Best Cable Modem in 2023 (For All ISPs)

Best Cable Modem

If you want to maximize the speed of your internet plan and reduce the monthly rental costs, finding the best cable modem that is compatible with your internet service provider is a crucial task.

Third-party cable modems offer a great alternative to ISP rentals.

Firstly, you’ll save those monthly rental fees of up to $15 per month ($180 per year), while also benefitting from the latest technological advances to enable you to improve network security, customization, and performance.

When selecting between different cable modem options, you need to consider factors such as the DOCSIS protocol, channel bonding, ISP compatibility, and ports.

If you’ve got a high-speed internet plan of 500 Mbps and above, we recommend a DOCSIS 3.1 modem with 32*8 channel bonding and multi-gigabit ports.

DOCSIS 3.1 devices will also future-proof you as more devices adopt the protocol.

For those on a lower speed, lower cost internet plan, DOCSIS 3.0 modems will more than suffice and provide top-quality performance.

Editor's Choice
ARRIS Surfboard S33

Our editor’s choice for the best cable modem is the ARRIS S33. This high-quality, premium device is equipped with DOCSIS 3.1 technology which provides robust security and reduced latency when streaming and gaming. The device also has multi-gig ports which enable you to benefit from wired connections for ultra-fast performance.

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Budget Friendly
Motorola MB8600

The Motorola MB8600 is a great budget-friendly choice, delivering on fast internet speeds at an affordable price. This device is fitted with an ARM core processor which can filter out network congestion to maintain fast, reliable network speeds. The AQM technology creates greater device efficiency, allowing you to prioritize certain connections.

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Modem Router Combo
ARRIS Surfboard G34

Our recommendation for the best modem router combo device is the ARRIS Surfboard G34. This device saves space in your home, and is easy to setup. In terms of performance, the combination of DOCSIS 3.1 protocol and WiFi 6, ensures G34 delivers ultra-fast internet speeds and great coverage throughout the home.

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For this article, we tested over 20 different cable modem products and narrowed down the top 7.

Read on to find our product reviews and buying guide.

Best Cable Modem (2023)

Finding the right cable modem can be tricky if you’re not sure what to look for.

Following our product testing, we present the 7 best modems that are available to purchase in 2023.

The product reviews below cover aspects such as design, performance, who it’s for, specifications, and pros and cons.

1. ARRIS Surfboard S33 (Editor’s Choice)


Our editor’s choice for the best modem is the ARRIS S33. Designed to be compact and portable, the device is 5.24*5.24*1.65 inches in size and weighs 1.52 pounds.

The cylindrical design is also very stable, allowing it to easily stand on a surface.

The S33 is designed with vents to allow for regular airflow and protect the device from overheating.

This is a multi-gigabit cable modem so the device includes power, coaxial, and 1 Gbps and 2.5 Gbps ethernet ports at the back of the device.


The ARRIS S33 features the latest DOCSIS 3.1 protocol which enables high-speed internet connection, reduces latency, and enhances security.

The DOCSIS 3.1 protocol is ten times faster than its predecessor 3.0, but is also backward compatible, meaning it can also operate well with devices using DOCSIS 3.0.

The advantage of having DOCSIS 3.1 is that the S33 works well with high-speed internet plans of up to 1 Gbps, allowing you to stream, game, and download with minimal latency.

The device is fitted with a 1GM RAM which is combined with a multi-core processor. This high-caliber machine reduces network congestion, thus enabling high-speed internet.

As the S33 comes fitted with two ethernet ports, it provides users with options to connect directly from the modem to a computer or console using an ethernet cable.

Assuming one port is used to connect directly to the router, the additional port can be helpful should you want the benefit of an additional wired connection.

The setup of the S33 is straightforward. The first step is to connect the device to a power source and then download the SURFboard app. The activation steps will then appear on the app screen.

The S33 is a cable modem so does not produce a WiFi signal. If you need a WiFi signal, you need to connect the modem to a router using an ethernet cable.

Who It’s For

The ARRIS S33 is an ideal choice for offices or households requiring high bandwidth. Also, the multi-gig port design can be helpful for users who want ultra-fast wired connections to either a computer or a console.


