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Difference Between Modem and Router

Written by Abigael Ibikunle

What’s the Difference Between a Modem And a Router?

Many people think the Modem and Router are the same thing. Some confuse the two. We can’t blame them. They do look similar and help you connect to the internet.

They are both tiny flat boxes, most of the time black in color with many blinking or indicating lights and Ethernet ports in the back. Though they are often mistaken, they are two different devices that serve two different purposes.

So, what is the difference?

Modem

This device is what brings the internet from your Internet Service Provider to your house or office. It helps you set up your network. Computers or other devices use digital signals for data, while the internet uses analog signals.

To access the internet, the modem modulates data from the transmitter and demodulates data from the receiver for the incoming or outcoming data, respectively.

This is where the modem gets its name: modulating and demodulating signals. It is a gateway to the internet which connects the world.

Usually, your Internet Service Provider provides your internet along with the modem. The modem has fewer ethernet ports and is connected by a WAN port.

It has a public IP address that can be accessed over the internet. A modem can only connect to a single device, a PC, or a router. The modem operates on the data link layer.

There are many types of modem, to name a few, Analog, Digital Subscriber line or DSL, cable, Integrated Services Digital Network ISDN. Widely used are DSL and cable modems. Cable modems are connected by coaxial cables.

The Internet Service Provider is the same company as your cable TV, DSL modems are connected by phone lines. They are like analog modems, but they use a frequency outside voice calls, and so you can use the telephone and internet at the same time.

The blinking lights you see on the front of the modem indicate different things like power, internet connection from the internet service provider, etc.

When one of these lights start blinking or isn’t consistent, then you can troubleshoot your internet issues and find the problems.

Router

The modem is what brings the internet inside your house or office, whereas the router is the device that lets you connect your devices to the internet.

It literally “routes” your internet connection from your modem to all your devices and keeps it safe if you use RouterApp.

A router creates a LAN. It enables multiple devices to connect to the internet at the same time or tools to communicate with each other.

This forwards data packets based on its destination codes between computer networks and routes network traffic between them. The router has more ethernet ports to connect to more devices.

It uses LAN and has a private IP address that cannot be accessed over the internet. The router can be operated at the Data Link Layer, Network Layer, and Physical Layer. It runs a firewall and also connects to a VPN.

There are mainly two types of routers based on connection: they are wired and wireless. When you have stationary devices like a desktop computer or a smart tv, and you want to connect to the internet, a wired router is more suitable.

This is because the device is physically connected to the router, which is also physically attached to the modem.

It isn’t the same for smartphones or tablets; it becomes inconvenient. The other type is wireless, which is more suitable for multiple devices. It has an inbuilt antenna that provides internet signals to the tools to communicate.

The modem is still physically connected to the router. It also has an inbuilt switch with multiple ports called the wireless access point.

Although using the modem by itself lets you have a faster internet connection, using the router additionally is more convenient because it enables you to connect to more than one device. Routers also provide more security than just the modem alone.

Modem Router Combo Device

Nowadays, there are modems integrated with the router, sometimes called the gateway. This hybrid device is provided by a few ISPs.

It doesn’t need the wires and cables required to connect the modem to the router. The device has the electronics and software in it to provide both functions.

Hence, acting as a modem that provides the internet and functioning as a router to create a LAN.

If you only wanted to upgrade your router and not your modem then you would have to update the combo device as a whole. Having a standalone modem and router is more convenient.

You can control some features, and it will make future upgrades easier. Having standalone devices also saves you a ton of money and is more flexible with its functions.

Using a gateway, the internet service provider manages the network, which leads to security issues. Combination devices don’t seem to be usually the most effective option.

Authors

About the author

Abigael Ibikunle

Associate Correspondent at Edugist, Abigael Ibikunle is a Mathematics Education graduate. A professional Journalist and a passionate writer. She can be reached via: abigail@edugist.org/+2347035835612

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