You’ve just dropped cable TV? Here’s what a cord-cutter should do next

Congratulations! After researching dozens of streaming TV services, and choosing among an endless variety of streaming video players, you’re now a proud cord-cutter.

This needn’t be the end of your money-saving journey. Now that you’ve returned your cable boxes dove into the world of streaming video and/or over-the-air broadcast television, you can focus on improving your cord-cutting experience and saving even more cash.

If you’ve already perused my beginner’s guide to cord-cutting, consider this a postscript on what to do next.

Invest in your network

Just because you’ve returned your cable box doesn’t mean you’re off the hook for equipment fees. Many internet service providers (ISPs) charge a monthly rental fee for their gateways or cable modems, which deliver the internet to your home. They might also charge an additional fee to rent a separate Wi-Fi router, which allows all your devices to connect wirelessly, or they might combine the gateway and router functions into a single unit.

Once you’ve cut the cord, I suggest checking your home internet bill to see if any modem or router rental fees apply. If so, investigate buying your own modem and/or router.

As The Wirecutter notes, any DOCSIS 3.0-compatible modem should work with any major cable provider for internet plans up to 300Mbps, and Motorola’s MB7621 supports speeds of at least 400Mbps—or even faster with certain providers, such as Comcast. If your internet service is faster than that, Motorola’s MB8600 supports speeds up to 1Gbps. You’ll need to call your ISP’s customer service line to authenticate the new hardware before returning your rented gear.

A modem alone, however, will not provide wireless connectivity to your streaming devices. For that, you will need a separate Wi-Fi router that plugs into the modem via an ethernet cable. This can be confusing if your ISP had been leasing you a modem/router combo unit, because where you once needed a single device to handle internet service, now you need two.

The upside is that buying your own router will likely give you better Wi-Fi range, especially if you use a mesh system that uses multiple access points to cover the home. For that reason, you might want to supply your own even if your internet provider lends you one for free. Our mesh Wi-Fi router guide will help you find the right option for your budget.

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