What is a decent DOCSIS3.0 modem with WiFi?

Discussion in 'Wireless Internet' started by D. F. Manno, Jul 12, 2015.

  1. D. F. Manno

    D. F. Manno Guest

    What is a decent DOCSIS3.0 modem with WiFi?

    My son is going to be a freshman at college and we put a
    deposit down on an apartment which will assign him an
    arbitrary roommate when they get there in the beginning
    of August.

    I have to make a choice if he will use his unlimited data
    (but tethering is limited to 7GB) cellphone plan, or if
    they will get cable.

    To get price comparisons, I started calling around for
    WiFi access for them (to compare against the cellphones
    used as hotpots).

    Comcast tells me the Internet is $45/month for 25Mbps down
    and 5Mbps up, $50 for the installation, and $10/month for
    the modem rental, with no taxes or surcharges (all of which
    might likely be split with the unknown roommate).

    When I asked if we could bring our own modem they said
    that any DOCSIS3.0 modem will work, so, I googled and
    found plenty.

    I pretty much known absolutely nothing about modems, but,
    I do know routers a little so, I'm assuming I want an
    integral 802.11n 4-port wireless router (unless there is
    some advantage to a separate router?).

    Maybe some of you are on cable?
    What do you look for in a DOCSIS3.0 modem?
    D. F. Manno, Jul 12, 2015
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  2. D. F. Manno

    D. F. Manno Guest

    And how does the speed of tethered or hotspot WiFi from
    the cellphone (4G/LTE) speeds compare with cable?
    D. F. Manno, Jul 12, 2015
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  3. D. F. Manno

    Char Jackson Guest

    Word on the street is that you can frequently get the installation fee
    waived. It probably wouldn't hurt to ask. I've also seen recommendations to
    check www.comcastoffers.com (redirects now to www.xfinityoffers.com) to see
    what they have. For example, the 50/5 service appears to be $45/mo for 12
    I'm with Time Warner at the moment, and they recently rolled out a free
    upgrade to 300/20 Mbps, so I needed a new modem to be able to handle the
    higher speeds. I purchased an Arris (used to be Motorola) SB-6183.

    Likewise, my router would have been a severe bottleneck, so I purchased a
    TP-Link Archer C9.

    IMHO, separate modem and router devices provide more flexibility, both now
    and in the future. Since the ISP controls the modem, if you get a combo unit
    you're at their mercy even for the router access. Plus, with a combo unit,
    if you want to upgrade or change just the router, for example, you have to
    change the modem too. With separate units, you just upgrade or replace the
    one device.

    I think cellular data will end up costing more and will be slower than
    cable, plus it probably has a monthly cap, but hey, it's mobile so it's
    available nearly everywhere, if that's important.
    Char Jackson, Jul 12, 2015
  4. There's no such thing as a cable modem with Wi-Fi. However, you can
    buy what Comcast calls a "gateway" that has a modem, router, wi-fi,
    and ethernet switch included. Other versions include two telephone
    ports if you subscribe to the phone service.
    If you go this route, try to get a Gateway 3 as the previous versions
    are horrible.

    What I'm pushing is a Motorola SB6141 DOCSIS 3.0 modem. Costco has
    them for $75.

    For a router/wireless/switch, I'm partial to Linksys EA2700 dual band
    router mostly because I bought a bunch and got a really good price.
    However, they're hard to find these daze. Some others (refurbished):

    If you're going to subscribe to Comcast phone service, everything
    changes as there are no cable modems that are on the approved list:
    Check DOCSIS 3.0 and Retail boxes and the only device that does
    telephony is the Arris TG862G, which is an all in one "gateway". It's
    also the original Comcast "Gateway 1" which methinks doth suck.

    Very roughly, if you rent, Comcast amortizes the cost of the "gateway"
    over 12 to 18 months. So, if your son is going to be using the modem
    for less than this period, you might as well rent it from Comcast. If
    longer, then buy something.

    In my never humble opinion, the winning strategy is to rent as little
    as possible from Comcast. That's fairly easy, as long as you don't
    use their telephone service.

