Having the right modem is the key to enjoying fast and reliable internet service. A modem does the job of receiving the encrypted data sent by your internet service provider, translating it into digital signals that are compatible with your systems, and transmitting them to your data-hungry devices, so you can head online seamlessly. It is an important gateway to the World Wide Web and ensures a smooth flow of data between you and your ISP.

Many internet service providers offer their own modems, alongside their internet plans. A DSL provider hands out DSL modems. A fiber internet provider includes a fiber optic modem in its packages. While a cable company offers cable-based speeds through a cable modem. This cable modem connects to the coaxial outlet in the wall and oversees the data traffic over a complex cable network.

When you subscribe to a cable provider like RCN cable, you get the opportunity to either lease the cable modem from the company itself or bring your own modem (BYOM) into the mix. If you’re planning to go down the BYOM road, then this guide will not only list the top RCN compatible modems for you but also give you the crucial factors to keep in mind when you’re sealing the deal. Let’s begin.

The Current RCN Modem-Rental Structure

Being one of the most popular cable providers in the US, RCN is known for its exceptional cable internet. Free from lags, loading bars, and buffering, RCN internet delivers super-fast speeds to its customers over a state-of-the-art cable network and those too, without data caps of any kind. So, you can surf, browse, shop, stream, game, work, or do whatever you wish online in an unlimited way. Cable speeds, prices, and availability vary by region. 

Coming to RCN internet equipment, you have the option to lease a cable modem, a modem-router combo, or a router-only from RCN directly. You can use your discretion here to opt for the network hardware that best compliments your RCN internet speed and package. The monthly rental pricing for RCN-provided internet hardware across its footprint goes something like this:

RCN Covered Area RCN Modem RCN Standard WiFi RCN Standard WiFi & Modem RCN Standard WiFi & Gig Modem RCN Gig Modem
Boston $12.95/mo. $12.95/mo. $12.95/mo. - $12.95/mo.
Chicago $16/mo. FREE (Limited Time Only) $16/mo. - $16/mo.
DC Metro $10.95/mo. $10.95/mo. $22.95/mo. - $22.95/mo.
Lehigh Valley $3/mo. $10.95/mo. $5/mo. - $5/mo.
New York - - $3/mo. $10/mo. -
Philadelphia $3/mo. $10.95/mo. $10/mo. $10/mo. -

Internet download speeds may vary and are not guaranteed. Restrictions apply. Activation and installation not included. Leased equipment must be returned to RCN if service is canceled.

The biggest advantage to leasing a cable modem from RCN is that you can receive and enjoy automatic speed upgrades on RCN’s local network. Plus, you won’t have to worry about modem replacements, either, in case your current device undergoes a malfunction. RCN will simply swap it for you at no extra cost. Furthermore, you will not have to worry about compatibility issues and will get to enjoy the speeds you have subscribed to in your internet plan.

However, the biggest disadvantage to leasing a modem from RCN is the aggregate cost. While the monthly rental may be $15 on average across the states, collectively, this can put a huge dent in your budget at the end of the year. For instance, $15 a month is $180 a year. If you purchase your own modem, you can safely evade this cost, and save more! The good news is that RCN lets you do just that, as the following section will clarify.

Introducing the “Bring Your Own Modem” Deal

Unlike its competitors, RCN allows you to hop on the BYOM opportunity and use your own cable modem to sever the rental fees from your monthly bill. The provider also mentions certain recommendations as to how advanced your own modem should be in order to process and translate the super-fast RCN internet speeds. These modem recommendations are:

RCN Modem Recommendations
DOCSIS Standard 3.0 3.1
Internet Plan Up to 330 Mbps 500 Mbps or more
Downstream Channels 24 32

Any modem besides Motorola MB8600 DOCSIS 3.1 and EURODOCSIS that falls in these specifications is good to be used with an RCN cable network. In case your modem does not live up to these standards and offers less than 24 channels, then you can double-check it against RCN’s minimum modem requirements to see if it is eligible or not. These are:

RCN Modem Requirements
DOCSIS Standard 3.0 3.0 3.1
Internet Plan Up to 250 Mbps Up to 330 Mbps 500 Mbps or more
Downstream Channels 8 16 32

Note: RCN points out in clear terms that a modem with less than 24 downstream channels may not be able to translate RCN internet speeds optimally, thereby, resulting in an unstable reception. So, make sure to choose the right hardware from the RCN-approved modems list, which is laid out for you below.

