Difference between modem and router

Difference between modem and router

The devices that make access to the network possible are varied. Sometimes it can be confusing to distinguish between each of them, since they are not only similar in appearance, but also have similar functions. The two most common devices are the modem and the router, both of which are necessary to allow Internet access from multiple devices in one place.

However, what makes them different? What is a modem for and what is a router for? If you want to understand the difference between modem and routeras well as its functions, we help you get to know it in this TecVideos article.


what is a modem

The modem is intermediary device between the router and the operator’s line. It is responsible for modulating the signal and demodulating. That is, it connects to the utility company and convert analog signal to digitaltaking it to the different connected devices.

Using an RJ11 cable, the modem interprets the received data and sends it through the direct telephone line to the destination computer. When a connection to the operator is established, the modem obtains a unique public IPwhich is the one that identifies your connection.

what is a router

Speaking of a router refers to the device that allows connection to the network in your home. It is responsible for receiving the information from the modem and expand it to your deviceseither wired or Wi-Fi. This device assigns a local IP to each computer, instead of having a single one like the modem.

The router is capable of bringing the internet to your devices by creating a LAN or local computer network. Its complexity is a little higher, since it has multiple antennas and Ethernet ports, as well as multiple configuration options. One of those ports is separate, and connects to the modem.

It receives and sends network traffic with a connection from the modem, and routes that data through Ethernet cables. It also does it through Wi-Fi, through the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands.

Difference between modem and router - What is a router

Differences between modem and router

Although both devices provide internet to the devices, there are considerable differences between them. In the case of the modem, it brings the internet to your home from the ISP using a coaxial cable. Translate data into signals that the computer can recognize. Each one has a unique assigned IP address that identifies it.

For its part, the router connects all devices to each other. It connects to the modem at one end, and to your computers at the other, both via Ethernet cable and wirelessly. create a local network within the homemaking it easy to share files between computers to which you assign multiple IP addresses.

the router controls and conducts all the information that is transmitted from the modem and devices, ensuring its correct direction. Likewise, there are other differential characteristics between both devices, such as:

  • The modem interprets the signal it receives and sends it to another device. The router expands it and directs it to several devices at the same time.
  • The modem connects to the phone line, the router connects to the modem.
  • The router has several antennas that allow it to distribute the signal, the modem does not have antennas.
  • The router creates a LAN network, while the modem uses a WAN.

Which is better: a modem or a router

The reality is that both devices perform important functions when it comes to providing you with an internet connection. Together, they are responsible for working to set up your home network.

However, it is currently difficult to find a classic modem in stores. The most common is to need to connect several computers to your internet, which you cannot achieve with only the modem. It is best to purchase a router that incorporates a modem in your system, these being the most common today.

With a modem-router it will be easy for you to send a Wi-Fi signal to all your devices with connect a single device to the telephone network.

Access point, switch and repeater – Other definitions

The devices that contribute to the proper functioning of your connection to the network are very varied. Among so many names and denominations, perhaps you can get a little lost. In this section, we briefly explain the operation of some of the equipment that you will probably need, or that you may have heard of.

Access point

A Wi-Fi access point, as its name indicates, is intended to create an initial point of radio frequency signal. In this way, it allows you to connect several wireless devices to the network. It must be connected to a router in order to work properly, and it links the computers as if it were by cable.

This device can not only create an original signal, it is also possible to configure it to use as a wifi repeater.


A switch, also known as a commutator, is a interconnection apparatus which is used to create a LAN (Local Area Network). Its main function is to join several devices in a network. It should be noted that it does not create its own internet supply, since it must be connected to a router.

This appliance can have as few as 4 Ethernet ports to meet a basic need, or hundreds of them for higher demands. Thanks to this, its uses range from the family environment, at home, to professional, such as in offices.

WIFI repeater

Repeaters or extenders are wireless devices that, as their name suggests, extend a signal. They connect to your Wi-Fi network and propagate a new signal. This is transmitted to the places where the original cannot reach. They can be defined as an auxiliary wireless station for a certain network.

If you are looking for other methods to increase the strength or range of your Wi-Fi signal, we invite you to visit How to increase the Wi-Fi signal.

If you want to read more articles similar to Difference between modem and routerwe recommend that you enter our Networks and WiFi category.

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