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Motorola SB6121 Surfboard DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem Review

By Edited Oct 22, 2015 2 0
Connect to the Internet
Credit: Opensource

Going online is lifechanging, but if you use the wrong equipment, you can be a pain as you wait for modem to recycle or wireless routers to reset. Purchasing the best devices is critical for a pleasant online experience.

I have been using this Motorola SURFboard for about 2 months now. I finally upgraded my old Motorola modem that I had been using for 10 years. Actually, it still worked fine, however Comcast kept prodding me to upgrade and since I do a lot of streaming and experience the dreaded "buffering" on Netflix from time to time, I decided to go ahead and upgrade. I chose a Motorola brand again because of my positive experience with the one I had owned for a decade.

What to Look for in a Cable Modem

  • DOCSIS 3.0 Standard
  • Simplicity/Ease of Use
  • Technical Support and Warranty

What is DOCSIS 3.0?

Released August 2006, DOCSIS 3.0 technology  is a standard of international telecommunications that allows high-bandwidth data transfer to a cable modem for television and internet access.  Most cable providers now require you to upgrade to 3.0 to have access to most of their features.

Setting Up the SB6121

What is docsis 3.0
The modem comes with a network cable and power cord. Setup was easy and only involved connecting the coaxial cable from the wall outlet into the back of the modem. Assuming you have a wi-fi router, you will need to connect the router to the modem via the network cable that came with your purchase. Most people already have one of these.

After all of the cables are connected, you plug the power adapter into the wall and the modem begins to cycle through. However, at this point you need to call your cable company to get them to activate it. I had to deal with Comcast which can either be a positive or negative experience, depending on who you happen to get on the line. They will initiate a series of signals, then tell you it should be online within a half hour. For the most part, that is usually correct. I had no issues getting the modem to talk to Comcast once I got through to their customer service.

After the modem is activated, plug the power cord in for your router and let it cycle through. It is important that you wait to turn on the wi-fi router AND your laptop or mobile device, after you have the modem connected and the bright green world wide web icon is showing on the front of the modem display.

Once your router and laptop is up and running, you should not have any issues seeing your existing wi-fi network because nothing on that end changed. Your network ID and encrypted network password remain the same.

However, if this is your first time setting up a modem and wi-fi router together, you will need to configure your wireless network, but that is beyond the scope of this article, but there is plenty of information on the web to guide you through that process.

Install Motorola Modem
ARRIS SURFboard SB6121 DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem - Retail Packaging - Black
Amazon Price: $99.99 $50.99 Buy Now
(price as of Oct 22, 2015)
If you are interesting in more information on SB6121 specs, Amazon provides a great breakdown of the specific features.
Motorola SB6121 Surfboard DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem mjpyro 2014-03-13 5.0 0 5
5/5

Performance

This is my first DOCSIS 3.0 modem and I have already noticed a difference. Remember, my old

ARRISMotorolaSB6121SURFboard
modem was 10 years old, so you may not see the speed benefits that I did. Cable modem speed is determined by so many different factors out of your control so my advice is not to obsess over this aspect.

If you do the normal things that most people do on the internet, this modem will work fine. What matters more is performance and reliability and I have not had any dropping issues since I installed and activated the modem. In fact, I have not had to reset the modem in the 2 months since I have owned it and I use it every day without issue.

If you stream video from Netflix and have several people in your household using the wi-fi at the same time, you might want to consider a dual band device which separates the two types of internet traffic so you will not get the buffering issues that can happen when streaming Netflix at times. During high peak times at night, Netflix has a tendency to slow down a lot so this could be an issue for you. I have not subscribed to Netflix since I installed this modem, but I am sure there will not be a problem.

ARRIS SURFboard SB6141 DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem - Retail Packaging - White
Amazon Price: $99.99 $63.99 Buy Now
(price as of Oct 22, 2015)

Why Buy a Cable Modem?

Well, the short answer to that is that you do not want to rent one from the cable company every month. That is an additional monthly expense of $4 - $7 depending on the cable company, and it is simply a way for them to take advantage of non-technical people, in essence, people that do not know any better. The cable sales people offer the big sale on the phone, scaring people into thinking they are going to have issues with them and promising to replace them immediately or send out a technician to troubleshoot.  It is a terrible deal.

An average DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem costs around $75, so you do the math.  It pays for itself within a year. Again, this is way to take advantage of people that simply do not know any better. I think most people would be surprised at how many people rent modem or telephones from the phone company. Some people are still paying AOL almost $20 a month for dial-up access too.

Also, if you are having a lot of buffering issues or other modem problems, it is probably because  the old standard DOCSIS 2.0 you are using it simply not advanced enough to handle the way the cable providers send data through their networks now. Upgrading to DOCSIS 3.0 will solve those issues.

Would I purchase again?

Yes, definitely. I have always had a positive experience with Motorola products in general, from the Motorola RAZR phones years ago, to an older model modem that worked for over a decade.

In fact, I am looking forward to using this device for the next 10 years, or at least until they change to DOCSIS 4.0 and make us all upgrade again. But this type of modem is a must if you watch a lot of streaming shows from services like Neflix or Hulu Plus.

Review of Motorola SURFboard

ASUS RT-N66U Dual-Band Wireless-N900 Gigabit Router
Amazon Price: $179.99 $108.52 Buy Now
(price as of Oct 22, 2015)
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