[PLUG-TALK] Cable modems: rent or buy?

Michael M. Moore moore.michael.m at gmail.com
Tue Mar 1 14:18:58 PST 2011

A case manager I know called me about a client of hers who is currently 
getting Internet access (and cable TV, I'm pretty sure) via Comcast. 
The client is on fixed or limited income (probably disability) and 
trying to pare down his or her expenses, and the case manager is trying 
to help.  She noticed that there's a hefty monthly charge on the 
client's bill for modem rental and wondered if it would make sense to 
buy a modem outright.  She called me because she thinks of me as 
"techy."  (Aside:  It's amazing how little one has to do or know to be 
thought of as technically proficient or knowledgeable amongst friends 
and acquaintances who don't do much more with computers than browse the 
Internet or send email.  Just let it slip that you installed a Linux OS, 
and suddenly you're some kind of guru, even when you aren't.  That, of 
course, is only after you explain what an "operating system" is.)

I am not now nor have I ever been a Comcast customer, nor have I ever 
used cable for Internet access.  I did once have cable TV, but I just 
paid the monthly bill without thinking much about whether it would make 
sense for me to buy equipment.  So I don't know much about how it works 
or what the options are regarding buying modems.  Can anyone offer any 
insight?  Can you even buy your own modem?  Are there gotchas you have 
to watch out for?  Does it make financial sense?

I know here lie real gurus, and I know many here are Comcast customers, 
so I was hoping someone could give me some tips about upsides and downsides.


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