Lost in Network Address Translation?

The initial Internet address scheme, IPv4, had roughly 4.3 billion unique addresses when it launched, but no-one could anticipate the vast numbers of connected users and devices it would end up needing to support. On February 3, 2011, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) allocated the final five IPv4 address blocks. Then, on November 15, 2019, the regional Internet registry for Europe, RIPE NCC, allocated the last twenty-two IPv4 addresses, signalling the exhaustion of IPv4 addresses. 

Enter IPv6, a subsequent scheme designed to solve this issue. However, according to Cloudflare, only a third of IPv6-capable requests globally were made over IPv6 in 2023, and a lot of equipment today still only supports IPv4. 

Telcos work around this problem using CGNAT (Carrier Grade Network Address Translation), also known as NAT444. CGNAT is widely used by operators while IPv4 continues to dominate and will do so for the foreseeable future, as it enables the reuse of IPv4 addresses in a public address space at a large scale. 

But performing CGNAT at scale often requires a separate standalone device, resulting in additional hardware, more power consumed and greater operational complexity. 

Alongside this, carriers are beginning to disaggregate their networks. Network disaggregation separates the hardware and software that is traditionally provided within closed monolithic routing systems. For example, RtBrick’s disaggregated multiservice-edge routing software has already been deployed in Deutsche Telekom’s production broadband network. Disaggregated networks scale best by tightly integrating the software with the chipsets in the underlying open switches on which they run. 

Now, combining both these trends, RtBrick has become the first to deliver in-line CGNAT using Broadcom’s Q2C chipset, which are widely used to build the powerful open switches being adopted by telcos. So, now it’s possible to deliver both CGNAT and broadband Internet services on a single open switch to reduce costs and increase efficiency. Integrating into the Broadcom chipsets allows CGNAT to operate in-line with negligible performance impact. 

You can see disaggregated CGNAT in action for yourself in this demo. 

RtBrick's CGNAT implementation runs at the full throughput-rate of the open switches, which have a small form factor and are highly power-efficient. It also comes with a rich set of functions, including policy options, pool allocation, deterministic NAT, port re-circulation and high-availability.

So, now there’s no longer any need to use outdated CGNAT equipment, or indeed any additional equipment, when you can run CGNAT directly on your new disaggregated edge network.