Is it better to rent or buy your modem?

by Joel on September 14, 2010

Cable Modem

Cable Modem by frimlik (http://www.sxc.hu/profile/frimlik)

A lot of cable internet providers give you the option of renting a modem from them for 5 bucks a month or buying it outright for $30 – $50. Buying it is cheaper than renting it for a year but you have to pay for the equipment up front. Some DSL providers have similar options.

Besides the money issue, there’s also the question of what to do with a modem you have purchased if you change providers and the new provider’s service isn’t compatible with the old equipment. This is problem is even greater with DSL providers who seem to have an infinite array of protocols, none of which are compatible with other providers.

Generally, I prefer to own the stuff I use and that holds true for my tech equipment. I would rather pay less up front than more over a period of time. That philosophy saved my proverbial bacon last week when I was able to plug my old cable modem in at my new house, call up Comcast and get online in about 30 minutes. If I didn’t have my own modem, I would have had to wait several days for the service appointment to get hooked up. As a telecommuter who was supposed to be “at work” the next day, this was a big deal.

This philosophy does mean that I have a lot of old equipment lying around that I can no longer use but who knows, maybe one day I’ll donate it all to a tech museum.

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