Cisco VEN401 reconfiguration/repurposing

This page exists to document the possibility for re-using the VEN401 as a traditional access point for other applications.

The Cisco VEN401, branded for use with AT&T U-verse IPTV service, is a wireless access point used to interface the wireless TV receiver (Cisco ISB7005) with the network. This page is here to show you what I’ve learned about it, as well as (hopefully) reveal what you can do with it.

Here’s what I can tell you so far:

  • It is an 802.11n wireless access point. According to a third party source, it is 5GHz only.
  • In default configuration, it does broadcast its SSID.
  • It has a web configuration interface. Identify its IP address from your DHCP server’s client list and put that in a web browser.
    • Username: ATTadmin
    • Password: 401!VEN
  • Typical devices such as smartphones and laptops are able to connect to it using the WPS button. Mine has a wireless key printed on the sticker on the bottom but this key does not work; the key on the sticker does not match the key configured in the web interface on my unit.
  • The web interface provides options to set security to WPA or WPA2, but if you set a key of this type, it won’t work to connect (it will act as though the key you typed is incorrect when you try to connect). This is my experience so far and I’ve received emails saying others had success where I did not, so maybe this varies from unit to unit.
  • It does have internal connectors, one of which looks suspiciously like JTAG, and the other of which looks like it may be a serial interface. It can probably interface the same way as other Cisco/Linksys products, but I have not attempted anything yet.
  • Cisco and Linksys support teams have literally no documentation or knowledge about this item, so don’t harass them about it.
    • I have tried. After enough prodding, I found a representative who was insistent that I purchase a support contract for my VEN401 before he could assist further. However, all prior representatives stated that they could not identify the model in their system at all.
  • Public-facing support resources at AT&T have no technical knowledge of this device outside of how to install it in a U-verse environment.
    • I used to be one of those CSRs. I tried to use my inside angle to get further information, so trust me when I say that there is none accessible.
  • The VEN401 reports wireless performance statistics to an AT&T management service which, if the device is associated with a U-verse account, might be accessible to AT&T staff or contractors. Do not consider this device secure while it is running AT&T-provided firmware. There are options to disable ‘phoning home’ in the web interface but I am not convinced that this fully disables all of it.
  • Attempts to directly flash the firmware file for a WAP610N have been unsuccessful, and I do not have the knowledge to disassemble the firmware files and identify the differences. It is my suspicion that the hardware is the same though.
  • More recently, it looks like attempts to make OpenWRT work on this device have been somewhat successful. However you should be advised that I have now bricked mine in attempting to flash it, so you should be prepared for the possibility of that happening. I haven’t given up yet, but it’s definitely a setback…

Caution: do not open, modify, tamper with or risk damage to equipment belonging to your service provider. They may bill you for equipment tampering (even if there is no damage) according to their policies.