Michael Horowitz
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A tale of two cable modems

October 25, 2017

I recently replaced my cable modem. The the old one had trouble re-establishing the Ethernet connection to my router after an outage. Once they linked up, all was well but it took way too many attempts for the two devices to see each other.

The old one was made by Arris, the new one by Netgear.

The old one went months and months without getting an available firmware update. The new one upgraded its firmware the first day it was installed. This is all on my cable provider, there is nothing that Arris, Netgear or I can do about this.

The old one lived through many ISP outages. Often the lights on the front did not change in an outage. The new one has lived through two outages and each time the lights on the box clearly indicated that there was a problem.

The lights on the Arris modem were all circles. The lights on the Netgear modem are indicative of what they represent. For example, the light indicating the status of the upstream connection is an arrow pointing up, and the one indicating the status of the downstream connection, is an arrow pointing down. In the last outage it was interesting to see that, at times, the downstream connection was fine, while the upstream connection was problematic.

One of the lights on the Arris modem was so bright, that I had to cover it with tape. The lights on the Netgear modem are well behaved.

The lights on the Netgear modem use an obvious color scheme: green is good, orange is bad. The lights on the Arris modem were either blue or white. On the outer two, white was normal, on the inner two, blue was normal. Green is good is the clearly the better approach.

Both modems can be reached at The Netgear is password protected, the Arris was not.

The Netgear modem has a Spectrum Analyzer on a non-standard port, available from the LAN side. I found the open TCP port with an nmap scan. The Arris modem does not have a Spectrum Analyzer. What do you do with a Spectrum Analyzer? Beats me.



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