Thursday, October 5

What is the purpose of the router and modem on the Internet?

You often hear the terms modem, router, server, etc. whenever we are talking about the Internet, its speed, and the connections. But do you actually know what they are? Or how do they work? What is their purpose? These terms are commonly used when you talk about Internet connections or networks. A modem is a box-like device that connects the network available at your place to the wide Internet. A router is also a box-like device and it makes sure that all the devices whether wired or wireless, are able to use the Internet simultaneously. In order to make sure that your home has the best Internet facility, you must have both a modem and a router at your home. In many cases, the Internet Service Providers or ISPs provide a single box that acts as both a modem and a router. But this is not always true as many routers do not have modem capabilities and all the modems do not also act as routers.  

It is best to use the modem and router separately. You would need to upgrade your router every few years or so until it breaks or in order to change the technology for a better experience and more device range and capacity.  Whereas on the other hand, a modem can be used for many years without any glitches in terms of the technology upgrade.   


The purpose of a modem is to control the signals directed through cables, wires, phone cables, or any other kinds of wires. We can say that it converts the data from your computer available in the digital format into analog signals and vice versa. In this way, your computer understands the transmitted data which is in the form of digital signals, and when in wires, the data is in the form of analog signals. A modem usually has two ports: an Ethernet port that links the computer or a router, and another port to connect globally.

Your Internet Service Providers usually provide you with a modem when they installed the cable Internet service in your house and you would be paying for those devices on the monthly basis as well. But in the case of other internet services like fiber internet or a DSL, your service providers will provide you with a modem or in some cases, the two-in-one modem/router combination. You can buy your own router and try to connect it with the modem/router device. But this can only work if you disable the router features from your provided device and have the supported settings for linking another router device. This can only work depending on the type of internet connection you are provided with as well as on your internet service provider.     


A router is the main connection between the WAN or wide area network and all the devices using the internet in your home. If you have a laptop, a smartphone, and other devices which need an internet connection, all of them should be connected to the router with or without wires. To guide all the data between these devices is the main task of a router. All these devices available at home which use the internet along with the router make a home network. The router connects itself to the modem through one port named usually WAN or Wide Area Network and the others are used to connect the devices at your home with or without the wires. The type of router to use in your home depends upon the size of the house as well as the number of devices to be connected to it. The router must be placed in the center of the house to make sure it has accessibility all over the place and all the devices are able to reach it. If a single device is unable to connect to the router or has a weak signal, all the other devices will face a slow network issue. So it is very important to place the router in the center of the house or at a place where all the devices, be it wired or wireless, are able to connect to it and to avoid the slow internet speed issues.

In the cases where the house is bigger or there are many devices that need to be connected to the internet, another technology works effectively. A Wi-Fi-mesh networking kit contains two or three modules and improves the quality of a router. The first piece acts as a router and the other work as a satellite. The satellites are placed between the router and the section of your house having low signals. Thus increasing the efficiency and quality of your network.

Difference between a router and a modem

After gathering the purposes of both modem and a router, we can now easily deduce what the main difference between both of them is.

Modem Router
It transports the Internet signals to your house It transports the Internet to your home devices
It has a public IP address It allocates local IP addresses
It employs a WAN network It generates a LAN network


We can say that modems are connected to the Wide Area Network, thus they transport the Internet from wide network resources to our home. It connects the Internet Service Provider or ISP to the home internet through a cable or a wired connection. The modem converts the signals from your ISP to be used by the local devices available at your home. And converts the signals from the home devices to the ISP hence, making a Wide Area Network. The modem is identified over the internet through a unique IP address.     

On the other hand, if we talk about routers, they connect your home devices to the modem or to the wide-area network. All your home devices like smartphones, laptops, printers, TVs, etc. are connected to each other and to the modem through a router. That connection can be made through Ethernet, Wi-Fi, etc. in other words, we can say that a router generated a local area network inside your home connecting all the devices to each other like printers, computers, etc. and making sure that they are able to communicate and share files. 

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