How to Bump Up Your Internet Speed

Your cable modem may be the cause of the slow connection

Highway
Image: Pixabay

On the heels of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s investigation into Internet speeds, many may be wondering not only if they are getting the Internet speeds they are paying for, but also if they can get faster Internet without paying more.

[Related: REPORT: Most Commercial Airlines Will be ‘Connected’ by 2019]

Yes, there is one significant way you can possibly increase your Internet speed without paying for a higher level of service: Check your cable modem.

The speed of your Internet service depends on the level of service you have ordered from your Internet Service Provider. Time Warner Cable, for example, has Internet service plans starting at $35/month for a 15-Mbps (megabits per second) download rate, increasing to $65/month for up to a 50-Mbps download rate.

Even though you may have an Internet service plan for a 50-Mbps download rate, you are likely not fully getting 50 Mbps. You can check your Internet speed by using an online tool such as Speakeasy or TestMy.Net.

Of course, Verizon, AT&T, and just about every Internet provider has their own speed tests. Use them, but compare using a tool such as the ones aforementioned, so that you have results from a third party.

One of the biggest causes of slow Internet for cable broadband is an outdated cable modem. Many people lease a cable modem from their provider. The problem with this is that ISPs often have older, not so state-of-the-art equipment to lease to customers.

A better choice is to buy your own cable modem. Netgear, Motorola, D-Link, and ARRIS all make cable modems. Cable modems average between $30 and $65. To lease a modem from an ISP is generally about $10 per month. Therefore, in a few months’ time, the cable modem you buy pays for itself.

Ensure that the cable modem is DOCSIS 3.0 compliant. DOCSIS is the protocol that is used to convert coaxial cable signal to high-speed data. If you have high-speed Internet service but only a DOCSIS 2.0 cable modem, that older modem is a speed bottleneck. DOCSIS 3.0 modems support a feature called multiple channel bonding, which allows higher throughput speeds than DOCSIS 2.0 modems.

Upgrading from a DOCSIS 2.0 to 3.0 modem does not change your maximum Internet speed. If you are paying for 25-Mbps download speed, that is your maximum speed, regardless of the modem. However, a DOCSIS 3.0 modem will provide consistently faster speed and fewer drops than a DOCSIS 2.0 modem.

How do you find out if your modem is DOCSIS 2.0 or 3.0? A Google search under the modem’s make and model should tell you. Look for “specifications” listed for the modem.