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Buying a Cable Modem

The cost of leasing a cable modem from Oceanic/Time Warner Cable was never that glaring for me. If I had problems with the little box, I’d take it in and get another little box or a different box. I don’t remember how many cable modems I’ve had in the past. But then two things happened – I had signed up for Extreme Internet service in 2011, and Oceanic is raising its modem lease price.

When I signed up for Extreme internet, I got a different cable modem entirely, a Motorola SURFboard SBG6580. Capable of higher bandwidth, this modem included an integrated WiFi router – convenient but unnecessary since I already had a WiFi router. But then I began seeing similar cable modems sold in stores.

In my July 2013 statement from Oceanic, I saw this little blurb:

Beginning with your next statement, Internet Modem Lease will be $5.99/mo. As an Oceanic Time Warner Cable customer, you have the choice of leasing a modem from us or buying your own. For more information about your modem options, please visit twc.com/approvedmodems.

Six bucks a month to rent my commercially available cable modem? Hmmm…Then I read The Wirecutter’s review of the Best Cable Modem, the Motorola SB6141, this Squidoo lens, some Lifehacker articles, and was convinced that buying was the way to go. And yes, the SB6141 is on Time Warner’s compatibility list.

There is some confusion about the various models of the SB6141. There’s a version provided to cable companies and the retail version for purchase. Supposedly, you can buy “second hand” models that originally came from cable companies but while functionally equal to the retail version, the item’s warranty may be suspect. I wasn’t exactly sure, so I went with the retail version (available in black or white) for a couple more dollars.

The SB6141 only has one Ethernet port, mainly for an existing home router or a single computer so I had to pickup a cheap Ethernet switch (TRENDnet Gigabit Switch) to make up for the loss of ports on my leased SBG6580.

So while an additional investment, the modem will pay for itself in little over a year and my home network will be getting a Gigabit Ethernet upgrade. Are you convinced? Are you going to buy as well?

Update: I originally had a typo regarding the monthly lease fee. I corrected the mistake to reflect $5.99 per month, not $5.95. Thanks Damon for the catch.

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