Most users tend to get confused between a modem and a router while discussing their home internet connection. In most cases, internet service providers (ISPs) give a single box that serves as both a modem and a router. However, they are different technologies and have separate functionalities.
This means, not all modems include routers and not all routers have modems. Although, you need both the devices (maybe integrated or not) to get an Internet connection for all the devices in your home. To make things simpler, here we will discuss some of the key differences between a modem and a router.
How is a modem different from a router??
A modem connects your home network to the wider Internet, whereas a router allows your wired and wireless devices to use that Internet connection simultaneously while communicating with each other without using the Internet. It is always better to use a separate modem and router for various reasons.
Typically, you can use a modem for years until it gets damaged. This is possible as modem technology changes slowly. On the other hand, you may have to replace a router more frequently compared to your modem if you want better internet coverage throughout your home. If you want to add more devices to your network or just simply want to take advantage of the latest improvements in Wi-Fi technology, you have to buy a new router if your old router is unable to manage all that.
Users can also save money on their monthly internet bills if they buy their modem and router instead of using the ones offered by your ISP. However, this is only possible if you are using cable internet. The situation gets more complicated if you are using DSL or fiber connections and if you also get your phone service from your ISP.
How do modems work?
A modem transforms digital information from your computer into analogue signals that can be transmitted over wires. It also translates incoming analogue signals back to digital data that your system can read.
Most modems have two ports — one connects to the wider Internet and another Ethernet jack for connecting a computer or a router. ISPs usually provide the users with a modem or a modem/router combo device. However, you can disable the router features of a modem/router combination and can use it as a stand-alone modem and buy a new router. Nevertheless, your ISP needs to support this customisation and the process for doing so may vary depending on your service provider and the type of Internet connection you use.
How do routers work?
The main responsibility of a router is to direct data among the devices that are there in your home and the wider Internet. When we talk about a home network, it collectively refers to the system of interconnected devices plus the router itself. Your modem connects to a port on your router which is labelled as “WAN” or “Wide Area Network”. The remaining ports are for other devices or they can wirelessly connect to the router over the Wi-Fi standard.
Most two-bedroom apartments with multiple devices can be covered by a stand-alone Wi-Fi router. These devices provide the best coverage if you can place them near the centre of your home to give all the devices the best wireless connection possible. It is important to note that even one or two devices with a weak connection can hamper the performance of other wireless devices connected to the network.