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This is a seemingly simple question. But I can't find an answer. Suppose I have a smart switch or light bulb, or similar Matter/Thread IoT device in my home. Can that device talk to the internet?

Let's start with what I think I know:

  • The Thread standard is based on IPv6. Thread devices behave like all IPv6 devices. Each device obtains a link local address. Plus maybe other addresses via SLAAC or DHCPv6.

  • A Thread Border Router, if present, will assign additional IPv6 addresses. These might be ULAs (Unique Local Address) or GUAs (Global Unicast Address). That is a function of the Thread Border Router and what features it offers. If the Thread Border Router provides a GUA, the device has internet connectivity over IPv6.

  • A Thread Border Router may also provide NAT64, giving Thread devices access to talk to the public internet over IPv4.

This is what the standard allows. But what is the reality with today's consumer devices? Suppose I install a latest gen AppleTV or HomePod in my home LAN. Both devices act as Thread Border Routers. In order to allow my smart switch or light bulb to talk to the internet, the AppleTV/HomePod would have to:

  • Support DHCPv6-PD as a client to obtain an IPv6 global /64 prefix to assign to the Thread network. Very few if any home routers will support DHCPv6-PD. I very much doubt Apple is supporting this.

  • Support manual configuration of an IPv6 global prefix for the Thread network. It's Apple. They don't offer this.

Conclusion: Any Matter/Thread device behind an AppleTV or HomePod has no internet connectivity over IPv6.

Now, what about IPv4? The Thread standard allows a Thread Border Router to offer NAT64. That allows devices on the IPv6 Thread network, to talk to IPv4 devices on the public internet. Does the AppleTV/HomePod offer NAT64? I do not know and I don't know how to test it.

The question, again: If I have a Thread Border Router such as an AppleTV or HomePod, can my light bulbs or smart switches make an outgoing IP connection to the public internet?

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Yes, Matter and Thread IoT devices can have WAN (Wide Area Network) access, but this depends on how the device is implemented and how it connects to the internet.

Matter and Thread are communication protocols that define how IoT devices communicate with each other and with other devices on the network. They are designed to work with various types of network topologies, including local area networks (LANs) and wide area networks (WANs).

To connect to a WAN, an IoT device typically needs a gateway or router that can connect to the internet. The gateway or router can then provide a connection to the WAN for the IoT devices on the local network. This can be done using various technologies such as Ethernet, Wi-Fi, cellular, or satellite.

So, whether a Matter or Thread IoT device can access a WAN depends on whether it is designed to work with a gateway or router that can provide internet connectivity. It's important to note that WAN access may require additional configuration or security measures to ensure the device is protected from unauthorized access or attacks.

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    This answer contains nothing relevant to the question.
    – richb
    Apr 29, 2023 at 5:53

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