Review Arris SURFboard SB6121 DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem

It seems that various ISPs are breaking FCC regulations and Federal Law by refusing to activate some newer modems, in an attempt to force users to use a "leased" modem.

There is an essentially IDENTICAL version of this device, the SB6141, which is the "ISP leased" version of this. You can't buy that, at least not "officially," mind you.

(EDIT - since I originally wrote this, it does seem that it's become possible to buy the "cable operator only" SB6141 directly)

Time Warner Cable has just had me on the "loop" for the past two and a half hours, and I'm still on hold as I write this.

They're telling me that the device isn't on the "approved list" and thus cannot be activated on their system. This, of course, is PATENT NONSENSE.

All they require in order to access any device is (a) a device which speaks the same electronic "language" (in this case, DOCSIS 3.0, which TWC Austin supports fully, and brags about supporting fully), and (b) a valid, unique HFC MAC ID code.

The MAC ID is what allows the two devices (the ISP's "source" modem and your modem) to talk to each other, as the ISP needs to know that the ID it's talking to is an ID which it's supposed to talk to, and they need to speak the same language. THAT IS ALL THAT IS REQUIRED ON ANY TECHNICAL BASIS WHATSOEVER.

It is a violation of Federal Law and FCC regulations for an ISP to refuse to service any device which has a valid, unique, and "not stolen" MAC ID and which uses an approved communications protocol.

Those of you who have been told "Comcast won't support this" or, as I just was, "Time Warner won't support this," please realize, YOU ARE BEING ROBBED, every bit as much as if they put a gun to your head and told you to hand over your wallet. It is a CRIME for them to do this.

I am currently on hold, with a "customer advocate" at Time Warner, attempting to get my personally-owned, legally-required-to-be-supported device added to my account.


Okay, after a long dialog where I quoted letter and verse of Federal law to the "advocate," I got them to add my modem to my account. And it's working flawlessly.

I would not ordinarily post things not SPECIFICALLY about the device on a review of the device, but in this case, I felt like it was necessary, as some folks may believe they've got a defective piece of hardware (based upon what the ISP tells them) when this is NOT the case.

My ping times have improved which is somewhat surprising to me, honestly from about 58ms to around 20ms.

I'm not sure why that's the case, but it's a good indication that I have a better connection (lower ping times means less delay between when you send something at one end and when it's received at the other end, basically).

My throughput is much more consistent and level, and I haven't seen any of the disconnection errors I've seen repeatedly with my older (DOCSIS 1.0) modem. It seems to be performing flawlessly.

If you have an internet service provider (ISP) who has support for DOCSIS 3.0 (the latest iteration of the modem-interaction-language standard), this is a great choice.

Just be prepared to have to argue a bit with your ISP, who seem, in many cases, to be doing everything possible to get you to lease one from them instead of buying your own.

Once they give in and agree to activate the MAC code on their system, this will work just fine on ANY current ISP, and will provide full DOCSIS 3.0 support on any DOCSIS 3.0-supporting network.

Don't let the script-reading "support" types tell you otherwise.