As everyone knows, when you sign up for cable Internet, you need a modem. However, what you may not know is that you have a choice between renting the modem for a monthly fee or buying it outright. If you’re already signed up for cable Internet service you may see a “modem rental” fee or “lease” on your monthly bill. You can eliminate this fee by buying your cable modem.

So just how much money are we talking about? Comcast now charges $10 per month or $120/year to rent a cable modem. Over a five year period, you would end up spending $600 on a cable modem that you don’t even own. Alternatively, you can purchase your own cable modem for approximately 10 percent of that cost and end up saving $500 over the next few years.

Cable Internet service providers use the DOCSIS (Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification) standard. Because DOCSIS is standardized, you’re not limited to the modem your ISP offers to you. You can buy and use any modem that supports the version of the DOCSIS standard your cable Internet provider offers.

modem rental fee

You can generally find information about supported modems on your ISP’s website. For example, Comcast offers a DOCSIS Device Information Center that lists modems that will work on their network. Or you could just searching Amazon for “DOCSIS 3.0”, finding a model that you like, and then checking your ISP to make sure it’s compatible. Your ISP may have a web page that lists this information for you. If they don’t, call their phone lines and ask them for more information.

Here are the top cable companies and links to how to trade your modem in:

Overall, most people will be better off paying a bit more up-front to buy their own cable modem and avoiding the ever-increasing monthly modem rental fees. On the other hand, if you’re moving or switching to a new Internet service provider soon, renting will probably save you money. Do the math for yourself to decide which is the best option.

Here’s a couple great options if you’re looking to buy today:

Arris (formerly Motorola) SURFboard SB6121 DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem (Certified Refurbished) for $39.99 Prime shipped. It regularly goes for $100 in new condition and it features:

  • includes all original accessories plus a 90-day warranty
  • Requires CABLE Internet Service, if not sure your provider is CABLE call them to confirm
  • Compatible with ALL Major CABLE providers like Comcast/Xfinity, Cox, Charter, Time Warner, Mediacom, Bright House
  • Internet download speeds up to 172 Mbps and upload speeds up to 131 Mbps based on your Cable provider service
  • Good for streaming Video and gaming on multiple devices at a time

There’s also the TP-LINK DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem for $50 shipped (Orig. $70) at Amazon. It’s certified to work with all cable providers and supports IPv4 and IPv6 (the latest Internet standard). 

Arris SURFboard DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem (Refurb)