Update to this article: I have decided to replace my Comcast Xfinity modem with my own modem + router. I’d recommend buying a Motorola MB8611 modem and TP-Link AX1800 router if I were buying today. This setup would be as fast as anything Xfinity offered and pay for itself in just over a year (versus Xfinity xFi modem rental fees). Then, it’s free for life! I have other recommendations on customer-owned replacement devices at the bottom of the article. You can now also get rid of your Xfinity DVR & TV Box fee and save $8.50 per month ($102/year) by owning your own streaming device (+$7.50/month or $90/year for each additional device).
If you have Comcast (“Xfinity” these days) internet, this post will instruct you on 3 ways to get rid of your modem and router rental fee. It’s also a tale of how Comcast has increased their gateway rental fee to a whopping $14 per month ($25/month for “xFi Complete”) over the last few years, in order to turn it into a profitable revenue stream for the company. If you have a long-seeded disdain for Comcast or other greedy corporate giants, like I do, you will enjoy this how-to story.
If you don’t have Comcast and have another Internet service provider, the same advice may also apply. I’ve written more broadly on how to get rid of your ISP modem rental fee (if you’re not with Comcast).
How I Found 3 Ways to Get Rid of Comcast Xfinity Modem Rental Fee
When I first moved to my existing home, I signed up for Comcast Xfinity 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 (that price has now skyrocketed to $14 per month recently for a standard gateway and $25 per month for xFi Complete).
I was kind of irritated, so I started searching around for Comcast Xfinity 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 modem rental fee. That is, until the increased their rental fee again (they do this every year or so now). I called Comcast customer service, and threatened to drop the service unless they stopped charging me the rental fee. The Comcast bill 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 (more recently DOCSIS 3.1). In short, DOCSIS upgrades permit faster download/upload speeds. To celebrate, Comcast wanted me 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 Comcast-owned gateway completely.
In recent talks with a Comcast support 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, “This is great, I have a free Comcast router that I am not paying a rental fee on. I beat the man!”. Meanwhile, Comcast raised its rental fee again.
Then, it happened. Comcast killed my modem. One day it was working fine, delivering serviceable speeds. The next (and for 3 days after), it dropped to 0.2 Mbps download.
I called Comcast Xfinity 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, by the way), 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 Xfinity-owned DOCSIS 3.0 gateway and it started delivering full download speed I was paying for immediately, right 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 supported gateway or modem + router combo and follow these Comcast modem self-install instructions to get it working. Lesson #3: You can replace Comcast supported gateways with your own modem and router in order to get rid of the rental fee.
I asked the Comcast tech if he had any recommendations, and he directed me to Motorola DOCSIS 3.0 gateway (a combined modem and router). And since it is not Comcast owned, they can’t kill it. You can get a modem and router separately, which I would recommend instead, as they are often cheaper and you can upgrade one or the other at some point.
I highlighted the modem and router I would purchase at the top of the article (Motorola MB8611 modem and TP-Link AX1800 router), but any of the following modem and router combinations will work for you. I spent days researching every Xfinity supported modem, so you don’t have to do that laborious work. Enjoy – you can do this!
Best Modems (to pair with a router below):
The following modems have the latest tech and will be able to meet top ISP speeds for many years. All are top sellers on Amazon with 4+ star customer ratings, offer the latest DOCSIS 3.1 technology, over 1 Gbps (=1,000 Mbps) speed capabilities, and have been chosen for great value for their price. If you’re paying for top speeds with Xfinity, go with one of these modems:
Good Modems (to pair with a router below):
These modems are good as well, use compatible but older DOCSIS 3.0 technology, have high speeds (close to 1 Gbps), but slightly lower speeds than the above modems. They are cheaper, serviceable options. They are also all top sellers on Amazon with 4+ star customer ratings.
- Arris SB8200: up to 957 Mbps (DOCSIS 3.1)
- Netgear CM700: up to 935 Mbps
- Arris Surfboard SB6190: up to 859 Mbps
Modems with Xfinity Voice Capability (to pair with a router below):
In my view, Xfinity Voice is not worth the money, with much cheaper VOIP landline options out there that you can connect to any router (see Ooma). But, if you want Xfinity Voice for some reason, the following modems are Xfinity Voice compatible:
Routers (to pair with a modem above):
These routers all handle 1 Gbps+ speeds, offer great value, and are highly rated Amazon best sellers with 4+ star customer ratings. The first 3 offer newer WiFi 6 technology.
- TP-Link AX3000 WiFi 6: up to 3 Gbps (2.402 Gbps on 5GHz band + 575 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz band)
- TP-Link AX1800 WiFi 6: up to 1.8 Gbps (1.2 Gbps on 5 GHz band + 574 Mbps on 2.4 GHz band)
- Netgear Nighthawk AX1800 WiFi 6: up to 1.8 Gbps (1.2 Gbps on 5 GHz band + 574 Mbps on 2.4 GHz band)
- TP-Link AC1750 WiFi 5: up to 1.75 Gbps (1.2 Gbps on 5GHz band + 600 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz band)
Gateway Modems (with router built-in, do not pair with a separate router):
As explained earlier, you don’t need a modem and router in a combo unit (aka “gateway”). They work the same as any modem and router combo. They are a bit on the more expensive side and if you want to upgrade either modem or router functionality, you need to buy an entirely new device (vs just one-half). But, if you want one, check out the following devices:
So there you have it – there are three ways to get rid of your Comcast gateway rental fee. At the present $14 per month (only a matter of time before they raise it again), the savings is $168 per year. I personally prefer method #3 as the last painful over the long haul and a relatively easy way to permanently get a discount on your Comcast bill.
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?