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Anthony Lee
Anthony Lee

Can You Buy Your Own Modem

Plus, your provider can log in to its supplied router remotely, see all your connected devices, and possibly see who uses them. While remote network management is seemingly in good faith, many customers may feel uncomfortable having a stranger observing devices used by children.

can you buy your own modem

If you choose to purchase a router, you may find one that has a better range or better parental controls than the unit supplied by your internet provider. You can get high-quality products from brands like NETGEAR, Linksys, TP-Link, and Zyxel. Better yet, you could install a mesh networking kit that spreads Wi-Fi across your home or small office like a web.

The drawback to buying your equipment is the overall expense. If your modem, router, or gateway fails, the replacement comes out of your wallet. The burden of cost is also yours when you want to upgrade. Free technical support from your internet provider may or may not be available.

If you have a fiber-to-the-curb setup, you need a cable modem or a DSL modem, depending on the connection entering your home. You can ask your internet provider more about what type of fiber connection you have.

Keep in mind that your wireless device must have radios using the same specification and the same number of streams to get the maximum speed from these routers. Anything less will result in slower speeds.

Cara Haynes has been editing and writing in the digital space for seven years, and she's edited all things internet for for five years. She graduated with a BA in English and a minor in editing from Brigham Young University. When she's not editing, she makes tech accessible through her freelance writing for brands like Pluralsight. She believes no one should feel lost in internet land and that a good internet connection significantly extends your life span.

Doing so is usually a smart move. For instance, plenty of decent modems cost less than $100. With the average cost of renting a modem from your provider sitting at around $10 per month, a device like that would pay for itself in less than a year and then continue saving you money each month after that. In other cases, where providers will rent you a high-end gaming router or a decent mesh router for a modest monthly fee, doing so might be a pretty decent deal.

Does your provider let you use your own equipment to save some cash? Is that what's best for your home network? It depends on from which provider you get your internet. Let's run through all of the top options to see how their equipment policies compare and whether or not you're in a position to save some money. (You can also find out if your internet service provider is throttling your Wi-Fi connection, and learn if you're putting your router in the wrong spot.)

Astound Broadband offers home internet service in several large metros across the country -- including Austin, Chicago, Houston, New York and Seattle -- and the modem and router rental terms vary from region to region and plan to plan. In some cases, the rental fee can be included for as low as $3 per month, but in others, you'll need to pay as much as $15 monthly.

Regardless of the price, the rental fee includes both a modem and a router, and you can skip it by using your own hardware (here's Astound's list of approved modems). That said, it's worth noting that Astound also offers "Enhanced Wi-Fi" in some regions, which gets you a fancier router for an additional $10 per month. In some regions, Enhanced Wi-Fi means that you get the Eero Pro 6 mesh router, which is excellent, but in others, it's just the standard Eero 6 router, which wasn't nearly as strong a performer in my tests.

This is significant because up until early 2022, AT&T charged $10 per month for its equipment. The company required the use of its combination modem-and-router gateway device and didn't allow customers to use their own modem. That meant that you couldn't skip the $10 monthly additional fee. However (cue the Hallelujah chorus), AT&T scrapped its equipment fee this year, so customers need not worry about that additional amount getting tacked onto their monthly bill.

CenturyLink charges $15 monthly to rent a gateway that combines a modem and a router into one device. Depending on the type of plan you sign up for, that gateway will be one of four models: the Actiontec C3000A, the Greenwave C4000, the Zyxel C4000LZ or the Zyxel C3000Z. You can skip that $15 fee by using a gateway or modem of your own, but CenturyLink cautions customers not to use anything that isn't on its list of approved devices.

"CenturyLink highly recommends using one of our certified or recommended Wi-Fi modems (gateways), which have been tested and approved to work optimally with our high-speed internet technology," the company's website reads. "Retired and third-party devices are more likely to cause performance issues and may not connect to your internet service correctly."

Spectrum includes a free modem with all of its home internet plans, but if you don't have a router of your own, you'll need to pay $5 per month to rent one. The exceptions here are gigabit subscribers of Spectrum's fastest plan tier -- they get the router included at no additional fee.