  • Speed: 2500 Mbps
  • Channel Bonding: 32*8
  • Ports: 2 Ethernet ports
  • Compatibility: Xfinity, Suddenlink, Cox, Spectrum, Mediacom


  • Includes multi-gig ethernet ports.
  • Slick and stable design.
  • High-speed processor minimizes network congestion.


  • Doesn’t feature a telephone connection.

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2. Motorola MB8600 (Budget Friendly)


An option that delivers quality performance at a budget-friendly price is the Motorola MB8600.

The device has a thin, rectangular design and the unit is covered with hard plastic air vents to enable good airflow and reduce overheating.

The front of the device includes 5 LED lights which easily inform users of the status of the network.

At the rear of the device, the modem includes a 1 Gbps ethernet port, coaxial cable, reset, and power buttons.

The device is sleekly designed, weighing only 1.2 pounds and measuring 7.87*7.23*2.25 inches.


Despite the lower price, the Motorola is equipped with a quality ARM-powered core processor that handles overcrowded networks.

Even during peak usage on the network, the AQM technology prioritizes traffic to the MB8600, allowing your internet-using devices to benefit from fast internet speeds.

The MB8600 features DOCSIS 3.1 technology which operates well for internet plans of up to 1 Gbps.

The device also has DOCSIS 3.0 combined with the 32*8 channel bonding which enables it to be compatible with most ISPs, while reducing congestion and delivering ultra-fast data transmission.

The MB8600 also includes a full-band digital tuning feature that efficiently identifies and scales the number of available channels, which in turn enhances network speed.

The device is fitted with a 1 Gbps ethernet port which also features auto-sensing support, ensuring that traffic can be focused on the wired connections.

The Motorola web interface and IPv6 support ensure the MB8600 is straightforward to set up. Also, the 128 MB flash storage provides simplified routing and improved device control when multicast routing.

Who It’s For

The Motorola MB8600 is a great choice for households with a high-speed internet plan of up to 1 Gbps, but who also want to have an affordably priced cable modem.


  • Speed: 1000 Mbps
  • Channel Bonding: 32*8
  • Ports: 1
  • Compatibility: Cox, Comcast Xfinity, Optimum, Charter Spectrum,


  • DOCSIS 3.0 and 3.1 for enhanced compatibility.
  • Supports QoS and IPv6.
  • Includes integrated surge protection
  • Has digital tuning.


  • Only one ethernet port is available.

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3. ARRIS Surfboard G34 (Modem Router Combo)


If you want to combine the functions of a cable modem and router into one device, we recommend the ARRIS Surfboard G34 as the best combo device on the market.

This device features the latest WiFi and modem technologies to deliver an efficient, high-speed, and reliable network connection.

The ARRIS G34 is designed with four strong antennas that enable up to 30 devices to connect simultaneously while also covering a range of 3000 sq ft. The device is best used on cable internet plans of up to 1 Gbps.


The G34 modem router combo is compatible with most known internet service providers and is therefore a great choice for most 1 Gbps internet plans.

The router part of the device has WiFi 6 technology which can theoretically deliver speed of up to 3000 Mbps, broken down to 600 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz band and 2400 Mbps on the 5 GHz band.

The modem part of the device is equipped with DOCSIS 3.1 technology, which offers greater security, multi-gig networking, and fast internet speeds compared to its predecessor.

The product also features OFDMA and MU-MIMO technologies which improve the speed and consistency of data transfers by reducing network congestion.

The G34 is fitted with four 1 GB ethernet ports which is ideal for households who want multiple wired connections to computers, consoles, or TVs.

During our product testing, we noticed an impressive device performance across multiple simultaneous wired connections.

The ARRIS G34 setup is easy. First, you need to connect the device to a power source and establish the coaxial connection.

Wait some minutes for the LED lights to turn on and once activated, you can start to connect your internet-using devices either through wired connections or using the WiFi.

Who It’s For

The ARRIS G34 is an ideal choice for those who want to combine the functions of a modem and router into one device.

Also, if you don’t have much space or want to simplify the setup process, opting for the G34 combo is a great choice.


