How to Choose the Right Modem

When choosing which modem works best for you, it’s most important to understand the function of a modem. Often times people get routers and modems confused, but they are in fact two different things.

A router creates a network between the computers in your home, while your modem connects that network—and thus the computers on it—to the internet. When you connect to Wi-Fi, you’re really connecting to your router, which forwards traffic between the internet and your computer. (How-To Geek)

Modems have a range of functions so the first thing you’ll want to do is figure out exactly what is needed. If simple internet access is all that is needed, there are several inexpensive options that are available.

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Some of these include MiFi or Jetpack options for the carriers. Generally there is no hardware cost from the carriers, however they will come with a contract. The downside for many of these is that they are designed for personal use and not necessarily business grade.

If connections are lost it might require someone to manually power cycle these devices. Additionally because the carriers are recovering the cost of device, the monthly costs may not be that competitive.

It’s also smart to consider whether or not your modem needs to be PCI compliant. Companies that store, process, or transmit credit card information must comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI-DSS).

Failure to comply with PCI security standards can result in fines, lawsuits, and even bans from processing credit cards. Even worse, companies that experience security breaches can find themselves in the news headlines, significantly impacting trust and goodwill with customers, partners, the general public, and shareholders.

In many cases it is important to have modems that provide the ability to enable such features that include network segmentation, network firewalls, authentication, encryption, event logging, event alerts, time synchronization, periodic password changes, and configuration management.

Aside from PCI compliant standards, you’ll also want to consider whether your modem will need special connections like IPSec or VPN connections?

Because of security concerns, many organizations have their communications using secure connections like IPSec or VPN tunnels. Not all modems are compatible with these types of connections.

To determine if a modem is compatible you should consult the user manual. It should be noted that many low-cost modems cannot run VPN software. It is best to know this information so you can make an informed decision.

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Most importantly, you’ll want to be taking cost into consideration. You’ll want to find out if your modem comes with the following:

  • Initial hardware cost: This is a case where you do not want to pay too much for a modem that has features that you do not need, but on the flip-side you do not want to purchase one that does not have the features you need to properly operate your business. The cost of modems can vary widely along with the features available. Also when large roll-outs are happening sometimes a lease program can make the most financial sense. In addition with the constant changes of technology, like 2G, 3G, 4G, 5G, if a lease program features a built-in upgrade process it can avoid the frustration of replacing obsolete hardware.
  • Monthly data costs: The assorted and diverse data plan options can be dizzying and making decisions on those is not for the timid. You do not want to pay too much for a data plan that is larger than what you need. On the opposite end, you do not want to set-up with a data plan that is too small, where you will be accruing costly overages. There are even some data plans that are listed as “Unlimited”, however if you read the fine print it allows the carriers to throttle or reduce your data speed after a certain amount is used. This struggle can be worsened if you decide to have more than one carrier to optimize coverage options.
  • Additional costs for manufacturer support systems: Many of the major modem manufacturers offer software designed to help monitor and make changes to your portfolio of devices. Most of these monitoring systems come with a subscription and the cost is based on the number of you units.

Remember that choosing a modem doesn’t have to be a daunting process. If you’re need of assistance you can always call OptConnect and speak with one of our connectivity experts who can direct you to the modem that will work best for you.



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