Every home that has access to the Internet has these two essential devices. However, most people won’t even know the difference between the two. That is quite understandable as to the layman, the router and the modem look quite identical to each other. If you are interested in learning the difference between the two as well as what the primary function of each is, please continue reading below.
The router and the modem are vital elements for both wired and wireless internet connection. The benefits of understanding the function and difference of each device will manifest during internet connection issues. If you know the functionalities of each peripheral, then you will have an idea of what is causing specific problems in your network. This can eliminate the need to call customer support, which can be quite time-consuming.
Now then, let us take an in-depth look as to what the differences are between the router and the modem.
The router is a device that can connect multiple networks at the same time. It’s pretty simple. Think of the router as the gateway that connects your home network to the Internet. A lot of routers also have built-in switches that allow users to connect more than one wired device as well as Wi-Fi capabilities for wireless support. The router allows for a convenient yet secure way of accessing the Internet.
Speaking of security, the router can also act as a fence that guards your network against the dangerous elements commonly lurking on the Internet. The router will filter all data coming in and out of your system; making sure that every packet of data received and delivered is correct.
The router is a stand-alone peripheral that connects directly to an Ethernet port that is found on the modem. In terms of physical ports, the router comes with WAN and four extra Ethernet ports for wired devices (LAN). This gives users flexibility on how they want to connect to the Internet.
The inclusion of the option to use wired Internet access has its merits. While wireless offers freedom of mobility around the house, wired connectivity is faster when compared to wireless. For those who want to maximize their bandwidth, it is recommended they connect the primary computer or device via a cable.
There is a marketing myth out there with individual routers promising exaggerated claims connection speeds and showcasing multiple antennas. Note that the number of antennas has absolutely nothing to do with connection speeds, it just increases the Wi-Fi range. Internet speed will depend on your proximity to the router as well as the technology used by the said router.
The modem is the first device developed to allow individuals to access the Internet. It has since evolved from its simple beginnings and is now a completely different device when it comes to how it is marketed. Back in the early ’90s, modems were sold as an accessory that you plug into your computer or laptop to access the Internet. It has then evolved into its external form that we know today.
Nowadays, modems are used as dedicated service providers for specific programs. For example, Comcast offers modems as a monthly subscription service. Once installed in your home, these modems not only allow you access to the Internet but also exclusive services such as movie streaming apps; depending on our subscription.
You can also purchase third-party modems at your local electronics store if you don’t want the exclusive services which add to your monthly bill. Whichever one you choose; the modem is essential if you want to access the Internet.
One specific feature of a modem is the LED lights dotted on the front of the modem. These lights can help you determine the current status of your Internet connection without the need to check your computer or device. Specific LED lights provide particular indication such as if the modem is receiving power if it is receiving data from the Internet if it can send/upload data to the Internet, and if a wired connection is currently being utilized.
Modems are also compatible with broadband with the use of DSL (Digital Subscriber Line). This feature is quite helpful if you are in an area wherein there are no cable-based services, but telephone lines are available. Keep in mind though the DSL services are usually slower and unstable compared to their cable-based Internet connection.
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Using a Router with Modem Combo
As you can see from the comparison above, both router and modems have their advantages and disadvantages. Choosing between the two will boil down to your bandwidth and Internet connection speed needs. However, a third option is available. Why choose one over the other if you can select both at the same time? This is where the router and modem combo peripheral come into play. It has the following benefits for users:
1. Space-saving and less wire clutter
Since this is a 2 in 1 device, all the functionalities of both router and modem are packed into a single unit. It is easier to install and can save you space in your home. It also reduces the cables and wires significantly which means you don’t have to contend with a tangle of wires when setting it up. It also uses one AC adapter which frees up an extra power socket.
2. Easy to set up and more straightforward troubleshooting
While you will still need to perform proper installation set up, with a router and modem combo you will only need to ho through this process once. It also eliminates possible compatibility problems that might arise when pairing a router and modem. If any issues do develop, troubleshooting will be streamlined as you won’t need to check two manuals to figure out where the problem is stemming from.
Routers and modems are both essential elements when it comes to connecting to the Internet in the most convenient way possible. There isn’t a competition between the two devices and utilizing both can significantly enhance your own experience and security when surfing the vast cyber landscape of the Internet.