  • Speed: 3000 Mbps
  • Chanel Bonding: 32*8
  • Ports: 4 Ethernet
  • Compatibility: Major Cable Providers including Xfinity, Cox, Spectrum


  • Includes WiFi 6 and DOCSIS 3.1 for ultra-fast internet speeds.
  • Easy setup and device control.
  • Strong WiFi coverage and range.


  • Doesn’t include link aggregation.

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4. Netgear CM2000 (High Performance)


The Netgear CM2000 features the latest generation DOCSIS 3.1 technology which is 10 times faster than the previous modem technology and can support an internet speed of up to 2.5 Gbps.

It is backward compatible with DOCSIS 3.0 and works with all internet service speed tiers.

The Netgear CM2000 works with any WiFi router and it features a 2.5 Gig Ethernet port with auto-sensing technology,1 WAN coaxial cable connection, 32 downstream and 8 upstream SC-QAM channels, 2 OFDMA upstream channels, 2 OFDMA downstream channels as well as IPv6 internet protocol.


The Netgear CM2000 comes with one Ethernet port that allows you to connect a WiFi router using an ethernet cable to reach higher speeds for creating wireless connections to all your devices including gaming consoles and personal computers.

Additionally, you can get superfast WiFi across your home if you create a mesh system with this modem.

The Netgear CM2000 is easy to set up. All you need to do is connect a coax cable to the modem and use the ethernet cable to connect the modem to your device or router.

Then follow the steps provided on the screen to activate your modem. Also, you can contact your ISP to activate this modem over the phone.

Choosing this cable modem will remove monthly rental fees and allow you to gain direct access to your home’s network.

This modem is perfect for your needs if your cable provider only allocates one IP address.

Who It’s For

If you require ultra-fast performance, the Netgear CM2000 is the modem for you as it is suitable for plans up to 2.5 Gbps and comes with DOCSIS 3.1 modem technology.


  • Speed: Up to 2.5 Gbps
  • Channel Bonding: 32*8
  • Ports: 1 Ethernet port
  • ISP Compatibility: Major Cable Providers including Cox, Xfinity, Spectrum


  • Reliable and fast performance.
  • Relatively compact with clear status lights.
  • Comprehensive web interface.
  • Supports up to 2.5 Gbps broadband speed.


  • Does not have WAN link aggregation.

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5. ARRIS Surfboard T25 (Best For Voice Services)


If you’re prioritizing a cable modem with quality voice services, look no further than the ARRIS Surfboard T25.

This product provides superior network connectivity to your home, allowing for uninterrupted streaming and fast downloads.

Weighing at 2.25 pounds and measuring 11.2*2.6*1.3 inches, the device is slightly bulkier than rival products.

The front of the device includes a range of LEDs to easily indicate the status of the network.

The T25 cable modem includes two 1 Gbps ethernet ports which enable you to establish wired connections to computers or consoles as well as routers.

The additional advantage of the T25 is that it also includes two telephone ports which enable voice bundle access.


The T25 is technologically future-proof due to the DOCSIS 3.1 protocol combined with the 32*8 channel bonding. This technology is also backward compatible with DOCSIS 3.0, enabling greater compatibility.

The DOCSIS 3.1 technology is ten times faster than its predecessor DOCSIS 3.0. It also ensures households benefit from better network security as the protocol has certificate-based security features that require authentication and secure software before being available for download.

The DOCSIS 3.1 protocol is also better at multi-gig networking and reduces lag when video conferencing, streaming, or gaming.

The T25 can operate well on internet plans of up to 1 Gbps. However, to incorporate voice services, an internet plan of 800 Mbps is recommended for best performance.

The setup of the T25 is easy by using either the SURFboard app or the web interface. Simply connect to the power source, set up the coaxial, telephone, and ethernet connections, and follow the instructions on the app.

When purchasing the product, it also comes with a two-year warranty and a helpful quick-start guide to enable an easy setup.

Who It’s For

The ARRIS T25 is an ideal choice for households or offices that want to access voice services as well as high-speed internet.

The combination of the latest DOCSIS 3.1 technology and telephone ports ensures the T25 is an ideal choice.


