A method and apparatus are provided for receiving a packet stream having fixed length packets. Data carried in the packet stream is selectively processed for output to a computer. A packet identifier filter selects particular packets from the recovered packet stream. A computer disk controller receives the packets selected by the filter and manages the transfer of packet data from the packets to and from a buffer. A data bus is coupled to the disk controller for communicating the packet data from the buffer to the computer. A data compression stage prior to the disk controller compresses packets from the recovered packet stream in order to provide a gap between data carried by successive packets to be provided by the disk controller. In this manner, a low cost disk controller chip can be used to control the buffering of data in a cable or satellite television modem that provides, e.g., Internet access.