If you take a close look at your monthly bill from the company providing your internet service, you will most likely find a monthly “rental” fee of several dollars a month.    If you learn how to “Keep Pace” with this technology, you will find a way to eliminate that charge and save some money !

NOTE:  The remainder of this blog entry assumes you are NOT using Comcast for your telephone service (which uses a different modem)

What is the issue ?

Internet Service providers typically charge a monthly “rental fee” for the device that enables your Internet service (referred to as a modem).     Comcast recently increased the rental fee to $7 a month which equates to:

12 months x $7 monthly rental = $84  per year

This $84 is in ADDITION to the cost of the monthly internet service.   As new internet modems are usually between $50-$100, the payback period for replacing your modem is usually around 1 year.

So how do you get started ?

The first step is making sure a replacement is a viable option for you.    So you should first:

  • Call your Internet Service provider and verify you can purchase your own modem
  • Verify the vendor (and model number) of  modems the Internet Service provider supports.   For Comcast, the following modem is supported:

Motorola SB6120 SURFboard

Shopping for your equipment !

Internet Modems are available from a number of retail outlets / online stores.    It doesn’t matter the source or where you purchase the modem, although you might experience more favorable return / exchange policies using a local retailer should something go wrong.

And while it is rare to see these modem’s go on sale, you can usually find a retailers discount coupons somewhere on the internet.

What is involved in the actual upgrade?

Once you have the modem in hand, the installation / replacement is rather straightforward.   Before you start the upgrade. you should consider getting a baseline of how fast your connection is with the current modem you are using.    The speed of your connection can be obtained following these steps:

  1. Open a browser (such as Internet Explorer) and visit  http://speedtest.net/
  2. Click on the button that says “Begin Test”
  3. When the test finishes, record the speeds in the Download Speed / Upload Speed boxes.

Once you have your baseline speeds, you can then move on to the installation:

  1. Contact your internet service providers technical support and tell them you are ready to replace your cable modem
  2. They will ask for specific information about the modem (its usually on a label attached to the bottom / side of the modem)
  3. The technical support person will ask  you to turn off the cable modem.   This means you will disconnect the wires attached to the modem (there is no need to mark these cables – there is only 1 way for them to be attached)
  4. You then connect the wires to the new modem (the plugs are not interchangeable – there is only one possible connection for each wire)
  5. If you are using a router, you will be asked to turn that off during the replacement process (it gets turned back on after the new modem is up and running)

Once the internet connection has been re-established, you can go back to  speedtest.net and re-run the speed test.   Just remember the numbers being reported will almost ALWAYS be different – the purpose of this step is to make sure the values are approximately the same as before)

What else do you need to consider?

While the upgrade process is relatively straightforward, some things to remember:

  1. If your internet modem stops working YOU are responsible for getting a replacement. (The modem does come with a 2 year limited warranty – odds of it failing should be very low)
  2. If your internet modem is NOT plugged into a surge protector – you should do so ASAP (power surges do bad things to electronics)
  3. If you do not return the modem back to your Internet Service providers, you will continue to see the $7 monthly rental charge
  4. Expect to see a form letter from your carrier once you stop the “rental” about how your modem may not provide you with the same speeds/functionality.   You can ignore this letter

And save the old modem for a few days.   If for some reason you experience problems (or just aren’t happy) you can always switch back.

To “Keep Pace” with future technologies