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Modems

Reduce your cable internet bills by buying your own modem. Before purchasing a cable modem, make sure it is on the list of networking devices supported by your service provider.

Picking the Right Cable Modem
The right modem is the one that can deliver the broadband speed promised by the ISP's data plan. Paying for a high-speed Internet plan without getting a cable modem to take advantage of it is counterproductive. When planning to upgrade your data plan in the near future, choose a cable modem that is capable of delivering much faster speeds than the current plan allows. When in doubt, simply get a DOCSIS 2.0 modem for a starter plan or a DOCSIS 3.0 modem for higher tier plans.

DOCSIS 3.0 Modems Deliver Broadband Internet Speeds
DOCSIS, or data over cable service interface specifications, is the most popular standard for classifying modem speeds. Each generation of DOCSIS improves on the last. DOCSIS 1.x and 2.0 only support single downstream and upstream channels. DOCSIS 3.0 binds multiple channels to deliver faster speeds. The basic DOCSIS 3.0 modem is a 4x4 cable modem. This means that it supports four downstream and four upstream channels. For Internet plans promising 150 Mbps or slower, choose an 8x4 modem. While all DOCSIS 3.0 internet modems have four upstream channels, ISPs recommend eight or more downstream channels to help these devices handle network congestion better.

How Does a Modem Differ from a Router?
While they look similar, a router is quite different from a modem. A modem connects directly to an ISP's cable or DSL line, while a router connects to a modem via an Ethernet port. The router then turns cable or DSL internet service piped through the modem into a wired or wireless network shared with PCs, TVs and mobile devices.

Should You Get a Router-Modem Combo?
A router-modem combo is a device that incorporates a router and a modem into a single unit. While such devices have cost-saving and space-saving benefits, they come with certain limitations. First, you have to replace the entire device even when only the modem or router dies or becomes obsolete. Secondly, a router integrated with a modem is often less powerful than a standalone router. It also lacks some of the connectivity, performance and security options found on standard routers.

Can You Use a Cable Modem with DSL?
No. Cable and DSL services are quite different, even though they both deliver high-speed broadband Internet. While DSL employs a telephony network, cable internet utilizes cable lines. Although they both transmit digital signals over analog systems, they use different equipment. Cable modems are typically faster than DSL boxes.

What Is a Mobile Broadband Modem?
A mobile broadband modem is a portable device that provides Internet access via a cellular broadband connection. It is an alternative to DSL and cable modems, especially for laptops. In addition to serving as a modem, this device also doubles as a wireless router. A smartphone can serve as a mobile broadband modem when tethered to a laptop and used as a Wi-Fi hotspot.
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