The best ISP deals for WiFi equipment





Every home internet service has a modem and a router, or a combination of both in one gateway device, for Wi-Fi. The exact equipment you need can be connection type — for example, you need one DOCSIS modem in front of cable connections or an optical network terminal for: fiber optic internet — but the fact remains that you need some extra hardware to get online.

Knowing the right equipment to buy and paying the initial cost for it is not practical for everyone, which is why many choose to simply rent their Wi-Fi equipment from the internet provider. Renting is convenient and comes with the comfort of knowing you are getting a device that although it may not be the absolute best wifi router on the market, in any case will be usable for your connection type and subscription. That convenience often comes at a price, as equipment rental can easily add $10 to $15 or more to your monthly internet bill.

However, renting WiFi equipment from your provider does not always have to be a significant increase in the cost of your internet service. If you prefer to rent equipment but don’t want to pay $100 or more per year for it, consider these ISPs that offer free or low-cost equipment.

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At $65 per month for download and upload speeds of up to 940 megabits per second and unlimited data, CenturyLink’s gig service is a good internet deal on its own, but the plan also comes with free Wi-Fi gear as a bonus.

However, the free gear offer is only available with a gig service. If you opt for the slower CenturyLink fiber plan, 200 Mbps from $50 per month, or if your home only qualifies for DSL service, the cost of renting your equipment will add $15 to your bill each month. CenturyLink gives you the option to use your own equipment, so the fee is still avoidable.

Read our CenturyLink review.

cox

Cox’s panoramic Wi-Fi device is available with the provider’s standard cable Internet plans for an additional cost of $12 per month, but Cox’s prepaid Internet plan, StraightUp Internet, comes with free Wi-Fi gear. Admittedly, the free equipment won’t be a new Panoramic Wi-Fi device, but rather a refurbished dual-band Wi-Fi gateway device, more than capable of handling the subscription’s maximum 50Mbps speeds.

At $50 a month for speeds up to 50 Mbps, StraightUp Internet isn’t necessarily the best value you’ll find from Cox, but it comes with a three-year price guarantee, something you don’t get with other Cox plans. The long price guarantee and free equipment make Cox StraightUp Internet our choice for the best cheap prepaid internet plan.

Read our Cox Communications review.

Cox Communication

google

Google Fiber may have more speed than you need — gig and two-gig speeds are the only plan options — but those speeds come at a hefty price, starting at $70 and $100, respectively. Adding the value, but not the cost is the equipment cost, which is exactly $0 for both plans.

Other fiber providers offer gig service at or around the price of $70 (AT&T is a bit cheaper at $60 per month), but in most cases the cost of equipment will increase that price. Since Google Fiber includes equipment at no extra cost, customers can get gig service for an all-in monthly price of around $70, which is probably one of the best gig service deals you’ll find.

Read our Google Fiber review.

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Wired wireless internet, like Starry Internet’s, doesn’t require expensive cable or fiber lines to provide service, keeping initial and operational costs relatively low. Starry passes those savings on to its customers by offering cheap, fast service and free Wi-Fi equipment.

All Starry plans, which can include a few options ranging from 50 to 1,000 Mbps depending on your address, include your Wi-Fi equipment at no extra cost. Service also comes with unlimited data and no contract requirements, making Starry a solid choice for home internet if it’s available in your area.

Read our Starry Internet review.

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If you rent equipment from a provider, you probably get a modem and router in one, also known as a gateway router. While one device is useful, it can limit your options if you want to upgrade to a better router.

Spectrum is one of the few providers that keeps the modem and router separate, and also happens to have the lowest rental price of all providers that don’t provide the equipment for free. A cable modem is included with all Spectrum plans, and a router can be rented for just an additional $5 per month. If you’re interested in upgrading to your own personal high-performance router, you can continue to use the free modem and Spectrum will waive that $5 per month fee.

Read our Spectrum review.

Internet spectrum

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Verizon Fios has some of the best internet promotions for new customers, especially those who sign up for a gig service. In addition to reward cards, free service plans, free devices, or other sign-up bonuses, the gig service comes with free Wi-Fi gear, worth $15 per month.

While “Wi-Fi equipment” generally refers only to the modem and router, Verizon Fios also offers a free Wi-Fi extender – an additional $5 per month value. Wi-Fi extenders are essential to ensure a quality signal in larger homes, so it’s nice to see a major provider like Verizon Fios, including one at no extra cost for gig customers.

Read our Verizon Fios review.

Verizon Fios

Frequently asked questions about WiFi equipment from ISPs

How can I get free WiFi?

Wi-Fi is not its own separate service. It’s simply an extension of your home internet, as a way of connecting devices wirelessly through a router. As such, all you need for free Wi-Fi is a router that’s either free or already paid for. You still have to pay for internet, but Wi-Fi is technically free if you don’t pay to rent a router.

Most providers charge router rental, but some, such as Google Fiber and Starry Internet, do not. Others, such as CenturyLink and Verizon Fios, can include your Wi-Fi equipment at no additional cost with certain plans. Almost all major carriers, with the exception of AT&T and Frontier, also allow you to use your own Wi-Fi equipment and skip the rental fee.

Is it better to buy my own router?

Using your own Wi-Fi equipment almost always pays off in the long run, so from an economic point of view it makes sense to use your own modem and router. Another reason to use your own equipment is if you want to upgrade to a better device, for example for a longer range or better game quality.

Opting to upgrade is one thing, but if you want to use your own equipment to save on rental costs, consider the short-term and long-term costs. A new router can cost upwards of $100. In the case of Spectrum, which only charges $5 a month to rent a router, it can take 20 months or more to recoup the initial cost of buying your own router. Also keep in mind that using your own equipment often means that your ISP’s IT support may be limited.

Why is WiFi equipment not free?

If we need a modem and router to use the internet we pay for, why aren’t those devices free? That’s a good question – and in some cases they are free. However, most will have to pay for equipment.

ISPs have to pay for the equipment they lend and often pass those costs on to the customer in the form of equipment rental fees. The best way to cut those Wi-Fi costs is to use your own equipment or get a provider/plan that includes equipment at no extra cost, like the ones mentioned above.




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