Modem vs router: knowing the difference

You may be wondering if you really need to understand the difference between a modem and a router. In fact, it’s very useful since by being able to understand their distinct role in your Internet connection, you will be capable of ensuring that they work properly.

What is a modem?

The modem is the device that allows you to connect to the Internet. By plugging it into a dedicated telephone line or a coaxial cable line, it connects your home wiring and your Internet service provider’s equipment. Therefore, It uses the bandwidth of your Internet service provider to route it to your network and then allow all your connected devices to connect to the Internet. This device is key in your Internet connection. Without it, you wouldn’t be able to access the Web, Facebook or communicate by email or other applications such as WhatsApp.

What is a router?

The router is what allows you to connect more than one device to your modem to share your Internet access. You can connect it directly to your router or use the wireless connection that most of them provide. When using it, you can have multiple devices that, in addition of sharing a connection,  communicate on your network at the same time. For example, if you have a smart TV and want to share your Ipad screen on it, you need to go through the Wi-Fi network generated by your router. Thus, the router is a complement to the modem. It’s not essential to your Internet connection, but it brings a lot of flexibility.

What is a modem/router unit?

The modem/router unit is simply a modem with a router function. Although it incorporates both functionality within a single device, its router capabilities are rather limited. It’s true that it can be quite suitable for a person who lives alone in a small apartment and where there are very few networks nearby. However, it’s not ideal for those who live with others, are coping with neighbor’s network interference or have a larger area to cover. In particular, it may cause poor signal reception or Internet connection instability. For this reason, you need to look at your environment and your needs before choosing this type equipment over a separate router and modem.

Finally, what is important to remember is that you absolutely need a modem to connect to the Internet. The router is not essential but gives you flexibility by allowing you to share your network between several of your devices. We highly recommend you to take the time to assess your needs and your environment before buying a router. Making the wrong choice is the cause of 90% of network problems encountered by customers. You can check out this article if you want to know which router best suits your needs.