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Uncapping Your Cable Modem

Broadband Internet access is all about speed, right? However, modern cable modems can be and are set to limit the maximum speed to much lower values. Typically, the speed of cable modems is limited to 500 Kbps for download and anywhere from 128-256 Kbps for uploads for a number of reasons.

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First of all, such caps make it easier for cable modem ISPs to distribute bandwidth among users. Cable Internet providers and ISPs don’t limit bandwidth to make your life miserable. They do it to prevent people from running huge bandwidth-hogging Web servers on their cable Internet connections. In addition, ISPs have networks and customers among whom to distribute bandwidth. In general, these caps are also put in place to make the system more robust. At slower speeds, packet loss is usually lower and the system can handle worse signal quality. Setting all that aside, is there some way of lifting the bandwidth cap many cable modem service providers impose?

What Is Uncapping?

The term "uncapping" refers to the method of increasing the amount of bandwidth assigned to a cable modem by a broadband Internet Service Provider. If a cable modem is assigned more bandwidth then it receives a proportional speed enhancement across all aspects of the Internet.

How Do I Uncap My Modem?

The short answer: Don’t bother to try. In order to accomplish it, you need to have access to the cable company’s computer. As soon as you change the settings on your end, you have to reboot the modem in order for them take effect. When the modem connects, the head-end computer downloads the latest settings to your computer, overriding your modifications.

Despite all protests to the contrary, the myth or rumor or hint of uncapping still persists and tutorials on “how to uncap a cable modem” are abundant on the Internet. One Internet tutorial gives you instructions on how to change Docsis specifications. Be warned, that your ISP/cable Internet provider monitors Docsis specifications and can look for red flags.

Cable modem uncapping programs, such as OneStep, for example, will uncap the bandwidth limits either included in your cable modem or programmed in by your cable Internet provider are floating around the Internet. If you’re thinking about uncapping your cable modem, be warned. Your service agreement prohibits uncapping or removing software blocks that limit or “cap” bandwidth. Uncap your cable modem and you will at the very least be banned from your ISP for life.

The bottom line is that uncapping is questionable at best and illegal at worst. Since there are many terrific cable modem speed tweaks and tips out there, you can increase your speed and bandwidth without the risk of uncapping your modem.