RCN Compatible Modem List 2021

Shopping for a cable modem is not an easy task. You have to compare different models constantly, which can get tiresome. Now, you cannot evaluate the modems if you’re not equipped with the technical knowledge of how they work and what sets them apart, right?

There are essentially two features you have to consider while narrowing down your choices for RCN-approved modems. These include:

DOCSIS Standards

DOCSIS or the “Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification” is a telecommunications standard, which dictates the speed and state of internet access over a cable modem. In other words, this standard specifies how quickly data travels from the ISP to your household over the cable network and back.

The most commonly used DOCSIS standard for cable modems in the current era is DOCSIS 3.0, which supports a maximum theoretical speed of 1 Gig over 32 downstream channels. Whereas, the latest DOCSIS standard for cable modems is DOCSIS 3.1, which is expected to support a cable speed of up to 10 Gbps, whenever such a speed tier becomes available. RCN allows you to use both DOCSIS 3.0 and DOCSIS 3.1 modems to experience fast web connectivity.

Number of Channels

The second feature to consider is the number of channels on which your cable modem transmits information. Think of these channels as lanes on a highway. The more lanes there are, the more data can travel in a lesser time. For instance, 16 x 4 channels signify that your modem uses 16 channels to download data from the web, and only 4 channels to upload it online.

In cable networks, the downstream channels always exceed the upstream ones, because we download more data than we upload. As we increase the count of channels, the speed also increases. Here is a general estimate of the capabilities of different modem channels:

Modem Channels Downstream Upstream Max Speed Supported
8 x 4 8 Channels 4 Channels Up to 100 Mbps
16 x 4 16 Channels 4 Channels Up to 200 Mbps
24 x 8 24 Channels 8 Channels Up to 300 Mbps
32 x 8 32 Channels 8 Channels Up to 1,000 Mbps

Now that you have mastered these two technicalities, let’s list down the best of the best RCN compatible modems that we recommend you to get:

1. ARRIS SURFboard SB6190

  • DOCSIS Standard: 3.0
  • Channels: 32 x 8

One of the most outstanding features of ARRIS SURFboard SB6190 is that it is compatible with all the major U.S. cable internet providers, including RCN, which makes it a worthwhile investment. Its DOCSIS 3.0 standard gives it the power to transmit internet speeds up to 1 Gig, paired with the channel bonding of 32 downstream and 8 upstream channels. There is a single Gigabit Ethernet port at the back, which means that you’ll have to add a separate router to create a wireless in-home network.

Moreover, this modem doesn’t support the voice service, so you’ll have to arrange for it separately. ARRIS SURFboard SB6190 has a compact design and is available in shades of white, so, you can tuck it out of sight and still enjoy a consistent throughput.

2. Motorola MB7621

  • DOCSIS Standard: 3.0
  • Channels: 24 x 8

Motorola MB7621 is an Amazon’s Choice cable modem, known for its efficiency and affordability. This product gives you the best value for your money. Motorola MB7621 distributes cable internet speeds over 24 downstream channels and 8 upstream channels. The DOCSIS 3.0 standard enables it to handle more traffic without stressing out. Design-wise, this cable modem has a sleek look and smaller dimensions, which gives it a low-profile advantage. It has one Gigabit Ethernet port at the back that you can use to directly connect your computers, smart TVs, gaming consoles, or more.

Motorola MB7621 doesn’t have a built-in Wi-Fi router or phone jack for voice support. On the upside, you can set it up within mere minutes using the quick start guide.

3. NETGEAR CM500

  • DOCSIS Standard: 3.0
  • Channels: 16 x 4

This is yet another Amazon’s Choice product, manufactured by the industry giant, NETGEAR. The CM500 cable modem is ideal for households with basic web users and entry-level internet speed subscriptions. Its 16 downstream into 4 upstream channel bonding matches RCN’s minimum requirements for a cable modem. Its best feature is that it works with just about any Wi-Fi router that you connect through its single Gigabit Ethernet port. The NETGEAR CM500 cable modem is built for mid-tier speeds and DOCSIS 3.0 cable networks.

