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I currently have an Actiontec GT701-WG DSL modem which I purchased through Qwest when I signed up for their internet service a couple years ago. Unfortunately this modem has started to fail so I need to get a new one.

I am primarily a software guy, though, so could use some guidance: What would be a newer model of the same type of modem? What features should I look for? I know I want wireless capability like the GT701-WG. My current unit has only WPA security; what is the latest security protocol recommended? I also use port forwarding and MAC-address filtering, but I suspect those are pretty standard features. Should I buy from Qwest or can I buy from any retailer? What else should I be considering?

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There are a few things to consider when buying a DSL modem.

Renting vs. Buying:

This is the first thing that you need to consider. Buying a new DSL modem from a third party or from your DSL service provider may cost you at least $50. However you may also be able to rent a DSL modem from your phone company. This rental fee is usually less than $5 dollars a month and shows up on your monthly bill.

An advantage to buying is that you own the modem outright. You end up paying less in the long run over renting. However, a key advantage to renting is that you will be renting the modem direct from the service provider. If the modem breaks or malfunctions, the DSL provider will usually fix it or replace it.

Compatibility:

This is an often overlooked area when shopping around for DSL modems. You need to make sure that the DSL modem that you purchase is compatible with your particular DSL service. Different services use slightly different signal protocols which can limit which modems can be used.

The best way to check compatibility is to contact your DSL provider and find out which brands and types of modems that they recommend. Of course another surefire way to absolutely ensure compatibility is to purchase or rent your modem directly from the provider.

However you can also use the information provided by the service provider to do some comparison shopping and find a similar modem for a lower price from a third party website or seller.

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I don't know if it's the same where you are, but in the UK, most of the major ISPs provide modems. If your modem is broken, get the ISP to replace it, or switch (/threaten to switch) to another provider who will give you one for free.

If you do decide to by one bare in mind that DSL services are not all 100% compatible, best thing to do here is ask your provider. Don't forget there is always the option of getting a plain DSL modem (from the provider) with no router or wi-fi built in, and getting your own wi-fi router as a separate unit. This opens up the choice a bit on the router because you don't have to worry about DSL compatibility.

The only wireless security protocol that is still even vaguely secure is WPA2 with AES encryption (and a nice long key), so make sure whatever your get supports that.

I've had a fair few home routers and in the past 5 years all have supported MAC filtering and port forwarding, so I think that's pretty standard.

Depending on your usage, you may find Port triggering is an alternative option.

(As an aside, MAC filtering is useless as a security technique, so if that's all you want it for, it's not worth the bother)

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