Saturday, July 28, 2012

Problems with Motorola SURFboard SB5101U DOCSIS 2.0 Cable Modem

Although DOCSIS 3.0 modems are becoming popular nowadays, the 38 Mbps download / 30 Mbps upload speeds supported by DOCSIS 2.0 modems are probably more than enough for most customers of Cable broadband providers like Comcast, Roadrunner, Cox, Charter, etc. Among the DOCSIS 2.0 modems, the Motorola SURFboard SB5101U Cable Modem is one of the popular models among consumers. Just because it's popular doesn't mean that the modem would be trouble-free. As always, Cautionista takes a detailed look at issues with this modem and presents to you so that you could decide to buy with confidence or stay a mile away from this modem.

Here are some of the issues that we found, as reported by customers of this Motorola modem -

  • The SB5101U modem died after around 2 weeks of operation. Some stopped working after a month or so. Could be a few defective pieces.
  • When using the modem connected to computer via USB port, it had to be reset many times a month to restore internet.

  • Motorola doesn't have a warranty when the modem is purchased by individual consumer, the warranty is applicable only if modem is supplied by the Cable Internet Provider. Pretty much the warranty is meaningless for the individual consumer.
  • Upstream of modem died after around 1 year.
  • Unable to connect to the internet out of the box. Again, probably a bad piece.
  • Unable to register the modem with Comcast, although the modem was seen by the ISP.
  • Ethernet port became loose after 2 months, hence unable to connect to the internet.
  • Comcast tech was unable to register the modem because it said that the device serial number was already in use. It's possible that someone mistakenly entered this modem's serial number or the modem might have been used or returned by someone else.

As you can see, the modem is a relatively trouble-free device. There are a few occasional bad pieces like any other electronic device. At Cautionista, we don't think there's any major risk in purchasing the Motorola SURFboard SB5101U Cable Modem. Some customers say that they have had a more stable internet connection using  Linksys by Cisco DPC3008. You pay a few dollars more, but gain the Cisco quality and peace of mind that comes with it.