AT&T U-verse for the Curious Consumer – The Residential Gateway and Wiring Options

AT&T U-verse is an Internet, TV (IPTV), and phone (VOIP) service delivered primarily by fiber and existing copper. This article is targeted at consumers who would like a little bit of light shed on the in-home hardware (what it does, how it works, and the different ways it can be set up) and wiring options.

If instead you’re looking to learn more about …

A Quick Look at How U-verse Usually Makes it to Your Home

AT&T primarily uses optical fiber as the data pipeline to deliver all of these services to your neighborhood. Somewhere in your neighborhood there will be a VRAD, a cabinet with equipment responsible for distributing the services to each of the nearby homes using the existing copper phone lines running to those homes. That is, fiber is the pipeline to the neighborhood VRAD, and then existing copper is used from there to your home. This is the most common setup and is called fiber-to-the-node (FTTN), illustrated below.
AT&T U-verse

The total bandwidth over the copper between the VRAD and your home (which is usually VDSL) is up to 24Mbps down and 3 Mbps up. TV (while you’re watching or recording) will use up to 7 Mbps of that bandwidth, and phone calls use a negligible amount. Your Internet throughput may be limited by the service level you pay for or by the line quality/distance with the VRAD.

Introducing the 2WIRE 3800HGV-B Residential Gateway

The device they provide, a 2Wire 3800HGV-B “Residential Gateway”, is responsible for a lot:

  • VDSL/ADSL2+ modem: The built-in modem connects to and communicates with the neighborhood VRAD. TV, Internet, and phone are all IP-based and go through this modem (usually). This modem works with either the RJ-11 “Phone Line” jack or the coax “Cable Line.”
  • TV: Mostly just passes IPTV through from the WAN (the outside/modem connection) to the set-top boxes. The connection to the set-top boxes may either be over coax or existing Ethernet cabling / LAN.
  • Phone: Providing VOIP-based phone service to the home. Internal hardware allows plain-old-telephones to be hooked up to the device (over your existing phone wiring) and calls are made and received just as they were before.
  • Internet: Much like many existing DSL and cable modems/gateways, provides Internet for your computers and other devices using your wired Ethernet network, its Wi-Fi capability, or HomePNA over coax. It may perform routing, NAT, firewalling, DHCP, DNS, and more.

You might notice that there are a couple ways for U-verse service to get into this device — coax “Cable Line”, RJ-11 “Phone Line”, and the not-yet-mentioned WAN “Broadband” port. Then, there are two ways for TV to come out — coax cable and local Ethernet. And then there’s networking over Ethernet, Wi-Fi, or HomePNA. So, the device is very flexible; designed to make it easy to work with just about whatever current wiring you already have.

A Close Look at the 3800HGV-B’s Connectors

rear of the 2Wire 3800HGV-B Residential Gateway

  1. Power – Instead of the usual, plain AC/DC adapter, they’ll provide an AC/DC adapter with batteries. This helps ensure that the gateway continues to function during a power outage so that you’ll be able to make phone calls.
  2. Reset – A reset button to reboot the device, or to restore all settings to default.
  3. Cable Line – May be used for either:
    • Outbound TV: If U-verse is coming in through the Phone Line or Broadband port, then this will probably be how TV is delivered to the U-verse set-top boxes (STBs), because coax cable will probably be what already runs to TV locations.
    • Inbound U-verse: If U-verse is coming in to the home using coax cable, then this will be the DSL modem port. I think a splitter will be used if coax will also be used with the set-top boxes.
  4. USB PC – A USB network interface allowing you use the Internet over USB instead of Ethernet on your PC or other devices. Very atypical.
  5. Local Ethernet – May be used for either or both:
    • Internet for LAN – Internet to other Ethernet-capable devices (PCs, game consoles, Blu-ray players, etc.)
    • TV – An alternative to (or in addition to) using the Cable Line (3), TV can be delivered to the U-verse set-top boxes over Ethernet/LAN.
  6. Broadband – An alternative to using the modem (Phone Line (7) or Cable Line (3) connectors). If another device is used as the modem or if U-verse broadband is delivered to the premises another way (e.g., Fiber-to-the-building in large multi-family buildings), then one may feed the broadband to the device this way, and this device acts as just a gateway instead of a modem and gateway.
  7. Phone Line (in) – This is the RJ-11 DSL modem port (inbound U-verse).
  8. to Phones (out) – Connects to plain old telephones in the home (usually by simply plugging into the existing phone wiring).
  9. (not pictured) Wi-Fi – Wireless Internet to Wi-Fi devices (PCs, game consoles, Blu-ray players, mobile phones, etc.)

