Firmware is ALWAYS controlled by your cable provider on the cable modem (whether that’s a stand alone device, like an Arris SB6183, or an integrated gateway). If you want to control firmware on your router, yes, you need a separate router and modem. I always had separate equipment for the reasons you’ve spelled out. But since upgrading to the Triple Play package (TV, Internet and Voice) I opted for the Netgear C7100V. I couldn’t be happier. I previously used a Netgear Nighthawk router and an Arris cable modem. When I added voice I refused to pay a $10/month rental fee for a router with less range and less signal strength. The C7100V gives me AC1900 strength and the very familiar Netrear GUI. And the best part is that I bought it at Best Buy. With their 2-year add-on warranty (~$26.00) I can return it at any time for a new device. So if there’s a new model, I just pay the price difference. I always return everything at 23 months and get a new one with a new 2 year warranty.
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