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Author Topic: New to cable modems  (Read 573 times)

scottydl

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New to cable modems
« on: March 16, 2019, 03:26:36 PM »
I've commiserated on here before our home internet connection, which is DSL (through our home's landline phone junction box) and has had its problems over the years. We never had any other broadband options in my small town, until now... finally another company laid fiber-optic lines in my small town and we are switching next week.

The new service will require a cable modem, which I am buying myself instead of paying them $8/month to rent. Using Amazon offerings as a reference, is there really any significant difference in all these makes/models that just about range from $20-500?? Company recommended a Netgear Nighthawk or Arris brand, but the lady on the phone couldn't really say why ("the techs swear by them" is all she knew) and the only technical requirement is DOCSIS 3.0. I realize for cable, the modem and router are two separate components, although combo units are available too.

I already have a tp-link router that works fine, so I plan on using that. I ordered a Netgear CM500 cable modem that is currently $68 retail but I found one from Amazon Warehouse for $25. I'm not seeing what makes any of these $100+ models worth the extra money, but want to make sure I'm not missing something major here.
Scott, wife, 3 boys... and the dog
- 2008 Forest River Wildwood 32BHDS
- 1995 Chevrolet Suburban C2500 tow vehicle
- 1994 Thor Residency motorhome... owned 2007-2012

SpencerPJ

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Re: New to cable modems
« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2019, 04:57:55 PM »
Well, you are missing something.  Your Fiber optic line will (or can) be awesome.  Don't slow that awesome speed down with junk in between.  I recommend that buy a decent cable modem / with wifi, and also get rid of your tp-link router. Arris makes good stuff, I have had Arris with cable, and it's great.  You will be disappointed if you pay for fiber, and don't get near what it is capable of. Times are rapidly changing in the tech world. Get current and be good for a while.   :)

8Muddypaws

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Re: New to cable modems
« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2019, 05:31:29 PM »
Second vote for Arris.  But I prefer a modem to be a modem and a wireless router to be a wireless router.  Separate boxes linked together with Cat-6 or USB3.0.  Make sure you know the administrator account and password for both.

I use an Arris docis 3.0 modem and a TP-Link Archer 4000 router.  I pay for 150Mbps and get a consistent 179Mbps.  Coverage in my house is excellent.  Your mileage may vary or course.
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kdbgoat

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Re: New to cable modems
« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2019, 07:34:59 PM »
I had good luck with Arris also. I haven't had any use for it lately, but I still have the surfboard packed away just in case.
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scottydl

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Re: New to cable modems
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2019, 11:46:33 PM »
Don't slow that awesome speed down with junk in between.  I recommend that buy a decent cable modem / with wifi, and also get rid of your tp-link router.

Can you offer any technical backdrop to those statements? What actually makes the units different? Obviously some are rated for higher speeds, but even the cheapest DOCSIS 3.0 models have more advertised speed capability than I'll need. I'm not planning on running a NASA space mission from my home server or anything... ;)
Scott, wife, 3 boys... and the dog
- 2008 Forest River Wildwood 32BHDS
- 1995 Chevrolet Suburban C2500 tow vehicle
- 1994 Thor Residency motorhome... owned 2007-2012

Arch Hoagland

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Re: New to cable modems
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2019, 11:59:36 PM »
https://www.howtogeek.com/368332/wi-fi-6-what%E2%80%99s-different-and-why-it-matters/ 

I've been researching cable routers recently and discovered some new things are coming along. 
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SpencerPJ

