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What is CGNAT?

Carrier-Grade Network Address Translation (CGNAT) is a technology used by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to extend the use of their IPv4 infrastructure. In the face of IPv4 address exhaustion, CGNAT allows multiple end-users to share a single IPv4 address. It works by remapping private IP addresses to a public IP address, but with unique port numbers to differentiate the traffic.

The Origins of CGNAT

CGNAT emerged as a response to the limitation of available IPv4 addresses. IPv4, being a 32-bit address space, can accommodate roughly 4.3 billion unique addresses. As the internet expanded, these addresses started running out, prompting the development of CGNAT. This technology provided an immediate solution to the scarcity without the need for early adoption of IPv6, which offers a larger address space.

CGNAT in Action

A typical application of CGNAT is found within mobile networks where individual devices are assigned private IP addresses that are translated to public IPs by the network provider. For example, when you browse the internet on your smartphone, CGNAT facilitates your access to websites by translating your private IP address to a public one, making it possible for your requests and the responses to route correctly.

Benefits of CGNAT

The primary benefit of CGNAT is its ability to mitigate the IPv4 shortage by allowing multiple devices to share a single IP address. This sharing is cost-effective for ISPs as it delays the need for a complete transition to IPv6. Moreover, CGNAT can provide a layer of security, as individual devices are not directly exposed to the internet, potentially reducing their vulnerability to external attacks.


CGNAT can sometimes interfere with online gaming or streaming, as it may complicate the direct device-to-device connections these activities often rely on. However, many services are designed to work well with CGNAT.

Hosting services on a home network can be challenging with CGNAT since inbound connections from the internet may not be properly routed to your device. Workarounds like VPNs or port forwarding services are sometimes used to overcome this.

No, CGNAT is a temporary fix. The long-term solution is transitioning to IPv6, which provides a significantly larger pool of IP addresses to accommodate the growing number of internet-connected devices.


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