6 Reasons You Should Replace Your ISP’s Router
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When you sign up with an internet service provider (ISP), they usually send you a modem and a router. And that’s great, right? That way you don’t have to buy your own!

But there are lots of good reasons you should replace the router sent to you by Xfinity, AT&T, BT, or Sky. From saving money to making sure Netflix gets streaming priority, there are a lot of advantages to buying your own router.

1. Lower Cost

One of the first questions to ask when purchasing a router and/or modem 5 Questions to Ask When Purchasing a New Cable Modem 5 Questions to Ask When Purchasing a New Cable Modem With just a bit of research, you can buy your own cable modem and save hundreds of dollars over a few years. Read More is whether it’s better to buy or rent. Most ISPs will happily give you a router, but charge you rent on it What's the Best Router for Ending Rental Fees? What's the Best Router for Ending Rental Fees? Internet providers don't win ethics awards. Just the opposite – they perennially rank among the least liked companies in the United States. Stop paying them rental fees! Here are the best modem-routers around! Read More . The Xfinity gateway that serves as both a modem and a router is $10 per month.

Even if renting a modem only costs a few bucks a month, you can make up the cost in a year. If you have to buy a modem, too, it might take two years, but you’ll eventually be saving money. Plus you’ll be getting all the other benefits below.

It requires some upfront investment, but it will save you money. Even without everything else below, that’s worth doing.

2. Better Wi-Fi

While some ISP-provided routers provide great performance, it’s tough to know what you’re going to get. If you get the latest and greatest from Xfinity, you’re actually getting a good router. But if they don’t send you the latest gateway, or you’re using another provider, you could see performance gains from using your own router.

reasons replace isp router wifi strength
Image Credit: Howcolour/Depositphotos

For example, Time Warner Cable was busted for sending its customers outdated equipment after promising “blazing fast” internet. Your best bet is to check the specs of the router that your ISP sent you and compare them to the speed of the plan you’re paying for. If the router can’t move as much data, you’ll benefit from a better device.

Some routers are also made to provide better Wi-Fi in difficult places. The Amplifi HD system, for example, uses high-density mesh points 5 Reasons to Buy a Mesh Wi-Fi Router Kit (And 3 Reasons Not To) 5 Reasons to Buy a Mesh Wi-Fi Router Kit (And 3 Reasons Not To) Is your router tucked away, battling thick walls and providing spotty coverage? A mesh Wi-Fi system wants to put an end to that horror, boosting your wireless coverage throughout the house. Read More throughout your house to eliminate dead spots. If you live in a house with lots of signal-stopping walls, something like this can provide a speed boost. Features like tri-band Wi-Fi can also keep speeds up when you’re using multiple devices.

3. More Parental Controls

Modern routers have great options for parental controls The Complete Guide to Parental Controls The Complete Guide to Parental Controls The world of internet-connected devices can be terrifying for parents. If you have young children, we've got you covered. Here's everything you need to know about setting up and using parental controls. Read More . And putting those controls in place at the router, instead of on individual devices or apps, makes them more effective. While some ISP routers support parental controls, you’re not likely to get as many options as you are if you buy your own.

Netgear routers, for example, come with a free app that let you adjust the control settings directly from your phone. And you can set up specific times where some sites are blocked but others are allowed. That’s a lot of useful customization for your parental controls.

4. Easier Access with Guest Networks

The ability to create guest networks is built into most routers. With a click, you can let guests get Wi-Fi access with a simple password (instead of the more secure one you use on your standard network). They can work with older devices. And they keep guests away from your secure private network.

reasons replace isp router guest networks

You can even turn them back off when they’re not in use, increasing your security. Guest networks don’t let users see what else is attached to the network, access other devices, and sometimes keep guests from even seeing each other.

Guest networks provide a lot of convenience and added security, but not all ISP routers support them.

5. Bandwidth Prioritization

Quality of service (QoS) lets you choose apps or devices that get priority bandwidth. You could use these settings to make sure that Netflix on your Roku gets priority for streaming, for example. Or for your PS4 to make sure your downloads and multiplayer go at maximum speed How to Fix Gaming & Video Lag With an Easy Router Tweak How to Fix Gaming & Video Lag With an Easy Router Tweak Tired of network lag when other people are watching videos and downloading torrents? Here's how to reclaim your network performance without any third-party tools. Read More .

Some routers also give you more advanced capabilities related to QoS so you can customize how it treats different types of traffic. If you’re using a lot of devices at the same time, you can ensure that your router is making the right decisions on data transmission.

reasons replace isp router quality of service

You’ll probably need to do some research to find how to best configure QoS, but if you do it well, you can significantly improve the quality of your Wi-Fi.

6. Third-Party Firmware

You probably don’t give a lot of thought to your router’s firmware. It’s there, and it works, so why mess with it? But if you want to get the best performance from your router, you can upgrade or even change the firmware. Installing DD-WRT, for example, can open up more options than your standard firmware. More options means more customization, which means you might see better speeds 10 Ways to Improve the Speed of Your Current Router 10 Ways to Improve the Speed of Your Current Router Internet connection too slow? Here are a few simple router tweaks that could make a world of difference on your home Wi-Fi network. Read More .

Tomato and OpenWRT are two other popular options, and there are numerous others that might suit your needs. But you almost certainly won’t be able to choose your own firmware on an ISP-provided router. In fact, even upgrading your router to the latest firmware could be more difficult if your ISP insists on pushing the updates out late.

A Few Router Recommendations

Now that you understand why you should buy your own router, you might be wondering what you should buy. There are many things to take into consideration, but we can provide a few suggestions here.