  • Speed: Up to 1000 Mbps
  • Channel Bonding: 32*8
  • Ports: 2 Voice and 2 Ethernet ports.
  • Compatibility: Xfinity


  • Includes telephone ports for high-speed voice services.
  • Enhanced security features.
  • Minimizes lag.
  • Can establish multiple wired connections.


  • Bulky design.
  • Only compatible with Xfinity.
  • No USB ports available.

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6. ARRIS SB8200 (For Gaming)


If you are a gaming household and want a modem that can handle frequent high internet consumption, look no further than the ARRIS SB8200.

This device includes DOCSIS 3.1 technology and can handle internet plans of up to 1 Gbps.

The SB8200 measures 1.75*5.13*5.25 inches and contains two 1 GB ethernet ports at the rear of the device. The product has a rectangular shape, with a hard white plastic exterior containing many air vents to prevent overheating.  


The ARRIS 8200 is a great choice for gamers because it delivers superior connectivity which ensures fast game upload and download times, as well as great coverage throughout the home.

The product is equipped with DOCSIS 3.1 technology which ensures network efficiency and performance. It also reduces latency on activities that require high bandwidth, such as gaming or streaming.

An advantage of the SB8200 is that it easily connects to a mesh system within your home. If whole home coverage is your priority, you can purchase the SB8200 modem with a mesh system included but note that this is an expensive option.  

The two 1 GB ethernet ports are ideal, as you can connect the console directly to the modem for maximum performance, while also maintaining a wired connection to a router.

We tested these two simultaneous connections and were impressed that there was no gaming lag or streaming lag when running both operations.  

The SB8200 needs to be connected to compatible operating systems such as Windows 7, 8, or 10. For setup and settings access, the device is compatible with Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari 3, or Firefox.

The device setup for the SB8200 is also easy. The device needs to be plugged into a power outlet and then you need to have the SURFboard app downloaded.

You can then easily follow the steps on the app to fully set up the device. To establish a WiFi connection via a router, you can connect the SB8200 to a router via an ethernet cable.

Who It’s For

If you are looking to reduce your cable fees but still get a modem that has low latency when gaming, the ARRIS SB8200 is a good option.


  • Speed: 1000 Mbps
  • Channel Bonding: 32*8
  • Ports: 2
  • Compatibility: Xfinity, Cox, Spectrum


  • Two 1 GB ports enable direct connections to game consoles.
  • Can also be purchased with a mesh system.
  • Easy setup.


  • LED lights can be too bright.

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7. Netgear CM500 (Basic Cable Modem)


The Netgear CM500 is a DOCSIS 3.0 modem compatible with major cable providers and removes the need to pay rental fees on modems offered by service providers.

The DOCSIS 3.0 modem technology and 16*8 downstream and upstream bonded channels can support an internet speed of up to 400 Mbps.

Despite delivering lower speeds compared to other modems, it can still support bandwidth-intensive tasks such as UHD video streaming, VR gaming, and lag-free video gaming.


Netgear CM500 comes with one Ethernet port which allows you to connect any standard router to create a wireless connection for your devices simultaneously.

Since it has IPv6 support, this modem eliminates triangular routing, where data transferred to a device must pass through the main grid. This improves the overall efficiency of the modem.

The 128 GB RAM provides storage for all network data which increases the processing speed and removes any potential network congestion.

This modem features the 8 MB NOR flash, which is different from other models, as it supports greater capability compared to the NAND flash and is better when it comes to data retention. 

Setting the Netgear CM500 is easy. Connect the coax cable to the modem, activate it by either calling your ISP or following the steps provided on your computer, and finally connect the modem to your router using an ethernet cable to create a wireless network for your devices.

Who It’s For

The Netgear CM500 is a budget-friendly cable modem that saves you some dollars on modem rental fees and is suitable for individuals with casual gaming and average set-up.


  • Speed: Up to 400 Mbps
  • Channel Bonding: 16*8
  • Ports: 1 Ethernet
  • ISP Compatibility: All Major Cable Providers, Comcast Xfinity, Spectrum, Cox


  • Has a great design.
  • Easy to set up.
  • Comes with 8 NOR Flash.
  • Minimise network congestion.
  • Solid performance.


