What are the benefits of using your own modem with Suddenlink? Is it cheaper? Will you get some kind of performance improvement? What features should I consider when buying a Suddenlink compatible modem/router? If you are looking for answers to these questions, this is the place to be. Read this article and you’ll be fully prepared to start looking for your new modem. If you just need suggestions and are looking for the best value for your money, scroll down and check out our selection of best Suddenlink compatible modems and gateways.
Suddenlink and Optimum are both daughter companies of Altice USA. Their websites look very similar and their pricing is also quite similar. They both offer the same additional services like Suddenlink Stream (Optimum Stream) and smart WiFI6.
While Optimum covers the New York tri-state area with its cable network, Suddenlink has the best coverage in the Midwest, South, and Western U.S. Just like Optimum, Suddenlink is also predominantly a cable internet provider.
Suddenlink cable internet coverage map (source – broadbandnow)
Suddenlink internet is available in 18 states. Suddenlink has almost 2 million residential subscribers (internet + TV + voice service combined). It’s available to almost 7 million people.
Besides cable, Suddenlink also has a fiber internet service, but this service is only available for businesses (in almost 550 zip codes).
Internet plans and pricing
Depending on the area you live in, different plans will be available and the prices will be different. Suddenlink’s 1 Gig service is available in most areas, but not all. 1 Gig download (35 Mbps upload) is the highest speed offered by Suddenlink.
The promo deals are quite competitive – 1 Gig service will cost you $75/month (the price after 1-year promotion will be $140/month). The cheapest plan in areas with 1 Gig service is 200/10 Mbps (aka Suddenlink 200). The promo deal is $35/month ($100/month after the promotion).
In certain areas, the max available speed is 50 Mbps, 150 Mbps, or 400 Mbps. For each of these areas (internet markets), there are different deals available and different prices are applied.
Suddenlink plans and prices for different internet markets
Suddenlink’s deals are on par with other providers. In most (if not all) areas where Suddenlink internet is available, Suddenlink offers higher speeds than other ISPs. Like all the other cable internet providers, Suddenlink offers plans with asymmetrical download/upload speeds (940/35, 400/20, 200/10), so if you, for some reason, need high upload speed, try looking for available fiber internet services in your area.
You are not required to sign a term agreement, but you’ll have to pay higher fees and you won’t get any discounts. But if you need (or just like) to be able to cancel your contract at any time, it’s probably smarter not to sign an annual contract. That way, you can avoid early termination fees ($200 + all outstanding charges and fees).
Suddenlink has imposed data caps for some plans, while other plans come with unlimited data. For example, in Gig markets, Suddenlink 400 and Suddenlink 1 Gig plans don’t have data caps. Suddenlink 200, however, comes with a data cap. Suddenlink’s data limits are outrageously low. Their previous lowest plan for Gig markets was 100 Mbps, and the limit for this plan was only 250 GB. The overage fee is $15 per 50 GB. Data caps are different for different internet markets, but they exist for lower-speed plans and are very low. Depending on your area, you may or may not be able to pay some additional fee and get an unlimited plan.
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Suddenlink explains its data cap policy through its Acceptable Use Policy, but you won’t find data caps or overage fees there. The best way to check if your data plan comes with some kind of cap is to log in to your online Suddenlink account (you have to register your account first).
Modem/router rental fees
Suddenlink charges an additional $10/month fee for the modem and router. Considering that you’re going to use the same modem/router combo for at least 3 years, you will spend $360 in those 3 years ($120/year). It’s a significant amount of money.
The rental fee is on par with other providers. Most of them charge $10-$15/month, while Spectrum has the lowest modem rental fee (only $5/month).
This fee is one of the main reasons why Suddenlink subscribers (and internet subscribers in general), choose to buy third-party equipment. We will discuss this option in detail in a few minutes.
If you opt for professional installation, you will have to pay the standard installation fee ($99). If you opt for self-install, you will just have to pay a $40 activation fee. Suddenlink also charges the so-called network enhancement fee ($3.5/month). They could also call it ”we charge you because we can and you have to pay because you don’t have other options” fee.
Exactly like Optimum, Suddenlink offers two additional services to all of its internet subscribers. The first one is the smart Wi-Fi 6. It’s basically a gateway upgrade (from the old one to the new Suddenlink gateway). Smart Wi-Fi 6 is supposed to improve your wi-fi performance, increase speed and coverage, and deliver more reliable performance. All 1 Gig subscribers will get smart wi-fi 6 service.
Suddenlink and Optimum offer the same Smart Wi-Fi 6 service
The other service is the so-called Suddenlink Stream (a streaming box with a remote). The box is free if you are subscribed to the 1 Gig service. Customers subscribed to other plans will have to pay a $5 monthly fee.
