Time Warner Cable Modem: Motorola SurfBoard SB6141

I read an article in the LA Times some time in November 2012 where it revealed that Time Warner Cable was now charging a rental fee for its Internet modems.  The article went on to say that the customer can buy their own modem but it must be an approved model.  I went to the Time Warner web site but could not find anything about which modems were approved.  I had to contact them by Internet typing chat.  The fellow at the other end rather quickly sent me the link.  I wanted a high speed modem and there were only two to choose from.  One included wireless router and I already have the Apple Airport so I was stuck with the Motorola SurfBoard SB6141 SOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem.  Time Warner did a good job picking this unit.  It has wonderful reviews.  I next tried to buy the unit locally but it was not to be found.  On the Internet it was also a bit hard to find.  I purchased mine form Tirgo for $124.94 including all charges.  The delivery was amazingly fast.

Before you remove the old modem, make sure you know of a good phone number to call Time Warner Cable.  I used 888-892-2253.  I disconnected the old modem and hooked up the new one.  A couple of lights lit up but I knew that I had to tell Time Warner the Mac address for this modem before it would work correctly.  I called Time Warner to give them the Mac address.  The lady at the other end needed to verify who I am.  I forgot my pin number but luckily it was recorded within mSecure.  As soon as my customer service lady was satisfied that I was at the correct address and paying Time Warner for service, she quickly got the system to recognize my modem.  The modem, so far, has worked perfectly.

The current Time Warner modem rental fees for me were $3.95 per month.  Dividing that amount into the cost of the new modem comes down to 31.6 months when I would break even.  Dividing 12 months into 31.6 gives us 2.63 years before I would start to actually make money.  So why buy your own modem?  Why buy this expensive one?  Is there a hidden benefit?  My research for this new modem implied that I might gain some added performance.

Before shutting down the old Time Warner Scientific Atlanta unit I did some Internet speed tests.  Our current Time Warner Internet plan is Turbo.  After connecting the new modem up I performed the same tests.  Following is my findings using http://www.speedtest.net/   I encourage you to try this on you own as it is a pretty nifty thing to do. (Another test is located here: http://www.pingtest.net/)

I chose LA for the server test location.  You can choose many more locations but just make sure you use the same location when doing your comparison.  The further the server is from your computer, the performance typically goes down due to the distance that the test signals must travel.

Old Time Warner Modem: Scientific Atlanta  model 2100

Time 1: Upload error error.
Time 2:   2:50 pm Ping, 16ms; Download Speed 20.87 Mbps; Upload 1.77 Mbps
Time 3:   2:55 pm Ping, 16ms; Download Speed 11.95 Mbps;  Upload 1.73 Mbps
Time 4:   2:56 pm  Ping, 16ms; Download Speed 20.50 Mbps; Upload 1.77 Mbps

New Purchased Modem: Motorola Surfboard SB6141

Time 1: 3:47 pm  Ping 14ms; Download Speed 20.93 Mbps; Upload 2.05 Mbps
Time 2: Upload Test Error
Time 3: 3:25 pm  Ping, 14ms; Download Speed 20.62 Mbps; Upload 2.06 Mbps.
Time 4: 3:26 pm  Ping, 14ms; Download Speed 20.91 Mbps; Upload 2.05 Mbps.
Time 5: 3:40 pm  Ping, 13ms; Download Speed 20.71 Mbps; Upload 2.07 Mbps.

Qualification:  The above test was not done perfectly. Ideally I should have had both modems doing the testing at the same time.  I did try to make my tests as close in same day clock time as I could between the old and new modem.  My concern here is that Time Warner Cable has been accused of metering their service.  I have heard that during the day they improve speeds for business and flip that around during the night for the residential customers.  I do not know if this is true or not.  My point her is the testing may have been done near of at the time the cable company does its alleged flip.  My feeling is that the flip would occur much later in the day.

Technical:

  • This modem offers a nifty modem software called Modem Configuration Manager built right in the modem itself.  All you need to do is type this web site address into your web browser: http://192.168.100.1.
  • To understand further about this modem, download the pdf file: SB6141.pdf which I found darn near impossible to find.  For this post, I tried to find the document again at the Motorola web site but could not.  The Motorola web site looks nice but lacks true customer support.

Summary:  I know it is a rationalization on my part for putting down so much money for an expensive modem but the numbers do show a slight Ping improvement and a near double upload speed from this new modem.  My son and I do web sites so upload speed improvement is nice.  My son is a gamer so ping is important.  For the person who loves to visit web sites, implying the need for good download speed, this expense might not be seen as an improved for you as the download speeds will not improve unless you pay for better speeds from Time Warner.  My son’s verdict is that he did NOT experience any change in game performance.

About Score Card

Married, father for two children. Self taught in electronics prior to high school. Then took classes in electronics at Riverside City College but did not finish. Junior college grades were so good he went on to a state university to study sociology. While going to a four year college he joined the US Naval Air Reserve. He received electronics training in Memphis Tennessee. He received an honorable discharge. He received a BA in sociology. Worked for a state university for just over 36 years taking care of a television studio, video and audio edit bays and audio production control room. Has a commercial FCC license and a ham radio license. Is an active city RACES member. Retired and then became a part time contract worker in the field of professional video and audio systems for a California state university. He sometimes play World Of Warcraft and have the following characters: Realm is Tanaris (Normal): Rimas (Death Knight) 65 [seldom play] Wineheart (Warrior) 51 [seldom play] Joomla (Shaman) 19 [currently playing from time to time] Realm is Alter Of Stroms (PVP): Lorem (Paladin) 38 [seldom play] Maclaren (Death Knight) 61 [seldom play]
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