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The Residential Home Gateway
Integrated appliances can simply home network setup and maintenance

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• Part 2: Products, Standards, Pros and Cons
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"What are the differences between a 'firewall' and 'personal firewall'? I know that a firewall means hardware and/or software installed on a network as a gateway, and a personal firewall installs on the local computer. But are they any differences in what they do?"
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A residential gateway connects the home's local area network (LAN) to the Internet. A hardware device similar in appearance to a router, the residential gateway provides a unique combination of features of interest to many households. Learn more about this exciting new development in computer networking below.


By definition, a gateway joins two networks together. The word has been a part of the networking lexicon for thirty years, and gateways have historically played a key role in the development of the Internet. Gateway hardware exists in multiple forms including general-purpose servers with multiple network adapters (also known as multi-homed computers) and routers.

Traditional gateways have been installed in server rooms or closets, but residential gateways bring these devices into the home. Home gateways vary significantly in their capabilities, so that no one "typical" home gateway exists. However, most residential gateways support the following basic features:

Why Now?

As home networking continues to grow in popularity and capability, some product vendors see an opportunity to make home networks easier to build and use. Many elements of a home network, such as IP addressing, present unnecessary complexity to the non-technical homeowner. Vendors do not purposely build hard-to-use products, but core network technologies, particularly Ethernet, have a long history of development with the tech-savvy university and corporate customer in mind.

The emergence of broadband networking also causes some to believe the time is right for home gateways. Broadband promises to bring a new realm of Web-based applications into the home including real-time, high-quality audio and video streaming and truly immersive online gaming. Many believe a central device like a residential gateway will best be able to support this new generation of Web technologies.

Product vendors also hope that home gateways will play a role in the growth of home automation systems. Instead of merely connecting to the Internet, a residential gateway might also interact with the home telephone, stereo system, kitchen appliances, and other network-enabled devices of the future.

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