Do you Know the Difference Between a Modem and a Router?

There are a lot of people who think that modems and routers are the same thing. But did you know that they’re actually different from one another? Modems and routers have different roles within a network.

If you want to have Internet access in your home or for your business, you will definitely need a modem – it’s what brings you the Internet. It maintains the connection between your home or business and your Internet service provider, giving you access to the Internet.

Why do you need a modem?

Well, a modem means “modulator, demodulator,” which is exactly what it does. There are two different types of signals that are used on computers and the Internet. A computer can only read digital signals, while the Internet can only read analog signals. As an analog signal comes in through the Internet, the modem demodulates the signals into a digital signal. This allows the computer to be able to understand it. The modem also modulates outgoing digital signals into an analog signal as it goes out into the Internet. 

What about a router?

What about a router? The router comes into play after the modem. There are different kinds of routers available. There are routers for small office/home office, and then there are business routers. These pretty much do the same thing, but let’s focus one the small office/home office router. A router passes your Internet connection to all of your devices in your home. It directs the connection to your laptop, your tablets, Smart Devices, etc. They will also typically have multiple ports on the back, which will allow you to connect multiple devices via an ethernet cable. Routers can also double as a wireless access point, allowing wireless devices (such as your laptop) to have access to the Internet.

If you were to only need one device connected to the Internet, you wouldn’t actually need to have a router. Once you have more than one device that needs an Internet connection, that’s when the router comes into play. Once there’s more than one device, you’ll need the router to provide an Internet connection to each device.

What are the different types of modems?

Now let’s dig a little deeper. There are two different types of modems: cable and DSL modems. Depending on what type of Internet service you have will determine which of these modems you will need. Cable modems are connected to your home using a coaxial cable, whereas DSL modems are connected using the phone line in your home. One thing that we are seeing more often with companies is that they will provide you with a modem/router combo. This is a modem that has a built-in wireless router within one device.

Did you know that most routers have a built-in switch inside of them? The only time you would need a switch is if you need more wired connections for your devices. All you would have to do is connect the switch to your current router, then connect your additional devices to the switch.

Overhead view of a white router with Wi-Fi symbols on a yellow surface.


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