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Modems vs Routers

What's the difference?

While they seem similar, modems and routers serve two completely different purposes. Let's go over how they differ so you choose the right one!

Modems vs Routers

What are the differences?

While they seem similar, modems and routers serve two completely different purposes.

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published 15 April 2021 / written by Winston

What are routers?

Learn more.

What are modems?

Learn more.

How do they work?

Learn more.

What are Mesh routers?

Learn more.

What are the differences?

It is very important to understand that modems and routers are not the same. Although they often come bundled together (in fact, you probably have one from your ISP), they serve entirely different purposes. 

In simple terms:

  • Modems connect to the internet to bring in the information you request/send, while;
  • Routers distribute that connection to your devices, such as your phones, tablets and PCs.
  • You need both in order to use your internet connection.

Do I need a modem or a router?

It is very important to understand that modems and routers are not the same. Although they often come bundled together (in fact, you probably have one from your ISP), they serve entirely different purposes. 

In simple terms:

  • Modems connect to the internet to bring in the information you request/send, while;
  • Routers distribute that connection to your devices, such as your phones, tablets and PCs.
  • You need both in order to use your internet connection.

Modems

Connect to the internet, but not your devices.

Modems

Modems are devices which provide access to the Internet. This might sound like what a router does, but they're not the same.

Without a modem, your router would not be able to connect to the Internet at all - unless it had one built-in.

The term modem refers to the fact that it modulates analog signals into digital information, such as binary (hence, it both modulates and demodulates signals - modem).

It's needed to interpret and translate the analog signals sent by your ISP into useful digital signals that can be used by your router and devices.

Essentially, you can think of a modem as the interface between your router and the actual Internet (the copper wires which transmit information to/from your ISP).

But remember, your modem won't connect to your devices! It only connects to the internet through your ISP.


Modems are devices which provide access to the Internet.


Modems

Modems are devices which provide access to the Internet. This might sound like what a router does, but they're not the same.

Without a modem, your router would not be able to connect to the Internet at all - unless it had one built-in.

The term modem refers to the fact that it modulates analog signals into digital information, such as binary (hence, it both modulates and demodulates signals - modem).

It's needed to interpret and translate the analog signals sent by your ISP into useful digital signals that can be used by your router and devices.

Essentially, you can think of a modem as the interface between your router and the actual Internet (the copper wires which transmit information to/from your ISP).

But remember, your modem won't connect to your devices! It only connects to the internet through your ISP.


Modems are devices which provide access to the Internet.


Routers

Create a network for devices to connect to your modem.


Routers

A router is what connects your devices to the same network, in order to send/receive information from the modem.

Think of it as like a bridge. Your devices want to connect to the internet, so they ask to join the router's network so that it can talk to the Internet for them (which happens through the modem).

The router is basically the bridge between your devices and the modem.

It can be confusing, because your router creates a LAN (local area network) that you connect to. For instance, you can connect to the router even without a modem. Some might mistake this for connection to the internet.

But without a modem, the most you can do on your router's local network is transfer files between your Wi-Fi devices. You won't actually have Internet access. It's also why you can still connect to the router, even if your ISP's internet service is down.

So basically, a router will route and connect data between your devices, but it needs a modem to transmit data to and from the Internet.


Routers connect your devices to a Wi-Fi network.


Routers

A router is what connects your devices to the same network, in order to send/receive information from the modem.

Think of it as like a bridge. Your devices want to connect to the internet, so they ask to join the router's network so that it can talk to the Internet for them (which happens through the modem).

The router is basically the bridge between your devices and the modem.

It can be confusing, because your router creates a LAN (local area network) that you connect to. For instance, you can connect to the router even without a modem. Some might mistake this for connection to the internet.

But without a modem, the most you can do on your router's local network is transfer files between your Wi-Fi devices. You won't actually have Internet access. It's also why you can still connect to the router, even if your ISP's internet service is down.

So basically, a router will route and connect data between your devices, but it needs a modem to transmit data to and from the Internet.


Routers connect your devices to a Wi-Fi network.


Here's what's involved in

Network Transmission

Device

Your devices connect to your router's Wi-Fi network.

Router

Creates a network and talks to your modem.

Modem

Receives data from the Internet through ISP.

ISP

Provide access to the Internet.

Internet

Where all the information is stored in servers.

What are mesh routers?

Home Mesh Wi-Fi routers are like ordinary routers that work together to increase your network coverage area.

They're particularly useful for scenarios where you can't find an optimal router placement, or if you have deadspots in your network. Sometimes a single router won't be able to provide a stable connection in all corners of the house.

Mesh routers solve this issue by placing multiple satellites, or nodes, throughout your home.

By simply connecting to the closest node, which happens automatically, you'll have a more stable and far-reaching connection than is typically possible.


Mesh routers extend your network for greater coverage.


What are mesh routers?

Home Mesh Wi-Fi routers are like ordinary routers that work together to increase your network coverage area.

They're particularly useful for scenarios where you can't find an optimal router placement, or if you have deadspots in your network. Sometimes a single router won't be able to provide a stable connection in all corners of the house.

Mesh routers solve this issue by placing multiple satellites, or nodes, throughout your home.

By simply connecting to the closest node, which happens automatically, you'll have a more stable and far-reaching connection than is typically possible.

Mesh routers extend your network for greater coverage.

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