Three Things You Need to Know Before Buying a Modem

A modem provides that critical link between the Internet and devices like your computer and smartphone, so get the best unit possible.

Wireless modem
Getting a modem and router connected to the Internet is not as difficult as it seems.Pixaby

Home networking can seem confusing, but in simplest terms there are really only three components necessary to get up and running. The first is your Internet Service Provider (ISP), or the company that provides you an Internet signal. The second is the modem, which is the device that connects to the service from inside the house. The third is the router, which converts everything to a wireless signal for dispersal to devices such as phones, tablets, and computers. Of these, the modem is the heart of any home network. If you are in the market to install or upgrade your own system, these modem-buying tips will get you pointed in the right direction.

Modem vs Modem/Router

ARRIS SURFboard Docsis 3.1 Gigabit Speed Cable Modem
In the long run, you’re better to buy your own modem and router versus renting units from your Internet provider.ARRIS

Modem/router combos are usually the province of cable companies that want to rent you a single device for an exorbitant fee. While modem/router combos are convenient, buying your own modem and router separately is not only less expensive in the long run, it also gives you individual control over each component so that if one element breaks down you only need to replace or repair that part.

All Those Numbers

NETGEAR Nighthawk Cable Modem WiFi Router Combo
If you’re unsure which device to purchase, check with your Internet provider first so you get the fastest connection possible.NETGEAR

The numbers associated with cable modems can be overwhelming. What’s the difference between DOCSIS 3.0 versus 3.1, for instance? Are 32 x 8 channels better than 32 x 4? Do you need really need 1,000mbps, or is 600mbps sufficient? Just remember that higher numbers generally mean greater speed and, usually, more cost. If you are uncertain what specifications you need in a modem, check with your Internet Service Provider before buying to make sure you are purchasing a device capable of supporting your connection’s fastest performance.

ISP Compatibility

MOTOROLA DOCSIS 3.1 Cable Modem
Some Internet providers can only connect with specific modems, so ask customer service for help before you buy.MOTOROLA

Not all modems are compatible with all Internet Service Providers. Whether you are on Verizon, AT&T, Cox, Xfinity or some other ISP, be sure to verify that the modem you intend to purchase will work with the plan you are investing in. For absolute verification, call your service provider directly.