    Good luck.
    Jeff Liebermann, Jul 12, 2015
  5. D. F. Manno

    D. F. Manno Guest

    So you recommend separate units, for flexibility?
    Is there a downside to the separate units?
    The unlimited cellular has a monthly cap of 7GB for
    tethering and hotspotting, so, I agree that this is a
    negative on cellular data.

    The positive is that there is no new equipment needed.
    And no installation fee (although I saw they sometimes
    wave it).
    D. F. Manno, Jul 12, 2015
  6. D. F. Manno

    D. F. Manno Guest

    Oh. I didn't realize that.
    That's probably what we want.
    I don't see any advantage of having a phone, unless the
    cellular coverage is spotty.
    Ooooh. I like Costco. I didn't know they sold them.
    That's probably what I will get, if it's in the stores
    out here.
    I happen to like power, although the kids don't know any
    better. The more power, the better I say (yes, I know about
    That's an interesting gotcha!
    I don't think they'll get phone service, but, it's a great
    question to ask the roommate when we meet the family.
    I would never have understood that suggestion if you hadn't
    explained the detail about the phone service modems not being
    available for purchase. Thanks!
    D. F. Manno, Jul 12, 2015
  7. D. F. Manno

    JF Mezei Guest

    Whil OT for an iPhone group, each cable system has a set of "approved"
    models that will work with their CMTS. And these approved models
    generally have cable operator specific patches. For instance, in Canada,
    the DCM 475 patched for Vidéotron may not work on the ROgers' network.

    When you get a modem, its WAN side MAC address must be registered with
    the cable operator and associated with your subscription. Some cable
    operators will not register modems they have not sold to you (since
    there is no garantee they are compatible with the right revision/pathches.).

    ISPs in Canada that TPIA for Vidéotron, Rogers and SHaw keep 3 sets of
    modems even if they are the same models. (because each cable operator
    needs different firware patches).
    JF Mezei, Jul 12, 2015
  8. D. F. Manno

    D. F. Manno Guest

    Comcast told me I can get any DOCSIS3.0 modem and it would work so
    that's not the case here in the states (thank heaven).

    Jeff mentioned they "control" the modem, and you mention they
    "register" the WAN side MAC.

    In general, do they let you have root privileges on the modem if
    you buy it yourself?
    D. F. Manno, Jul 12, 2015
  9. D. F. Manno

    D. F. Manno Guest

    I use Ooma. The call quality stinks (but my Internet connection
    also stinks, so, I can't blame the Ooma without knowing more as
    my jitter is too high.

    That's free, for life. There is only a one-time charge for the
    Ooma, and the darn tax (I'm registered in Kansas, where the tax
    is lower).
    Yes. I knew power means noise.
    That's also good to know, but I think these kids don't even really
    know what to do with a landline-style phone anyway.

    They may want TV, but, pretty much they never watch TV anyway,
    as they're always on their computers (hulu and the like).

    Do you think they allow root access to the modem if I buy the
    Costco one?
    D. F. Manno, Jul 12, 2015
  10. D. F. Manno

    Andy Burns Guest

    [This is a UK-centric answer, so unlikely to be helpful to the O/P]

    Virtually all cable TV/broadband here is owned by Virgin Media (i.e.
    Liberty Global with a licence to use the Virgin name) they provide the
    cable modem and the customer can't replace it, so there's no market for
    third party modems here, only for ethernet routers.

    However instead of a modem, where the customer requires their own
    router, Virgin can supply what they call a Super Hub, that's a combined
    modem, ethernet+wifi router.


    So there *is* such a thing, at least over here.
    Andy Burns, Jul 12, 2015
  11. No, Comcast doesn't allow admin access to the cable modem. Comcast
    installs their proprietary firmware, which drastically limits what can
    be done by the user. The need for proprietary firmware is why the
    list of Comcast approved modems is fairly small. If you get lucky and
    can find an admin password, it changes every day. Modems are
    authenticated and provisioned on power up via DHCP extensions from the
    CMTS (cable modem termination server). There's little left that can
    be changed by the user. User access to the modem's built in web
    server is limited to status and diagnostics pages.

