How to Buy a Cable Modem
We all know the feeling – the frustration of slow, unreliable Internet speeds and terrible WiFi coverage causing a less-than-ideal experience when it comes to browsing the Web, streaming movies, gaming, and more. You may not know exactly what the issue is or how you can solve it, but more than likely the culprit is your Internet Service Provider (ISP) cable modem or gateway. With that said, it’s time to ditch your old, outdated ISP equipment.
In this article we’ll discuss the benefits of purchasing your own modem or gateway, and what to look for when choosing the best equipment for your ISP service.
What’s the difference between a modem and a gateway?
Upon signing up for Internet service, your ISP will typically provide you with a cable modem or a gateway, but not without a cost. In short, cable modems are what connects your home to the Internet. It’s a hardware device that connects your local devices to your ISP over a landline connection. While cable modems don’t provide WiFi, you can create a wireless network for your home by pairing it with a separate WiFi router. A gateway is a 2-in-1 combo device that provides the functionality of a cable modem, as well as a WiFi router in a single device. This eliminates the need for two pieces of equipment to provide Internet and WiFi in your home.
While it may be convenient to use the equipment that your ISP provides when setting up your Internet service, the downside is that equipment may outdated or using older technology that isn’t sufficient enough to support the Internet package you pay for. If you’re looking for the best experience possible, you will definitely want to look into upgrading your equipment.
What are the benefits of owning your own equipment?
High Quality Equipment
By owning your own equipment, you can ensure that you will truly get the most out of your Internet service. NETGEAR’s cable modems & gateways are designed to support all speed tiers, have more advanced feature sets and use the latest technology.
When upgrading your cable modem or gateway, you will immediately benefit from better overall performance. Rather than getting stuck with the equipment your ISP provides, you can choose the best device that is suited for your service plan and ideal for your WiFi needs, ensuring you get the speeds you pay for and the coverage you need.
Typically, ISPs charge up to $13 per month for you to rent their outdated equipment. With an upgrade, not only will you have better equipment suited for your needs, you can essentially save up to $156 per year!
Choosing a Cable Modem that Supports Your Internet Speeds
To get the most out of your Internet plan, your equipment needs to be able to support your speeds. If your cable modem isn’t capable of handling your Internet speeds, you are sure to get speeds slower than what you pay for. On the flip side, if you have a top of the line cable modem, but pay for a lower tier Internet plan, you won’t be getting any faster speeds than that.
Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification, or DOCSIS, is a technology developed by CableLabs for transfer of high-bandwidth data over coaxial cable. This technology allows ISPs to provide Internet data, voice, and video services. Today’s standard, DOCSIS 3.0, is capable of supporting speeds up to 1Gbps, perfect for those with a Gigabit Internet plan. The newest standard, DOCSIS 3.1, supports speeds up to a whopping 10Gbps! While some ISPs offer Gigabit plans supported by DOCSIS 3.0, some ISPs require a DOCSIS 3.1 cable modem.
Another spec to look for when choosing a cable modem is the number of downstream and upstream channels supported. By rule of thumb, the more channels, the faster the modem. Channel numbers are typically displayed by the number downstream channels and upstream channels a modem has. For example, if you see “8x4”, it indicates 8 downstream channels and 4 upstream channels.
Each ISP has their own speed tiers and plans. Below, we’ve broken down recommendations based on Internet plans offered by Xfinity, Cox, and Spectrum. If you currently have service with another ISP, you will want to check their website to see if you are able to find a list of ISP-compatible equipment.
For additional information on NETGEAR's Cable Modem & Cable Modem Router offerings, please click here.