What Is the Difference Between a Modem and a Router?

If you’re someone who spends a lot of time online, you have most likely been a victim of the frustration that a bad internet connection can bring. The internet is a major part of our everyday life, which is why it is essential that it runs smoothly.

These days, the reliability of your internet connection is especially important since we do most of our tasks online. You may often face the problem of your internet shutting down in the middle of a work meeting, or even while you’re playing an important game. However, you can avoid this if you know what each component in your system does.

The performance of your internet connection heavily depends upon what devices you’re using, and for this purpose, basic knowledge of Wi-Fi related devices and equipment can be of great use.

What is a modem?

The term modem stems from “modulator-demodulator”. It is a device used for the conversion of digital data through a possible analogue wiring system. It carries data through a special kind of wiring, allowing for easier conversion and transmission of it from one source to another. This device is something that you absolutely need for any kind of a broadband internet connection.The modem basically acts as a bridge between your home and your provider, where the original data source that allows your internet to function is.

While a modem is an essential part of your internet connection, it is not the same as a router, and cannot provide you with any kind of internet on its own. You need to anchor a modem to a device in your home through an Ethernet connection, which then transmits to a router that can transmit signals to provide wireless internet to any other device present in your home.

What is a router?

As mentioned previously, a router is a device that functions using data transmitted to it by a modem.It can be seen as a network “gateway” of sorts, but can often be confused with a modem. A router is configured to handle data traffic within a home’s local network rather than on a larger, provider-based scale.

A local network refers to that which is inside your home and powers all devices that exist on your personal network, rather than those that are within your neighborhood, or fall under the services of your ISP. This local connection doesn’t have to be strictly wireless; it can even be an Ethernet connection, provided you have the right wiring and devices to support it. The concept is a bit obsolete now, but it used to be very popular when wireless internet devices with computers weren’t very popular.

Now that it has been established that both a router and modem are two essential, but separate components of a Wi-Fi transmission process, let’s look at their objective differences.

Modem VS Router

  • A modem modulates and demodulates digital signals to decode transmitted information, while a router is only responsible for carrying this information between local computer networks.
  • A modem carries information from your service provider to your local network, while a router take this information and carries it to and between your devices.
  • A modem strictly has two ports; one of these connects to the ISP, and the other to your router. A router, however, has up to 8 ports, through which you can connect all your different devices.
  • A modem can perform its own functions without the presence of a router, however, while a router can be turned on without a modem, it will not be able to perform its function, i.e. providing a wireless internet connection, without a modem.
  • Since a modem is spread out over a larger area and brings in external digital data, it is rather unsafe compared to a router, which is a device that exists within your home and only carries authorized data between your local computer network.


A third device that hasn’t yet been mentioned is a modem-router. This device can be seen as a hybrid of the other two, and functions like both a router and a modem. These devices make the process of connecting your devices to the internet a lot less complicated, and if things are to go wrong with any kind of operation, you will only have one device to worry about, and will be able to detect the problem relatively easily.

You can even convert a modem-router into a regular router, if that’s what you prefer to use. Either way, this is a great investment for any home; having this information can make maintaining your internet devices a lot simpler.


If your internet connection is bad and the problem is with the hardware, there is a good chance you can fix it at home, without needing any professional help.For this, having at least basic knowledge of how the hardware functions can be necessary. Once you understand the mechanics, importance and role of each component, you might be able to detect problems in your home’s network and possibly even fix them in time of need. If you want to switch from current internet service, or are moving in to a new place and want to get a new connection altogether, you could find one on