A CPE device is telecommunications hardware located at the home or business of a customer. Such equipment might include cable or satellite television set-top boxes, digital subscriber line (DSL) or other broadband Internet routers, VoIP base stations, telephone handsets or other customized hardware used by a particular telecommunications service provider.
CPE is generally owned by the telecommunications provider, though some customers do choose to purchase modems or routers. Leasing or rental arrangements are also common, especially for cable television or broadband subscribers. Renting or leasing CPE insulates customers against the cost of upgrades and allows telecommunications companies to control more of the method and technology used to interact with their networks.
In the early days of telephone network development, CPE was used to describe equipment at the terminus of a line that was owned by a telephone company.