4. ARRIS SURFboard SB8200

  • DOCSIS Standard: 3.1
  • Channels: 2 x 2 OFDM | 32 x 8 DOCSIS 3.0

Looking for a cable modem that delivers gigabit level speeds in a fast, secure, and seamless way? ARRIS SURFboard SB8200 is the right candidate for the role. This cable modem is engineered to provide a high-performance speed throughput across your household. It is also compatible with RCN cable internet and eligible to receive any automatic speed upgrades pushed by the cable provider in your region.

You will find two 1-Gigabit Ethernet ports at its back to which you can connect a router (since the cable modem doesn’t include Wi-Fi) and another device of your choice, such as a computer or gaming console. Keep in mind that ARRIS SURFboard SB8200 doesn’t have digital voice support, and its coaxial connection placement is a bit awkward.

5. NETGEAR Nighthawk CM2000

  • DOCSIS Standard: 3.1
  • Channels: 2 x 2 OFDM | 32 x 8 DOCSIS 3.0

NETGEAR Nighthawk CM2000 is a multi-gig cable modem with the best performance so far. It is a future-proof product, which may be a tad heavy on your pocket. If that’s not an issue, then choosing CM2000 will give you a 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet port for the fastest connectivity yet, along with an added support for NETGEAR Wi-Fi 6 routers and NETGEAR Orbi mesh systems. It is the perfect cable modem for enjoying RCN Gig internet speeds, but it doesn’t have voice compatibility.

So, what are you waiting for? Select any of the aforementioned RCN compatible modems for a next-gen internet experience. Call 1-844-735-2629 for more information.

RCN Modem Buying Guide

Buying the right cable modem makes all the difference, especially when it comes to RCN internet service. Here are a few RCN modem-buying tips to help you along the way:

  • See if buying your own modem is a more cost-effective solution than leasing one from RCN. If you can afford the $200 or so charge annually, you should stick to RCN leased modems to enjoy the automatic speed upgrades and the 24/7 technical assistance from RCN customer service.
  • Choose a cable modem for your cable internet speeds. In case you have subscribed to a Gig plan from RCN and reside in a fiber-to-the-home area, then use the RCN internet hardware preferably, as directed by the cable company.
  • Seek out reputable modem manufacturing companies like NETGEAR and ARRIS to avert any unnecessary hardware troubles. Don’t take the risk of purchasing your modem from unpopular brands like Ubee and Technicolor. Never go for a used modem.
  • Buy a cable modem with DOCSIS 3.0 standard and 24 downstream channels for an optimal RCN internet experience. You can get a DOCSIS 3.1 modem, which may secure you in the future by delivering up to 10 Gig, but may be too pricey for your pocket at the moment.
  • Always verify your subscribed speed tier against a cable modem’s specifications to make the most out of your internet package. The modem should meet RCN’s BYOM recommendations and be capable to receive the automatic speed upgrades sent by the provider. If you get a modem with a lower channel count and an older standard technology, it will under-deliver the RCN internet speeds you’ve signed up for and unleash lags into your network.

The Final Word

RCN is an award-winning cable internet provider that strives to offer maximum satisfaction to its customers every step of the way. Its “Bring Your Own Modem” option is super-convenient for users who are currently in a cash crunch and are looking to save some money in the long run. This blog post has been specially designed to help you find the top RCN compatible modems, so you can compare their specs and make a wise decision.

RCN-Supported Modems FAQs

What modem/router works with RCN?

RCN supports any cable modem that meets its minimum requirements:

Modem Channels Downstream Upstream Max Speed Supported
DOCSIS Standard 3.0 3.0 3.1
Internet Plan Speed Up to 250 Mbps Up to 330 Mbps 500 Mbps or more
Downstream Channels 8 16 32

Does RCN have any BYOM restrictions?

You cannot use your modem with RCN if:

  1. You reside in an RCN fiber-to-the-home area.
  2. You have an RCN Digital Phone service, which requires an RCN EMTA connection.

Will RCN sell the RCN-owned modem to me?

No. RCN only leases its own modem at the moment.

I am a current Internet customer. How do I switch to BYOM?

Current RCN Internet customers can switch to BYOM by following these steps:

  1. Return your RCN-owned modem to the nearest retail outlet.
  2. Notify RCN about the end of the lease and the change in your monthly charges.
  3. Purchase a new modem from a retailer of your choice.
  4. Make sure the new modem is RCN-approved.
  5. Connect your new modem to the coax cable in your home.
  6. Call RCN customer service to request modem activation.
  7. Give the representative the modem’s MAC address.
  8. Wait for the service to resume and test your RCN internet speeds.