Skip to Content

One way to save big money on your cable bill

Does it feel like that stack of monthly bills keeps getting larger and larger? It doesn’t matter if you’re a college student, a retiree living on a budget, or just a regular Joe looking to save a few bucks, it’s always nice to find ways to cut back on those bills.

One bill in particular has been growing by leaps and bounds for quite some time. Of course, we’re talking about your cable bill.

Normally right about now we’d start telling you how it’s the right time to cut the cable cord. Which it is, but not today.

(Psst! Click or tap here to compare streaming services that will help you cut the cable cord.)

No, today we’re going to talk about another way to save big money on your cable bill. Keep reading and I’ll tell you an easy way to save serious money along with how to do it correctly.

Are you making this simple mistake?

Even if you are one of the millions of Americans who have already cut the cable cord and switched to streaming services to watch TV, you probably still have a monthly cable bill. That’s because cable companies also offer high-speed internet service, which millions of Americans subscribe to.

As with most any monthly bill, you’re not just paying for the desired service but also a bunch of other little fees. These add up quickly. There’s one fee that you can eliminate all together and it will save you tons of money in the long run.

I’m talking about the fee cable companies charge you to lease a modem. When you sign up for internet service, most providers give you the choice to either lease a modem or purchase one.

Do the math and you’ll see what a huge mistake it is to lease. If it costs $12 per month to lease the modem, it adds up to $144 over the course of a year.

A good modem can last for years. Let’s say you keep the same modem for five years. If you lease it, you would pay a total of $720 over that time. You can easily find a modem to purchase outright for hundreds of dollars less than that. Buying your modem is the much wiser choice over leasing it.

What to look for when buying a new modem

Cable companies are busy upgrading their networks for faster speeds. Naturally, to access these faster speeds requires a newer cable modem.

Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification (DOCSIS) is the international standard used for transferring data. Currently, DOCSIS 3.0 is the most common device used by cable companies. (Although, DOCSIS 3.1 is available in some limited areas) and DOCSIS 3.1 Full Duplex is in the works.

DOCSIS 3 has a max download speed of 1.2 Gbps with a max upload of 200 Mbps. While DOCSIS 3.1 has a max download speed of 10 Gbps and max upload of 1 Gbps.

But don’t run out and grab a new modem just yet. Check with your cable provider to see if your connection uses DOCSIS 3 or 3.1. There’s a significant price difference between the two modems, so if DOCSIS 3.1 won’t be available in your area for years to come you might as well go with DOCSIS 3 to save some money.

Another thing to look for is different types of modems. You’ll have to choose between gateway or stand-alone.

When shopping, you’ll notice some modems with built-in wireless routers; these are often called gateways. While a gateway is convenient space-wise, it has disadvantages compared to a stand-alone router.

Stand-alone wireless routers are more powerful and have more features. While a gateway is tethered to the wall with a short coaxial cable, you have more freedom to place a stand-alone router, which can mean a better signal.

If one part of a gateway goes kaput, you’ll lose your internet service, or your network, until you can get a new gateway. When a stand-alone router goes down, you can at least get a computer on the internet by plugging it into the cable modem with an Ethernet cable.

Now that you know what to look for, let’s talk about some good options to buy.

Here are some good modem options

DOCSIS 3.0 models

This Netgear DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem is certified to work with most cable companies’ services. You will need a separate router for Wi-Fi with this model, which is why it’s less expensive. You can buy it from Amazon for under $60.

Here is an option that includes Wi-Fi. This Netgear DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem router combo is also certified to work with most cable companies’ services. Plus, it gives you better Wi-Fi connectivity throughout your home for all your internet-enabled devices. You can buy it from Amazon for around $100.

(Note: Be sure to click on Cable Modem Router under the Style section if you want the modem router combo.)

DOCSIS 3.1 models

This Motorola cable modem supports the fastest available services from most cable companies. It features DOCSIS 3.1 and is perfect for those looking for super fast speeds. You will need a separate router with this model for Wi-Fi. Pick it up from Amazon for under $160.

This Netgear Nighthawk ultra-high speed Wi-Fi cable modem router combo is compatible with most cable companies’ services. It’s a bit more expensive than the others because it is both a cable modem and router and supports DOCSIS 3.1. You can buy it from Amazon for about $385.

Now that you know what to look for in a modem, it’s time to take action. For a little investment up front, you’ll be saving big time in the long run.

Komando Community background

Join the Komando Community

Get even more know-how in the Komando Community! Here, you can enjoy The Kim Komando Show on your schedule, read Kim's eBooks for free, ask your tech questions in the Forum — and so much more.

Try it for 30 days