In most situations, you have the possibility of either renting or buying a router/modem. Both have their strengths and weaknesses, and a lot of it has to do with your personal situation. Your level of tech-savviness, local provider, and monthly budget all come into play when you’re making your decision. Before we get to that though, it’s first important to familiarize yourself with what, exactly, a router is.
Routers vs. Modems
I’m sure you’ve heard both of those terms thrown around before, but sometimes it’s hard to discern the differences between them just from context. While they both work together to provide you with your internet, they each play different roles. To start, your modem is the gateway to the vast internet that exists outside of your home. If you’re connected to the internet, you have to have at least a modem.
And if your modem is what connects you to the outside world, your router is what connects everything within your domain. It both connects your devices to your modem through wi-fi and allows for cross-communication between devices on the same network. Unless you’re using an ethernet cable, you’re also probably making use of a router.
In many modern cases, however, the two are bundled together into one machine. To learn which may be the best for you, check out Internet Advisors for up-to-date, professional recommendations.
Renting vs. Buying: Which is Better?
Okay, so once you know what you’re getting, the next step is to figure out how to procure it. Like I said before, every person is different, so there is no cut-and-dried answer. Luckily, though, most times the decision isn’t too tough, it just requires asking yourself a few things:
What’s my budget?
This is the first thing you need to know, as sometimes it is the sole deciding factor. Most routers cost around $50-$75, depending on the quality and company. Conversely, some service providers might only charge you $5 monthly to rent their unit (of course, you should probably expect it to cost a little more). This may seem like nothing, but in the long term it really adds up. That being said, if you can’t afford the upfront cost of purchasing your own, you may have to take the renting route.
How long do you need one?
I’m not talking about if you’re planning on going off the grid and deleting social media. Moreso, how long will you stay in the same location/use the same provider? It might seem a little strange, but not all modems are compatible with all internet providers. In fact, perhaps the first thing you need to consider if you chose to buy your own is what provider you’re using, to make sure you buy one that actually works.
Before that, though, if you know/think that you might be changing your service provider, or are moving shortly and are unsure of what provider you’ll have, it may be a good idea to consider renting. However, even then it’s worth comparing the total monthly costs versus the upfront purchasing costs. If you’re staying somewhere for 6 months at $15 a month, it might be worth it to just buy a $60 router instead of spending $90 over time.
How tech-savvy are you?
Money isn’t everything when it comes to determining whether to buy or rent. When you rent from a provider, oftentimes they throw in the added bonus of free technical support, and in many cases will replace your device should it break (of course, check with your provider first!). If you’re confident enough in your ability to problem-shoot any issues and are fine with purchasing a new unit should yours break, buying isn’t out of the picture. But if you think you might want a little professional help — just in case, — I’d recommend checking out some rental options.
There are also some situations where your provider will bundle a rental unit with another plan. For example, Cox will provide you with a free modem as part of their TV, internet, and cell-phone plan. Again, always check with your service provider first to see what your options are.
The Bottom Line
The decision of renting versus buying is an important one, but that doesn’t mean it has to be difficult too. Contact your service providers to see what options you have, and then depending on that and your situation, see what works best for you. Generally, if you’re staying somewhere short-term, renting might be preferable. And conversely, if you know you won’t be moving for some time, it might be a good idea to spend the money upfront and buy a unit. But again, make sure to consider all of the variables, and consult Internet Advisors for all of your informational needs.