A wireless cable modem is a device that incorporates the functionality of a wireless router into a traditional cable modem. There are a number of factors that can help define the best wireless cable modem, but the most important one is whether a unit is approved by the service provider. The best cable modem for any given situation also needs to support fast data connections and have the right type of wireless technology. Other features, such as gigabit Ethernet ports, can also be important.
Compatibility and Speed
The main purpose of a wireless cable modem is to provide an Internet connection. In order for a modem to accomplish that, it has to establish bi-directional communication with the data infrastructure of a cable company. There are a number of different cable Internet standards, which means some modems are incompatible with certain cable companies. That’s why compatibility is the most important factor in determining the best cable modem. Most cable companies rent compatible modems, but they also provide lists of commercially available units that will work. In other cases, you’ll have to ask your cable provider what specification it uses.
Newer cable modems that use the DOCSIS 3.0 specification are capable of utilizing IPv6, and they can handle more than one data stream at a time. However, DOCSIS 3.0 modems aren’t always compatible with Internet providers that still use DOCSIS 2.0. Some DOCSIS 3.0 modems are backward compatible, but that isn’t always the case.
The Latest Wireless Technology
The best wireless cable modem has to support the latest wireless networking technology. A lot of devices still use the older 802.11b and 802.11g standards, but new computers, game systems, and other electronics are more likely to take advantage of faster 802.11n technology. The newer 802.11n standard offers better range than older wireless technologies in addition to the highest speeds.
Legacy Wireless Technologies
Since a lot of devices still use the 802.11b and 802.11g standards, it’s also important for the best wireless cable modem to support older wireless technologies. Wireless standards like 802.11b and 802.11g don’t provide the best speed or range, but they are far from obsolete. Some video game systems can only connect to 802.11b networks, and a lot of laptops are still equipped with 802.11g wireless cards.
Additional Wireless Modem Features
The best wireless cable modem should also have a few additional features. Since some devices can only be hooked up to a wired LAN, it’s important for a good cable modem to feature at least one Ethernet port. If you have a lot of devices that require physical connections, then the best wireless modem will feature multiple Ethernet ports.
A USB port is another potentially useful feature. When a wireless cable modem has a USB port, it’s possible to share a USB connection between multiple computers that are hooked up to the network. One possible way to take advantage of this feature is to hook up a USB storage drive. If this is done correctly, every computer on the network will have access to the drive. Webcams, scanners, and other USB devices can also be shared in the same manner.
Most cable modems lack a physical power switch, but it’s a deceptively convenient feature. In order to reset most cable modems, you have to physically unplug them. Since the power cord may be difficult to reach, a power switch can make the process much easier. The best wireless cable modem doesn’t necessarily have to come with a power switch, but it is a great feature.