Stop Renting Your Cable Modem: Buy One Instead

I’ve always wondered what it was like to run a criminal operation, and this certainly meets the definition!

My story is that we signed up for business service in a shared office for a 3-year term with a pretty good $$$ deal. There was a 75 percent cancellation penalty. Which seems illegal, but we had plans to be in the office for three years. In the end, we were only there two. However, I was able to convince Comcast to shift “business” service to my home (which was good, because it was UNCAPPED at the time).

The guy I spoke to said the $1,000 (!!) setup fee would be waived. Sure enough, I was charged for it. It took a little effort, but I got it reversed.

I always keep a POTS landline because when you lose power at your house, you will still have phone service (as long as you have a corded telephone). If you rely on a VOIP phone and your power goes out, you’re SOL.

Just one experience here. Comcast has always updated the firmware on my owned Motorola/Arris Surfboard modem to the latest version in a timely manner.

I only have a cel phone, when the power goes out in my neighborhood, I can still use my cel phone. Any phone service through a cable company or ISP (except maybe DSL over copper) is VoIP and replies on powered equipment in your home. When fiber to the home is installed, the copper wiring is removed so keeping POTS isn’t even possible.

My modem for VOIP (Spectrum) is separate from my data modem and has battery backup. Only if the cable itself is out does my phone stop working. Even when the internet is down, my phone still works, but that has nothing to do with the battery, just a different data stream on the same cable.

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Not here it wasn’t. Copper wasn’t touched when fiber came in. Two different companies, two different “aerial drops” as the tech called it. In fact, there are now three separate lines to our house, since there’s also cable besides copper and fiber. Only one gets used, but there would be no issue running all three simultaneously.

Which is why I keep my phone service separate from my ISP; I don’t have cable as they wanted $10,000 to run their line the approximate .2 miles down my street. Needless to say, the local company is Comcast! So: phone is POTS from AT&T, TV is via DirecTV, and Internet is via a local wireless ISP.

Verizon has a policy of removing copper, I believe. CenturyLink, to my knowledge, didn’t? But I wasn’t paying attention. We have our phone line of fiber, and the POTS-like phone part of it has a separate UPS that’s built into the adapter. I’m not sure how long it lasts, but at least several hours.

I had an AT&T POTS line but when I did a trial of U-Verse the POTS line was removed and they won’t reinstall it. So now I’m with Spectrum and forced to use VOIP.

If anyone know the magic words to say to AT&T to get them to reinstall a POTS line, I’m all ears.

I replaced my Comcast modem with a separate modem and wireless hub. I used ones on theirs list. No problem switching over, but I was shocked when the 15 per month rental took more than 20$ off my bill after taxes. Good performance so far. Don’t have models as I’m not home.

Comcast Business has not changed its policy regarding static IPs.

If you require a static IP for your account, you will need a Comcast-supplied IP Gateway device.

Comcast Xfinity, the consumer level service, does not offer static IPs.

I looked into microwave high-speed Internet service because some neighbors reported that it exceeded Comcast’s level of service. Unfortunately I lack a line of sight to the tower, being blocked just enough by a ridge line. If I only lived two blocks further away, the ridge would be below the sight line.

It can get a bit ridiculous. My built in 1961 house has aerial runs for power (Duke), 2 coax (TWC/Spectrum), 2 POTS (Bellsouth/AT&T), and 1 Fiber (Google). I’ve had dual accounts from TWC and AT&T at times. No one has every removed old stuff.

When/if I build new there will be multiple runs of underground conduit from the street to the service locations on the house.

Same magic words as to get Apple to sell you a PowerPC computer.

Copper is dead to the curb. It is just taking a long time to die. To the premises a bit longer.

Fiber is just so much cheaper over the long term. Plus even though you didn’t have VIOP into your house, the signal was VIOP to your neighborhood. So switching you to fiber eliminated a conversion box someone in your neighborhood.

The days when the CO (phone company Central Office) had a huge room full of marine batteries to run the POTS for when the CO lost power have mostly vanished. And since your local neighborhood pod that delivers that POTS to you is on the same power grid you are, well…. And that pod is almost certainly fed from the central office via fiber VOIP. (The cost of supporting a pair of copper lines from the CO to each end point makes the decision a no brainer for your phone company.)[1]

So go to Costco and buy their $100 UPS, put your modem and such on it and use a cell phone when that runs out of battery power.

The world has changed. Out attitudes sometimes take a while to catch up.[2]

Plus, the fewer people on your neighborhood pod holding on to POTS the longer the batteries in the pod will last. So dropping POTS is a “common good”.


[1] Just switched out an office of 25 people from 3 10 year old 24 and 48 port gig switches to a collection of 16 port + 2 fiber switches. New distributed switches home run back to a central point all on fiber. We must have removed 300 pounds of copper or more in this one office alone as we could put the new switches near the clumps of people and equipment and remove all of that copper making home runs back to the big old switches.

