February 9, 2023

You already know the open Cable TV or phone bill Check out the long list of fees and any unexpected price increases that may or may not be added this month.

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Despite reading up on ways that keeping your cable company in the lurch can save you money, you probably don’t have the bandwidth to calculate a cost-benefit analysis and subscribe to multiple streaming services.

What Are Modems and Routers, and Why Do You Need Both?


Modems offer similar and different features to routers, which is why most consumers buy both. Most cable companies and internet providers provide a connection from their network to your home via a modem.

For example, if you pay for Internet through your cable company, you connect the cable directly to the modem, and then connect devices such as computers and laptops to the modem with Ethernet cables.


Routers are usually sold separately since they are not strictly necessary to get online. However, you do need to connect the modem to the router to use more ports than the modem might allow, and more importantly, the router supports Wi-Fi technology.

The router connects to the modem via Ethernet, and you can then connect Wi-Fi devices such as phones and tablets to the Internet without connecting them to the modem via Ethernet cables.

The pros and cons of combo modem routers are explored in more depth below.

The router connects to the modem via Ethernet, and you can then connect Wi-Fi devices such as phones and tablets to the Internet without connecting them to the modem via Ethernet cables.
(Internet people)

Stop renting high-speed modems

A simple but often overlooked way to reduce your internet bills is as easy as buying your own equipment.according to Analysis of the New America (Think Tank)most Americans will pay an average of $10 or more to rent a modem from their internet provider in 2020.

While not all providers allow you to purchase and use your own equipment, some do. Purchasing your own modem and WIFI router will not only help you save money in the long run, it will benefit you in several ways.

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Why buy a modem and router?

Obviously, it’s easier to have a technician from your cable provider come to your door with all the equipment to get you online. It may be worth taking the extra step to determine if you can buy and use your own product. Not only will you save money, here are some added hidden benefits of buying your own equipment:

  • pricing. What you pay for the device is the price you pay. Not surprisingly, your ISP can raise equipment fees at will, just like your service fees.
  • Save on taxes. Depending on your state, while you won’t be taxed for paying for internet service, you could be taxed on the equipment you rent each month. So not only do you pay a monthly fee, but you also pay a monthly tax on the device.
  • Keep your gear. If you are lucky enough to live in an area with high ISP competition, if you purchased your own modem or router (as long as the technology is compatible), you can keep your equipment after the contract with the provider is terminated and replace it with another provider. A supplier is used together. If you rent equipment, you must return or store it. Worse, if something goes wrong and your device is deemed broken, damaged, or not returned, you could be billed hefty fees.
  • better technology. Cable companies and many other Internet service providers won’t necessarily set up the latest and greatest modem or router for you. It’s doubtful they’ll give you the best price. If you end up buying your own device, you can not only figure out which features are most important to you, but also search for the best prices. Just make sure the modem or router you buy is compatible with the internet service provider you’re using.
  • Save on installation costs. While there is some opportunity cost to setting up your own equipment, once you get it set up, you can usually use it for a long time. If you lease a modem or router, your provider will usually charge an installation fee. Usually, you may have to pay an activation fee if you use your own device, but you save on installation fees.
  • More control. While Internet providers have good intentions, many of the modems and routers they sell to customers are often limited in their specified settings and capabilities. If you’re more knowledgeable, or just want the option to modify all settings, not just those your ISP considers accessible, you may want to buy your own modem and router.
Router with network cable.

Router with network cable.
(Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Which modem and router should you buy?

You have checked with your Internet service provider and know that you can purchase your own equipment and use their service. Now the question is: what to buy?

Depending on the type of service you purchase, you may need to purchase two pieces of equipment: a modem and possibly a Wi-Fi router.

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How to Choose the Best Modem

A modem is essential to your internet service. It’s what brings an internet connection from your internet service provider to your home.

Important features of the next modem

  • compatibility. Double-check to see which providers service your particular location, and check whether a) they allow you to buy and use your own equipment, and if so, what types of technology are needed to optimize the service you’re paying for.
  • Connection Type.
    Cable – DOCSIS allows data to be transmitted over coaxial cable Fiber Optic – like its namesake, it uses fiber optic cable to transmit data DSL – uses existing telephone jacks to transmit data
  • Cable – DOCSIS allows data to be transmitted over coaxial cable
  • Fiber Optic – Like its namesake, it uses fiber optic cables to transmit data
  • DSL – transmits data using existing telephone jacks
  • speed. Usually measured in megabits per second (Mbps), the higher the Mbps, the faster your internet connection.
  • bandwidth. Usually measured in megabits per second (Mbps), this is a measure of the maximum amount of data that can be transferred at a given time. Example: With a 25 Mbps connection, you typically get a maximum bandwidth of 100 Mbps.

When I realized that paying for my own DOCSIS 3.0 modem, I was leasing a DOCSIS 2.0 modem from my cable company, which was more expensive upfront but saved me monthly recurring fees and taxes. Even better, my newly owned modem will help me maximize the internet speed I paid for.

For my Top 6 Modem Picks list, click here.

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Copyright 2023 all rights reserved. articles and content may contain affiliate links that earn commissions on purchases made.

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