Updated: May 23, 2015

Cable Modem Reviews:

In the early days of the Internet, you would use your computer modem to dial into some Internet service provider over standard phone lines. After a bunch of hissing and beeping, voila! you are connected to the Internet. But a standard phone line and modem are SLOWWWW. People wanted faster Internet connections, and along came DSL (digital subscriber line) and Cable Internet. Now you can connect via a high speed phone or cable line. And instead of using a normal telephone modem, you now use a cable modem. The cable from your wall jack connects directly into the cable modem, and then an ethernet cable connects from the cable modem to your PC. That's all a cable modem is - a box that sits between your computer and the cable company, passing data back and forth at high speeds.



Broadband has come to mean any internet access faster than 56K dialup speeds, which includes both DSL and Cable. Broadband cable internet access beats dial-up hands down: much higher speeds, always on (no need to dial-up, get connected, get disconnected), surf the web without using phone line. High-speed Internet access makes it possible to handle much larger audio and video and multimedia files. Since people normally download much more than they upload, download speeds are optimized and can normally achieve several MB/sec. Upload speeds are normally a fraction of that - more like 400KB/s. Companies like Comcast normally have special sign up offers for new customers - first 6 months or 12 months at $19 per month, then the rate increases to their normal higher rate. They sometimes throw in a free modem as well, so be sure to contact them (or whoever your local cable company is) first before going out and buying a cable modem. I currently subscribe with Comcast they have an Arris Touchstone Telephony Modem hooked up at my house with a Netgear router so that I can get all my computer online with a wireless network. Now the good news is that you can buy most of these computer modems and parts online if you wish to own rather than lease these. Keep in mind that Comcast rents you the equipment each month and they do all the servicing of it if something goes wrong. Most likely buying a modem will not cause any technical difficulties, but ultimately that is your choice. If you have zero or limited tech skills when it comes to networking or getting online, it's probably best to let your cable company handle the equipment. For others, it's a wise choice to buy a cable modem for $50 to $80 and save the $5/month or higher rental fee. You can browse the best selling cable modems online here. Read cable modem reviews and find out which brands perform the best. Check out Motorola, Arris, Cisco, NetGear, D-Link, and Actiontec.

Best Cable Modems:

Perhaps the best selling name in this field is Motorola. Their Surfboard SB5101 Cable Modem is hands down the clear leader and reviews for this product are very positive. This is the model I used to use before I switched to the phone service from Comcast and they switched it out with the Arris Touchstone model (see below). At $75, the Motorola Surfboard modem is reasonably priced and it works out to about $3/month ownership fee if you keep it for 2 years (that is versus the $5/month that cable companies tend to charge). You are always on, always connected to the Internet and they are easy to install as well. No real technical know how is required. They are easy to setup next to your computer. Just hook up the cable line from the wall into the back of the unit. Then connect your computer to the cable modem either via a cable line or wirelessly (if your computer can do that). The SB5101 can support ultra-fast download speeds so Internet surfing will be faster than ever. I had zero problems with my cable modem over the years. Periodically I would have to reset the modem if the power went out, but that was it. It was on 99.99% of the time without a hitch.


Telephony Modem:

For many of us, it makes sense to get our cable, Internet, and telephone from one provider. Easy billing, customer support is simpler, and you can often get a "bundled" deal from high speed Internet providers like Comcast. I recently made the switch from Qwest telephone service over to the Comcast phone service and it has worked out great. We have 2 phone lines in the house (a business line and regular home landline). The only issue was having to change from our Motorola modem over to the Touchstone Telephony Modem TM602A/110. It gave us carrier grade VoIP along with high speed data access. I had never heard of Arris before (the maker of the modem), but the modem works great and we have had no issues with our online connection or the phone lines.