My setup

Here’s what you can see is hooked up to this device in the photo above:

  • 7. Phone Line (in) – Pretty much wired directly to the U-verse VRAD (technically, via my jack to the demarc/MPOE, which is wired to the VRAD through a cross-connect box; or service area interface (SAI)).
  • 8. to Phones (out) – wired to all of the phone jacks (and thus phones themselves) in the home (using a 110 block as an oversized splitter).
  • 5. Local Ethernet
    • One to my “Internet” switch, to which some personal servers are connected (routed; I have a public/static IP block)
    • One to my “intranet” switch, to which workstations are connected (NAT’d)
    • Two go to the TVs; two U-verse set-top-boxes.

More details about this device on my LAN at: AT&T U-verse — A Network Geek’s Perspective

And one last photo of it in my messy telecom closet:
Telecom Closet with AT&T U-Verse 2Wire 3800HGV-B

Some keywords to help others find this information: ATT uverse 2-Wire 3800HGVB 3800 HGVB wifi VDSL STB POTS DMARC minimum point of entry main point of entry serving area interface B-box cross box ped access point AP
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3 Responses to AT&T U-verse for the Curious Consumer – The Residential Gateway and Wiring Options

  1. Tom L says:

    Is the 3800 user configurable? Reason I ask, the home already has “in-house” coax from the legacy system. With Uverse, the “set-top” AT&T boxed have CATV delivered over CATx cable. Will/does the 3800 put out CATV over both outputs? I need an audio fee to my older Panasonic receiver – new flat pannel the home owner bought (w/soundbar) has no auio out, except for optical that goes to the sound base – that’s it. I was looking to take the audio off the coax of the 3800 to go into the receiver, whcih has coax video in. Short question, are both the Ethernet & coax outputs on the 3800 live or to I need to flip it on? Can I accomplish what I’m trying to do? Thanks -Tom

  2. Bob says:

    I am considering replacing direct tv with uverse. My current set up has four hd receivers located in a closet. The tv’s are connected to the receivers with Ethernet 5 cables. I also plan on using uverse internet. My current internet has the gateway next to my desktop connected by an Ethernet cable. My question is, will the uverse gateway have to be located in the closet by the receivers and will I have to use a USB wifi adapter for my laptop?