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Re: New to cable modems
« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2019, 06:54:38 AM »
Can you offer any technical backdrop to those statements? What actually makes the units different? Obviously some are rated for higher speeds, but even the cheapest DOCSIS 3.0 models have more advertised speed capability than I'll need. I'm not planning on running a NASA space mission from my home server or anything... ;)
I was merely making a comment that if you are using older technology and router, you will get dismall results.  Keep in mind, I currently have a 250 MB speed cable connection, but my computer only has a 100MB Ethernet card, so  :-\.  And trust me, 100 mb / second is a screamer.  Much of the newer stuff has much better software, and firewall, etc.  If you only do casual surfing and email, just about anything will be fine.  I have young adult kids.  When they are home, seems they stream movies, stream music, and social media non stop at times, and wine if it lags any.  Oh, remember the dial-up days  :)

https://www.howtogeek.com/368332/wi-fi-6-what%E2%80%99s-different-and-why-it-matters/ 

I've been researching cable routers recently and discovered some new things are coming along. 

Great article Arch.  Thanks for the link
 
« Last Edit: March 17, 2019, 06:56:46 AM by SpencerPJ »

PopPop51

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Re: New to cable modems
« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2019, 08:00:58 AM »
I'm in the much-ado-about-nothing camp.
For most people, buying state-of-the-art networking hardware is like using a fire hose to draw a glass of water. In most cases the average person simply doesn't need that much speed often enough justify the premium price.
The max speed I can coax out of my data-only cable setup in testing is about 30% higher than the contracted speed of 100 mbps down/10 mbps up, but in practice my needs only rarely and briefly utilize more than 70-80 mbps down/5 mbps up. Ninety-nine percent of the time I'm drawing under 10 mbps. And that's with the network supplying 1080p HD TV streaming over wifi to a TiVo, Fire TV, and Roku, two phones, two tablets, two laptops, a desktop, and a weather station reporter, at least three of which are typically in active use at any time. Considering that my wife and I both work online, where I'm using several constantly-active apps like Slack, Zoom meetings, a VOIP app, and several others plus some large one-page apps, FTP transfers, and SSH sessions, you'd think that the bandwidth monitor would frequently be pegged, but that's simply not the case.
Every network has a bottleneck that limits the speed required from all of the rest of its components. More often than the equipment marketers and technical journalists would like to admit, the bottleneck is demand.
My Arris cable modem and TP-Link wifi switch/router each cost me under $120 several years ago. Even then they were far from state-of-the-art. I use Cat5 cable to connect the desktop to the switch/router. Everything else is wifi.
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Bobtop46

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Re: New to cable modems
« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2019, 08:50:38 AM »
I have the Netgear Nighthawk at home and have had no problems with it.  The thing that I like about it is absolute control over access to it.  We have our devices connected then lock it down.  "block all new devices from connecting"  My kids come and can't connect, even with the password, until I log into the modem and allow each device one by one.  I also like that the modem and Wifi are one unit.  I have enough things plugged in near the TV already and, well one plug vice two works better for me.
The other thing I like about this unit is that the providers have a public hot spot inside every one of these cable modems, if you rent you can't turn it off.  I own my unit and have turned off the public hot spot. Sorry neighbors. 

I have the Netgear Nighthawk extender in the RV and like that also.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2019, 08:57:54 AM by Bobtop46 »
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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: New to cable modems
« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2019, 09:35:02 AM »
Any Docsis 3 modem has to be capable of 1.2 Gbits downloads and 200 mbits uploads, so surely adequate for you fiber cable connection. For more money you can get Docsis 3.1 or 3.1 Full Duplex, both of which support even higher data rates. Whether you need more, I'll leave up to you.

Also be aware that when they say the fiber is x gbits or xxx mbits, they are talking about the speed data travels on the SHARED cable loop, i.e. the aggregate speed of the entire cable loop that you and your neighbors use.   You may or may not get the benefit of all those bits at any moment.  In practice you are probably seeing speeds well under the theoretical max.
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scottydl

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Re: New to cable modems
« Reply #10 on: March 17, 2019, 08:46:21 PM »
For most people, buying state-of-the-art networking hardware is like using a fire hose to draw a glass of water. In most cases the average person simply doesn't need that much speed often enough justify the premium price.

