Is It Worth It Buy My Own Home Internet Equipment?

Renting equipment from Internet providers has long been the default option for many consumers. However, some are choosing to purchase their own modems and routers and install them themselves. This option can help households save money on their monthly Internet bill while offering flexibility and choice when it comes to selecting the best equipment.

Home Internet has become a standard utility and many people find themselves budgeting for connectivity along with heat, electricity and water. Sadly, home internet is also a significant monthly expense for many households, reaching into hundreds of dollars each month. Many consumers are frustrated by their inability to reduce these costs, which seem to increase each year. While some areas, particularly in major cities, may offer more than one option for Internet service, it isn't unusual for rural or semi-rural areas to be served by only one provider. This means that there is no competition between providers that could encourage better pricing.

Some people try to reduce monthly costs by purchasing Internet equipment, such as modems and routers, outright rather than leasing them from their provider. They claim that doing reduces their costs over time and provides other advantages, such as being able to select brands that suit their needs. If you've been considering this option, there are several things to think about.

Home Internet Equipment

Home Internet is delivered to households through cables and, in some instances, telephone lines. Homes that have Internet must at minimum, have a modem, a device that takes analog signals and digitizes them so that they are accessible via devices such as computers, tablets, phones, and smart televisions. If a household wants to have Wi-Fi, it must also have a router, a device that distributes Internet connectivity throughout the home. In recent years, it has been possible to purchase a single device that combines both modem and router.

Other types of home Internet equipment include pods, which can be plugged into outlets and help strengthen Wi-Fi signals throughout the household, as well as streaming devices, which deliver online entertainment to televisions.

Renting Equipment from Your Provider

When you sign up for Internet service, your provider will typically offer you the option of having your Internet professionally installed or sending you a self-installation kit. In both cases, you will receive a modem and router and, depending on the Internet package you choose, a streaming device, to use in your home. This equipment will be pre-programmed to work with your home Internet.

If you opt for professional installation, your technician will test the equipment and show you how to use it before leaving. If you choose self-installation, you'll be able to test connectivity as part of the installation process and can often access an app, such as that provided by Xfinity, to troubleshoot any issues. If you are unable to handle the situation yourself, you can call your provider and ask for assistance.

Your monthly bill will include a rental fee for your equipment. If your equipment malfunctions, you'll typically be eligible for technical support from your provider and replacements if necessary. Periodically, you'll be able to upgrade your modem and router to the latest version, which helps to ensure that you will enjoy the best connectivity available.

Buying Your Own Equipment

If you opt to purchase your own equipment, you will need to advise your Internet provider of this. If you already have Internet service, you should contact technical support and let the company know that you will be using your own equipment and no longer wish to rent your provider's routers and modems. When you do this, you'll be given instructions on how to return the equipment that you already have. Be sure to do this and get a receipt for the return so that you won't be billed for the equipment or future rental charges. If you are signing up for new service, tell the salesperson that you will be providing your own modem and router.

Once you choose your modem and router, you will need to configure it so that it works with your Internet service. This can be a challenge and you may have to do some troubleshooting in the process. When selecting your own home Internet equipment, you may want to check and see what kind of customer support the manufacturer offers so that you can get assistance. Be aware that your Internet provider may not be able to offer technical support if you find that the equipment appears to be in with your phone service. Be sure to save the receipt and packaging materials in case you have to return the router and modem.

According to industry analysts, you can save about $120 a year by buying your own equipment. Your initial investment for an up-to-date router and modem will be about $150, and if you consider that the lifespan of home Internet equipment can be about three years, your savings can reach hundreds of dollars. In addition, if something goes wrong with your equipment you will not have to wait for a technician to visit or go to the bother of taking the equipment to your Internet company for a swap. You can manage these issues on your own, as you see fit, and on your own timeline.

Another benefit to purchasing your own equipment is being able to select the modem and router that you feel is best. You can assess your needs and purchase the modem/router that offers the highest level of speed and accessibility. If you choose to rent, you are stuck with what your provider opts to give you. This can be particularly frustrating if your provider's choice is substandard or simply doesn't offer the performance that other set-ups can provide.

For many people, however, even a few hundred dollars in savings isn't worth it. If you aren't up on technical matters, you might find that setting up your equipment is difficult and confusing. Maintaining the equipment can also be a challenge and if it malfunctions after the warranty is expired, you'll be on the hook for replacing it. It can be even more frustrating if an Internet provider refuses to offer any level of cooperation should you experience technical problems.

In fact, it turns out that Internet providers have a good reason to encourage consumers to rent modems and routers from providers rather than purchasing their own: Rental fees add up over time and are a significant source of income for providers. This may be particularly true for cable providers who have lost a significant revenue stream as more people cut the cord and choose to stream television through their Internet connection rather than paying for additional cable service.

Because of this financial incentive, you may find that your provider makes it extremely inconvenient to purchase equipment. While this may not be good business, if you live in an area with only one or two providers, you may not have much of a choice. Renting your equipment may be the most practical option.

Bottom Line

You can see, the decision to purchase Internet equipment instead of renting isn't always straightforward. While there can be significant cost savings, there is also the issue of ensuring compatibility and being able to handle maintenance and repair issues on your own. If you are a technically savvy individual and have no problems with budgeting for updated equipment and making repairs, purchasing your own equipment indeed saves money over time. On the other hand, renting comes with several advantages, including the ability to get help with malfunctioning equipment, avoiding delays and frustration due to incompatibilities, and free upgrades as your current setup reaches the end of its cycle.

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