During the sign-up process to any ADSL or ADSL2+ plan you will invariably be asked by a salesperson or website application form whether or not you’d like to purchase a new modem from the provider.

If you already own an ADSL modem you will definitely not want to fork out more cash for something you already have. However, the issue of modems is not a black and white one.

Some issues you may encounter are ADSL modems aren’t ADSL2+ compatible, you’ll need to reconfigure the older device, it may not have a Wi-Fi router attached, could be locked by your previous provider, and there is the challenge of not receiving technical support if you didn’t buy the modem from the new ISP.

Reconfiguring an ADSL modem

If you are going to use your own ADSL modem, be it bought in a third party shop like Dick Smith, Tandy etc., or from your previous Internet Service Provider (ISP), you’ll need to reconfigure the modem with your user name and password given by the new ISP.

For some less tech savvy types this can at times be a little difficult, and as you didn’t buy the modem from the new ISP, it is not obligated to help you. However, sometimes they will be nice enough to give you advice. Information on how to reprogram your older modem should be provided in an email from the new provider, but your best bet is to use the manual and/or CD first provided when you purchased the modem.

Locked modems

On rare occasions, an ISP may ‘lock’ its modem so it can only be used with its own service. In these instances you’ll need to contact the previous provider and ask how to remove the locking codes on the device. In nearly all cases the lock can be removed, but on rare occasions a modem can be permanently locked, thus rendering it useless for future use with other internet services.

ADSL modems are not the same as ADSL2+ enabled modems

A lot of people have an old ADSL modem and ask if they can use it with a new ADSL2+ service. The answer is you can use the device, but you’ll only receive one third of the potential broadband speed to your home. ADSL modems can run speeds of up to 8,000kbps, while ADSL2+ modems can handle up to 24,000kbps. If you really want to feel the full effect of fast broadband, your best option will be to buy a new ADSL2+ enabled modem.

Are ADSL modems cheaper from the provider or from an electronics shop?

Here you have to do your research. ADSL and ADSL2+ modem prices vary a lot between different providers, and quality can as well. For example, an ADSL2+ four-port Wi-Fi modem router costs $160 delivered through TPG, whereas it’s only $125 through Exetel. However, the TPG modem is a top of the range Dynalink model, while the Exetel is Netcom, which is totally functional, but not quite as revered.

You may be able to find modems on sale at electronics shops, but generally speaking prices are similar to those of the internet providers. Taking into account that a provider is obliged to help you with technical support when you buy the modem through them, this could be the deciding factor in your decision-making process. However, tech-savvy people may be able to troubleshoot any issues that arise, and thus will choose the cheapest option they can find.

Using separate modems and Wi-Fi routers, or combined units

You can use a combined modem and Wi-Fi router, or separate machines, either way you’ll get an ADSL Wi-Fi signal within your home or office. If you are changing to a new ADSL2+ service and thus need a new ADSL2+ modem, it may be easier to get a combined model, as separate routers are usually only available through electronics shops.

If you already have an ADSL2+ modem, but want wireless internet, the frugal choice is to purchase a separate Wi-Fi router. This way you won’t need to spend a lot of money twice for the same equipment.

Buying a used ADSL modem

Some ISP’s and electronics shops sell used ADSL modems for cheap prices. Be very careful buying a used machine as most probably it won’t come with a warranty. Getting a new modem ensures you can take it back to the seller if there are any faults, and if bought through your ISP you can get technical support for any issues that arise.