3 Ways to Get Rid of your Comcast Modem Rental Fee

Update to this post: I have decided to replace my Comcast modem with my own modem + router, a Motorola DOCSIS 3.0 SB6141 cable modem (there is also a newer MB7420 model). I paired it with the TP-Link Wireless-N router. This setup pays for itself in less than a year, and then it’s free for life!

If you have Comcast high-speed internet, this post will instruct you on three ways to get rid of your router rental fee. It’s also an tale of how Comcast has increased their gateway rental fee to a whopping $10 per month over the last few years to turn it into a nice little secondary revenue stream.

Even if you just have a long-seeded disdain for Comcast or other greedy corporate giants, like I do, you will enjoy this story…

If you don’t have Comcast and have another Internet service provider, the same advice may also apply.

The Comcast Gateway Modem Rental Fee Saga: How I Found Three Ways to Get Rid of it

comcast modem rental feeWhen I first moved to my existing home about 5 years ago, I signed up for Comcast high-speed Internet, with wireless networking (wifi).

As part of the installation, Comcast put in a Netgear cable modem that also dubbed as a wifi router.

I didn’t know it at the time of installation, but on my first bill, I noticed that Comcast started charging me $3 to rent this modem. That’s right – for the privilege of paying them $40 a month for internet service, I also had to pay $3 per month to rent the equipment to do it (now $10 per month).

I was kind of irritated, so I started searching around for Comcast supported modems & routers. I couldn’t find any for sale online at the time and thought they could only be had from Comcast.

So I kept paying the $3 rental fee. That is, until the increased their rental fee 66% to $5 per month in late 2009. I called Comcast customer service, and threatened to drop the service unless they stopped charging me the rental fee. The negotiation worked. Lesson #1: Negotiation is the first way to get rid of your Comcast modem rental fee.

A year or so later, I started receiving voice mail that Comcast was upgrading to DOCSIS 3.0 (4 years after it was first released). In short, DOCSIS 3.0 permits faster download/upload speeds. To celebrate, Comcast wanted to “upgrade your cable modem for free”.

I ignored the messages for a bit out of laziness. Shortly after, I noticed that Comcast stopped charging me for the modem rental fee on my old Netgear completely. WTF?!

In recent talks with a Comcast tech, I found out that this is quite common. Comcast will eventually write off older router/modem/gateways as “customer owned” because they don’t want to support them anymore. The downside when they do this is that they can no longer charge you a rental fee. Lesson #2: Obsolescence is the second way to get rid of your Comcast modem rental fee.

Months and months went by and I thought to myself, “boy, this is great, I have a free Comcast router that I am not paying a rental fee on. I beat da man!”. Meanwhile, Comcast raised it’s rental fee again – this time from $5 to $7 – a 233% increase over what it was just a few years prior! Now I really felt like King.

Then, it happened. Comcast killed my modem. One day it was working fine, delivering about 12mpbs download speed, and 4mbps upload. The next (and for 3 days after), it dropped to 0.2mbps download. Oddly, it was still delivering 4mbps upload.

I called Comcast, err XFinity (still the same ole’ Comcrap) customer service and scheduled to have a tech come out. He was a bit of a Comcast hater himself (most Comcast techs are contracted and not employed by Comcast, btw), and what I found out from him was interesting.

Any other time I’ve had a tech come out they test things out, look for chewed wires outside, etc. Right away, this tech said, “we have to replace your gateway”. Hmm… that’s odd. I immediately leveled with him and told him I liked my old Gateway because I didn’t have to pay a rental fee. This is when he told me about Comcast pushing the “customer owned” status on old gateways. He told me if Comcast wanted to kill my gateway, they could, no problem, by easily sending it a code. He wouldn’t say they did this to me, but I got the message.

I also got the message when he plugged in a brand new Arris SMCD3GNV DOCSIS 3.0 gateway and it started delivering 25mbps download speeds immediately out of the box.

I then questioned him on if I could buy my own DOCSIS 3.0 gateway (a gateway is a modem + router) to replace the Comcast installed gateway. He said, “yes, any will work”. Years earlier, when I did my search, I did not know this was the case. I thought you had to have a Comcast installed gateway in order to get service. This is not true, but don’t expect Comcast to volunteer that. You can buy any gateway or modem + router and follow these Comcast gateway setup instructions to get it working. Lesson #3: You can replace Comcast supported gateways with your own in order to get rid of the rental fee.

I asked the Comcast tech if he had any recommendations, and he directed me to this Motorola DOCSIS 3.0 gateway. At $105, it would pay for itself (vs. the rental fee) in under a year and a half. And since it is not Comcast owned, they can’t kill it. Note that this is an outdated model and you don’t need a modem+router gateway. You can get a modem and router separately. I purchased a Motorola DOCSIS 3.0 SB6141 cable modem (there is also a newer MB7420 model). I paired it with the TP-Link Wireless-N router for wifi. And they paid for themselves in less than a year.

So there you have it – there are three ways to get rid of your Comcast gateway rental fee. At the present $10 per month (only a matter of time before they raise it again), the savings is $120 per year.

Update: I recently discovered, that Comcast is using your leased modem as a public wifi hotspot (at your expense)! Here is how to opt out of Comcast using your modem as a public wifi hotspot.

Comcast Rental Fee Discussion:

  • How have you been able to get rid of your Comcast or other ISP rental fees?
  • What gateway or modem/router combo do you personally recommend?
  • What’s your Comcrap story?

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