As anyone with cable internet knows, ISPs charge a rental fee on cable modems, which most pay since they often think it is too hard to replace one with their own.
Replacing a cable modem is an easy task that almost anyone can do and save on the monthly rental fee.
The fees can range from $5-$10 dollars a month, which can add up quickly when added up over a year or more.
I recently replaced my cable modem with my ISP, and the steps were very simple. I had my new modem installed and running in less than 10 minutes.
Steps to Replacing Your Cable Modem
- The first step is to buy a new cable modem.
- Look up the number for your cable company tech support line to call in and activate the new unit.
- Everything needs to be plugged in before calling in the new Mac address for activation.
- Call in your new Mac address number to activate the new modem.
DOCSIS (Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification) is the standard used by cable companies to talk to a modem.
The newest standard is DOCSIS 4.0, with most ISPs using DOCSIS 3.0 and 3.1.
DOCSIS 3.1 and 4.0 are backward compatible with earlier versions.
So even if your cable company is still using the old DOCSIS 2.0 standard, a new DOCSIS 3.1 or 4.0 cable modem will work.
Since older versions cost less, money can often be saved by buying an older DOCSIS version such as 3.0 or 3.1.
A DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem has a download speed of 1.2 Gbit, and DOCSIS 3.1 can download at 5 Gbit.
Even with the newest cable modem, most internet speeds will never reach 1.2 Gbit.
I bought the ARRIS SURFboard SB6141 DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem since it was the best fit for my setup.
A DOCSIS 3.1 modem will likely be best for most since it is a widely compatible version and has very good speeds.
ARRIS SURFboard SB8200 DOCSIS 3.1 on Amazon.
ARRIS SURFboard SB8200 DOCSIS 3.1 Gigabit Cable Modem
There are cheaper units if you are on a budget, and more expensive top-end units that come with more features such as a built-in router.
I had recently bought a new 802.11ac router, so I decided on the ARRIS SURFboard since it is a good mid-range unit.
Your ISP will need the MAC address labeled on the router to activate it once it is hooked up.
The MAC address is usually labeled on the router or in the manual.
Some companies have an activation page to enter the router MAC address, but calling their tech support line may be easier, especially since you may not have an internet connection during setup.
The Ethernet cable goes to your router, which transmits to all your devices.
Once they have the new Mac address, the new modem will be online.
The router will usually need to be reset to get a new IP address.
Can I Replace My Cable Modem Myself?
Yes, in most cases, a new cable modem can be bought to replace the cable company’s installed rental unit.
The new modem should match the cable provider network, with most using at least DOCSIS 3.0 to DOCSIS 3.1.
DOCSIS is the cable modem standard and is backward compatible with older DOCSIS versions.
Replacing the modem requires hooking up the connections to a router and calling in the modem’s mac address.
Often cable internet companies make it difficult to swap out a modem but by law need to have a way to use your own equipment.
Setting up a new cable modem is an easy task and a good way to save on costs long term.
Deciding on which modem to buy will be the hardest part since there are many available.
Depending on your internet service provider’s speeds, a top-end modem may not help with faster transfers.
For example, if your speed is 100Mbps, a new modem that can transfer at 500Mbps will never be maxed out, and a cheaper one can be bought.
If you have an older router buying a combo modem/router is also an option that may help with a faster connection.
Everyone will have a different setup to fit their internet environment.
Simply be sure to read the reviews on Amazon, forums, or elsewhere to see which modem is a good fit for you.
Replacing the cable modem with your own and getting rid of the rental fee from your provider is a good way to lower costs.
Have you replaced your cable modem? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.