Stick it to the Man and Surf the Web Better!

Because you are currently reading this, I’m going to make three assumptions…

1) You have fine taste in A/V writers.
2) You are currently alive.
3) You have a barely concealed disdain for your Internet Service Provider and would like to pay them as little as possible while retaining the maximum surfing speeds.

According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, American ISPs now have the lowest customer satisfaction ranking of any industry in the country. And bottoming out that grim list of corporate scum and villainy is Comcast and Time Warner, the two most hated companies in the US. So, congrats, guys! One of the reasons why we seem to hate our ISP so vehemently is the growing cost of service coupled with horrific customer service and reliability and speed issues.

One of the things at the root cause of these issues could very well be the out-of-date, old-tech, last-gen modem you ISP provided you when you signed up for service way back in the day. There’s also good chance that your ISP is charging you a monthly rental fee for that modem. These fees range from $6-8 and give you the “privilege” of using something you probably hate. But for around $80, you can buy one of the highest rated modems available, the Motorola SurfBoard SB6141!

That’s right, with a payback around a year’s time, you can own your very own modem which won’t have any weird browser history cooties on it and will offer way higher reliability and potentially must faster download (up to 343 Mbps) and upload (up to 131 Mbps) speeds.

Why this modem? Well, the fine and thorough folks at The Wirecutter gave it their “Best Cable Modem” seal of approval. Plus this modem supports time Warner, Comcast/Xfinity , Bright House Networks and Cox, including the fastest/premier offerings from each provider. It is also DOCSIS (Data Over Cable Service Interface Specifications) 3.0, which is 8-times faster than the older DOCSIS 2.0 standard, and it’s IPv6 compatible meaning it should be with your for the long haul.

Before you plunk down any hard-earned cash on your own modem, it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to call the Great Satan your ISP and confirm that they will allow you to do it. Then after you get the new modem, you want to power down your router and any network switches and connect the modem to your cable line and power it up. You’ll need to call your ISP to have them authorize the new modem, a process which will require you give them the modem’s MAC address. They’ll do some keyboard clicky-clacky on their end, and the modem will be good to go. Connect it to your router and power it on and surf away! I made the switch about six months ago, and the whole process took me less than 15 minutes, with much of that being the standard “waiting-on-hold” time before you could get to a tech. Obviously, be sure to return the old modem to your ISP and then check your bill to make sure they aren’t still charging you for it.

Now if you have digital phone from your ISP – which requires using their special modem with eMTA (embedded multimedia terminal adapter) – you might think you are out of luck, but wait! From my experience, your ISP will not charge you a rental for this device if you are using it for phone only! In fact, I believe they are legally required to provide you the equipment needed for your telephone service. So, even though you will be keeping the exact same modem you had previously been paying $6-8/month for, it will now magically become free since it will no longer be used as your Internet surfing modem. File that under strange but true corporate money grabs.

Seriously, why give your ISP one single, extra penny that you don't have to? Buy your own modem and join the "Stick it to the Man!" revolution today!

trynberg's picture

Great advice. I did not know about the phone service issue, which was holding me back.

javanp's picture

You can't change any of the settings. Or, if you can, it's some deeply guarded secret as I scoured the internet and couldn't figure out how. I can get to the settings page just fine but can't actually change any settings. Funny how the wirecutter said to avoid gateways because "they're hard to troubleshoot", when this thing is impossible by comparison. All I can do is reboot it.