    This is another reason why I like to seperate the cable modem from
    everything else. Comcast has the right to lock down their part of the
    puzzle, but everything else (router and wifi) should be under the
    control of the user.
    Jeff Liebermann, Jul 12, 2015
  12. D. F. Manno

    Char Jackson Guest

    I have family in Kansas who use Comcast Triple Play (Internet, TV, Phone),
    and they were given the option to provide their own cable modem to eliminate
    the monthly modem rental. Bottom line, they have two modems: one provided by
    Comcast for phone only (no modem rental charge), and the other was purchased
    and is used for Internet and TV (also no modem rental charge).

    I'm currently in TWC country, and I'm doing the same here. Two modems, no
    modem rental charges.
    Char Jackson, Jul 12, 2015
  13. D. F. Manno

    Char Jackson Guest

    Just the obvious stuff, all minor, IMHO. You'll use two electrical outlets
    and a tiny bit more shelf/desk space for two devices versus one. There could
    also be additional up front cost of acquisition, depending on the choices
    you make, but you'll quickly forget all of that, especially if an issue
    arises that affects only one of the devices.
    Char Jackson, Jul 12, 2015
  14. D. F. Manno

    The Real Bev Guest

    Excellent quality with Charter in SoCal for both Ooma and internet. No
    TV by choice. The best thing about ooma is being able to kick AT&T in
    the nads!
    The tax is $4/month here. First year we got premium ($15/month) service
    for free, but it didn't offer anything that we really wanted. The
    device itself is generally available at Costco for $139 or so, but every
    once in a while there will be a sale on the things for $90 or $100, and
    every once in a while I get email offering a coupon for both me and the
    friend that signs up through my coupon number.

    If you're interested, check with an ooma-friend and you both get
    something good. My last one expired in May :-(

    Newegg had refurbished units on sale for $90 last year and currently has
    new ones for $109.
    The Real Bev, Jul 12, 2015
  15. I have an SB6121 also; I was wondering whether replacing it with an
    SB6141 is worth the expense. My carrier is Cox Communications.
    Michelle Steiner, Jul 12, 2015
  16. D. F. Manno

    JF Mezei Guest

    Interesting policy.

    When the modem powers up, it asks the coax side for its settings. The
    CMTS then provisions the modem with a whole bunch of stuff, from
    encryption keys, your customer profile (speeds, number of IPs allowed
    etc), and modem specific stuff (such as disabling access to the modem
    from the LAN which is something canadian carriers do).

    The modem manufacturers provide cable carriers who a whole bunch of
    options on how to restrict the modem. (similar to handset manufactyirers
    who give carriers ability to change home menu, disable functions, add
    their crapware etc).
    JF Mezei, Jul 12, 2015
  17. D. F. Manno

    JF Mezei Guest

    Then probably remotely update a new modem with "their" firmware. (not
    talking about docsis stuff at every power up, actual firmware). That is
    how they could allow any modem of a certain model to work.
    JF Mezei, Jul 12, 2015
  18. I'm currently capped at 50 Mb/s.

    However, using their own speed test, I'm getting 60, probably because
    of their "Turbo Boost", which gives a temporary speed increase.

    For an additional five bucks a month, I can increase that to 100. (And
    for another $20/month, to 150.) But that's a promotional price for at
    least nine months; I don't know what the price would be after that.

    I'm content with what I have, so I think that I'll just keep everything
    as is.


    -- Michelle
    Michelle Steiner, Jul 12, 2015
  19. D. F. Manno

    JF Mezei Guest

    Yes, but the cable carrier is also able to push new firmware to modems.
    (very different from docsis config which is done whenever modem connects
    to the coax network). So it is possible that Comcast accepts "off the
    shelf" modems because its CMTS detect wrong firmware and and
    automatically push their firmware onto modem.

    (This is different from canadian carriers who do not accept modems with
    wrong firware, and only do "mass" firware upgrades to fix known bugs in
    JF Mezei, Jul 12, 2015
  20. D. F. Manno

    Nil Guest

    Unless you're referring to something else, that's not true for me. I
    have the all-in-one gateway for their X1 service, and I can access a
    reasonable array of settings for DHCP, Wifi, firewall, etc. It's not
    exactly "full-featured", but I do have some control.
    Nil, Jul 12, 2015
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