Suddenlink doesn’t have the best reputation among internet providers. If you type in ”Suddenlink” in the YouTube search bar, you’ll find a bunch of videos of people complaining about Suddenlink’s internet service (spotty connections, low speeds, bad customer service overall).
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Naturally, we assumed that those videos are highly subjective and gave Suddenlink the benefit of a doubt. So, we looked for some objective information. We came across the latest ASCI report – this report shows that Suddenlink is among the worst when it comes to customer satisfaction.
Suddenlink has the lowest ASCI index in the industry
If you go through ASCI Telecommunications Report, you will also find out that Suddenlink doesn’t offer the best in-home wi-fi service. That’s another reason why you should think about using your own Suddenlink compatible modem.
Suddenlink internet subscribers (those who rent equipment from Suddenlink) are not very happy with their wi-fi service
The biggest advantage is that you don’t have to look for matching equipment. You don’t have to learn about cable modems and you don’t have to spend your valuable time reading articles like this one.
The second advantage is that you’ll get full tech support when there’s an issue with your modem.
The third advantage is that you’ll get free replacement when there’s a modem malfunction or when you need to upgrade your old unit.
If you are not a techie person and don’t feel comfortable around networking equipment, then maybe it’s smarter to rent. It’ll cost you $120/year, but you’ll have to live with that.
Two things are crucial here – money-saving and improved performance.
If you are, like most people, subscribed to the cheapest plan (200 Mbps in this case), you can save a lot of money if you decide to buy the modem/router combo (or cable gateway) on your own. You can get a good-quality gateway (or modem and router) for $200, or maybe even less. That means that you can save $160 if you keep using that gateway for three years. If you keep using it for 5 years, you can save $400. That’s not peanuts – you can buy something nice for that kind of money.
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The second advantage, especially if you are an advanced user, is much better performance. With third-party equipment, you can get much better security, better range, better ability to handle multiple connections at the same time, better reliability, higher speeds, and a much better price/value ratio. According to the same ASCI report we’ve talked about, internet subscribers using third-party equipment are happier with their wi-fi performance.
Installing a Suddenlink compatible modem is easy. You need to connect everything first (coax cable, Ethernet cable, power cable). Once you connect all the cables, you should turn on your unit, wait a few minutes and then visit Suddenlink’s self-install webpage. You will have to go through a step-by-step activation process. When you finish this process, you can start using your modem. The entire installation should take less than 30mins.
If you ask us, this is an easy decision. Buying your own equipment is often cheaper and, even if it’s not cheaper (if you’re buying high-end equipment), you can get much better performance. So, unless you don’t have any knowledge of networking and you can’t spend some time learning about cable modems and wi-fi routers, buying a Suddenlink compatible modem is a better option.
By now, you should’ve already made up your mind. If your decision is to buy the modem/router on your own, here’s our selection of the best Suddenlink compatible modems. The selection is divided into two subcategories – best modems with router recommendations and best gateways. Choose your category based on your preferences, requirements, and available space, and find something you like.
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1. Best Budget – NETGEAR CM500
CM500 is the bestseller for a reason. It offers amazing value for your money – it delivers perfectly reliable performance and consistent speeds. You can’t get anything better for this kind of money.
Our recommendation for a router is TP-Link’s Archer A9. It is a pretty great wi-fi 5 dual-band router with three external antennas, four Gigabit Ethernet (LAN) ports, and a USB port. The router is advertised as AC1900 (600 Mbps over 2.4 GHz + 1,300 Mbps over 5 GHz). The advertised wi-fi coverage area is 1500 ft2. Archer A9 is priced around $80. If you don’t need that kind of coverage or can settle for lower speeds, you can try a slightly cheaper Archer A7.
CM500 is a DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem with 16 downlink and 4 uplink channels. It is compatible with all major cable internet providers (approved and certified by Cox, Xfinity, and Spectrum). The max recommended cable plan is 400 Mbps, while the max theoretical speed is 680 Mbps. CM500 is compatible with both – Windows (including Windows 10) and macOS.
The modem comes with a power cable and an Ethernet cable. There are 5 LEDs on the front (power, downlink, uplink, internet, Ethernet). The rear panel houses one 1G Ethernet port, coax connector, DC input, and a reset pinhole.
The modem doesn’t have phone ports and is not compatible with voice service.
Router Recommendation: NETGEAR Nighthawk R6700
ARRIS SB6190 is, just like NETGEAR CM500, a very popular choice among cable internet subscribers. It’s one of the most capable routers in its price range. It delivers great speeds and a stable internet connection.
