Choosing Cable Modem over Gateway Provided by ISP | 2022

Do you use cable internet? If yes, then you must be paying the money equivalent to the price of a nice cup of coffee and sandwich as your equipment rental charges. And please note that once you cancel your subscription, you will have to return this equipment. 

You could instead invest in a Cable Modem, and this way, you will only have to pay for your choice of plan. After a few months, the money you saved by not paying the rental charges would be equivalent to that of what you invested in your Cable Modem. 

There are other advantages of getting your own Cable Modem other than just saving on the rent charges. Most of the time, the rented equipment is an older model which has already been overused; you can get yourself the latest Cable Modem model that supports all the new technologies and functions provided by ISP.

The newer models may boost the connection speed. While making such a decision, you need to know more about the technology you are investing in and what are your best options. This article will walk you through everything you need to know about Cable Modem and how to set it up.

Understanding Cable Modems

Cable Modem is hardware that enables a connection between your service provider and your computer device. It converts the analogue signals to digital signals to provide you with internet access.

How do these Cable Modems function?

Cable Modems, as discussed earlier, gather the analogue signals from the provider, convert them into digital signals, and transfer them to your LAN or WiFi Connection via routers. To simply put it, they act as digital translators. 

These signals are transmitted to your devices using coaxial or ethernet cables. Some of the latest Cable Modems do not need a cable to transmit these signals since they come with an integrated router. The Cable Modems perform on the DOCSIS standard.

Everything you need to know about DOCSIS

DOCSIS stands for “ Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification”. It’s a telecommunication standard that is followed globally that allows the data of higher bandwidth to flow through the coaxial cables.

The introduction of DOCSIS has saved the cable connections place in the market against very competitive Fiber Optic technology. The DOCSIS is currently in its 3rd generation with hopeful innovations for the future.

Let’s understand these generations better- 

  1. DOCSIS 1.0- 

DOCSIS 1.0 was introduced way back in 1997. At that time, it was able to provide bandwidth of only up to 40 Mbps downstream and 10 Mbps upstream. After facing its delimitations, the standard was then upgraded to DOCSIS 1.1 that met the security requirements. 

  1. DOCSIS 2.0- 

At the beginning of January 2002, the all-new DOCSIS 2.0 was introduced that came with a more improved downstream and upstream bandwidth on the manufacturer’s demand.

It provided the bandwidth of 40 Mbps down and 30 Mbps up, which was significantly better than DOCSIS 1.0 standard. They were able to make this work by trying out different and better modulation schemes. 

  1. DOCSIS 3.0- 

The users and manufacturers were still not happy with the speed provided by DOCSIS 2.0 standard. As a result, DOCSIS 3.0 was formed in order to provide Channel Bonding (combination of downstream and upstream channels), IPv6 functions, IP multicast, and AES encrypting.

It enables an upstream speed of 120 Mbps and a downstream speed of 340 Mbps. DOCSIS 3.1 was later introduced in 2013 and enabled Gigabit Ethernet.

This has been a good competition for constantly evolving Fibre Optics technology. Read further to understand DOCSIS 3.0 and DOCSIS 3.1. It will help you choose the one amongst them.

DOCSIS 3.0 and  DOCSIS 3.1

These are the two standards that the entire world is using right now. But customers are often confused about which one is best for them. 

The speeds for the standards may vary depending on the country or region you live in, but for the comparison point of view, we will be considering the maximum speeds provided by both the standards.

DOCSIS 3.0 has a 200 Mbps speed, and DOCSIS 3.1 has 1Gbps upstream speed. The downstream speed for DOCSIS 3.0 is 1Gbps and for DOCSIS 3.1 is 10 Gbps. So, if you are comparing speeds, then it’s clear that you should choose DOCSIS 3.1 over DOCSIS 3.0 standard. 

The DOCSIS 3.1 modems are way more expensive than the DOCSIS 3.0 modem. Therefore only go for the DOCSIS 3.1 if your service provider offers the Gigabit Internet plan. If not, then you would end up spending a lot unnecessarily.

The Strong contender – Optic Fiber

Optic Fiber is also commonly known as GPON. Optic fiber is much faster than Cable Modem. It is made up of plastic or glass that transmits light. They are very thin and have the capability of carrying the data very far. 

Optic fiber is as reliable as any Cable Modem. But it has a single point of failure and can cause more damage than Cable Modem failures that may affect only a few households. But Cable Modems may get affected every time there is a power cutoff.

Although Optic Fiber has a higher speed, it can be very expensive than the Cable Modem. Optic fiber is the best for businesses or workplaces that need higher speed and more reliable networks. But Cable Modems are our best options for households.

How to get your own Cable Modem?

Getting your own Cable Modem isn’t very complicated, but it can be overwhelming because of the various options and practices available. There are three steps in total you need to follow in order to replace your ISP-provided gateway with Cable Modem.

These steps shall help you no matter who is your ISP provider or what modem you want to choose. The steps are fairly simple so follow along. 

