The internet has become a vital part of our daily lives.

Approximately 85% of households in the Us have either a laptop or desktop computer. If you factor in smartphones, over 91% of households are connected to the internet. Home connections have now made it possible to use one subscription with multiple devices. For home internet connections to work, you will need two things:

Modem – It translates incoming internet signal to something your device can understand.

Wi-Fi Router – connects to the router via an Ethernet and transmits the internet around your house as WiFi for use by other devices.

Most internet service providers (ISP) rent out routers and routers to their broadband clients as a combo unit. The charges by different providers for leasing a router and router range from $10 to $ 15. This would then translate to $120 to $180 in a year. Most experts advise users to choose separate units over a combo unit. This is due to the fact you can get better performing stand-alone units.

A modem and router combination costs between $50 and $150. It would cost you almost the same amount if you were to rent them for a year. Suppose you buy a router and router, it would pay for itself within two years. This is of course from the savings you will make from not paying the rental fee. Why then would one keep paying the rental charges? Well, before you rush to buy them yourself, there are some things you must consider.


Factors to consider when choosing between renting or buying

1. How long will you live in that coverage area?

Moving may sometimes force you to change your ISP if you move to an area outside the coverage of your current one. Some routers may not be compatible with the new service provider you opt for later on. With some companies, using their approved modems is mandatory. It may be better to rent if you plan to move some time in the near future.


2. Do you have roommates?

If you do, purchasing may not be the best option. It may be better to come up with a plan to split the rental fee. You will still get to enjoy similar services at a fraction of the cost.


3. Does your employer pay your internet bills?

A select few are lucky enough to work for companies that pay for their internet bills. If you are one of them, then the choice is easy. Choose one of the approved modems, and your employer will take care of the rest.


Pros and cons of renting


  • No set up hassles: Your ISP will deliver and install everything for you. All you have to do is enjoy your connection.
  • Free tech support: All issues concerning the router and your connectivity will be handled by your ISP.
  • Free replacement: When your router becomes outdated or fails, you just have to request for a replacement at no extra cost.



  • The rental fees will be more expensive than the upfront price of buying in the long run.
  • The quality of hardware installed may not be the best available in the market.
  • The costs per month may be increased by your provider.


Pros and cons of buying

Benefits of buying a modem and/or router

  • No more speed caps: Having your own router will allow you to access the full speeds of your internet subscriptions. Fast internet allows you to spend lesser time on tasks that would take longer with slower internet. If you compare the actual connection speed and the one you paid for when using rented models you are likely to notice a big difference.
  • It is cheaper in the long run: In most cases, it takes a little over twelve months for a router to pay for itself. After that, you can save money. With your own, the ISP cannot throttle the connection speed or bandwidth.
  • High-performance routers are also an option.
  • Switching providers is easier


Disadvantages of buying a router and/or router

  • You get to pay high upfront cost ($50-$150).
  • Installation may be challenging for people who are not tech savvy.
  • You might not get any tech support.
  • You might buy one that is not among the approved routers for a different service provider later on.


Once you decide that owning a router is the better option, consider the following:

ISP requirements

Routers are not a one size fits all item. You have to find out which routers are compatible with your provider and the specs required. This information is available on their website. If not, just call their customer care line for clarification.


Data Over Cable Service Interface Specifications (DOCSIS)

DOCSIS is an international standard that allows high-speed transfer of data on existing cable TV systems (CATVSs) that operators use to provide internet access to their customer via a cable router.

These specifications come in ratings such as DOCSIS 1.0, DOCSIS 2.0 etc. that range in speeds. What should concern you most is the speed each rating can handle. Be sure to pick a rating that can meet your internet need and compatible with your ISP.

Let us take a look at some of the upload and download speeds that they come with:

  • DOCSIS 1.0/1.1 – 38Mbps down / 9Mbps up
  • DOCSIS 2.0 – 38Mbps down / 27Mbps up
  • DOCSIS 3.0 – 152Mbps down / 108Mbps up
  • DOCSIS 3.1 – 10,000Mbps down / 1,000Mbps up

A wi-fi Router device will allow access to your internet connection to multiple gadgets. They are only necessary for connections with multiple users. Choose one that can handle the same speed as your router. A high-end router may be needed if the devices are many.


Both buying and hiring a router have their pros and cons. For some people, the after-sale services that come with rented routers are worth the higher bills at the end of the month. Why burden yourself with dealing with technical issues when your provider has the experts? Fair enough. But for those of you who are the hands-on do it yourself type, buying presents an opportunity to access faster internet speed and save money over the long haul.