If your cable internet provider is insisting that you upgrade your cable modem to DOCSIS 3.0 or higher, this article is for you.

Up until a few weeks ago, my internet service had been working great. All devices were connecting wirelessly via a Cisco wireless router to a Motorola Surfboard cable modem without any problems. Then suddenly, very slow connectivity occurred. After reaching out to the internet service provider, they concluded that I had to upgrade my cable modem to one which has the DOCSIS 3.0 standard.

DOCSIS? What in the world is that? DOCSIS is an acronym which I’ve tried several times unsuccessfully to memorize. It’s got the word “cable” and the word “standard” in there somewhere. But for simple-minded Tech Galavants, it refers to the way data is uploaded and downloaded. Since we can connect so many devices to our Internet provider, your bandwidth gets filled quickly. The latest standard improves bandwidth usage with multiple devices on the network. DOCSIS is geared towards cable internet providers, and DOCSIS 3.0 was really badly needed to compete with FiOS in my opinion. So, if you’re stuck with cable as an internet provider, and they are telling you to update your cable modem, then do yourself a favor and upgrade it.

PSEUDO CODE

        if (internet_provider == “cable”) && (modem < 3.0) {

               upgradeModem;

          } else {doNothing};

REQUIREMENTS

(1) I want just one device which combines both cable modem and wireless router.

(2) It should have the latest and greatest standards: 802.11ac wireless standard AND DOCSIS 3.0 or higher wired standard. I don’t want to spend money on something which is going to be extinct in 3 months.

(3) It should have Ethernet ports for at least 3 devices. Devices perform better with a wired connection, and this is especially more important for any ‘smart’ DVD players or TV’s, or if you have an Xbox or other gaming system.

(4) The WiFi should be fast (both upload and downloads) and it should have a powerful range. I don’t want to have any poor WiFi connectivity if my router is in the living room and I am in my second floor bedroom.

(5) The WiFi should be able to handle at least 3 tablets or computers streaming videos at the same time. Videos tend to suck up the most bandwidth, so this should be a good test.

(6) It goes without saying that it should be easy to connect to it and that it has minimal wireless security (WPA/2) standard.

(7) Although I want to own my device, the cost for it should be comparable to a rental over a two-year period. Comcast (“Xfinity”) charges $10 per month. Two year cost would be $240, so anything under that is a winner.

SELECTION

My initial go-to choice was Motorola. I have owned them for many years, but they seemed to be more expensive when looking at competitors with all the same features. I have also owned TP-Link products, but they didn’t offer routers as a single device. I also owned Cisco and Netgear products. Cisco didn’t seem to have what I wanted in the price range that I was expecting. Netgear seemed to have stronger (4.5 stars or better) ratings and more current product reviews.

My pick: the Netgear AC1750 WiFi Cable Modem Router

As a bonus feature, this one has a USB port which allows you to connect an external hard drive or USB thumb drive. This would allow you to wirelessly access your external hard drive from any device.

INSTALLATION

My first reactions: the size of the router which is about 10 inches tall. I was hoping for something smaller, but I am combining two devices into one. It comes with simple 1-2-3 steps to get setup, and I have to admit, it was really that simple and easy.

Things to consider when you are installing the modem:

(1) you will need to activate the cable modem with your Internet provider. This device had my cable company activation as a feature, so I didn’t have to call my cable company. But you might want to keep your cable company’s number handy just in case.

(2) you will need to change passwords! That includes starting with the router’s default login and password and passwords for when devices want to connect to it wirelessly. The router featured an easy website to configure all the settings and to change passwords.

(3) you will need to name the wireless router’s broadcast SSID. That is, when you are using a tablet, and you are looking for the name of your wifi connection, this is called your router’s SSID. With this device, you can elect to NOT broadcast your router’s SSID, a cool security feature. Since this device is an 802.11ac standard, it operates on both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz spectrums. The lower spectrum is going to be more congested than the higher one (5 GHz) and so I opted to connect my smartphone, tablet and laptop to the higher spectrum.

(4) if you have other devices in the house such as a wifi thermostat, you will need to reset these to connect to your router as well. I had to call my thermostat company’s telephone number to reset my thermostat, and fortunately, that was quick and painless to do. If you have a wireless printer, it will also need to be reconnected to the wifi router.

CONCLUSION

I am very happy with this router, and the wifi is impressive in terms of range and bandwidth. It has a tall profile, but there is one less device plugged into the surge protector.

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