I can get on board with that, good comparison! And it's not that we are a low-demand family... we are cord cutters so a good portion of our entertainment is streaming media and games. But we've done fine with an unreliable 12 Mbps DSL plan for a couple years now, and will be starting around that speed with the new cable service.

According to the specs on the Amazon product pages, the Netgear router I bought ($68 retail and I got open box for $25) is rated for up to 680 Mbps. The tp-link router I already have is rated for up to 300 Mbps. Considering that the fastest I'll go with this new provider is 100 Mbps, sounds like I'm more than covered.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2019, 08:49:15 PM by scottydl »
Scott, wife, 3 boys... and the dog
- 2008 Forest River Wildwood 32BHDS
- 1995 Chevrolet Suburban C2500 tow vehicle
- 1994 Thor Residency motorhome... owned 2007-2012

SpencerPJ

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Re: New to cable modems
« Reply #11 on: March 18, 2019, 06:55:20 AM »
Considering you already have this stuff bought, well... certainly hook it up and give it a whirl.  Sounds like you will be perfectly fine.  I would download the latest firmware once you get it all installed. 

8Muddypaws

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Re: New to cable modems
« Reply #12 on: March 18, 2019, 01:53:30 PM »
If you already had your mind made up why did you ask the question?  Nor did you specify that you were only paying for 12Mbps.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2019, 01:57:19 PM by 8Muddypaws »
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scottydl

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Re: New to cable modems
« Reply #13 on: March 18, 2019, 04:25:45 PM »
I wasn't only learning from here, it's been ongoing... ;) I didn't realize my current router would be useful with the new service until I read up a bit on cable equipment. Same with the available plans, that decision has been made over the last few days. Nothing that I've read or heard has indicated that there would be any actual advantage to buying more expensive equipment, so I figured I'd try the most affordable options first.
Scott, wife, 3 boys... and the dog
- 2008 Forest River Wildwood 32BHDS
- 1995 Chevrolet Suburban C2500 tow vehicle
- 1994 Thor Residency motorhome... owned 2007-2012

theoldwizard1

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Re: New to cable modems
« Reply #14 on: April 20, 2019, 09:49:34 PM »
Seeing as this is all new to you, I would rent for 6 - 12 months before buying.

At a minimum, get a list of SUPPORTED modems from the cable company.  The current "standard" is DOCSIS 3.1, but most companies support DOCSIS 3.0

Also, check into a "combo" modem/router/telephone.  These are commonly called "gateways".  Even if you don't want to use the telephone interface now, you may in the future.  And there are now MULTIPLE "voice over internet protocol" (VOIP) providers out there so you can likely drop your old "plain old telephone service" (POTS).

I am currently using a 10+ year old gateway that is DOCSIS 3.0.  Plenty fast for me and I changed internet companies last year with no issues.

scottydl

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Re: New to cable modems
« Reply #15 on: April 21, 2019, 05:05:35 PM »
Somewhat old news, but I'll update since there was another reply. I relented (didn't have to twist my arm TOO much) and upgraded to the 100Mbps plan for about $20 extra per month.

The installaton tech said the DOCSIS 3.0 Netgear modem I purchased ($25) was perfectly fine and registering good speeds, but recommended a router between AC1900 and AC3200 capabilities. He warned me that my older tp-link router was a choke point and would limit my wifi speed. He was right, and after a few days I found (in local classifieds) a gently used D-link AC1900 dual band router. Also $25. Got it all wired up, and for $50 out of pocket I'm cruising along with internet speeds I never dreamed possible! 8)
Scott, wife, 3 boys... and the dog
- 2008 Forest River Wildwood 32BHDS
- 1995 Chevrolet Suburban C2500 tow vehicle
- 1994 Thor Residency motorhome... owned 2007-2012

Dennis_Gibbs

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Re: New to cable modems
« Reply #16 on: April 27, 2019, 06:22:17 AM »
I couldn’t even suspect that they might still need them