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Should you rent or buy your modem and router?

BY Taylor Gadsden | Thu Feb 14, 2019
Should you rent or buy your modem and router?

Once you’ve selected your internet service provider and the plan that works best for you, it’s easy to think that your shopping is over. However, your last decision — your choice of whether to rent or buy a router and modem and if you do buy, which router or modem that is — can be your most important of all. A simple long-term cost and quality comparison are all you need to make the right choice for you.

Do you need a modem and a router?

You may be wondering: “Do I even need a modem and router?” and the answer is yes if you’re looking to wirelessly connect devices in your home to the internet.

Your modem connects your local home network to the internet and a router allows you to connect multiple devices wirelessly to your internet connection. Internet service providers often offer a single 2-in-1 device with an integrated modem and router as an option for monthly rental. However, if you have the option to purchase your own equipment, you may be able to save money in the long run by doing so.

Pros and cons of renting a modem and router

Pros


Cons


Provider customer support

Guaranteed software updates

Easy to return equipment

Guaranteed provider and speed compatibility

Repair services included with service
Monthly rental payment with service

Payments only go towards usage

Pros and cons of buying a modem and router

Pros





Cons


One-time charge

Long-term investment

Reduce your annual internet bill by owning your own equipment

You pick your equipment instead of the provider
Repair and equipment upgrades are your responsibility after a warranty expires

Customer support may be limited after warranty expires or age of device increases

Will I save more money buying or renting a modem and router?

Buying your own modem and router is a great option for you if:

  • Plan on keeping your internet access for more than a year
  • Have the option to use your own equipment
  • Don’t have roommates that you’ll need to split the cost with
  • Have the patience to do some preliminary research
  • Plan to customize your equipment in the future

Most providers charge $5-15/mo.* to rent a 2-in-1 modem and router device, commonly known as a “gateway.” Some providers, like CenturyLink and Verizon, give you the option to purchase this equipment upfront and potentially save money without having to go through a third-party vendor. Purchasing provider equipment may be the best way to go if you plan on signing a contract with the provider and the cost of the equipment is less than the total cost of the equipment rental.

*Pricing per month plus taxes for length of contract. Additional fees and terms may apply. Pricing varies by location and availability. All prices subject to change at any time. May or may not be available based on service address. Speeds may vary. As of 02/14/19.

Rental vs. purchase of ISP-provided router/modem

CenturyLink Advanced Wireless Modem

Monthly rental: $10/mo.*
Yearly rental: $120/yr.*
One-time charge: $100*

Yearly savings: $20
Verizon Fios Wireless Gateway

Monthly rental: $12/mo.*
Yearly rental: $144/yr.*
One-time charge: $199*

Yearly savings: $0
*Pricing per month plus taxes for length of contract. Additional fees and terms may apply. Pricing varies by location and availability. All prices subject to change at any time. May or may not be available based on service address. Speeds may vary. As of 02/14/19.

 

In the example above, you would save $20 annually by purchasing a CenturyLink gateway device. As a Verizon Fios customers, you would only benefit from purchasing an ISP-provided device by staying with the provider for at least 17 months. Otherwise, a monthly device rental would be the most cost-effective.

Other ISPs provide a list of compatible devices in case you’re interested in using your own device for service. If you can find equipment that’s cheaper but good quality, you may save even more money by going this route.

Rental vs. purchase of ISP-compatible router/modem

Cox Panoramic WiFi Modem

Monthly rental: $10.99/mo.*
Yearly rental: $131.88/yr.*

NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1900 Wireless Gateway
One-time charge: $193.98*
XFINITY xFI Gateway Router

Monthly rental: $13/mo.*
Yearly rental: $156/yr.*

NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1900 Wireless Gateway
One-time charge: $193.98*

For Cox or XFINITY customers with at least 250 Mbps, an ISP-compatible gateway device like the NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1900 is a good investment. This device will cost you more than the yearly rental fee for a device from each provider, but you would own your own device for future use with other ISPs. check out some more gateway devices that work with multiple providers and have earned high reviews from internet users just like you.

  1. ARRIS SURFboard AC1900 – Compatible with Cox, Spectrum, Suddenlink and XFINITY
  2. MOTOROLA MD1600 – Compatible with CenturyLink, Frontier and Windstream
  3. NETGEAR N300 – Compatible with Cox, Spectrum, Suddenlink and XFINITY

It’s also worth noting that many ISP-compatible gateway devices are of higher quality and work better than ISP-provided devices. Often times, ISPs just give you the bare minimum in equipment to maximize their return on rental fees.

If your ISP doesn’t offer the option to use your own modem and router, then your only option would be to select a different provider or to use the mandatory equipment and hope the damage isn’t too bad on your monthly bill. Some providers, like AT&T, even offer their equipment rental at no additional cost with the purchase of a high-speed internet plan.

Tips for buying a router and modem

The best way to maximize your investment in internet equipment is to know what kind of device you need to support your internet activities and your household. Also, decide whether or not you’ll want to purchase a gateway device as we used in the examples above or separate modem and Wi-Fi router devices.

Separate devices are great if you can see yourself upgrading your home network or broadband speed. In either case, you’d simply need to replace your router or modem. To make this change to a gateway router/modem device, you’d have to upgrade and replace the entire device.

Next, consider the download speeds and data plan, if applicable, of your internet plan and make sure to choose a device that’s capable of delivering those speeds. If all else fails, check out the list of compatible devices commonly offered by ISPs with the option to use your own equipment. Many well-known providers like Cox, Spectrum and XFINITY provide extensive lists of alternatives by internet speed tier so you can pick a model based on your plan.

We recommend at least referencing these lists before you buy a device. Purchasing equipment that is incompatible with your provider, internet speeds and level of activity could make your investment a flop, especially if you can’t even enjoy your internet service.

For more information on equipment rental versus purchase, call an Allconnect® internet expert today. We’ll help you narrow down internet service providers in your area to find out if you have the option to buy your own equipment and whether or not you’d benefit from doing so.

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