Buying Your Own Internet Router/Modem

People used to rent telephones from the phone company, something we might find a bit odd in the age of cellphones. Yet, it seems that the Internet industry is following the same path.
Most consumers receive Internet from the phone company or the cable company, and most are still paying those companies to rent their modems and routers. In fact, Comcast Xfinity now charges $14/month in such rental fees. Many Comcast customers probably don’t know they can buy their own modem, and it could pay for itself in just a few months.

What is a Modem?

A modem enables your computer, or any device plugged directly into the modem, to access the Internet.

What is a Router?

A router enables your home to have Wi-Fi, meaning a computer or tablet in your home can access the Internet wirelessly. Since many consumers do not want to be plugged into a modem before sinking into their favorite chair to surf the Web, most consumers will need to buy a modem AND a router. (Tablets also require a router to connect, since tablets do not plug into modems.)

How Do I Buy a Modem and a Router?

Most Internet providers allow you to purchase your own modem and router separately, or a device that contains both—it’s up to you. Both options connect you to the Internet. Keep in mind that if you purchase a combined device, if one part breaks (i.e., the router or the modem) you will have to replace the entire system.
Before purchasing your modem or router, you need to check with your Internet provider to view its “approved” modem/router list.

Cable/Internet Companies

Information for Xfinity Comcast Customers: You can purchase your own device and avoid the equipment fees. Check if your device is approved for Xfinity Internet service. A list of compatible modems is found at this website. Additional information can be found here.

Information for Charter Customers: Charter Spectrum customers are given a free modem when they sign up for Internet. Charter charges a monthly fee for this router. You can purchase your own router, however, and forego the fee. For information on compatible devices, visit this page.

Information for Frontier Customers: Frontier charges you a monthly lease fee for your Frontier router or modem—whether you use it or not. That means even if you purchase and install your own router, you will still pay Frontier’s $10-a-month “Wi-Fi Router” fee. CUB believes such policies are bad for developing a competitive market that drives down prices and gives people good choices.

Information for AT&T U-Verse Customers: Like Frontier, AT&T insists you rent or buy the company’s “gateway device,” which includes a router. You can connect a faster router to the gateway box, but, unfortunately, there is no way to avoid paying AT&T’s rental fee.

Information for Mediacom Customers: Mediacom does allow customers to purchase their own modem and router, which allows customers to avoid rental fees. Most modems and routers are compatible with their service, according to Mediacom. For a list of compatible modems, visit this page.