I got complacent.
For years, we’ve had our service with Brighthouse (now Spectrum) and in the past, our modem was included as part of the monthly Internet fee. Then, at some point, we were being charged $4 a month for our cable modem. Since when, I don’t know. But after scrutinizing my bill this month, I noticed the rental charge. Now, $4/month isn’t that much – but over the years, it can really add up. I’m fairly certain I’ve paid at least a couple hundred dollars in rental fees alone.
Now, before I go on about my decision to own a cable modem – let me just say that it made sense for my situation. Renting may not be a bad option if you know you’re going to move, or if you have roommates, or if your employer’s going to cover your cable modem rental costs. In every other scenario, you’re better off buying your own cable modem. And that’s exactly what I did.
I bought an Arris Surfboard SB6183 off of Amazon for about $70. Before buying it, I visited Spectrum’s website to make sure that the modem would be compatible with my ISP. I also called my ISP to double-check. And while I was at it, I also realized that I could have been getting a better monthly ISP plan. Previously, I paid $78 for 60Mbps down / 6 Mbps up. Now I’m paying $64 for 100 Mbps down / 10 Mbps up. Bottom line: it pays to call periodically to see if you’re getting the best deal.
The modem arrived yesterday. In the box is the modem, a power supply, an Ethernet cable and a few sheets of documentation. This particular model comes with a 2 year warranty.
The modem itself is tiny, with a height of 5.25 inches.
The top and sides feature plenty of ventilation thanks to its perforated, plastic build.
The front of the unit features four indicator lights, representing (from top to bottom): power, download, upload, and Internet connectivity.
The back of the unit sports power in, Ethernet in, and a coax connector. The lights, particularly the blue lights, emanating from the unit are bright. If you keep your router in your bedroom, the light might be bright enough to bother you.
Below is a photo comparing the size difference between the old rental Arris modem next to the one I purchased. The old modem had extra features that I never used, including a built-in wi-fi router. As I’m using the Eero for all my routing needs, the old Arris’s extra features weren’t being utilized. By contrast, the new SB6183 model is a dedicated cable modem with no extra frills.
Setup was easy, barring the oddly shaped power supply. (Seriously, manufacturers – let’s get rid of the big, bulky power brick already!) After some cable rearranging and some obligatory grumbling on my part, the unit was receiving power. Next, I wired the Ethernet cable from the Arris cable modem to the Eero router. The router, in turn, sends its signal over to a Netgear switch, which distributes connectivity to all the wired devices in our house.
To let your cable provider know that you have a new modem, you’ll have to call them up and provide your cable modem’s MAC ID (located on the bottom of the unit). Your ISP will need this info to send the signal over to the new cable modem. After a few minutes, you should have glorious Internet coursing through your new cable modem’s hardware. It’s not a bad idea to reboot your machines to fully take advantage of the new hardware. I noticed a marked improvement in doing so.
Based on Speedtest benchmarking, the new modem delivers 113 Mbps down and roughly 11.48 Mbps up.
Time will tell about long term reliability on this unit. Other online reviews seem to be overwhelmingly positive. Based on its cost, owning the Arris SB6183 cable modem will save me money long term. Better late than never, right?