Modems are essential pieces of networking equipment that serve as conduits to your internet service provider (ISP), to bring broadband internet to homes and small businesses. ISPs usually offer subscribers these gateway devices once they sign up. You can buy your own modem to avoid the monthly fee that comes with renting the equipment or to get a more robust model that your provider may not offer. Staples® offers a wide selection of these modems from leading networking equipment brands as well as other computer accessories.

Choose Between Cable and DSL Modems
There are two major types of internet modems: cable and DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) boxes. The right one depends on the type of service available where you live. Generally, cable internet is faster than DSL service. Whether you are buying a cable or DSL modem, it is important to get a model that is compatible with your preferred ISP. All cable providers follow the DOCSIS (Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification) standard. This makes it likely that any cable modem would work with any cable ISP network. However, there are a few exceptions. To help users pick compatible internet modems, most cable providers keep lists of supported models on their websites.

DSL providers use different signal protocols to transmit data. The most popular ones are ADSL (Asymmetric DSL) and VDSL (Very High Data Rate DSL). Some deliver internet connections over faster variants of these protocols like VDSL2, ADSL2, and ADSL2+. Pick a model that is compatible with the standards supported by your ISP to enjoy the fastest connection available for your data plan.

Consider Connection Speed When Comparing Cable Modems
To fully enjoy your cable internet subscription, you need a modem that is faster than the speed offered by your data plan. Cable boxes are available for different DOCSIS generations. A DOCSIS 2.0 model has the same download speed as a DOCSIS 1.1 unit but a much faster upload speed. A DOCSIS 3.1 modem is 10 times faster than a DOCSIS 3.0 box. Units that support DOCSIS 3.0 and above bind multiple data channels to deliver faster speeds. You can estimate the throughput of a cable modem by counting the number of upstream and downstream channels it supports. Each channel delivers a maximum speed of 43Mbps. Therefore, a 4x4 modem has a maximum download and upload speed of 172Mbps. For faster boxes, look for 8x4 and 16x4 configurations.

How Are Modems Different From Routers?
A modem is a bridge between a home or office network and the internet. In addition to a cable or phone jack that accepts incoming connection from an ISP, it has an Ethernet port for connecting to a router. A router is a network hub that takes an incoming internet connection and spreads it among multiple connected devices in your home or office.

Should You Consider Routers With Built-in Modems?
Yes, as long as you do not already have a faster router. Router-modem combos simplify home internet connections by housing two essential networking pieces in a single device. Choosing this hybrid eliminates potential compatibility issues between separate routers and modems. If you opt for this all-in-one solution, make sure to pick a device with a dual or tri-band Wireless-AC router.

Are Bigger Modems Faster?
No. The physical size of a DSL or cable modem has nothing to do with its speed. If more users are joining your home or office network, you may subscribe to a higher data plan, get a faster modem, and/or upgrade your router for better results.