How to Replace Your Cable Modem and Save Money

By | May 16, 2023

How to Replace and Install a Cable Modem and Save Money
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.
How to Replace Your Cable Modem and Save Money 2020
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

  1. The first step is to buy a new cable modem.
  2. 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.
    How to Replace Your Cable Modem and Save Money
    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. (Paid Affiliate Link)
    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.

  3. Look up the number for your cable company tech support line to call in and activate the new unit.
  4. 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.

  5. Everything needs to be plugged in before calling in the new Mac address for activation.
  6. How to Replace Your Cable Modem
    The coaxial cable simply screws onto its port.

    The Ethernet cable goes to your router, which transmits to all your devices.

  7. Call in your new Mac address number to activate the new modem.
  8. 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.

3 thoughts on “How to Replace Your Cable Modem and Save Money

  1. Mega

    I just bought an Arris 3.1 modem, and tomorrow I’m gonna call my cable company to have I activated but I’m also going to go buy the Netgear nighthawk X6 to go with it because all I have now is a cheap $60 router with the original Motorola modem that came from the cable company 10 years ago….

  2. Stan Leeger

    I replaced my modem to save the rental fee. However, I also have an old Optimum router that is giving me problems and has to be restarted regularly, sometimes several times a day. I called Optimum about getting a new one. The person on the phone said, sure, they’d send me a new one as mine is very old. But after another wait on hold, the same person claimed that they couldn’t send one. Instead, I’d have to drive to their office to pick it up. In addition, I’d have to schedule a technician to come and set it up. They claimed that I’d be unable to “pair” it, or something like that, without a technician coming to my house.
    By the way, every time I’ve ever called Optimum, they’ve played that recording claiming “Due to unusually high call volume, we are experiencing longer than normal wait times.” But long wait times are their normal. They just pretend that that you happened to call at very busy time. Their phone system seems to be designed to insure frustration.

  3. bethehack

    I am setting up service with Comcast and decided to get the ARRIS SURFboard SB6183 to avoid paying their monthly extor…rental fee. I’m excited to pair it with my new 802.11ax WiFi 6 router. I hear with the 6183, download speeds with Comcast are higher than advertised. Anything beats the AT&T 6Mbps DSL line my new service is replacing.


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