Our advice is to combine it with NETGEAR Nighthawk R6700. This is a dual-band wi-fi 5 router. It delivers good coverage (up to 1500 ft2) and can handle up to 25 devices. R6700 is advertised as AC1750 (450 Mbps over 2.4 GHz + 1300 Mbps over 5 GHz). It has 3 external antennas, one USB port, and 4 LAN ports.
SB6190 is a DOCSIS 3.0 modem. It features 32×8 channel bonding (32 downlink channels, 8 uplink channels). It works with any OS and is approved by most major internet providers in the US. The unit is recommended for use with internet plans up to 600 Mbps.
SB6190 comes with a power cable and an Ethernet cable. There’re 4 LEDs on the front. On the back, you have one Ethernet port, coax connector, reset pinhole, and a DC input. The unit comes with the SURFboard Central app. You can use the app for all the initial and advanced settings. The app doesn’t work well, so it’s probably smarter to use the modem’s Configuration page for the initial setup.
The modem doesn’t have phone ports – it’s not designed for voice service.
Unlike the previous two, Motorola MB8611 is a DOCSIS 3.1 cable modem and is designed for Gig speeds. It is a fairly affordable unit, which is one of the reasons why it’s so popular. The performance that you get for the price is amazing – the speeds are high and consistent and the connection is reliable and stable.
Our recommended router is Linksys MR9600. It’s somewhat pricey ($300-$400 depending on the seller), but it’s also very capable. This is a Wi-Fi 6 dual-band router. It supports all the latest technologies (OFDMA, MU-MIMO, beamforming, etc.). It can handle up to 40 devices and the max coverage area is 3,000 ft2. The advertised combined wi-fi speed is 6,000 Mbps (1,200 Mbps over 2.4 GHz + 4,800 Mbps over 5 GHz). The router comes with the Linksys app. The app is used for all kinds of settings and adjustments. The initial setup is also done through the app.
As mentioned, Motorola MB8611 is a DOCSIS 3.1 modem. It features 2×2 OFDM channel bonding, and it’s compatible with DOCSIS 3.0 32×8 channel bonding. The unit is compatible with Gig plans provided by all major cable internet providers in the States. It’ll work with any OS and any router, but it’s definitely recommended to pair it with something capable (wi-fi 6 dual or tri-band router that supports speeds over 2 Gbps).
The modem has a 2.5G Ethernet port. It comes with a power cable and an Ethernet cable. It has no phone ports and is not compatible with voice service.
4. Best Budget – ARRIS SURFboard SBG10
ARRIS SURFboard SBG10 is one of the best affordable gateways on the market. It features a recognizable ARRIS design with simple controls and input layout. The unit has two Gigabit Ethernet ports. It doesn’t have USB ports, which could be a problem if you want to connect a printer or external storage.
The modem inside SBG10 is DOCSIS 3.0 with 16 downlink and 4 uplink channels. It can handle (theoretically) speeds of up to 686 Mbps, while the max recommended plan is 400 Mbps.
The router inside SBG10 is dual-band and compatible with 802.11ac standard (it’s a wi-fi 5 router). The router is rated as AC1600, which means it supports combined speeds of up to 1600 Mbps (300 Mbps over 2.4 GHz + 1,300 Mbps over 5 GHz). The router supports beamforming and can stream on both bands at the same time (dual concurrent).
To set up your gateway and manage your wi-fi network, you can use the SURFboard Manager app. The app is buggy and doesn’t deliver satisfying performance. Our advice is to set everything up on your PC using the gateway’s configuration page. The default IP is 192.168.0.1.
Looking for something relatively affordable that can handle your 1 Gig internet plan? Motorola MG8702 might be just the thing you need.
MG8702 has a built-in DOCSIS 3.1 modem. It features 2×2 OFDM channel bonding and it’s compatible with DOCSIS 3.0 32×8 channel bonding. It is also compatible with all operating systems and will work with most major cable internet providers. For those of you who care about chipsets, you’ll be happy to know that Motorola modems, including this one, run on Broadcom chipsets.
The router inside MG8702 is a wi-fi 5 (802.11ac compliant) dual-band router. It supports combined speeds of up to 3200 Mbps (600 Mbps over 2.4 GHz + 2,600 Mbps over 5 GHz). The router features all the latest technologies for improved performance – it supports AQM for reduced lag, beamforming, MU-MIMO, power boost, and range boost. It also supports IPv4 and IPv6 protocols. It has DDoS attack protection, firewalls, and is compatible with the WPA2 security protocol.
MG8702 has 4 Gigabit Ethernet ports and one USB 3.0 port. It doesn’t have phone ports and doesn’t support voice service.
To set up your gateway, monitor the network, and adjust advanced settings, you can use the MotoManage app.
