Owning vs. Renting a Modem

Owning vs. Renting a Modem

Buy or rent cable modem

When you sign up for a cable internet service, you are going to require a modem. And there will probably be a “modem rental” fee on your monthly bill. However, it might be a good idea to consider buying one instead.

The DOCSIS standard

What is DOCSIS

Cable internet service providers do not make their own proprietary standards for communicating over the cable lines. Instead, DOCSIS (Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification) standards are used. Because DOCSIS is standardized, you are not restricted to your ISP modem. In other words, you can purchase and use any modem supporting these standards.

Usually, your ISP’s website will provide information about supported modems. For example, Comcast has a DOCSIS information center, where you can find a list of modems that work on their network. You can search Amazon for DOCSIS 3.0 and find a model that you prefer. Then you can check your ISP to make ensure it is compatible. There should be a page on their website that lists this information. If not, you can always give them a call.

When you are picking a router, make sure that it has gigabit network ports on it. Otherwise, you will be limiting yourself if you decide to upgrade the internet connection later on. For example, the Netgear N600 cable modem will work with Comcast, supports up to 340 Mbps, has gigabit ports, and includes Wi-Fi, but this Motorola modem only supports a 100Mb LAN connection and does not have Wi-Fi.

The break-even point

Saving money by buying modem

How much money you will save is dependent upon what your ISP charges for modem rental compared to what you would pay to buy one. For example, for $100, you can get a modem that will work with Comcast. It’s an average number, but you can get one even for as little as $50, although usually the throughput will be limited to 100Mb at best. Comcast is charging $10 a month for their modem rental fee on average.

If you take $100 and divide it by $10 per month, that’s equal to 10 months, so your break-even point is just under a year. And if you could find a $50 modem, in just 5 months you would begin to save money. Check the fees of your ISP and then the cost of buying a compatible modem so you can do your own calculations and determine when your break-even point would occur.

If you are planning to stay with your current ISP past the break-even time, it makes a lot of sense to purchase your cable modem and save on your monthly bill in the long run. Then again, if you think you will be switching ISP providers, you would be better off renting.

Other things to consider

Should you rent a modem

Modems can’t always be transferred from one ISP to another. In some regions, your best option might actually be fiber optic, ADSL, or satellite Internet services that use a different kind of modem. You should never purchase a modem thinking that you will take it with you when you move, because there is no guarantee that it will be supported.

You might want to give your internet service provider a call and find out if they plan on upgrading their system in the near future. If you rent your modem, you would automatically get a new one when they upgrade their system. Then again, if you buy a modem, and your ISP upgrades their services, you will have to purchase a new one.

Rented modems also come with technical support from your ISP. Should something stop working, they offer free tech support and can replace the modem if necessary. If you purchase your own modem, you will be relying on its warranty service only.

Should you buy a modem

For the most part, it’s worth paying a bit more to purchase your own cable modem and avoid the monthly rental fees that are always increasing. However, if you move or decide to switch internet service providers, then renting is likely the best way for you to save some money. You will have to do the math for yourself to decide what’s best.

We hope that this review has proved to be useful to you! As always, feel free to leave your comments below, and for more advice on configuring your internet, check out the common mistakes when setting up a home network and learn what is DLNA.