To skip that $5 monthly fee, you'll need to use your own router, with the usual caveat that your equipment won't be eligible for Spectrum technical support if it malfunctions. You can also use your own modem if you'd like, but make sure to use a Spectrum-supported model.

Xfinity offers customers the option of renting the xFi Gateway, which combines a modem and a router into a single device at the cost of $14 per month. You can skip that monthly charge by using your own modem and router.

Cox charges customers $13 per month to rent its Panoramic Wifi gateway, which combines a modem and router into a single device. Subscribers to the two fastest (and most expensive) Cox plans will receive a DOCSIS 3.1 device that supports Wi-Fi 6. The rest get an earlier-gen DOCSIS 3.0 version with support for Wi-Fi 5.

Frontier provides customers with a free modem and charges $10 per month to rent them a router, but that cost is baked into the advertised monthly rate, so it's not an additional fee that you'll need to pay on top of your monthly rate, like with most other providers. That's all well and good, but the rub is that there's no way to skip that fee, even if you already have a router of your own.

Google Fiber customers receive a modem and a mesh router with up to two additional extenders at no additional cost. If you subscribe to Google Fiber's fastest plan, with download speeds of up to 2Gbps, then you'll get a faster, multi-gig router to go with it, complete with support for Wi-Fi 6.

That's a tough pill to swallow. Paying that much right out of the gate is not appealing. But once you consider that HughesNet requires a two-year contract (and canceling early will activate an early termination fee), you may find that upfront cost will save you money if you foresee staying with HughesNet beyond your initial term.

Mediacom is a midsize cable internet provider, and customers need to pay $13 per month to rent a cable modem from the company. You can skip that fee by using your own modem, but it'll need to be at least a DOCSIS 3.0 model (and Mediacom recommends going with a newer DOCSIS 3.1 model). Here's the full list of approved hardware (PDF).

But wait, there's more! If you need a router, Mediacom will rent you one of those, too. The fee is another $10 per month, and you'll get a two-piece Eero Pro 6 mesh router. Like with the modem, you can skip that fee by using a router of your own, but this rental is actually a pretty decent deal -- the Eero Pro 6 is one of our top-rated mesh routers, and a two-piece setup typically costs well over $200.

That means you could rent the Eero Pro 6 from Mediacom for a year and a half and still pay less than you would if you bought it outright. It's a pretty great way to try out a fancy, tri-band mesh router with support for Wi-Fi 6 to see what sort of impact it'll make on your home networking speeds.

Optimum offers both hybrid fiber and cable connections and 100% fiber hookups. The company provides customers with its Altice Gateway, which serves as your home's modem and router. Your exact model depends on your specific plan and whether your home's connection uses cable or fiber.

"Optimum internet customers using service delivered via our HFC network are able to use their own equipment," an Altice spokesperson tells CNET, pointing to a list of approved third-party modems. "Optimum Fiber service is currently only delivered via the Optimum-provided Gateway, which is designed specifically to work with our fiber network."

Rise Broadband is a provider of fixed wireless home internet connections throughout much of the middle of the country, and subscribers will need to pay $10 per month to rent their modem along with the antenna that receives the over-the-air signal. That fee is unavoidable.

Rise also offers to rent customers a router -- specifically, the TP-Link Deco M4 mesh router. The cost is $5 per device, so a single Deco router will add an extra $5 to your monthly bill, a two-piece mesh setup would raise it by $10, and a three-piece setup will cost you $15 per month.

If you want to skip the monthly charge, Sparklight requires you to use a DOCSIS 3.1 cable modem device. If you choose to go that route to save on the added monthly fee, here's a list of Sparklight recommended modems.

Starlink, Elon Musk's internet service, aims to disrupt the satellite internet category by providing faster speeds and lower latency than offered by rivals HughesNet and Viasat. What Starlink shares with those companies, however, is a stark equipment fee. Instead of an additional monthly charge for your equipment, Starlink requires that you pay for the equipment upfront. That means a payout of $599 for the regular service and a jaw-dropping $2,500 if you choose Starlink Premium. There's no getting around those rates if you want to sign up for Starlink. 041b061a72


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