  3. This modem/router/gateway is totally configurable from a url address that you will have established much like your subnet which is automatically configured 255.255.255.x. U Verse had pretty plain (not graphical) but menu based config web page for the device and i am pretty sure mine is set to 192.168.1.254 but that is not always the case. From the Command Prompt (CMD) in Windows X.X you can type a DOS command called IPCONFIG.EXE. Add a forward slash with all following as in c:\anywhere(as in it does not matter where you are in the directory structure, as you have root access with this command)\ipconfig /all and this will produce a pretty lengthy result. Disregard most of this data as its already known or not needed here. All you need is the gateway ip (internet protocol) address which could be by default 192.168.1.254. Once at the page for gateway login data, if not already configured for your taste, will most likely need data on the bottom or back of the gateway. Your default system password will be located there and your WIFI security pass also9note the difference and it’s discreet. So, once you run an RJ 5 cable to your computer you can type the 192.168 (as this IP is reserved for the devices we use in our personal net) in a browser window URL line and Viola, you’re at your gateway setup page. Sections for choosing where to set the output type for phone and television are outlined clearly and much better than I can describe by good old Moma Bell. But I just setup a cable set top box and I could choose RJ11 cable or coax. I have not used this before and I don’t let strangers into my home. Thus, I admit to having a B.S. in Computer Information Systems. But, they say I know enough to be dangerous and I say I know enough to kn0w I don’t kn0w crap really. Lol. But yes, you can take manual control of the device and completly do totally child like stuff (the S.S.ID that is broadcast from my system was SCREW_TESS_Blackler for the longest as I got divorced this year. Laugh again. I changed it as it is already too easy to tell I am childish too often. I set my own WiFi password also. Either do this or rip off the 3 inch neon yellow tag AT&T has put your default security code (ten digits) against the side of your modulator/demodulator router VoIP Cable box (?????) or your neighbors may want to take advantage if your the friendly type and make the mistakes I did in assuming people are good if they must live near y0u and get along (I ass.u.me.d). Again. But, hell yes. You can set every aspect of this device. I was more than happy. The guy who came to install from Maw Bell was cool as shit. Yet, if you already have a 2Wire by Pace hide it. And do the same for the battery back up you plug it into. Otherwise the guy will say a new gateway he has is a little better (ROM version was a tiny bit higher in last bit of version). And, and, and, you will be stuck with your old owners Belkin bottom feeder type backup battery. It will hold your resting router over for a hour once it has dissipated the energy from your battery. My guy, I don’t care to mention his name as you will never find a better guy, was Brand Walshin or something similar. He got me good. I should have acted like I had no equipment, but I got taken. A guy had to come back out since my crazy wife and I are getting divorced. Well, the second fellow who came out was as straight up as any man could be. He gave me new equipment and didn’t bull shet (shizza) me about the system ATnT has the techs working under. They work a bunch, but they do an equipment pull for a new job(s). What you show is what you don’t get. So I told the man I appreciated his honesty. He told me he thought I looked like the type of guy who enjoyed the herb, ya man. He has a flea market cover business and does that gig on Sundays, right. And he shared he works everyday, but as we have became close friends (a professional grower in my area is rare as nat shit honestly), he has shared many times that his day would be over after the next job (noon). Their work areas are also only like 3 towns now in Washington State. Sometimes the job, which would be just a gateway (internet via direct subscriber line) install would land him at home trimming the plants in the vegetation room or trimming the candy looking buds in his flowering room (they require a totally different light cycle) perhaps by noon. For $20/hour in my area thats sweet paper. But the guy is sometimes on call at a job site at odd hours. AT&T has somehow noticed or moved from “hire some damn body to fix our shit, dummy” to we are regulated as heck and you have choices (even if they are expensive and suck monkey nuts). Old Mother Bell must see a need to aim to please. Nice. Not for the guys working, but thats just Maw Bell and how tiny we are in comparison with sole regard to political campaign dollar power. LOL. I did it again. I wrote my account rather than objective data. Well, the internet is the closest thing to normal from my area as it gets anyway if that is saying anything. Sir Cheech L. Chong coming to you from the belt hole that holds up ‘merica’s Bible Belt. READ THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT data. The government set up brothels in San Diego and NYC in 1040 (tic as sic) here in ‘Merica to test the effects of LSD on young working class men who were already tripping, probably, because of the guilt ‘Merica puts on sex workers, or paying for the commodity many men crave. I have been through two marriages I really wanted and attemed to make work, so honestly I have no balls left and, well, I date. Rarely, considering in my town there is one bar. And its name changes as often as the weather. Christains are crazy. I believe in God. I am very spiritual. But damn a judgemental church. “How come God, the great man upstairs, is only mad on Sundays? And why would he only be in Church, cause I listen. For that matter, why He only want my money on Sunday in Church??” (patrice o’neal, rest in peace funny man). Hoping I helped cause if you read all my b.s. your and your looking for a quick fix your in trouble. Don’t give up. Networking is absolutely no different that an road system in your area that seems complexe when you first get there and have so much to worry over. Rock on Washington State homies out there.

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