Modem vs Router – Know The Exact Difference

If you are a regular internet user, then you must have heard the terms modem and router. You might not be an expert in the field, but you probably know how to use them. But what most users fail to understand is the difference between the two devices. Some of them out there consider them to be one mainly because of the reason that the internet providers offer them a single combo device that comes with an in-built router and modem.

But if you wish to understand what each of these devices does and how they differ from one another, then you need to get to know them in detail. To help you out, we decide to create a guide on the difference between modems and routers. In this article, we will be clearly defining the two devices, looking at their pros and cons, along with the difference between the two. So let us go ahead and jump right into it.

What is a modem?

A modem is a device that connects the internet connection provided by your Internet Service Provider to your home network. A modem acts as a medium in multiple ways. You can either get fiber optics. A satellite dish, Fios, dial-up, DSL, or a Comcast depending on the kind that you prefer and the kind your ISP provides – but they all serve the same purpose and play the same role when it comes to providing you with an internet connection.

To access the internet via the modem, you need to connect it to a router or your computer directly via an Ethernet cable (thick yellow cables that look similar to your phone cables).   Internet Service providers charge you a monthly rental fee for the modems. You can get a modem from your ISP, or you can buy your very own cable modem that will stick with you for years to come.

Some modems like the FIOS are hard to come by, which is why you should rent them from your ISP. Otherwise, if you believe that you can easily get one on your own and are planning on keeping the internet connection for more than a year, at least then investing in a modem is a better option than renting one.

Purpose of a modem

  • Decodes the signal from the ISP
  • Converts the ISP signal into a universal signal

What is a router?

A router is a device that allows you to create your very own private network at home, business, shop, or office. The router provides you with the Wi-Fi. It also creates a private network that is only accessible via a secure password. All devices connected to the Wi-Fi become a part of that network.

A router is connected to the modem to get internet access. A router on its own possesses no internet. It acts as a connecting device between the modem and the smart devices that you connect the internet, which is provided by the modem. The only thing that a router does is, allows multiple devices to connect to the same internet connection via wireless service.

There is a need for a router because only a few devices can connect to the modem via the Ethernet cable, and the one using the internet would be restricted to his place due to the length of the cable. Thus to add wireless service to the internet, the modem is connected to the router.  It creates a wireless network that several people can access without being restricted to one place.

But only a selected number of devices can be connected to the router at a time. Thus if you have a huge house or an office building with multiple levels, then you must consider getting range extenders so that there are no dead zones in the building.

The range of connectors can be connected to the router and extend the wireless signals. But on the other hand, since the bandwidth is spread throughout and expanded beyond its particular zone thus can result in slow download speed and browsing.

In such a case, it is best to invest in mesh networks. A mesh network works as a group of routers working together. One router acts as the primary device, which is connected to the modem while the rest are satellites that act as connectors and allow the signal to form a path.

Thus bandwidth travels from one node to the other and created a chain so that no bandwidth is lost. This way, the signal remains strong as well. Whether you get a router extender or a mesh network depends on your personal preferences.

So, in short, a router allows you to build your very own private network. You can get the router from your ISP, who will charge you a monthly rental, but we believe that those routers aren’t packed with the latest technology. So you should get your very own one which will last you for years to come.

Purpose of a router

  • Creates and manages a local network.
  • Splits a single internet connection into multiple devices
  • Is responsible for providing Wi-Fi.

Quick Difference Modem and Router

Here is a quick summary of what is explained above. The table clearly shows the difference between the two devices and how they both play a role in providing you with an internet connection at the home, office, coffee shop, or a public area.

ModemRouter
It is the device that decodes the signal sent by the Internet Service Provider.A router is responsible for the wireless service, thus helps you create and manage your Wi-Fi network at home or office.
An Ethernet cable can be used to connect a modem to your computer to access the internet directly.It is incapable of decoding the signal from the ISP, so without the modem, it would be useless.
You can’t create a private network using a modem.On its own, it can’t provide you with access to the internet.
A modem does now offer wireless service.It allows you to split one signal internet connection into multiple devices.

Do you need both a Modem and a Router?

Since ISP today tends to provide the subscribers with combo devices; thus, people often end up calling it either a modem or a router. Such individuals tend to believe that they only need one of these devices to access the internet connection.

But if you have read the above description of the two devices carefully, then you most probably know that both the modem and the router have different uses. Both the devices are required to set up a home or office internet network, which you can access via your smart devices.

The Ultimate Combo Devices

Due to the advancement in technology, designers and developers out there have come up with the ultimate combo devices. These devices act as a single device and have both the router and the modem built in it. It possesses both the hardware and the software required to function both like a router and the modem.

Getting a combo device from your ISP is a great idea if you are not all into electronics and how they work. Plus, it also means fewer wires going around. But at the same time, you should also remember that settling from one means deciding for a mediocre device that works for many.

But if you have specific needs and need a permanent internet connection, which is a fast and high performing, then you need to get two top-highly, high-devices with the latest technologies to meet your needs. It might cost you extra to get a modem and a router separately, but in the long run, it is often worth the price.


Final Words

By now, you should have understood that both the modem and the router have a purpose to serve. You can’t choose the modem over the router as both the devices serve different purposes and are both essential for a fast and working internet connection. So before you get an internet connection, make sure to see whether you would prefer a combo device or two separate devices to have more control over your internet connection and enjoy lesser monthly payments.

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