Save money by bringing your own modem

Does the prospect of saving upwards of $10 a month, or $120 a year, perk up your ears? If you subscribe to high-speed internet service, aka broadband internet, through a cable TV company, your first step to potential savings of similar amounts is to look for line item that says something like “modem lease” in your monthly invoice.

Broadband internet can be thought of as another utility line coming into your house (just like electricity, water or natural gas). Taking water as an example, imagine a “shutoff valve” at the point where the water main comes into the house.

When you subscribe to high-speed internet service from a cable TV operator, your modem is akin to that shutoff valve. In an ode to former Vice President Al Gore who coined the term “information superhighway,” aka the internet, a modem is your on-ramp to the internet.

Today most Northeast Ohio cable TV operators lease you a modem for a monthly fee. But did you know that you may be able to bring your own modem instead and avoid the monthly lease fee?

The math is rather simple: pay $7 to $10 a month to lease the modem or buy an approved modem (more on that below) for $60 to $120 outright. Even under the worst case scenario, you’re still looking to break even in about 12 months; sooner under the best case.

As long as you follow certain rules and processes, most cable TV operators will let you bring your own modem instead:

  1. The modem you buy must be from the approved list published by the cable TV operator.

  2. Depending on the level of service to which you subscribe, i.e the speed of your high-speed internet, the modem model you need will vary. Ask the customer service representative to recommend an approved model that befits your current service level or even a model that can take higher speeds in case you upgrade your service in the future.

  3. If you additionally subscribe to their telephone service, a cable splitter will be required to use your original modem for the telephone service. We recently found out that one cable TV operator will even give you a cable splitter and extra cables for free, so it doesn’t hurt to ask.

  4. You need to activate your new modem by calling the cable TV operator’s technical service department. They can step you through swapping the modem, or if you subscribe to their telephone service to deploy the splitter, and activating the modem. The latter entails reading back the MAC address (which stands for Media Access Control address) that should be clearly labeled on the bottom of your modem as such.

Each cable TV operator’s process may be different and your contract may be unique, especially if you “bundle” multiple services for a discount, so it is highly recommended to talk to their customer service representative first and discuss your plans to save money by bringing your own modem!

Tak Sato

Business and technology strategist/consultant with 25 years of experience. Holds Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Science and MBA from Cleveland State University.

As founder of geek with a heart, "Hand-holding You in the Digital World", Tak helps Individuals, Seniors, Families, Small Businesses, Schools, and Non-Profits utilize appropriate technology in their personal and professional lives.

Read More on The Digital World
Volume 7, Issue 22, Posted 9:07 AM, 11.17.2015