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Necessary to upgrade your broadband modem periodically?

Last response: in Networking
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October 28, 2006 4:18:12 PM

Just wondering is it necessary to upgrade your broadband modem periodically to achieve greater speeds? I'm currently using an old Westell Wirespeed modem from 2000 that I got from my ISP when I first got DSL. A few days ago, my DSL went down and after playing around with it and not being able to fix it I called my ISP and when they found out what kind of modem I had they said they couldn't tech support it because they no longer sell it. The rep also was amazed that the modem is still working, he says that they usually crap out in 2-3 years. He guessed that my DSL is down because of my modem finally dying or something with a wire problem. If my modem was dead he wanted to sell me their newest model, the Speedstream 4100 for $65 but I wouldn't know until a tech came out to check the wires. Turns out the problem was on their end and now my DSL is back to normal with no equipment changes whatsoever.


Now though, I've been trying to find information about broadband modems, I remember before broadband with the telephone modems there was 14.4 and then 56k so to get optimal speeds you had to upgrade your actual modem. Is this still the case today with broadband? I did some searching and I can get a used Speedstream off of eBay for less than $30.Will I achieve higher speeds if I upgrade my Westell Wirespeed circa 2000 to the newer Speedstream 4100?
October 28, 2006 5:54:58 PM

Just shows to go you that the cable companies don't always know what they're talking about. Do you really think that the "tech support" reps at the cable companies know more about computers than the average guy here on Tom's? I don't think so.

Go to newegg.com and buy yourself one of these Motorola Surfboard SB5120 modems

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...

They're $80 (or "only" $79.99) at BestBuy. $53 ($47 + $6 shipping) at newegg. "Only" $33 difference. But you do have to wait 3 days for it.

Some places are offering a $20 "rebate" on this modem and you only have to wait months to get your money saving rebate. (if ever)
October 29, 2006 5:44:26 AM

Quote:
Just wondering is it necessary to upgrade your broadband modem periodically to achieve greater speeds? I'm currently using an old Westell Wirespeed modem from 2000 that I got from my ISP when I first got DSL. A few days ago, my DSL went down and after playing around with it and not being able to fix it I called my ISP and when they found out what kind of modem I had they said they couldn't tech support it because they no longer sell it. The rep also was amazed that the modem is still working, he says that they usually crap out in 2-3 years. He guessed that my DSL is down because of my modem finally dying or something with a wire problem. If my modem was dead he wanted to sell me their newest model, the Speedstream 4100 for $65 but I wouldn't know until a tech came out to check the wires. Turns out the problem was on their end and now my DSL is back to normal with no equipment changes whatsoever.


Now though, I've been trying to find information about broadband modems, I remember before broadband with the telephone modems there was 14.4 and then 56k so to get optimal speeds you had to upgrade your actual modem. Is this still the case today with broadband? I did some searching and I can get a used Speedstream off of eBay for less than $30.Will I achieve higher speeds if I upgrade my Westell Wirespeed circa 2000 to the newer Speedstream 4100?


Well I am not that knowledgeable about DSL modems, my best advice is to ask your internet provider what modem they would recommend. I do know that the speedstream routers and cable modem were horrible on a cable network. Your ISP will know what brand holds up the best & yes most modems have a lifespan of about 3 to 4 years at best.
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October 29, 2006 3:10:10 PM

My ISP, AT&T DSL, recommended the Speedstream 4100 when I spoke with them and when asked if any DSL modem would do, they replied that the 4100 was the most compatible with their systems so that was why they recommended it. Based on that I think I can use any DSL modem and just risk having a harder time to set it up. Anybody out there with AT&T DSL have experience on this? Will any modem work? I didn't ask them straight out if I should upgrade because I figured that they would say of course so they could make a sale regardless of whether I needed it or not.

Also my original question still stands, would changing to a newer modem increase my speeds? Remember when everyone was using 14.4 telephone modems? Then the 28.8's came out and in order to acheive the 28.8's speeds you had to upgrade your modem, and the same with 56k. You could not achieve 56k modem speeds with your old 14.4. Am I limiting myself by using a 6 year old modem or would upgrading have little affect on my up/down speeds? So what do you guys all think?
November 4, 2006 10:42:43 PM

Well, I'm partially wondering the same thing, although I can also partly clear something up here.

You make reference to the old analog modems and their different speed ratings as motivation for the idea of needing to purchase a new DSL modem - The way you can determine if this actually matters if by firstly looking up what your DSL modem's rated maximum speed is (it'll have a rated downstream and upstream max), but in almost all cases this will be listed at the standard ADSL max (8mbps down, 1mbps up) or better for ADSL2/etc... compatible modems. If, however, your modem's max rated speed is LOWER than the connection you are paying for from your DSL provider, you most definitely need to upgrade to be making the most of your connection.

Now, if that is NOT the case and your modem is supposed to be able to handle the throughput of your connection, then what you would want to do (if it's possible with your modem) is to access the modem's manager interface, either through a null modem port on the back, a telnet command line, or a web-based interface, and to check the negotiated upstream and downstream rates. These should, if your connection is set up correctly, be either equal to or greater than the connection you're paying for in an ideal situation. If you can't access this interface, you'll have to make do with some online speed tests and looking up what people are normally able to get with your ISP and your plan.

If it seems your modem is not negotiating a connection at your rated speed, then ONE of the things that can cause this is an old or cheap modem. There are, however, a bunch of other factors that can contribute to this such as wire quality, use of microfilters instead of a single POTS splitter, distance from the local exchange, etc... but if you are not negotiating at your rated speed and you're using an old modem, then I would think that switching to a good-quality modern modem might help you out in that respect.

Personally, I'm using a very old 3com adsl modem that is rated to the proper 8mbps/1mbps, but i'm not always able to negotiate at my full rated speed (3mbps/1mbps) depending on line fluctuations or interference - and I'm thinking that in this case upgrading the modem could make a difference. Can anybody else substantiate these thoughts, and if yes - suggest a very high quality ADSL modem to replace it with?
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