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Rent a modem? Consumer Reports says you may want to buy

Posted August 1

Do you rent or own your modem?

According to Consumer Reports, buying a modem can save money and improve internet quality.

High-speed internet is no longer a luxury. For most people Wi-Fi is now a necessity, like any other utility. To get the signal, you need a modem then use router to distribute the signal. Many people pay their internet provider to rent this equipment without even knowing it.

Earlier this year, a New York attorney sued Time Warner Cable, accusing the company of supplying customers with outdated gear, among other things.

"If you're renting a router, you're probably paying anywhere from $5 to $10 a month, or up to $120 a year," said Jim Willcox, with Consumer Reports. "You can buy a very good router for $100 to $150 so you're going to pay for it in the first year."

Consumer Reports recommends a router from Asus. It is a best buy at $100.

But money isn't the only reason to buy your own.

"A lot of times the router that you're going to get from the cable company doesn't have the latest technology," Willcox said. "So it may not perform as well as one that you buy yourself."

Also, routers haven't really been known for their good looks, but Consumer Reports says that's changing with sleek-looking designs you can display.

"We're in a golden age of router design right now, so you don't even have to hide it out of site," Willcox said.

Other router options include mesh networks like the Eero or Google Wi-Fi, where several routers work together to provide Wi-Fi coverage throughout your house.

One downside: many of the high tech options are expensive. Eero costs $500 for three. Google Wi-Fi costs $300 for three, but Consumer Reports says the routers provide higher levels of performance you may need.

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