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An illustration of an internet modem.
An illustration of an internet modem.
An illustration of an internet modem.

Buy the modem, pocket the savings.

Published November 8, 2018.

An easy way to trim your internet bill.

When telephones had cords and rotary dials, Ma Bell owned the phones and required customers to pay monthly rent.

Even after buying your own landline became an option, some people didn’t realize the rules had changed and kept paying the monthly fee. With the money they spent over the years, those customers could have bought crates of fancy duchess phones with gold plating and pearl handles.

The modern equivalent: The fees charged by cable internet service providers (ISPs) to use their modems and routers (or modem-router combos). Check your bill, and you might see that you’re paying a monthly fee of $5, $10 or more.

“For $100, you can get equipment that should last five years,” says Charles Kinsey, an information security analyst at STCU. “Even if it fails early, you’re still talking about a savings.”

“You don't have to be a techie to make the switch,” says Charles Kinsey.

For a bit more of an investment, your new gear can include a next-generation firewall that will greatly improve the security of your home network without compromising speed, says Kinsey, who has helped many of his colleagues save money and protect their personal data.

"The equipment you buy may be better quality than those you're currently renting" and should eliminate any dead zones in your home, Kinsey says. "You don't have to be a techie to make the switch, either."

Start with a simple web search to determine which cable modems are compatible with your particular provider, and study the reviews. In addition to a modem to receive signals, you'll need a wireless router to distribute it. Some two-in-one units are available, but Kinsey says you'll likely get better quality and more versatility by buying them separately.

After you've made your selection, call your ISP to activate your new equipment. While you're on the phone, ask to have the modem fee removed from your monthly bill, and find out how the company wants you to return the rental equipment.

Once it's activated, you can change the default password on your new router and update your modem firmware (which is basically software etched into the device). Instructions for those two important security steps should be included with the new gear, or you can find manufacturer-specific instructions online.

Finally, decide what to do with your monthly savings!

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