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From the point of view of connecting to the WAN, a serial connection has a DTE device at one end of the connection and a DCE device at the other end. The connection between the two DCE devices is the WAN service provider transmission network. In this case:
The CPE, which is generally a router, is the DTE. The DTE could also be a terminal, computer, printer, or fax machine if they connect directly to the service provider network.
The DCE, commonly a modem or CSU/DSU, is the device used to convert the user data from the DTE into a form acceptable to the WAN service provider transmission link. This signal is received at the remote DCE, which decodes the signal back into a sequence of bits. The remote DCE then signals this sequence to the remote DTE.
The DTE is the endpoint of the user's device on the WAN link. The DCE is typically the point where responsibility for delivering data passes into the hands of the service provider.
An image of DCE and DTE -