There are few things more aggravating than finding a new line on a bill. It’s become increasingly common for Internet providers to charge customers a monthly fee for the privilege of renting their modems. It may be just a few dollars a month, but that adds up, and unless you plan on ditching the Internet and going off the grid in the near future, it’s always cheaper to buy your own modem.
It’s also better for your connection: Cable companies routinely saddle customers with years-old modems that simply don’t work very well. The conspiracy-minded amongst us might even presume this to be an intentional strategy: If your Internet is frequently slow, you may be inclined to pay extra for “TurboBoost” or whatever your provider calls its faster tier of service.
Of course, lots of people pay this rental bill every month. Asking around, I’ve found that many people simply don’t know they are paying the fee or that they can buy their own modem. Even those that are aware of what’s going on can easily find themselves anteing up: At just a few dollars a month, it can be hard to make it a priority to go through the hassle of buying a new modem and turning the old one in. And believe me when I say it can be a hassle: When I returned my Time-Warner-supplied modem, I had to sit in a drab waiting room for more than an hour before handing it over. Obviously my idea of a good time.