Let's be honest, cable modems aren't what I would consider glamorous technology. A technician probably set it up for you when you started your cable plan and you haven't thought about it since.
It's easy to forget how important, and impressive, your cable modem actually is. It handles your internet traffic 24/7 for years, usually without a glitch. Some modems even pull double duty as your wireless router.
There is a good reason to occasionally think about your cable modem, though. If it's more than a few years old, you might not be getting the internet download speeds you're paying for.
Cable companies have been busy upgrading their networks for faster speeds. These faster speeds require faster cable modems.
Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification (DOCSIS) is the international standard used for transferring data. Currently, DOCSIS 3.0 is the most common used by cable companies. (Although, DOCSIS 3.1 is available in some very limited areas.)
DOCSIS 3.0 can achieve download data rates of 160 Mbps or better - four times faster than DOCSIS 2. This means if you're using a DOCSIS 2 modem, you might not be able to achieve the download rate that you're paying for.
Cable modems with DOCSIS 3.1 have a network capacity support of at least 10 Gbps downstream and 1 Gbps upstream. This will make for lightning fast downloads. That's sometime down the road though as cable companies haven't announced when they will begin supporting DOCSIS 3.1. So we'll just look at DOCSIS 3.0 for now.