Modem Information

The vast majority of today’s cable modem services are delivered through proprietary products manufactured by companies like Motorola, Nortel, Com21 and Terayon. That, in turn, presents challenges to consumers seeking seamless broadband service from their local cable TV operator.

Proprietary Issues
First and foremost, it’s important to understand that proprietary cable modems will only work on cable systems using a particular manufacturer’s network equipment. For example, if a cable company has installed Motorola network gear, only Motorola cable modems can be used with the system. In these proprietary environments, subscribers are required to use the particular brand of cable modem offered by their cable provider.

While this can frustrate users who’d like to choose their own products, most cable companies make the best of the situation by leasing proprietary cable modems to subscribers for $10 to $15 per month. It’s a stop-gap effort — and a money-maker for cable coperators — to be sure. But at least consumers aren’t forced to buy expensive proprietary modems and bear the risk of product obsolescence.

Standardized Solutions
That soon will begin to change, thanks to a cable industry standard called DOCSIS, which stands for Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification. Some 20 companies are manufacturing DOCSIS modems, including 3Com, Cisco, Com21, General Instrument, Nortel, Philips, Samsung, Sony, Toshiba and Thomson. In line with that, cable TV companies are gradually deploying DOCSIS-compliant network equipment that will give more consumers the option of buying their own cable modems.

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