By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Cheap Geek: Save on home internet cost by buying, not renting the router
Cheap Geek

It seems like it happens every year. The joy of the holiday season, and the anticipation of a new year turns sour when you find out the monthly price for your cable TV or satellite and/or internet service will go up in January.

I got the latest price hike announcement in the mail this week from my provider, a nationally-known cable company, but to be fair, they are not the only ones who will be raising their prices at the start of 2019.

I mentioned in a previous column how I “cut the cord” and no longer pay for cable or satellite, but that doesn’t make me immune to the price increases for internet service, something vital when you stream your TV shows.

Fortunately, at least for this coming year, they’re keeping my 125 Mbps speed internet plan at the same price, (after two consecutive years of increases) but I noticed it will now cost $13 each month to rent the wireless modem/router combo, a piece of equipment needed to receive the internet connection and have it stream throughout the house.

I am fortunate that I do not rent a modem/router. I own one. Even when rental fees were $7 a month, it was too much for me. I turned the equipment back into that company about five years ago, and have never looked back.

Although I can’t control future internet price hikes, I can limit the overall cost by owning the hardware, and therefore avoid that recurring fee.

Unfortunately, the majority of internet subscribers either don’t realize they can affordably buy a modem/router or think it’s too complicated to do so. I’m hoping to take away that fear and show you how you can save hundreds of dollars over time and not be held hostage to annual router rental price increases.

Although you’ll find wireless modem/routers selling as high as $300, you should be able to get one in the $100 to $150 range – that’s what I did. In the first five years, I have already saved about $500 on rental fees.

Granted, just like any device, the modem/router could have broken by now, forcing me to buy another one, but you can never worry whether something you buy will last six months or 20 years.

Before I go further, let me clarify a distinction. If you get home internet service, it’s from either a cable TV provider like Comcast, or a phone provider like AT&T. Before you purchase equipment make sure you know whether you’re part of a cable system and need to purchase a cable modem/router, or part of a company that uses DSL. In this article, I am referring to both types simply as a wireless modem/router.

If you don’t know which system you have, just ask your provider. They should also be able to give you the specs of the modem/router you currently rent so that you can buy a comparable one.

Make sure the router keeps up with your internet connection: Until recently, the speed of your internet was limited to about 150-200 Mbps, and all routers could handle that. But with 1 gigabyte speeds available, you’ll need a stronger router to keep up with that speed. Just be sure to check the settings on the router box beforehand that correspond to your maximum speed.

 If at all possible, get the modem/router with the latest Wireless-N designation, which is faster. However, the Wireless-G will still work fine. The price of the modem/routers will be determined by that maximum gigabyte speed (important if you have multiple users in the house streaming at the same time) whether it is single or dual-band (dual is better) and by the number of ports available on the unit, which doesn’t matter to the average person.

When buying the unit, the best brands, in my opinion, are Motorola (look for the Arris name), TP-Link and Netgear. I browsed the web this week to search for some options that fall into my recommended price range of under $150.

Wireless CABLE modem/routers:

ARRIS SURFboard SBG6900.

Netgear AC1600 (C6250).

Netgear N600.


Wireless DSL modem/routers:

Motorola MD1600.


Once you buy the unit you’ll need to install it, and nowadays this is so easy with most technology. Most of the time it’s what’s called “plug and play” where it practically installs itself and configures without much effort.

Be sure to password protect your wireless Internet connection to keep others from gaining control. Of course, there’s always plenty of online documentation and You Tube videos available to walk you through the set up.

This writer wants to hear from you. If you have questions on anything you read or have a story to tell, contact Mark at

To view past columns, type Cheap Geek into the search field.


Sign up for our e-newsletters