Should you buy your own modem?


4 mins average read time

Should you buy your own modem?

Modems or wifi routers are a key piece of kit that provides you with internet access. Making sure yours is up to date and performing right can be the difference between a good and bad connection.

Modems, also known as wifi routers, are a critical piece of equipment when it comes to connecting devices at a home or office to the internet.

In New Zealand most Internet Service Providers (ISPs), give or rent a modem for free upon sign-up to a new broadband plan (although some charge for delivery) and some even throw in a wifi mesh system.

But with some ISPs now choosing to charge over $100 for their standard wifi router or modem, it puts increased focus on the question of whether to buy your own equipment or use the one they provide. The answer is a muddy “maybe” as it really depends on how you use the internet day-to-day.

First off, what exactly does your modem / wifi router do?

Your modem / router is your gateway to the Internet. That’s why it’s sometimes known as a RGW or residential gateway as all your devices in a property need to talk to the modem in order to get internet access.

How it works is the modem/router converts the signal from the broadband network (e.g. fibre network) to your home network. Your computer and other devices can then pick it up by plugging into the modem with an ethernet cable or tuning into radio signals via wifi.

So why BYO?

A key cause of slow wifi and internet in the home or office is outdated or low spec equipment, in particular the wifi router /modem. With technology in this space evolving all the time, you should really be looking to upgrade your wifi router every two to three years.

A good place to start is to talk to your ISP to see what they can do. While you certainly need to read the fine print on your contract, in most cases, free tech support, free modem replacement (in the event of it breaking) and free router / modem upgrades will be in the mix.

If your current ISP can’t deliver, it’s worth shopping around as some ISPs now even throw wifi mesh systems into the package, they offer new customers.

If you luck out with getting an equipment upgrade from an ISP, or you’re not happy with what they’re offering that’s when it could be time to purchase your own.

Just remember that if you’re on fibre broadband it’s really easy to swap your modem, but if you’re on a fixed wireless or wireless broadband plan you have to use the modem your ISP provides as the broadband tech is baked into the equipment.

Things to consider if you BYO modem

Before you think about purchasing you need to make sure the wifi router you are considering is compatible with the broadband service your ISP is providing and that they allow the use of alternate routers/modems.

It is also worth noting that unless you fancy yourself an IT expert the remote troubleshooting and phone support via your ISP can be a Godsend should something stop working.

On the plus side if you buy your own modem or router, it's yours to keep and you can pick the model you want.

Either way, we can't emphasise enough to get the best out of your broadband service you need to have the most up to date technology and equipment. If you decide to buy yourself check out this blog about what to look for when purchasing a modem.

If you’d prefer to see if you can upgrade via an ISP, contact your existing ISP or check out to see what’s on offer from others.

Pros to BYO

  • Choice – there’s plenty of models with different features and benefits to choose from
  • Flexibility – you can take the modem with you if you move.
  • Performance – if you choose wisely, you can get equipment that offers much better performance than a router/modem an ISP will provide

Cons to BYO

  • Cost – you can end up paying a lot more if you BYO but then again you get what you pay for
  • If you’re not very tech savvy, you might find it more difficult to troubleshoot any equipment issues
  • Most of the time you can’t sell the modem or use it with another ISP

More tips and tricks

Smart homes
Smart homes

Tips for making your home smarter and more connected.

Optimise your setup
Optimise your setup

Things you can do to get the most out of your connection.

 For gamers and streamers
For gamers and streamers

Guides on the latest entertainment devices and platforms.