenge with it. My current router is fed via RG6 from the fiber node outside of my house. I do know that there is a way to get ethernet directly out of it, but as I don’t have an attic, the cost of getting Category cable strung from the outside to my centralized access point isn’t going to be inexpensive. Probably worth it in the long run, but a pain that many will have to deal with nonetheless.

The Residential Gateway as it’s often referred to is often welded into the service provisioning, unfortunately. Without it, phone and video service often won’t work.

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Even worse. It is the only service available at my apartment. I could also choose the significantly slower service but what was the price? Exactly the same.

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Exactly this. The RG validates your account to the AT&T servers. You can plug an Ethernet cable into the ONT but AT&T won’t serve you any data without a gateway that’s tied to an account.

Also fun fact, AT&T Fiber is apparently such a kludge of hardware/software that you can’t get a new IP address - even if you get a new gateway. Fun unintended consequence: if anyone was wanting a static IP address, AT&T Fiber is pretty much that, until/unless they upgrade their platform.

From a provider perspective, RGs allow delegation of some functions to the premise - i.e. demuxing data/VoIP/video - as well as performing some service functions such as the VoIP stack, caller ID on TV, pre-auth for OTT IPTV, etc. Of course in the case of PON gear the ONT itself is generally capable of a number of these functions already.

From a consumer perspective, they’re rented out at about their actual cost monthly, insecure, potentially intrusive (providers can gather all kinds of information from them), and often fail to provide adequate features/performance.

This could be a designed function of how AT&T’s GWRs work.

VZ>>FTR DSL/FIOS subscribers in this area are accustomed to the traditional static model where the subinterface config is built once with the minimal information needed to make it function - i.e. speed profile, interface/layer 2 location, data/VoIP/IPTV flags. Authentication pretty much isn’t a thing with this model - request comes in from matching int / layer 2 assignments, DHCP lease is granted, and Bob’s Your Uncle.

AT&T is likely using a dynamic model where the subscriber authorization is initially provisioned which generally includes the router interface / layer 2 assignments, speeds/services authorized, and might also include the RG MAC address. Upon initial DHCP request - verified by matching interface/layer 2 assignments/MAC address - or approval by a separate RADIUS server, the subinterface is then built. DHCP lease times with this method tend to be quite long and lapsed assignments tend to be ‘sticky’.

Other fun fact… once the RG has authenticated the subscriber’s ONT on the system, if you clone the RG’s MAC you can actually unplug the RG from the ONT and swap in the router of your choosing with that MAC cloned… I know this cause I had their service at an old condo and the RG sucked and had no DMZ/ true pass-thru mode.

Con: everytime the power goes down you have to plug the RG back in again to re-auth the ONT.

At least that’s what was possible in 2016-2018. They may have cut that out now.

EDIT: I’m talking AT&T fiber here. I’ve never looked into Verizon. The info on DHCP lease time is correct. Your address is static for all practical purposes.

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Post-RADIUS auth ARP table hack. Smart. And if you’re not subscribing to their VoIP or IPTV service you’ll never really miss their crappy snoopy RG.

I’d be surprised if they changed it since that’s development/testing time and - probably - new RGs for a lot of subscribers for negligible benefit to the router rental business with additional support burdens.
Since >99% of the customer base couldn’t be arsed to figure out how to clone a MAC address it would be kind of pointless.

Verizon’s (now Frontier locally) GWR’s DGAF what router you use. The main issue with swapping is that you want to make sure you affirmatively release the IP on the old router before swapping in the new since it caches the ARP entry for longer than you will care to wait out the expiry.


best success with unplugging said ethernet cable within 0.2 seconds after clicking the release button. its takes practice.

Frontier just raised their prices $10 anyway smh… oh well