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Cable Modems: Your Gateway to the Internet

Unless you are using fiber optic or satellite internet, a modem is the most basic requirement for internet access. Your modem is the device that connects to the network of an internet service provider such as Xfinity, Spectrum, Cox, or another ISP and enables your devices to send and receive information via the internet.

Cable modems are the only type of modem that most ISPs support today. These modems connect to the internet via a coaxial cable, the same kind used for cable TV. You don’t need cable TV service to use cable internet, but you do need a coaxial connection and a cable provider. Once you have connected your cable modem to the internet, you will connect a WiFi router to the modem via the modem’s built in Ethernet port to create a WiFi network.

Most ISPs offer their subscribers the option of renting a cable modem, but many people prefer to purchase a compatible modem on their own - or even a cable modem router combo. Buying your own modem lets you make sure you are purchasing a high quality product with specs that meet your needs, and it can potentially save you money in the long term because you won’t pay the ISP’s rental fees.

How Do I Choose the Best Modem?

To find the best cable modem for you, make sure to think about these factors:

ISP Support: First, verify that your internet service provider supports the specific modem you are considering. You will see a list of compatible ISPs in each item description, but the safest way is always to verify the modem compatibility and corresponding upload speed on your provider website.

DOCSIS 3.0 vs. DOCSIS 3.1: These are two different versions of the main operating standard for modems. The newer DOCSIS 3.1 modems are recommended for people with gigabit plus internet speeds - 1000 mbps or more, since these modems can use a high speed internet connection much more effectively. They are also a solid investment in future proofing your network. DOCSIS 3.0 modems have lower maximum download speeds, but are highly affordable and will remain relevant for some time.

Gigabit Ethernet Port: To use a gigabit connection for your WiFi network, you will need a gigabit ethernet port on your modem. Check the specs for the modem’s RJ45 ports and look for a 10 100 1000 rating.

Upstream and Downstream Maximum Transfer Rates: Take a look at the modem’s maximum upload and download speeds. Again, if you want to take advantage of faster speeds that your internet plan offers, you will need a modem that is able to provide those speeds.

Modem Router Combos: A modem router combo gives you the convenience of having your modem and wireless router in a single box. It can be a time saver if you will have your modem and router in the same place anyway.

Micro Center is your complete source for home networking gear, with outstanding prices on top modem brands like Arris, Netgear, Motorola, and others. To complete your home network setup, be sure to also check out our selection of wireless routers.