1. Get all the details about your Present Gateway/ Modem 

The first thing to consider is if you are currently using a Gateway or a Modem. The majority of the users use Gateway over their personal modem. You will need to get a WiFi router and a modem in that case.

In case you are dependent on your cable network for the internet access needed for the phone, then you will have to purchase a phone modem. It is generally very expensive. 

2. Required Equipments

There are multiple options available in the market. You need the one that is the most compatible with your ISP provider. Most of the ISPs provide a list of Cable Modems supported by them at different speeds and packages.

You need to identify the model that is most beneficial for you. And as discussed earlier, don’t forget to check if your ISP provider supports DOCSIS 3.0 and DOCSIS 3.1 before making any purchase. 

Here are a few options that could help you get started on your hunt for a perfect Cable Modem- 

Product Name: NETGEAR Nighthawk Cable Modem CM1200

The one without any WiFi Limits and supports a Multi-Gig connection 

Performance: 9/10

Features and Set-up: 8/10

Value for Money: 8/10

Pros

  • This model can be connected to any kind of WiFi router. 
  • It has not 1 but 4 Gigabit ports that can be used to connect your laptop/PC, gaming station or WiFi router.

Cons

  • It does not have telephone voice ports.

Buy on Amazon. 

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Product Name: ARRIS SURFboard SB8200

Supports DOCSIS 3.1 and has Multi-Gig Connection

Performance: 8/10

Features and Set-up: 9.5/10

Value for Money: 7/10

Pros

  • This modem is one of the very few modems that support DOCSIS 3.1 standard and also has 2 1-Gigabit ports.

Cons

  • It does not come with WiFi and does not support CenturyLink, Verizon, ATT and some for DSL or optical fibre service providers.

           Buy on Amazon.

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Product Name: Motorola MB8611

High-Speed Modem that pairs with any WiFi Router 

Performance: 9/10

Features and Set-up: 9.8/10

Value for Money: 8.5/10

Pros

  • This Modem is one of the most high-speed models available.
  • It has a 2.5GB Multi-Gigabit Ethernet Port. 
  • It is extremely reliable and comes with a 2-year warranty.

Cons

  • It doesn’t support telephone calls and is not integrated with WiFi Router.

Buy on Amazon.

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These are a few that we recommend using, and you can look for plenty of others online.  Once you are done picking a Cable Modem for yourself, it’s time to look for a WiFi Router. 

Best WiFi Router for your Cable Modem 

Finding a perfect WiFi router is not as tough as finding a Cable Modem. You can also get a Mesh system instead of a WiFi Router. All the WiFi Routers and Mesh systems are compatible with any service provider or any cable modem. 

But the kind of WiFi Router you have is what decides the overall performance and experience. The quality of the internet is the most primary need for any device to function smoothly. Therefore never compromise on the quality of your WiFi, as it is a great investment. 

Retail Gateways- A great alternative for a Cable Modem + WiFi Combo

It is always best to get the Cable Modem and a WiFi Router, but if you don’t like the idea of managing the two of them, then you can always get a Retail Gateway. They are much simpler and are easier to set up.

But if you intent you change your network provider in future that you will have to change the entire setup and look for the one that is compatible with a new network provider. 

Now that you have a very thorough understanding of what equipment you need and which ones to purchase, it’s time we get back to the third and most important step that is how to set up your system together.

3. Installation and Set up

Installing a new device has always been very tricky. Somehow the instructions in the user manual are just not enough. Here is a simple 4 step process that will help you get a smooth and hassle-free setup. All you need to do is to follow these very carefully. 

  • Replacing your old Hardware: This is the most favourite step of all, as it will help you get rid of those monthly equipment rental charges. But make sure you return them to your service provided, or else you will be charged a very hefty fine for the same. 
  • Connect/Attach the new Hardware: This is the most crucial step of them all. You will start with connecting the coaxial cable to the new cable modem or a gateway.
    Next comes the Network cable that needs to be connected with your LAN cable port or your Laptop—plug in all the wires to the power. Once you are done with that, just turn on the device and let it boot. Wait until the lights indicate a strong network signal.  
  • Activate the device: If you want to activate the device yourself, then start by launching a web browser on the connected laptop/PC; you will be redirected to the activation page. You can enter your user ID and password and sign in.
    In the case of some providers, you will have to download their App. Or you can ask the technical staff of your service provider to get it activated for you in case you are unable to do it. All you need to do is share your Modem’s MAC address. 
  • Last and most important step: And here we are at the final and most important step. All you need to do is to connect the WAN port of your WiFi Router to the LAN port of the Cable Modem. Voila! You are done.

Final Words

This is the ultimate guide for you to refer to at any part of this process. Always remember to check the compatibility of products before purchasing. Enough with the instructions. Now that your setup is ready, you can now go enjoy the amazing high-speed bandwidth and a smooth experience.

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I am Steven S. Martin, the person behind HDMITechnologies. Personally, I run my tech hub in Texas and used almost thousands of devices for my hub for the last 15 years. I put all my experiences and knowledge to make your decision better and valuable.

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