In today's high-tech world, a monthly Internet service plan has quickly become a necessity in the average household and is often warranted by work or school obligations. The unfortunate side of this Internet adoption is the added monthly expense of supplying this service. In my case, I'm paying for high-speed Internet that is paired with my Time Warner Cable TV subscription so the cost is partially subsidized as a bundled plan although my monthly bill is still in excess of $165 every month.

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While most of the charges issued by an Internet service provider are currently unavoidable, there is one monthly charge in particular that most of you are probably paying for that can be eliminated without you even realizing it. This is the cost of renting a cable modem (often a modem/router combination), a monthly expense that can be completely removed if you spend the time and money to buy your own modem/router and successfully register it with your Internet service provider.

Here's a quick rundown of a typical cable modem rental cost by way of a brief Google search:

  • Time Warner Cable: $8 per month ($96 per year)
  • Comcast: $10 per month ($120 per year)
  • Verizon: $4.99 per month ($60 per year)

The worst part about this modem rental charge is that in many cases you are supplied with a “bottom of the barrel” modem which usually lacks any impressive speed and performance. Most of the time, the retail cost of the supplied unit is far under what you end up paying the ISP over the course of a year to rent so you are truly getting ripped off (especially since you don't get to keep it when you end or switch your Internet service).

How to tell if you are currently paying a modem rental fee

Bring up your most recent cable/Internet bill (online or paper) and navigate to the section where they tell you the cost breakdown of your total bill. Look for a segment named “modem rental fee” or “modem lease fee”. Depending on your provider the rental cost of should be anywhere from $4-12.

What you can do to remove this monthly rental fee

After confirming that you are indeed being charged the monthly modem fee, you should purchase a compatible modem or modem/router combination of your own. Of course, this requires you to buy the equipment in full thus spending more money at one time though this decision will pay for itself in just a few months as you'll no longer have to pay the monthly fee.

First, determine whether what your current networking situation involves. Do you have a modem/router combination or did your ISP just supply a modem and you have already purchased a router separately? This step is important to help determine which piece of equipment you should buy.

Once you have determined what type of equipment you need to buy, it is time to choose which product to purchase. Regardless of the brand, I'd recommend the modem you choose supports DOCSIS 3.0, a specification that is rapidly becoming a standard and will offer higher speeds/performance in comparison to DOCSIS 2.0.

If you aren't sure whether you have just a modem or a modem/router combination just buy a compatible modem/router combo and disregard all your previous equipment.

Here are some recommended options:

Typically, the higher-priced models will offer better performance/speed so be sure to read the product description and make the they are up to the standards of your current Internet plan's advertised data speeds.

When the decision as to which modem or modem/router combination is complete, you should verify that this model is compatible with your service provider prior to purchasing the device. This can be done by way of a quick call to their customer support number or more simply an approved modem list on your provider's website (IE: Time Warner Cable and Comcast Xfinity).

The compatibility check is an essential step as the return process for online purchases can be a hassle. I would recommend purchasing your modem from a reputable retailer like Amazon, Best Buy, or Newegg due to their competitive pricing and excellent customer support.

When the device arrives, you'll need to register the modem with your Internet service provider which is typically done through a phone call to their support and for some providers there may be a way to do this online although in my case, Time Warner Cable required a phone call that only took a few minutes.

Also, DO NOT forget to hand in/mail back your old rented modem. Failure to do so can result in additional fees/penalties and cost a great deal of money. At this point, you are done, and you'll immediately begin reaping the savings that come with having your own cable modem! I hope this article helped you save some extra money and share this with any of your friends who might be stuck paying the modem fee.

Photo Credit: Mike Mozart/Flickr