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Modem vs Router

Modem vs Router

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What Is the Difference Between a Modem and a Router

While they are both important pieces of hardware, there are many differences between a modem and a router. In short, modems connect to the internet, while routers connect your devices to a wifi network.

But they link in an important way, and you need them for different things. Your router creates a network that connects all the devices in your home to the wifi, and your modem connects that network to the internet. Some broadband providers combine these pieces of hardware together, but they are still doing two different things.

Connects directly to your internet service provider (ISP)Creates a local area network (LAN)
Has nothing to do with the wifiCreates and manages your home wifi
Does not require a router to function by itselfRequires a modem to connect to the internet
Is assigned a unique IP address

What Is a Modem?

A modulator-demodulator, or modem, is the device your router uses to connect to the internet. It can function independently of a router, and will serve its purpose whether you have one or not.

A modem works by modulating and transforming electrical impulses sent by your internet service provider through a coax cable, into a digital or analog format that your computer or router can understand. The three types of modem are:

Analog (dial-up)
Digital subscriber line (DSL)

Analog (dial-up) is an older and slower technology, while digital subscriber line (DSL) and cable are both broadband technologies that provide faster and more reliable internet access. DSL uses telephone lines, while cable uses coaxial cables commonly used for cable television.

You will find that most modems have two connection ports – one that connects to your ISP, and a LAN Ethernet connector that can be connected either directly to your computer, or into your router. Connection to your router is most common because multiple devices can access the internet with the wifi network it establishes.

Pros and Cons of a Modem

Converts signals from the Internet Service Provider (ISP) into one a computer can useUnable to create a local wifi network
Can connect a computer or laptop directly to the internet without the use of a routerCan only connect one device to the internet at a time
Speed depends on the costCannot be easily moved as there is usually a fixed cable

What Is a Router?

A router is a device that connects to the internet through a modem. It sets up a public or private wifi network that multiple devices can connect to. When you connect to a wifi network while at home or out and about, that network has been established by a router.

Any device that can connect to a wifi network, for example a smart device or a computer, uses a router to do so. Without a router you would need to connect individual devices to a modem using an ethernet cable, which typically only has room for one.

A router cannot work without a modem, but it expands the amount of devices you can connect to the internet in your home. Using the wifi network it establishes, your devices can communicate wirelessly.

Pros and Cons of a Router

Establishes a wifi networkRequires a modem to connect to the internet
Can connect multiple devices to the internet, using a wifi networkCannot decode the signals sent from your ISP
Provides a more secure connection to the internetConnection becomes slower since it is passing through two devices
Business grade routers offer additional benefits for small and large companiesTypically costly
Your router’s location can affect your connection speed

Modem Speed vs Router Speed

It is not necessarily a question of modem vs router. The router influences the upload and download speeds you’ll receive from your modem, because it splits up the connection between multiple devices.

If you were to connect your device directly to your modem you would likely see a higher speed. Using a router will affect this speed, but this isn’t usually a massive difference. However, if your router does not support high-speed connections then your modem speed will not matter. It is wise to have a router that can support the speeds of your modem.

Essentially, this means your modem is important, but it relies on a good router to work optimally. This is why choosing a good broadband provider is key. Hyperoptic offers hyperfast, reliable average speeds of up to 900Mbps. It is a simple switch, so check if your postcode can benefit from our super fast service and get connected, even if you’re still in contract with another provider.

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