[2] Dropped my home office business POTS line 10+ years ago. Dropped my home POTS line 5+ years ago. I still keep tripping on people who are trying to use one or the other. Latest was Staples when I tried to check out without my rewards number.

Oh, that’s interesting. Enough time has passed that I must have forgotten switching from a static to dynamic IP as well—we needed a static IP for some server stuff when we had a shared office. But the cost is accurate: the monthly rental jumped for that business service. I was able to jump from Comcast business to CenturyLink fiber, because CenturyLink also offered uncapped service, even at the consumer level.

Well, when I lose power in my area my old style corded POTS landline continues to work. It even continues to work when the cell goes down (the cell tower is only two miles away). However, your idea of a UPS for routers is good. I’m also considering getting a Tesla PowerWall for my next house, I’ll have to see how they work.

Just a hint–Comcast kept billing me the rental fee after I returned my modem. Second call to an agent, I used the magic words, “escalate, please,” and reached that person’s supervisor. Problem was quickly resolved.

Back last July, my cable company started charging a $6.00 per month cable fee (which the bill mentioned was $5 less than $11 per month! I’m not paying more! I’m saving money!) After that, a lot of people bought their own cable modem.

After a few months, they raised it to $11 per month (which as the bill pointed out is $2.50 cheaper than $13.50 per month. More savings!) Even more people bought cable modems. Now, my cable company is charging a $2.50 per month Network Improvement Fee. Can’t get out of that one.

You need to make sure your modem is compatible with your cable network. I did this by checking my cable company’s website which lead me to a page that showed four compatible models. Three of those were no longer made, and the other was a DOCSIS 2.0 model that could give me a maximum throughput of 60mbs.

I then went to Amazon looked at various models, and read the comments and the answer to customer questions whether a particular model worked with my provider. I ended up with a TP-LINK DOCSIS 3.0 (16x4) mode for $50 that should get me a maximum of 680mbs.

The final step is connecting your modem to your cable. Many cable comanies can do this automatically. You just plug the modem in. Not with my cable provider. Two hours trying to get to a customer service person on the phone, then listening to that person tell me the advantages of renting, and finally waiting four more hours waiting for my cable company to configure whatever they needed to configure for my modem to work.

I’ve had less trouble with Comcast (northern California) than others have. In fact, for the most part, their service has been excellent. The only problem is the cost of service, which is high. But I live in an apartment with no line of sight for a satellite dish, so my alternatives are limited. So I’m not really in the market for a third-party cable modem. That seems to me to be buying trouble. I find it odd that cable modems are even called modems, since the signals are all digital and don’t need to be modulated from an analog source. I think of my Comcast (Arris) device as a router, which has excellent set-up software, by the way, when I need to check on it via my browser with an IP login. No one seems to be talking about setup issues with third party cable modems/routers, which seems to me to be problematic for non-technically inclined users. Indeed, I like the fact that Comcast customer service can tunnel into the router for troubleshooting purposes, though I’ve learned basic support myself since I got my first router some years ago. Talk about difficult setup, has anyone ever tried to set up an AT&T router? Comcast seems to be getting most of heat here, but compared to them AT&T is a real nightmare. I have several neighbors with AT&T service and I have to help them reset their modems every few months when they drop their signal. Unreliable plastic crap boxes to my way of thinking. We could use some advice about how to replace those—if they can be replaced.

Then allow me, as a fellow Northern California Comcast user, to fill in some blanks.

I earlier mentioned that I found a Motorola (aka Arris) SurfBoard modem that was on the list of Comcast acceptable modems (not a router as I already use an Airport Extreme) at a good price which allowed me to break even after less than ten months of use.

I switched out the the modem and called Comcast Customer Support to tell them what I had done and gave them the MAC address (I suspect they could have determined that for themselves). About ten minutes later they had configured the modem and service was immediately restored. As I mentioned before, they have kept the firmware up-to-date and there have not been any issues attributable to the modem.

There have been a couple of extended outages, but when I contacted Customer Support, they never told me that they would not help due to my modem ownership. They troubleshot the issue from there end, including a modem restart and then ask me to manually restart everything. Eventually they determined that there was a blanket issue with wide spread outages that included my neighborhood (in fact multiple cities) so determined they would not need to dispatch a technician to my location.

Regarding the term “Cable Modem” being a misnomer, I would have to agree that it does not match it’s original meaning as an analog to digital converter of legacy cable TV systems, so it’s a carryover from those prior years for the name of the current box that is used as an interface to convert the incoming cable connection to your local network providing compatible Internet (and VOIP if necessary) capability. The term is apparently included in current DOCSIS architecture standardization documentation.


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