Why Buying A Cable Modem Makes Sense

Recently I went through the process of going through my bills, and one of the things that really stuck out was the “modem rental fee” that I was paying for my internet with Comcast, around $7+ dollars a month. This adds up to almost $100 a year! What? All this to rent a modem with 5 year old technology?

It is much more cost-effective in the long run to buy a cable modem for internet, compared to renting it from your internet service provider. As I mentioned, Comcast for example charges $7.00+ to rent their cable modem on a monthly basis. Keep in mind that it’s not just the $7 something, that there are taxes on top of that, so it pushes your whole bill higher.

The most important thing to consider here is IF you are going to keep this company’s service for at least 1 year; aside from the commitment you will probably contract for, you want to make sure this is a sound move for you. If you like the service, and you’re probably going to keep it, buying a modem makes total sense here. Personally, I think Comcast internet rocks! For the money and the speeds, you just can’t beat it!

You can buy modems on Amazon, eBay, and/or from a local person on Craigslist, you should try to make the purchase for $50 or less, and buying a used (good condition) or refurbished modem is a smart & economical move. I recommend Amazon, but use your best judgment here.

DOCSIS 3.0 is the way to go!

DOCSIS what? Ok, I need to give a little background info here. Let’s first define DOCSIS (Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification) and this relates to the technical standards being employed by the cable operators.

As the technology constantly changes here, there are standards that the cable operators use and adopt on a regular basis; these relate to speeds, spectrums, and other stuff. You like my simple breakdown? Great, let’s move on.

The modem I was renting from Comcast was a DOCSIS 2.0, and the one I bought was a DOCSIS 3.0. The latter uses the latest and greatest technology, which means faster speeds and better stuff inside. Got that? One of the important things to know is that the cable companies ARE phasing out some of the earlier devices, such as the DOCSIS 1.0 type devices, and in a few years they’re going to move away from the DOCSIS 2.0 type devices.

Cable companies like Comcast talk about the older devices when they reference EOL (End of Life), which signals that at some point, they will stop supporting these devices. Boiling that down a bit, it means that it may stop working at some point, and also that if it breaks or has an issue, they will likely replace it with a newer type (either a DOCSIS 2.0 or a 3.0)

Considering all that, if you’re going to buy one, why not get something that’s good for many years to come? As a good friend of mine (Craig Almand) likes to say “Makes sense, makes dollars” and he’s referring to making “cents” but I think you get that.

The most important (and only) caveat here is to MAKE SURE the modem is on the “approved list” from the ISP you are using. Here’s some handy links just for that with… Comcast | Time Warner | AT&T | Suddenlink | Cox Communications.

Check to make sure that the model numbers match exactly, getting one that is almost the same doesn’t count, as it might not work on their network, and they may not “support” it if they’re a problem.

Note: I actually didn’t pay attention to all of the fine print the first time around here, and I ended up frustrating myself. I looked at the list of Comcast approved modems and I bought one that was a newer model of the ones they supported, and after a lot of back and forth, I ended up returning that one and buying the model that they DID support, and now I’m in business.

I purchased a modem for my Comcast cable internet for $57.00. Based on some quick math, this move pays for itself in 7 Months. My cable internet bill goes down immediately, and overall I’m saving $99 a year in rental fees. I’m going to stick with Comcast internet for a long time, so the savings are clear to see.

Also, and I didn’t start this train of thought based on the performance (was really just looking to save), but there’s a lot of performance here too… I’ll address that a little further down, keep reading.

Getting it hooked up, how that works

This is actually easier than it sounds… if you have ANY kind of technical ability here you can do this with NO problem. Seriously, it’s that easy. You’re basically going to get this out of the box, plug the same wires into the same places as the old modem, and turn it on. You should do the following:

1) Write down the MAC Address (on the back of the modem)
2) Write down the S/N number (right next to the MAC Address)
3) Have your recent cable bill handy, and/or write down your account number

Your modem is probably (most likely) going to be automatically recognized by Comcast (or your cable company’s network), and when you open up a browser window it will take you to an “activation screen.” You’ll need your account number and other account-related info to complete this step. With a few clicks here it should be up and running again. Hopefully faster too, but certainly CHEAPER! Yeah baby!

