Motorola SURFboard SB6121 DOCSIS 3 Cable Modem

Picture of the Motorola Surfboard SB6121 DOCSIS 3 cable modem

Picture of the Motorola Surfboard SB6121 DOCSIS 3 cable modemI’ve had my Motorola SURFboard SB4200 cable modem since signing up with Comcast nearly 10 years ago. I’ve always owned the modem, rather than leasing from Comcast so I’d say I got my money’s worth from it. It was becoming apparent that I’d be needing to replace it soon. Every status light was constantly shining brightly, including the one that said it was in standby mode. Despite this performance was good. Still, I was on the lookout for a good price on a replacement. I checked out Comcast’s compatibility list, concentrating on devices with three stars which should limit problems and other hassles since three stars indicated the highest level of testing. DOCSIS 3 is also a requirement.

IPV6 is nearly a requirement but for a nice low price I might skip it. Comcast has just started piloting IPv6 so it will probably be awhile before it’s even an option. I don’t use IP phones from Comcast so I just needed a straight data modem and wouldn’t need an eMTA.

I eventually ordered a Motorola SURFboard SB6121┬áCable Modem which supports DOCSIS 3 and IPv6. It also had the 3 star rating from Comcast. I procrastinated setting it up since it would entail a painful phone call to Comcast. Then Comcast sent me a letter saying I needed to upgrade to get the most benefit from their service. To their credit there wasn’t a pitch to buy or lease from them. The day after I switched the modem I got an automated call from them again telling me I needed a new modem, so I guess their serious. (As an aside, my this has something to do with some new fiber being run in the neighborhood.)

So I ended up hooking it up one afternoon and calling Comcast with the information they needed. It wasn’t as painful as it could have been. Hold times were just a couple minutes. I did get disconnected on the first call and had to call back. They also automated phone system asked if I would be willing to take a customer survey when I was done. I made the mistake of saying yes, thinking it would be automated at the end. No, I was prompted to enter in a phone number for a call back. I was disconnected on the first call shortly after a human picked up and said she could help. Maybe she pressed the wrong button, maybe my cell phone dropped (drops and nearly non-existent in my house). So I called back and said no to the customer survey option. This time there was no disconnection and after about 5 minutes I had a active connection. The customer survey call came was I was on hold waiting for the second tech to do her thing.

The new modem works well. Speed tests return results above my rated speeds (probably due to temporary bursting that Comcast promotes). Longer/larger file copies stay near my rated speeds, at least during the dark of early morning when the neighborhood is asleep. If I had been thinking I would have done some testing just before disconnecting the old modem and then test as soon as the new modem was online. The reality is that in daily use I don’t notice a difference between the modems.

I’ve owned my modem ever since getting cable broadband and never had a problem with Comcast claiming a bad modem was the problem. On the other hand I’ve had very few problems with Comcast broadband so there’s been little opportunity. At $7/mth for a modem rental I’ll make back my investment in less than 10 months. I paid just over $60 from Amazon although I see the modem is now just over $80.

The SB6121 has one more modern feature – an “energy conservation switch”. Us old timers call it a power switch.

The main reason I see given as a reason to lease a modem is to make the ISP responsible for the modem and require them to replace it if they say it’s bad. I’ve never bought into that argument and my own experience backs up my choice. What about you, own or lease?