  • Comes with only one ethernet port.

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Factors To Consider When Looking For The Best Modem


Supported Speeds

The supported speed of a cable modem is a significant factor to consider when weighing up different product options.

For optimal performance, your cable modem should either surpass or match the speed of your internet plan.

Often, the advertised speeds on modems don’t reflect the real-world performance so do make it a priority to at least match the modem speed with your internet plan speed.

Opting for a modem that has a slower speed compared to your internet plan will create a bottleneck which leads to poor internet performance.

Likewise, modems that do not feature the latest DOCSIS protocol or channel bonding capabilities, will not enable you to fully utilize high-speed internet plans.

If you’re not maximizing the speed of your internet plan, you are effectively wasting money.

To ensure you maximize performance and don’t waste money, you should verify that your modem choice is compatible with your ISP and is also capable of handling the speeds on your internet plan.

DOCSIS Protocol

The DOCSIS (Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification) Protocol is used by internet service providers to identify the maximum speeds for when the incoming ISP network is converted into a local household network.

There have been various versions of the DOCSIS protocol, with DOCSIS 3.1 being the latest and DOCSIS 3.0 also widely available.

The DOCSIS 3.1 protocol can support internet speeds of up to 10 Gbps. This is ten times faster than DOCSIS 3.0 which can handle speeds of up to 1 Gbps.

Although some internet service providers such as Google Fiber, Verizon, and Xfinity offer household internet plans exceeding 1 Gbps, in 2023, most household internet plans won’t exceed a maximum speed of 1 Gbps.

This means that modems featuring DOCSIS 3.0 should suffice for the majority of households.

However, DOCSIS 3.1 is widely accepted to enhance performance on internet plans of 500 Mbps and above, through technology advances such as OFDM channels which can reduce latency.

Another advantage of cable modems with DOCSIS 3.1 is that they are future-proof, as internet devices become faster and use more advanced technologies.

While modems with DOCSIS 3.1 are recommended for optimal performance, DOCSIS 3.0 modems will operate well on most internet plans and will also be more budget-friendly.   

Channel Bonding

Channel bonding impacts the speed a cable modem can operate by combining channels to increase data-handling capacity.

In your cable modem product research, you will have likely come across terms such as 16*4 or 32*8 channel bonding.

The higher number refers to the total download channels, while the lower number refers to the upload channels.

Higher channel numbers relate to faster internet speeds. For example, a setup of 32*8 with a device using DOCSIS 3.1 protocol, can handle internet speeds of up to 1 Gbps.

You should be aware though that opting for high channel bonding won’t drastically improve performance on a lower-speed internet plan. For example, 32*8 channel bonding on a 150 Mbps plan would be unnecessary.

For lower-speed plans, selecting a cable modem with 16*4 channel bonding would be more appropriate in terms of performance and cost.

Compatibility With Your ISP

Before understanding the technological aspects of a cable modem, you need to first work out if the device is compatible with your internet service provider.

Although cable modems are compatible with most major ISPs, some may not be compatible with all. If it is not compatible, the device will not work properly.

To check if a cable modem is compatible with your ISP. Search on your ISP’s website to find the list of all compatible third-party modems.

Doing this quick and simple check can prevent you from investing in a modem that won’t work well with your ISP.


Understanding the ports available on a cable modem is important as it impacts the bandwidth capacity of the modem.

Most cable modems have one LAN port and an additional service port. The LAN port connects the modem to the router’s WAN port or another ethernet-using device such as a computer or console.

For the service port, cable modems feature a coaxial port to connect the device to the service line.

DOCSIS 3.1 cable modems feature at least a single gigabit port, but some devices include two or more gigabit ports. The latest devices also include a 2.5G port which handles ultra-fast data transmission over 1 Gbps.

Generally, we recommend cable modems that have at least two ethernet ports as they provide households with extra capacity to create wired internet connections.

For example, if your household contains someone who regularly plays online games, having an extra ethernet port that can connect directly to the console can help maintain strong connectivity for the whole household.

