What’s The Difference Between A Router And A Modem?

What's The Difference Between A Router And A Modem?

Setting up a WiFi connection in your home is much easier than you think. All you really need is a compatible router and modem. The role of the router in your home network is to connect your computers, mobile devices and other wi-fi enabled devices with the internet. A modem, on the other hand, connects your device to the internet through a coaxial cable or telephone line. So why do we need both? And what’s the difference between a router and a modem?

What Is A Modem?

A modem is a device or program that enables a computer to transmit data over, for example, telephone or cable lines. Computer information is stored digitally, whereas information transmitted over telephone lines is transmitted in the form of analog waves.

What Is A Router?

A router is a device that forwards data packets between computer networks, creating an overlay internetwork. A router is connected to two or more data lines from different networks. When a data packet comes in on one of the lines, the router reads the address information in the packet to determine its ultimate destination. Then, using the information in its routing table or routing policy, it directs the packet to the next network on its journey. Routers perform the “traffic directing” functions on the Internet. Data sent through the internet, such as a web page or email, is in the form of data packets. A packet is typically forwarded from one router to another through the networks that constitute an internetwork until it reaches its destination node.

Modem & Router Combination

You can save the cost of renting a cable modem by purchasing your own. A modem and router combo unit combine both devices into one box.

You’ll need to check with your Internet provider to be sure the cable modem you choose is compatible with their service. You may also need to check that the built-in router in a modem/router combo is compatible (some providers may require you to use their equipment).

Modem Vs Router Differences At-A-Glance

Modem Features:

A modem connects a computer system to another computer system or network, typically via telephone lines (a dial-up modem), fiber optic cable (a fiber optic modem), or copper wire (an ADSL modem).

Router Features:

A router is a device that connects two networks together and routes data packets between them. Routers operate at layer 3 of the OSI model and use routing tables to route traffic between two or more networks, and use packet filtering features to allow/deny traffic from one network to another.

Why You Want a Modem

A modem is a device that enables the computer to communicate with the internet. It does this by converting digital data into analog signals, and vice versa. The function of the modem is to modulate (change) signals in a way that allows them to be transmitted over telephone lines.

Modern modems use DSL (digital subscriber line), cable, or fiber optics to transmit data. Older modems used dial-up connections and were attached to a computer via an RS232 port, but most new computers don’t have this kind of connection anymore. The most common type of modem used these days is called an ADSL modem, which uses the same wires as traditional telephone lines.

One of the main benefits of having a modem is that you won’t have to pay for internet access every time you want to go online. Instead, you’ll only need to pay once for your home phone line and then pay for your monthly broadband service. While some people might prefer wireless internet access, this requires a special wireless router and can be less reliable than wired connections. Also, with wireless internet, you’re restricted by distance from the source and can only go online when you’re within range of the router’s signal.

Why You Want a Router

There are so many reasons why you need a router. The first reason is, of course, you want to connect more than one device to the internet. Instead of having multiple modems in your home, you only need one.

Another reason is that a router lets you share files among devices on your network. This can be very useful if you want to share photos from your phone to another device in your home or office. You can also stream media from your computer to another device on the network.

Routers provide another function that makes them very useful for security: network isolation. If you have multiple devices in your home or office, a router will create a local area network (LAN) that’s separate from the rest of the internet.

What’s The Difference Between A Router And A Modem?

What's The Difference Between A Router And A Modem?
What’s The Difference Between A Router And A Modem?

A modem and a router are two of the most common computer peripherals, but many people don’t know the function of each one. They often think that modems and routers are one and the same, but they are actually two different devices.

The difference between a modem and a router is that a modem lets you connect to the Internet, while a router lets you share that Internet access with multiple devices.

A router is used for sharing an Internet connection among multiple computers or other devices in your home or office. A modem connects to your cable or DSL provider via coaxial cable (the thick cable you plug into the back of your modem) or Ethernet (the thin cable that plugs into your computer).

A cordless phone base station can also interfere with Wi-Fi if it’s not using digital DECT 6.0 technology. For best performance, place both units at least 3 feet away from any cordless phones operating on the 2.4 GHz frequency band.

How To Choose Between A Cable Modem & Cable Modem Router

There are two basic options for connecting to the internet through your cable company: you can use a separate modem and router, or you can buy a router/modem combo. In general, using separate devices gives you more flexibility. If you want to upgrade your wireless network or share files over your home network, a standalone router will give you more bang for your buck. Want to replace your old modem and save money on monthly rental fees? A cable modem is all you need.

If you just want to set it and forget it, though, you might want to consider a combo device. You’ll have fewer cables going into your computer or home theater system, and you’ll only have one device to set up if anything goes wrong. It’s also an easy way to get started with home networking if you’re new to the whole thing. A variety of models are available at various price points, so shop around until you find one that suits your needs.


How Do I Choose A Modem And A Router?

Choosing the right equipment for your internet connection is important. Using the wrong type of modem or router can affect your internet speed. To make things easier, most major cable companies offer combo modem/router devices that come pre-configured with their services. While this may seem like an easy solution, they are usually more expensive than purchasing your own modem and router.

Should You Buy Or Rent A Cable Modem?

Should You Buy Or Rent A Cable Modem?
Should You Buy Or Rent A Cable Modem?

Buying your own cable modem can save you money over time since you won’t be paying monthly rental fees on top of your internet fee. If you want to go this route, check with your cable company first to find out which modems are supported by their service. Not all modems work with every internet service provider, so make sure to pick one that meets the criteria provided by your ISP.

How Do I Know If My Router Supports Mesh Wifi?

Not all routers are compatible with mesh WiFi systems. Some older routers do not have enough powerful antennas and hardware to support multiple connections at once, or they may not be able to connect across the 5 GHz band that most mesh WiFi systems use. If you want to learn whether your router supports mesh WiFi, check its specs online or contact the manufacturer.

What’s The Difference Between A Mesh Router And A Regular Router?

Mesh routers are relatively new. They have several advantages over a regular router. The main difference is that mesh routers are modular and expandable, which means you can use several units to cover your whole house with WiFi. You can always add another unit later if your needs change. Plus, the individual units are smaller, so they’re easier to install in more places in your home. In contrast, a regular router has a limited range, so it’s only good for one location. However, mesh routers tend to be more expensive than regular routers, so they’re not as practical for many people.


So now that we’ve learned about the difference between a modem and a router, the next question is which one should you get? In general, you’ll want to choose a modem that has the internet speeds you need for your household. And if possible, you’ll also want to choose one that supports a physical connection—because as we learned above, using an ethernet connection is well worth it.