Should you rent a modem and router from your ISP or should you buy your own? That is a question that I get asked. A lot.
After my recent experience with downtime when my router failed, I discovered something fascinating that I didn’t know that my ISP offered!
To Buy or to Lease your Router from your ISP?
Before we can answer that, we need to understand that there are two components that makeup connectivity when it comes to cable ISP: A Modem and a Router.
A modem is the hardware device that hangs off at the end of the coax cable from your cable provider and brings the internet connectivity to your home. It translates the transmission signals into network data and vice-versa so you can connect to your provider.
A router is the hardware that routes the data around your network so your various phones, tablets, gadgets, security cameras, gaming consoles can all connect. This can be wired or wireless.
Realistically you kinda need both and these can be two separate pieces of hardware, or you can get the router and modem as one “Combo” unit.
Typically you want a router that has the wifi capability as well as some LAN ports in case you want to hardwire your computer or gaming console.
How to get your Modem for FREE
When I experienced my hardware failure, the technician came out to check the lines and it seemed like everything was fine. Since I was using my own Netgear Combo hardware, he surmised that the problem is probably a failure in there. But then he asked an interesting question: “Why are you not using our modem?” My reply was that I didn’t want to pay the monthly rental fee for the modem, to which he replied: “Modems are FREE“.
Most cable companies will actually give you the modem for free as part of your package. They only charge you a monthly rental fee for the router!
I had no idea.
If Modem is free so do you buy your own router or lease a router?
There are pros and cons to both leasing and buying a router.
LEASING the router from the ISP:
- The ISP supports their hardware and software.
- The devices get constant updates automatically – set and forget it.
- It is compatible with their network so its been vigorously tested for issues in their labs.
- Repair or replacement is included so you don’t have to worry. It goes wrong, they fix it.
- Less wiggle room for the provider when it comes to speed.
- When you lease it costs you $5 -$8 per month where a new router can be as cheap as $40.
BUYING the Router yourself:
- One-time charge.
- You get to pick the hardware that works for you and your home
- You need to make sure it is compatible with the service provider.
- If you upgrade your line speed, is your equipment able to handle it or do you need to buy new?
- You set it up
- Any repairs or issues are for you to solve as the ISP responsibility ends when they get the signal to you.
So how do you choose to rent or buy?
For me, it boils down to these two factors:
Are you planning to stay with your current ISP for more than a year?
If No, leasing makes sense as not all equipment can be used on all ISPs. So in a year, you will be spending more money on new hardware with your new ISP.
How comfortable are you with setting up your own hardware?
If no, easier to rent. However, I will say that each ISP I looked at had very clear diagrams and instruction on how to set up your own equipment. There are plenty of videos on YouTube too and each hardware manufacturer also has instructions on how to connect it all.
Each router that I have tested starts off with a very simple to follow and by the end, the router is connected.
Speaking of ISP, if your internet is slow, did you know that your ISP may be slowing down your connection? Here is how you can find out!