Network Address Translation In Home Gateways (2001)

By Jed Johnson, Art Harvey, Motorola, Inc.

Network Address Translation (NAT) has become a common feature in Home Gateways because it reduces the number of IP addresses a service provider needs to manage, it bounds the domain of the network and it provides a modicum of security for the home owner. NAT however does introduce problems because it breaks the end-to-end addressing assumption built in to many applications. In addition, the applications that have the most difficulty are generally the applications that deliver advanced services like IP telephony and streaming media. NAT also makes network management difficult because the devices behind NAT cannot be addressed directly. If a service provider wants to be able to diagnose a network problem through NAT, many standard tools and procedures will not work. Because of these problems, NAT in many circles has been equated to “a bad thing” that must be eliminated. This paper takes the position that NAT cannot be eliminated from all, and some might say most, home networks so we should learn to deal with it. This paper specifically looks at how end-to-end management and advanced services can be delivered with NAT in place in the home network. This paper will review how NAT causes problems and then go on to show how extensions or work-arounds to NAT can recover the end-to-end addressing assumption that applications require to work properly.

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