Is My Modem Compatible with my ISP?

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ISP & Modem Compatibility

You would think in this day and age that if you bought a modem that it would just “work” without really needing to do much. But regrettably, this isn’t the case.

Believe it or not, not all modem are compatible with all of America’s ISPs (Internet Service Provider).

So why do all of these companies make sure their equipment, software or services work with some things and not others?

Well, just look at Apple. They have a “closed ecosystem” meaning, things only work with Apple products or software if they allow it to. The close off everything for one big reason, profits!

See, if you have to pay for every single app, song, etc…they have you.

But if you can use something like Linux that’s open-source, how could they possibly make the billions they are making?


And ISPs are no different. They want to be as profitable as possible. And one of the ways they do that is to rent you your modem.

Yes, you usually pay anywhere from $7 to $15 a MONTH to “rent” your modem in order to use their service. Seems kind of lame, no? And seeing that most people use their same modems for 3 to 5 years, even if it’s slow and an ancient piece of garbage, you can imagine the profit center this really is.

And usually, they have a contract with a modem manufacturer that supplies them so cheaply, most companies are at a pure profit after the first 6 months. So keep renting your modem after that and it’s pure gravy for them.

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So if they can, they will make it as impossible as they possibly can to have you NOT buy and use your own hardware.

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Should You Buy a Modem?

Absolutely! Often the modem you get from your ISP is outdated before you even get it, even though modems are updated as often as router technology.

Or you may even be given a used model, from a previous customer. Ouch!

And modems from an ISP usually have extra software in them to make sure you can’t get more bandwidth then you are supposed to. This is fine, but if you are into tweaking your router settings to get the best possible speeds, this can really cause a lot of headaches.

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Which Modem to Buy?

Well, it really depends on your company. It also depends on your plan and the technology they are using for it as well. One easy way to find out is to use this website as they have all of the ISPs listed and the compatible modems for each ISP in the USA listed out and easy to find.

Or you can call your ISP directly, but even then there is no guarantee they won’t give you a cookie-cutter answer.

One model that seems to support almost all ISPs is the Motorola SurfBoard model. I don’t know the exact “tech” reason, but this modem seems to work with just about any ISP. So it’s the safest bet and it’s is totally affordable.

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