If you’ve used the internet for a long time, you’ve probably heard modems and routers mentioned at least a handful of times. Every day, you use either or both things. But instead of just hearing someone mention them and nodding your head in agreement, you should also know a little about them. Knowing the differences between a modem and a router can save you high internet costs, frustrations, and time as you go about your daily activities.
What is a modem?
The word “modem” is an abbreviation for modulator-demodulator. In simpler terms, it is the bridge between the internet and the local network. The modem is an intermediary between the internet service provider (ISP) and your devices, converting signals into a format that your devices can use.
The modem works by plugging into the network infrastructure available, either fiber, telephone, or cable, and provides an output channel for connection to a router. Each modem has a unique IP address that distinguishes it from others on the World Wide Web.
What is a router?
A router is a device that distributes or “routes” an internet connection from the modem to all devices at the same time. The router, therefore, is the element that makes it possible for laptops, smart TVs, and mobile phones to connect to the internet through a wireless network. As a local installation, the router provides internet users with protection, offering security features to keep unauthorized users out.
If you need to secure your network, configuring the router’s settings with a password enhances protection features. The router sets up a local area network (LAN) that makes the WIFI connection accessible.
Characteristics that distinguish a modem from a router
First, the modem can function independently, whereas the router relies on a modem to work effectively. The router connects devices to the internet only when the modem is live.
Second, the modem connects a single computer device to the internet using an ethernet cable. But, if you need to use multiple devices, you would need a router. A wired router allows you to connect more devices using cables, while a wireless router enables you to use a WIFI connection within your home or workplace.
Today, some ISP providers offer two-in-one router-modem combos that have fewer wires, cables, and are more flexible. Rather than purchase a router or modem separately, you can opt for a combined device that can give you the same service with lesser restrictions.
Now that you know what makes a modem different from a router, you can make more informed decisions when choosing options for your connections to the internet.