Modems vs. Routers: What is the Difference?

Modems vs. Routers: What is the Difference?

Modems and routers go hand-in-hand. They are the devices that connect computers and gadgets to the internet. These days, routers are dwindling. Why? Most of their features are carried on to the modem to make things easier. But back then, you have to use both devices to make it work.

So, it begs the question: what is the difference? Why are routers even made despite the existence of modems? While they are basically the same, there are distinct features that make them different. You can learn more about them in this article.

Differences at a Glance


  • Uses a public IP address
  • Fewer Ethernet ports
  • Uses a wide area network (WAN)


  • More Ethernet ports
  • Uses a private IP address
  • Distributes through a local area network (LAN)

How Modems Operate

The modem connects your computer to the Internet Service Provider (ISP). It translates signals from the ISP so the computer can understand. Once the connection is made, your computer is connected to the internet. Most modems need a cable like phone lines, coaxial, and fiber to connect, but wireless modems are available now. To connect to the internet, you need to have a modem. Having no modem means no access to the internet.

How Routers Operate

Routers work exactly like modems but with more connections to more devices. Having multiple devices at once can make communication seamless. One difference is that the IP used in the router is a private one. This means that you can privately browse the internet without worrying about potential cyber-attacks. If you have a modem up and running, placing a router there adds more security.

Due to the way how similar the two devices are, newer models have combined the features of both modem and router. The combined unit enables you to connect to the internet across multiple devices. As a result, you get a modem router. It lessens the need for having an additional router.

Some ISPs still call this a modem, but it can be called a gateway router. The words interchange, but the purpose is the same.

When to get a Modem or Router

Most ISPs can provide you with a modem or router. It comes with the plan you avail of; however, you will not own the device. You have the option to buy a separate device, but you will have to connect to the internet by yourself. It can be an advantage or a disadvantage. Why? You are the one controlling. If you do not know what to do, you can always ask your ISP’s customer service.

If you want to stay connected privately, a router is a way to go. You can get secure connections and dedicate one device to that router. And if you want to get connected first hand, a modem will do. The modem is a fundamental part of the internet connection.

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