Router Vs. Modem: What’s the Difference?

It is important to know the difference between a router and modem to troubleshoot and set up the network. A modem is a device that allows you to connect to the internet. A router is a device that helps in distributing the connections to various devices. A modem is known as a web gateway and a router the central hub for connecting devices.

Many get confused between a modem and router as they look similar in design. Both this device has Ethernet ports that contain indicator lights. Also, the functions of these devices are the same as both router and modem transmit units of data from a source to a destination. However, there are only a few similarities between a router and a modem. A modem has fewer Ethernet ports than a router. A modem is accessible through a public IP address.

Router Vs. Modem

On the other hand, the IP address of a router is private, and it is not available on the internet. The modem uses WAN, and the router uses the LAN area network. Now let use some of the uses and main differences between these two devices.

What are the main uses of a modem?

The modem depends on the internet provider for offering and converting the analogue internet signal to digital signal. It acts as a gateway to connect your house or office internet to a greater source. You get a modem from the ISP by applying for an internet plan. Earlier, modems were used for converting analogue signals of a telephone into digital signals. A modem includes a cable, DSL, ISDN and analogue. The analogue types of modem connect with the ISP by using the telephone. When using the DSL modems, you can use the phone and browse the internet at the same time. Further, the function of a cable modem is also similar, but you need to connect it through coaxial cable to a computer and router.

The beneficial functions of a modem

  • The main function of the modem is to modulate and demodulate signals. This inter-networking device modulates the information from a transmitter and receives data from demodulating.
  • The modem is also known as the network translator as it converts the ISP signals into standard signals.
  • A modem is also used for compressing the data, correcting errors and controlling the data flow. Through this process, a modem can effortlessly speed up the transmission by data grouping.
  • The modem checks whether the data received matches the user requirements. If the data doesn’t match, then it sends the data back to the source.
  • The flow of control helps the modem to use WIFI and internet speed to send the signals.

What are the main uses of a router?

A router is a widely used networking device that helps to distribute the internet connection to several devices. A router equally transfers the data from the modem to a laptop, cell phones, tablets and smart TV. This way the router acts as a central hub in connecting all your devices to the internet at the same time. The two most popular routers are wired and wireless routers. A wired router uses cords to connect to a cable or modem. A wireless router can be used through built-in antennas that connect you to the WIFI connections. However, a router still needs to be manually connected to a modem to send and receive data.

The beneficial functions of a router

  • The important operation of a router is to manage the traffic between two networking devices.
  • The router takes note of the MAC address to ensure that the data has been delivered correctly. If your phone requires a specific audio file, then the router ensures that the phone receives the data and not the other connected devices.
  • The router allows communicating and exchanging data over the internet. You can send files, documents, video, folders and fax through it.
  • The main function of a router is protecting the user and their devices from unauthorized accounts, hackers and also from potential threats. Further, it helps you create a password for securing the network.
  • The router enables the firewall to protect and block specific devices and websites.

The key differences in router and modems

  • The Dual-band capability

The dual-band feature helps to create sub-networks that work on different frequencies. The modems come with the dual-band capacity; the slower devices work on low frequency and new devices on high frequencies. Also, the routers can embed two or more device transmitters that enable communication through frequencies.

  • Protection and security

The modems use advanced security tools to protect the personal information of the user when using the internet. The WPA technology allows you to set a password and the modem has encryptions to protect your profile from other unknown servers. At the same time, the router comes with the inbuilt WPS technology. The WPS simplifies protection by providing push buttons and PIN. The security method in a router is strong, and it also saves time.

  • The guest networks

Both the modems and router allow guest networks. However, the router helps to set up a special network for the guest. This set up restricts the user from accessing the home or private network of your home. To access the guest network, it is necessary to enter a security configuration that allows them to use only a part of your home network.

  • The Ethernet ports

Earlier the modems had the Ethernet ports but not the routers. But now, the routers contain Ethernet ports to connect to a printer, fax or game console. Today, the routers are incorporated with more Ethernet ports than the modem. The routers have Ethernet ports because this boosts up the overall network performance.

  • The controls and restrictions

Today, the routers come with more parental controls and restrictions. This feature is not mostly found in the modems. This feature in routers helps in blocking unknown servers, children from accessing specific websites and restricting the number of hours used by children.


Today, many manufacturers create the modem and router combos. But, if you require more flexibility, then you can buy a separate modem and router. By considering the above differences, you can choose which one suits your requirement.

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