6. NETGEAR CAX80
CAX80 is one of the most capable and most advanced gateways on the market. It’s also one of the most interesting-looking and, unfortunately, most expensive gateways you can find. NETGEAR Nighthawk is perfect for all kinds of activities including 4K streaming and gaming. It can handle lots of devices and it provides amazing coverage (it can easily handle 3,000 ft2).
The modem inside CAX80 is DOCSIS 3.1. It features OFDM 2×2 channel bonding and is compatible with DOCSIS 3.0 32×8 channel bonding. The unit is approved by most major cable internet providers and works with all operating systems.
The router inside CAX80 is a powerful WiFi6 dual-band router. It is advertised as AX6000, which means that the max combined wireless speed is 6 Gbps (1.2 Gbps over 2.4 GHz + 4.8 Gbps over 5 GHz). It can transmit 8 separate wi-fi streams simultaneously. It supports OFDMA, MU-MIMO, and beamforming. Finally, the router supports all the latest wireless security protocols.
Like all NETGEAR Nighthawk routers, CAX80 comes with the Nighthawk app. The app allows you to set up the unit and monitor your network. You can also use it to adjust all kinds of settings including guest wi-fi network, parental control settings, etc. You can also install the NETGEAR Armor app. This app provides additional online security, but it’s not free – you will get a 1-month free trial, but if you want to keep using it, you’ll have to pay the monthly fee.
CAX80 has one 2.5G port as well as four 1G Ethernet ports. It also has one USB 3.0 port.
This concludes our selection of the best Suddenlink compatible modems and gateways. Hopefully, this article helped you realize why buying a modem on your own is better than renting. We are very happy if it helped you find the perfect unit for your needs. In case you have additional questions, read the FAQ section or leave us a comment below.
Q: Can I use any modem with Suddenlink?
A: No, you can’t. You have to choose the modem based on your internet plan. The most important thing (but not the only important thing) here is the DOCSIS version. Two versions are currently in use – DOCSIS 3.0 and DOCSIS 3.1.
DOCSIS 3.1 is the latest version and it’s the only one that supports Gig service. So, if you’re subscribed to Suddenlink 1 Gig, you must look for DOCSIS 3.1. Even if you’re subscribed to cheaper plans, DOCSIS 3.1 cable modem is the perfect choice because it’s backward compatible with DOCSIS 3.0. The problem with DOCSIS 3.1 modems is that they’re pricier than DOCSIS 3.0 modems.
If you’re subscribed to lower speeds (200 or 400 Mbps), then buying a DOCSIS 3.0 modem is a viable option. However, you will have to pay attention to the channel bonding (number of downlink and uplink channels). Naturally, having a modem with more channels is better. So, if you can afford it, look for a modem with 32×8 or 24×8 channel bonding. The bare minimum for Suddenlink 200 is DOCSIS 3.0 with 16×4 channel bonding.
Q: What routers does Suddenlink recommend?
A: Unlike some other manufacturers, Suddenlink doesn’t really offer a list of compatible/approved cable modems. They don’t even give any guidelines regarding the speeds, DOCSIS versions, and channel bonding. The only thing you’ll find on Suddenlink’s website is that you’re allowed to use your own Suddenlink compatible modem.
Q: What is the best modem to use with Suddenlink Internet?
A: It’s really hard to give a single answer to this question. There’re simply too many great modems and gateways. We can tell you that you should definitely look for DOCSIS 3.1 modem. Our top recommendations when it comes to brands are NETGEAR, ARRIS, and Motorola. For more concrete suggestions, check out our selection of the best Suddenlink compatible modems.
Q: Is NETGEAR CM1000 compatible with Suddenlink?
A: NETGEAR CM1000 is one of the best DOCSIS 3.1 cable modems on the market, especially if you are looking for the best value for your money. CM1000 is a great choice for any Suddenlink internet plan, including 1 Gig plan.
Q: What is the difference between a DOCSIS 3.0 and DOCSIS 3.1 modem?
A: The biggest and most important difference is in the supported speeds. Only DOCSIS 3.1 modems support 1 Gig service. DOCSIS 3.0 modems support speeds up to 600 Mbps. However, not all DOCSIS 3.0 modems support those speeds. 600 Mbps is the supported speed for DOCSIS 3.0 with 32×8 channel bonding. If a DOCSIS 3.0 modem has fewer downlink/uplink channels, it’ll support lower speeds.
Q: What’s the difference between a router and a modem?
A: A modem is a device that decodes the internet signal sent from your ISP. It sends the decoded signal to your router. The router distributes the signal wirelessly.
Q: Do I need both – a modem and a router?
A: If you have wireless devices that you want to use for internet browsing, then yeah – you definitely need both units (or a gateway, which is a modem and a router in one unit).