If there’s a problem (and this may happen)… you will just need to call the customer support line>internet service and tell them you’ve purchased a modem and you want help in hooking it up (no big deal here). They will ask you for the MAC address and maybe the S/N number, have that handy! From there, they will do work on their end to add in your modem to your account, and again, a few clicks on their side and you should be in business.

Once Your New Modem is Working, Return The Old One (and Fast)!

So the whole point of this is, well, savings! You don’t start saving until you return the equipment (the rented modem) to your cable company. They don’t pick this up from you ok?! You will need to return the modem and the power cord to your local cable company office nearest to you. Make sure you have them note this as being returned as of that day, and get a receipt! Once you’ve done that, then your savings start. Don’t wait around a week to do this ok? If you can, wait a day to make sure your new modem is consistent and working as it should (and it should really be ok), then take back the rented one.

I got my new modem today from Amazon, I’m taking the old one back to Comcast tomorrow!

Gigabit vs the old 10/100 Technology (faster is better)!

So this is going to get technical… so if you’re a geek and you get it, keep reading. If you’re not, just assume you finished the article and consider if you should buy a modem. Again, I recommend this for anyone with some kind of common sense, and a little bit of tech know-how.

My speeds doubled, and I’m on the way to saving

Going on with the technical details!

I have a router that is capable of gigabit speeds – It’s 10/100/1000 speeds. While most of my home network is wireless, the PC ‘s that are wired in have similarly capable (gigabit) network cards. So while I was looking for a bargain on the purchase side, I was also interested in getting a modem that was gigabit capable; again – makes sense!

Most all of the new DOCSIS 3.0 modems are indeed 10/100/1000 Ethernet, but read the specs and make sure your choice does. Again, check the list of approved modems to make sure the ones you are looking at are good for this.

The model I ended up going with was the Cisco DPC 3000, which is faster and has the latest support for VOIP and other newer features built in.


Again, I recommend buying a modem versus renting one, any day of the week and twice on Sunday. I do think it makes sense to buy a used or refurbished one, because buying a new one for over $99 means that you won’t save anything for at least a year…and that defeats the purpose of the whole savings element.

I purchased mine on Amazon, and I’m glad I did. The first one I got (again, my fault here) was the wrong model and Comcast would not turn it up for me, so I wasted my own time… but because I bought it on Amazon there was no hassle in returning it.

You can get one from eBay, but I’m not so familiar with that as much as other friends of mine are. I did find the same modem I was renting (the older DOCSIS 2.0 type) for as low as $20, so in theory I COULD have bought that one and seen a return on my investment a lot faster, but as I’m a tech-junky, I wanted a newer DOCSIS 3.0 type for my own benefit.

Strictly Financial

If it came down strictly to dollars, then I would have been better off buying one like I had (for cheap) and just using that. Chances are that modem (the DOCSIS 2.0) would be ok for some time to come. The only caveat there is that I would have only been able to get a used one, and refurbs would most likely NOT be available. But considering you can get the older type for $25 or less, the best bang for the buck is doing it this way, I just chose a slightly more costly way.

The other consideration here was that the EOL principle (End-of-Life), which means that in a few years (or 2-3 likely), that modem would be really-really old and probably unsupported by Comcast. Going this route, you will probably have to repeat the purchase process again, but hey, you’ve saved hundreds in the meantime, you can afford it!

As for the EOL principle…you can read their full explanation on this at http://customer.comcast.com/help-and-support/internet/end-of-life-devices/

By Louis Wing

About Louis Wing 68 Articles
I talk about this, that, and the other stuff. I have to admit I may ramble on and on... but I am usually driving to a point. Educated and street-smart, I like my beats downtempo. Read more about Louis Wing

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