Buy Your Own Router And Modem

Earlier this week, I signed up for Comcast’s Xfinity internet at a new apartment. If a subscriber doesn’t bring his or her own modem and router, Xfinity will rent a device for $13 per month. As far as I can tell, the majority of subscribers opt to rent. Renting is a terrible deal.

I purchased a modem and a router in 2017 for a total of about $70. While I don’t mind having a separate modem and router, there are plenty of options for simple devices that combine a router and a modem into a single unit. Amazon’s best-selling combination devices can be seen here. At the time of writing, several high-quality devices are available for between $80 and $130.

A $13 per month rental fee works out to $156 per year. A router can easily be used for 3 years, possibly much longer.

The table below shows the overall cost of renting a $13 per month router/modem for different lengths of time. I assume that rental fees will not increase over time. The assumption is generous. In the last decade, Comcast’s rental costs have risen by about 4X from $3 per month to $13 per month. The table also shows how much a subscriber could save by buying a high-end, $150 router/modem instead of renting.

Years usedRental costSavings by purchasingRental cost vs. purchase cost
1$156$64%
2$312$162108%
3$468$318212%
4$624$474316%
5$780$630420%
6$936$786524%
7$1,092$942628%

If you only use a $150 device for a single year, renting and buying are about equally cost-effective. In the off chance you use your service for less than a year, renting may make financial sense. That said, most Xfinity plans come with a one-year commitment. I doubt many customers subscribe for short enough periods to justify renting. If you keep your service for a few years or more, you can save a ton of money by buying your own modem and router.

Renting a modem/router may appeal to people since it’s simple. If you rent a device from Xfinity, you may not worry about compatibility and performance as much as you would when buying your own modem/router.

If the technical aspects of buying a modem or router concern you, here’s my advice for keeping things simple:

  • Visit Amazon’s page listing its best-selling modem/router combination devices.
  • Limit yourself to devices that are well-reviewed.
  • Find a listing explicitly states that the device is (a) compatible with the service you will use (e.g., Comcast Xfinity) and (b) able to support service at the speed you want.[1]

Some people will struggle when deciding which device to purchase. A lot of consumers aren’t sure about the speeds they’ll want. They might find a cheap device that is probably good enough but wonder whether they should spend some extra cash to get a device they’re confident is good enough. Remember that even if you spend more than you need to on a router/modem, you’re probably still getting a way better deal than you would with a rented device.

Footnotes

  1. Internet service providers often price their services based on speed. If you plan to purchase a package with max speeds of 100Mbps, you probably want a modem/router that supports max speeds of at least 100Mbps.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *