With the recent proliferation in technology, Cable internet has become faster than it ever expected – even better than fiber internet in a few regions. A suitable cable modem plays a pivotal role in keeping up the speed of your internet package. Therefore, you should choose a proper cable modem for you that is compatible with your ISP.
Selecting the best cable modem can be a daunting task with plenty of options present and new, more tech-savvy ones coming out every year. Deciding to buy the appropriate modem might seem easy to many, but specific lingo is quite technical. Thus, we have created a buyer’s guide to get the best and most suitable cable modem fulfilling their requirements.
Let’s demystify some modem specification to help you get your hands on the best:
Nowadays, cable modems either have a DOCSIS 3.0 or DOCSIS 3.1 standard configuration. The protocol is printed in the specification booklet that comes with a modem or stuck to the box it came in. However, no further explanation is present from the manufacturer side or the retailer side explicitly.
DOCSIS is an acronym for Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification, which implies data transmission speed between your place and Internet Service Provider. It is an international telecommunication standard which you might have seen if you ever bought a modem or you will see when you buy one. In layman’s terms, it is standard that allows the internet service provider to provide their services through coaxial cable. In other words, with this normal present, your modem can explicitly offer broadband service.
3.0 and 3.1 on DOCSIS suffix are just protocol version numbers. They have a specific difference between them in terms of internet speed and the number of concurrently used channels. Therefore, if you have an internet service that provides 1000 MBPS speed, then the cable modem DOCSIS 3.1 standard will be perfect for you. Else DOCSIS 3.0 will work just fine. Most households in the United States have an average speed of 66MBPS, so a modem with DOCSIS 3.0 protocol is perfect for them. But, if the rate surpasses or becomes equal to 1GBPS in the future, then DOCSIS 3.1 will be the ruler.
Therefore, it is safe to say DOCSIS 3.1 is the real future.
Uploading & Downloading Speed
One of the most significant considerations when buying a cable modem is the upload and download speeds. However, the manufacturers and retailers lack the context when it comes to speed specifications. They generally state it like, “up to 500 Mbps.” And, if they ever advertise about speed, the download speed is showcased, and upload speeds seem nowhere.
For your understanding, upload speed is slower than download speed. Therefore, if you see downloading speed written somewhere in the specification, assume that the uploading rate would be much lower. Buyers get tempted with just the number mentioned on the specs related to speeds, but they forget they cannot get more speed than the internet package they pay for.
For instance, if your modem specification implies pulling 1 GBPS speed, but on the other hand, your subscription plan caps 50 MBPS max, you can’t get or fight for 1 GBPS speed. If you wish to have 1GBPS, you need to upgrade your existing internet plan. Getting a modem with the highest offering speed might be a need of the future but for now, choosing the modem that provides enough speed as per your internet service package is the optimal option.
Upstream & Downstream Channel Bonding
If you look at the modem specifications precisely, you will notice anything written from 32 X 8 to 8 X 4. Non-specialist won’t be able to contemplate what exactly this implies until they know technical terms. Let me simplify this for you, and it is not that daunting to understand. The figure depicted only means the number of upstream and downstream channels a modem comprises.
The first figure represents the downstream channels, and the number after “X” represents how many upstream channels a particular modem has. The number of upstream and downstream channels that a modem provides correlated with the down data provided by your ISP. Likewise, the downloading and uploading speeds, upstream channel numbers are less than downstream ones. This is because most users are more concerned about downloading their content on the internet than uploading it.
You don’t need to consider this point much unless you have subscribed to the most premium internet package. Although the higher the number, the better the modem. So, if you don’t want to end up with an underpowered or old technology modem, make sure the modem you are selecting has at least 16 downstream channels present.
Internet Service Provider Compatibility
Last but not least is your modem compatibility with your Internet Service Provider. Most modems available nowadays are compatible with any cable internet service company, but a few aren’t. There is no particular reason behind that. It is just the way it is. Before a cable company authorizes their cables, they ensure that the lines are 100% compatible to run a massive network.
Roughly, there are three ways to check the modem’s compatibility with your ISP: Google It, Checking approved modem websites, and contacting your ISP provider. In most cases, the third one, i.e., getting your internet provider, will give you an accurate answer. So, it would be best if you contact your service provider first before jumping to some conclusion on your own.
Also, once you buy your modem, you need to call your ISP to set up the connection, or you can call and provide them with your MAC’s address printed on the bottom of your modem box.
The Bottom Line
The need for a reliable and fast internet connection has increased with the WFH and study from home situation worldwide. You can select the best wireless cable modem by considering all the above-stated points. If you want to explore some of the reliable options, you can get started with these fantastic options.