Update to this article: I have decided to replace my Comcast Xfinity modem with my own modem + router. I bought an Arris SB6190 cable modem (you may want to also check out the Motorola MB7621) and paired it with a NetGear AC1200 router. This setup pays for itself in less than a year (saving $156 per year), and then it’s free for life! I have other recommendations on customer-owned replacement devices below. You can now also get rid of your Xfinity DVR & TV Box fee through owning your own streaming 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 $13 per month ($15/month for the “xFi advantage) over the last few years 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 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 skyrocketed to $13 per month recently).
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 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 (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 Netgear completely.
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, “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 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 special.
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.
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 ARRIS 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 gateway or modem + router 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 purchased at the top of the article. They paid for themselves in less than a year. Any of the following modem/router combos will work:
- ARRIS SURFboard SB6190 (32×8) – up to 1.4 Gbps
- Motorola MB7621 (24×8) – up to 1 Gbps
- ARRIS SURFboard SB6183 (16×4) – up to 686 Mbps
- NETGEAR CM700 (32×8) – up to 500 Mbps
All handle speeds of at least 300 Mbps + 900 Mbps with dual band (2.4 & 5 GHz), strong wifi range, & are highly rated Amazon best sellers, under $70.
So there you have it – there are three ways to get rid of your Comcast gateway rental fee. At the present $13 per month (only a matter of time before they raise it again), the savings is $156 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.
Update #2: Some readers are concerned about losing Comcast Voice capabilities. Don’t be. I’ve been using an Ooma for over a decade with Comcast, and it only costs a few bucks per year in taxes. In other words, more savings. You simply plug the Ooma device in to the back of your router.
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?