You're throwing money away if you use the modem your cable company gives you

I’ve wasted hundreds of dollars over the last few years.

What makes this hurt even more is that I’ve given that money to my cable company.

That’s because I’ve been “renting” my modem, paying a $US6 monthly fee to Time Warner Cable — the only real broadband provider in my area — for the privilege of borrowing an ugly black box that plugs into my wall.

But that’s about to end, because I finally bought my own modem.

Buying your own modem might seem a bit intimidating at first.

The cost, depending which one you buy, can range from around $US70 to more than $US100. But considering your monthly rental fee — Comcast charges a whopping $US10 per month to rent a cable modem, and Time Warner Cable charges $US6 per month — the modem may end up paying for itself in less than a year.

Time Warner Cable/Tech InsiderI’m finally sick of seeing that monthly charge.

Here’s how I did it:

Many of the largest internet service providers (ISPs) provide lists online of modems that are compatible with their services. Here are the modems compatible with Time Warner Cable, Comcast, Charter, Cox, and Cablevision.

Fortunately, the ARRIS / Motorola modem recommended by the Wirecutter, a product recommendation site that I trust, is compatible with Time Warner Cable.

I bought that modem for $US90 on Amazon and I’m planning on setting it up in the coming days. After that, I’ll return my modem to Time Warner Cable and hopefully the company will stop charging me.

(That may be easier said than done. A colleague of mine bought his own modem, returned his leased one, and Time Warner Cable continued to charge him for months afterward. He told me he had to call several times before the company removed it from his bill. Whatever happens, I’ll be sure to write about my adventure on Tech Insider.)

A couple of notes: It’s important to know what kind of Internet service you have — if it’s cable, DSL, or fibre — and get a modem that will work for you.

Also keep in mind that your modem is not the same as your router, which is the device broadcasts your Wi-Fi to you. You may be renting a combination modem/router from your cable company. If that’s the case, then consider buying a wireless router, too. Check out the routers The Wirecutter recommends.

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