For Awesome Performance: Netgear Nighthawk

The Nighthawk has a reputation for great Wi-Fi performance. Incredibly high bandwidth (almost certainly more than your internet connection can provide), tri-band Wi-Fi to eliminate interference, a powerful processor, and gigabit ethernet all make this one monster of a router. It doesn’t come cheap, but if you need the absolute maximum performance, it’s tough to beat.

NETGEAR Nighthawk X6S AC4000 Tri-band WiFi Router, Gigabit Ethernet, MU-MIMO, Compatible with Amazon Echo/Alexa (R8000P) NETGEAR Nighthawk X6S AC4000 Tri-band WiFi Router, Gigabit Ethernet, MU-MIMO, Compatible with Amazon Echo/Alexa (R8000P) Buy Now On Amazon $229.50

For the Average Home: Linksys AC1750 [No Longer Available]

It doesn’t provide the blazing fast speeds or tri-band capabilities of the Nighthawk, but this Linksys router packs external antennas for better reception and four gigabit ethernet ports for wired connections. For most households, you’ll have enough power to support multiple devices without suffering from interference or lack of bandwidth. And with a reasonable price tag, it’ll pay for itself within a couple years.

Linksys Dual-Band WiFi Router for Home (Max-Stream AC1750 MU-MIMO Fast Wireless Router) Linksys Dual-Band WiFi Router for Home (Max-Stream AC1750 MU-MIMO Fast Wireless Router) Buy Now On Amazon $99.99

For a Great Deal: D-Link AC1200

AC1200 is plenty fast for most uses, dual-band minimizes interference, Gigabit Ethernet is super-fast for wired connections, and it has built-in parental controls. For being a very affordable router, this option from D-Link is a solid choice.

D-Link AC1200 Wifi Router - Smart Dual Band - Gigabit - MU-Mimo - High Power Antennas for Wide Coverage - Easy Setup - Parental CONTROLS (DIR-842) D-Link AC1200 Wifi Router - Smart Dual Band - Gigabit - MU-Mimo - High Power Antennas for Wide Coverage - Easy Setup - Parental CONTROLS (DIR-842) Buy Now On Amazon $60.89

Your ISP Is Giving You a Bum Deal

Even if your ISP’s router is a really good one, you’re still paying rent for it. And if you can get one that’ll give you the same performance or better while saving money, why wouldn’t you?

It takes a bit of effort to get everything set up, but in the long run, buying your own router is definitely worth it. While you’re at it, you should buy your own modem Do I Need a Cable Internet Wi-Fi Router, Modem, or Both? Do I Need a Cable Internet Wi-Fi Router, Modem, or Both? Do you need a Wi-Fi router, cable modem, or both? We'll explain the differences and help you decide what you should buy. Read More , too.

Have you bought your own router, or do you use your ISP’s? Which router do you have? Do you like it? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Image Credit: doomu/Depositphotos

Explore more about: Buying Tips, Computer Networks, Ethernet, Router, Wi-Fi.

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  1. Craig Ellison
    November 20, 2018 at 12:15 pm

    Xfinity is my ISP. Recently, they upgraded my modem with anew Aris modern to provide "gigabit" speed. The older Aris modem topped out at about 250 Mbps. I'm actually getting only about 560/45 out of the new Modem.

    If you use Xfinity for your Wi-Fi, you actually become an Xfinity hotspot, too. It runs on a separate VLan, but it does share the bandwidth with your cable connection.

    My solution is to put the Aris gateway into bridge modem thereby reducing it to modem functionality. Bridge mode disables the gateway's Wi-Fi (and Xfinity hotspot) an provides you with a public IP address. You can then use any router that you like. I'm using an Asus RT-AC68U. You get much better control with a router like this including QoS, and bandwidth reports by host/app.

    If you use your ISP's gateway as a router, you end up with a 10.X.X.X/24 network. If you put your own router behind the gateway, you complicate issues with port forwarding/triggering and potentially introduce issues by having double NAT.

  2. Noah Ater
    July 24, 2018 at 4:51 pm

    I have a Netgear R6300 V2, given to me by my ISP, and i love it, I can get full speed even when my room is several feet away from it.

  3. Dick
    March 27, 2018 at 2:14 am

    A good article, but what about those of us who get our internet from the cable company? Are there any routers or modems that would replace, say, an Arris gateway?

    November 16, 2017 at 9:03 am

    ISPs should be LEGALLY OUTLAWED!... and, ALL ICTechnomic DEVICES should be based upon Free and Open Source Software (FOSSware) and Free and Open Source Hardware (FOSHware)!
    We're at a nascent stage in the Net's evolution.-- yea, in the evolution of ICTechnomae generally! And!... THE MOST ESSENTIAL "IC" that should be included within our personal Communications Technomae, and within the Internet's/ Net's "Communications Hypotechnomae ('Communications Infrastructure')" ... e.g., FOSS and FOSH, and Human Digital Rights!... have yet to be found within mainstream consciousness, and social dialogue!... let alone, within our personal and social ICT! What we currently have, instead, is what I call Matrixware/ Closedware/ Closed Source ICT! And this just aforesaid PROBELM doesn't even take into consideration the N-E-E-D for Human Digital Rights!... and, even if ALL of our ICT was based upon FOSS/ FOSH!
    Folks!... we have got a LONG, LONG way to go, before our Net and ICTechnomae are ANYWHERE NEAR where we should be at! And!... I constantly wonder whether our "species" is up to the task!
    Please!... no emails!

    • Noah Ater
      July 24, 2018 at 4:52 pm

      Um, how are we supposed to get internet then if ISPs are illegal?