Separate Modem & Router vs. Modem/Router Combo

Another factor to consider when choosing a cable modem is whether you’d like separate modem (and router) devices or a modem/router combo device.

A combo device is easy to set up and maintain as both the functions of a modem and router and built into one device. Combo devices also come with a lower initial cost which can be ideal for households on a restricted budget.

For best performance, control, and upgrading, we recommend purchasing separate modem and router devices.

Purchasing separate devices will allow you to match the best router and cable modem to maximize your internet plan.

Also, if a newer version of your modem or router becomes available, it is simpler to upgrade when having separate modem and router devices.

How To Setup & Activate A Modem For Any ISP 

Cable Modem Setup

Although the task may sound daunting to technophobes, setting up and activating a modem is a fairly straightforward process regardless of your ISP.

For cable modems that are not combo devices, it is wise to set up your router first.

Follow the steps below to set up your modem.

  1. Prepare key modem information – To quickly activate your device, you’ll need to know the device’s MAC address, serial number, and your ISP account ID. The MAC address and serial number are available on a sticker on your modem. Record this information on a piece of paper for ease.
  2. Disconnect your existing device and connect your new device – After you remove the ethernet and coaxial cables from your old modem, you’ll need to connect them to your new modem. Make sure both cables are fully connected.
  3. Double Check Internet Access – The majority of modems include five LEDs. Once you connect the device, all the lights should blink. Once the ‘Internet’ or ‘Online’ light stops blinking, you’re connected to the Internet.
  4. Activating a New Modem – Once the connection is established, the majority of ISPs need you to activate the device, using the key information from step one. You can use the phone app or web interface to do this.
  5. Return Rental Equipment – For those who are replacing a modem rental with a bought third-party modem, make sure you return your rental device once you’ve activated your new modem.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Know If The Modem Is Compatible With My ISP

The fastest way to check compatibility is by checking your ISP’s website for a comprehensive list of compatible modems.

The ISP website is the most reliable and up-to-date source, be wary of other tech blogging sites. If in doubt, you can also call the ISP customer service number.

Do I Need To Get A DOCSIS 3.1 Modem? 

Purchasing a DOCSIS 3.1 modem is not essential, especially if you have an internet plan that is less than 500 Mbps or have a restricted budget.

However, if you have an internet plan that is higher than 500 Mbps, a DOCSIS 3.1 device is desirable as it contains technological advancements that improve security and maximize internet speeds.

Is It Better To Get Separate Devices Over A Modem/Router Combo?

This is down to personal preference. We generally recommend separate modem and router devices as they enable better customization and more advanced features.

However, combo devices are easier to set up and take up less room.

What Is The Best Cable Modem With Voice Support?

We recommend the ARRIS Surfboard T25 as the best cable modem with voice support.

Although this device is only compatible with Xfinity, it delivers high-speed internet and quality voice support services.

What Is The Fastest Cable Modem?

Cable modems that have the DOCSIS 3.1 protocol are ten times faster than DOCSIS 3.0 devices. DOCSIS 3.1 modems such as the ARRIS G34 or S33 have a theoretical download speed of 10 Gbps.

Remember the cable modem won’t exceed the speed on your internet plan, but DOCSIS 3.1 devices can easily handle gigabit internet plans.

Final Words

Hopefully, this article has been a helpful guide to the world of cable modems, and you now have a grasp of what is available in the market and the certain factors you need to consider to ensure you spend your money wisely.

Our choice for the best cable modem is the ARRIS S33. This high-quality, premium device is equipped with DOCSIS 3.1 technology which provides robust security and reduced latency when streaming and gaming.

The device also has multi-gig ports which enable you to benefit from wired connections for ultra-fast performance.

Before committing to a purchase, you should double-check that the device is compatible with your internet service provider.

This can be easily done by checking the ISP website. Check out our buying guide for other useful purchasing tips.

Daniele Besana

Daniele Besana

Daniele is a freelancer consultant with 15 years of experience in network security, customer support, Linux and Salsa. He worked for Juniper Networks in Netherlands, providing support and consultancy on security projects across Europe and Middle-East.

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