How Long Do Modems Last?

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Modems last about 4 to 5 years.

A modem is a gateway to the Internet for most people. As the only piece of technical equipment offered by ISPs, many people rely on what’s given to them when they sign up for service versus buying their own modems.

Still, a modem, like any other piece of technical equipment, has a shelf life, and you may be wondering when to start the countdown clock when you power it on for the first time.

As technology continues to develop and evolve, so does the modem's lifespan. While the average lifespan of a modem can vary depending on the type, model, and usage, the consensus is that it needs replacing every four to five years.

But what goes into calculating the average modem’s lifespan? Let’s dig deeper!

Average Modem Lifespan

As we said above, the average lifespan of a modem can be between 4 to 5 years and beyond. While the modem can last longer, consistently evolving internet technology can leave your modem delivering subpar connection speeds compared to what you should be receiving.

Still, most people will wait to replace a modem – especially if they purchased it themselves. However, ISPs tend to offer replacement modems to force you to rent one at a higher price and increase your bill by several dollars a month.

There are a scant few reasons why you would want to replace a modem:

  1. Low Download/Upload Speeds: If you are experiencing slow internet speeds, replacing your modem may help to improve your connection.
  2. Poor Wi-Fi Range: If you are having trouble connecting to the Internet in some regions of your home, replacing your modem may help extend your Wi-Fi network's range.
  3. The Modem is Outdated: If your modem is more than five years old, it may be time to upgrade to a newer model better suited for your current internet needs.
  4. Router Compatibility Issues: If your modem is not compatible with your router, you may need to replace it to get the best performance out of both devices.
  5. Security Concerns: If you are worried about the security of your home network, replacing your modem with a newer model with the latest security features may help protect your home from cyber threats.

Replacing a Modem

For those unfamiliar with modems, they are devices used to provide internet access by connecting to the internet service provider. They are essential for connecting to the Internet, and having an outdated modem can result in slower speeds or even a complete loss of connection.

But if you’re looking at a modem not delivering promised speeds or having connection drops, here are a few ways to spot the problem.

1. Speed Problems

Nothing is more annoying than having a high-speed modem not delivering the promised speeds. Unfortunately, rent-to-own modems from your ISP may also be far from hitting the advertised speeds.

Speed issues become apparent with buffering during streaming a movie or lagging while gaming. If you’re someone who uses their internet connection daily, you’re likely to need a new modem more frequently than someone who occasionally uses the Internet.

2. New ISP

Nowadays, consumers find themselves in areas where more than one ISP operates. This is great for consumers because of the inherent competition to deliver the best services among the ISPs. You may need a new modem because your old one must be returned to your old ISP, or your new modem is incompatible with the new service.

3. Modem Performance Issues

Before you think we’re just rehashing the first point, understand this. After years of use, modems degrade in many places. Imagine continuously running any electronic item and believing it’ll always run at peak performance. That’s not possible. Using your modem for years can cause the internal components to weaken over time. That’s why a quality modem counts. Higher-quality modems typically come with longevity in mind and can last longer than their cheaper counterparts.

4. Upgrading Your Service

If you upgrade your internet service, you may need to replace your modem to get the most out of your new connection. This is because the modem you currently have may differ from the higher speeds of your new service. Even if you upgrade to a higher speed tier within the same service provider, you may need to replace your modem to take full advantage of the new speed.

For example, if you upgrade to a faster connection capable of speeds up to 200 Mbps, your current modem may need to be updated and only be able to handle speeds up to 100 Mbps.

To get the most out of your new connection, you need to replace your modem with a compatible modem with higher speeds.

5. Incompatibility With Your Needs

Speed is always the most valuable feature of any modem. However, what if you are trying to run a server within your home? What about using VoIP?

Not only are you missing out on new features with a new modem, but you’re also cheating yourself out of a secure connection. Many newer modems have advanced features like parental controls, guest networks, and more.

Renting vs. Owning a Modem

We have mentioned many times in this article about owning or renting a modem from your ISP. There are plenty of pros and cons for both sides in this case.

If you choose to rent your modem from your ISP, you can expect a fee of around $5-$10 per month. However, this fee may be waived if you sign up for a bundle package with your ISP or choose a long-term contract. The advantage of renting is that you don’t have to worry about buying a modem. Also, if you ever need to upgrade or replace your modem, you can usually call your ISP, who will take care of it.

On the other hand, if you choose to purchase your modem, you will need to make an upfront investment. This cost can range anywhere from $50-$100, depending on the type and brand of modem you choose. The advantage of purchasing your modem is that you can shop around for the best deals, and you won’t have to worry about any monthly fees.

Overall, owning a modem outright gives consumers the chance to save a few dollars a month on the bill. You can actually make up the upfront cost of buying a modem over the course of a year that you don’t rent the device from your ISP.


A new modem is a fantastic way of ensuring you always receive the most up-to-date internet features and a consistently strong connection to your ISP. However, if your connection feels sluggish as of late, it might be time for an upgrade!

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