Any benefit to a new modem?
September 22, 2010 8:00 PM   Subscribe

Is there any benefit to upgrading my 5 year old DSL modem?

It recently occurred to me that I'm still using the Speedstream 4100 modem that I received when I first set up my internet service about 5 years ago. Routers have improved significantly during this time, but have modems?

Google shows that there are Speedstream 5000 models and at least one 6000 model modem/router combo, but I can't find any good information regarding if there is a speed increase or additional features I could benefit from by getting a newer model.

Other than to get a modem/router combo, which I'm not interested in, is there any benefit to upgrading to a new modem?
posted by worpet to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
Some older modems handle caching poorly and should be turned on and off regularly (1x a week?) according to our tech guy. If you're interested in the idea of improving your bandwidth, you might want to look into new router firmware (Tomato is the one I use, it can be installed on a huge list of routers.)

Still, most of the routers that run Tomato or other third party firmware sets are in fact router/modem combos. Might want to consider it.
posted by maize at 8:17 PM on September 22, 2010

For what it's worth, I just bought a new Actiontec DSL modem/wifi because my ancient 2-Wire from AT&T died. I'm not seeing any great improvements, other than that the interface software is nicer and it was easier to set up security features. No speed improvement.
posted by Mid at 8:24 PM on September 22, 2010

The speed should be a function of the provisioning that your provider configures, not the hardware or firmware.
posted by Rhomboid at 8:38 PM on September 22, 2010

If your modem is handling the bandwidth you're allocated, I can see no reason in changing.

Some older modems handle caching poorly
Not sure what you mean by that - a modem MOdulates and DEModulates a signal - it doesn't cache anything. Having to be reset once per week doesn't indicate a problem in caching - it indicates the modem is of poor quality.
posted by sanko at 9:52 PM on September 22, 2010

Another thing to consider: there are older ADSL modems and there are newer ADSL2+ modems. The latter are compatible with the former, but can run faster, maybe 2x, across the same length wiring if you are close enough to your phone company (or no improvement if you are too far).

So, maybe, you could get the new modem then order faster service from your provider, which you wouldn't be able to do otherwise.

But it is a big maybe. Check with your DSL service company. They know your wire length and can tell you if they support ADSL2+

All the modems you listed appear to be ADSL, but Speedstream has ADSL2+ modems.
posted by eye of newt at 12:04 AM on September 23, 2010

Who is your provider? Most likely an upgrade won't do anything. You might get a better SNR, but if your telco is still stuck on basic ADSL technology then you'll get about the same speeds. If you're with AT&T, they've moved to VDSL (U-Verse), so you might want to look into that. Verizon has moved to FIOS and supports ADSL2+. You'd have to call them about switching to either technology.

I don't think you can expect much from a new modem. If you're looking for faster speeds you should think about just switching to cable, Uverse, or FIOS.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:50 AM on September 23, 2010

I think I've had my modem (2wire) since the early 2000's and it still works. I have to call tech support about every other year when it randomly stops working for no good reason (it seems to need some kind of reboot on their end? whatever it is, I can't fix it by unplugging and replugging it in), but so far I haven't been forced to replace it. They'll charge me for a replacement anyway, so I'll keep milking this one for as long as I can.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:39 PM on September 23, 2010

Best answer: No reason at all, unless it is causing you trouble. The Speedstream 4100/4200 is a very good modem.

Google shows that there are Speedstream 5000 models and at least one 6000 model modem/router combo,

My customer's make this mistake all the time :) The Speedstream 5200 is a generation older than the Speedstream 4200. The Speedstream 5360 is a generation older still. Speedstream got bought out by Siemens, and I believe the newer DSL gear from them is all branded Gigaset.
posted by Chuckles at 12:06 AM on September 27, 2010

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