What Is The Difference Between A Modem And A Wireless Router

What Is The Difference Between A Modem And A Wireless Router

Last updated on June 4th, 2021

So, you’ve heard of both a modem and a wireless router. Chances are, you have used both and maybe using them right now. This is most certainly the case in almost every household. These days, most devices connect to the internet wirelessly. When it comes to modems and wireless routers, they are found in almost every home.

A wireless router tends to supply everything home users require. It allows signals to reach all around the house so you can use the internet wherever you are, be it the bathroom, the bedroom, or the kitchen. Even though most of us have are using these devices, the networking terms that come with them can be quite confusing. 

To understand the difference between a modem and a wireless router, we first need to discover what each one is. In this article, we are going to discuss exactly what each device is and compare the similarities and differences between the two. 

Firstly, let’s find out what a modem is.

What is a modem?

You need a modem to have an internet connection in your home. Your internet service provider (ISP) usually provides you with one when you sign up with them.  This tends to look like a small box and sits with a cable leading to the service outside for either a fixed wireless, satellite, or fiber internet connection. You could alternatively use a phone line that comes into your house if you have DSL service.

The modem will also have a cord that connects to your router as well as a power source that is plugged into an outlet or power strip. Simply put, if your modem isn’t working correctly you will not have any access to the internet. This can be caused by not receiving power or if the modem is not tightly connected to the line coming into your home.

What is a Wireless router?

A router may look similar to a modem but it is quite different. A router is an electronic device that is used for sending your internet connection to all connected devices. It takes the internet provided by the modem and splits it into numerous lines of service for different devices such as tablets, smartphones, and laptops. 

A wireless router works much like a wired router but instead of using wires, it uses wireless radio signals. These routers usually come in the form of a small box that has several antennas sticking out. These are installed to help send out internet signals in your home or office space.

These signals get weaker the further away you are from the router. Therefore, the greater distance you are, the weaker your internet will be until you can’t connect to it at all and the signal is lost. 

Wireless routers can function as an internet router, a switch, or as an access point. If you’re connected to a wireless router, you will be able to access both LAN and WAN, and depending on the type of router you’re using, it may be able to support up to a few hundred users. 

Many wireless routers can also work as a firewall. This is so users can monitor, control, block, or filter any incoming or outgoing network traffic. Just in recent years, wireless routers have significantly improved so more devices can connect to them as well as being able to provide more bandwidth. This is the range of frequencies within a band for transmitting signals. 

You will see several Ethernet ports that can be directly connected to other devices via cables but it’s possible that you don’t use these outgoing Ethernet ports at all. Instead, you may just rely on Wi-Fi. You can often prioritize which devices get an internet service first through administrative tools.

You can also set up parental controls, uptime reports, curfew times, and create enhanced security options to safeguard your internet. 

What is the difference between a modem and a router?

So, now you know what a modem and a wireless router are but if you’re still unsure of what the main differences are, let’s see the best way to describe both. 

A modem brings the internet into your home or office space.

A router receives that internet and splits it so the signal can be shared by different devices on your network.

It’s very important to understand these differences. If you encounter an issue with your internet, your internet service provider (ISP) or PC repair technician may require you to perform various tests with either device or both. You will often be asked to restart your modem or unplug your router if there is a problem.

Knowing the difference between a modem and a wireless router will make it easier for you to fix your connectivity issues with a tech team.

Do I need both a modem and a router?

A modem’s number one priority is to provide you with the internet. When it comes to a router, there are times when you may not one. If you only require one internet-connected device, such as a computer, then this can connect directly to your modem’s Ethernet port and receive internet.

Nonetheless, most homes require a router to send internet signals to their smartphones, laptop computers, and other devices.

It is possible to have a device that does the work of a modem and a router. This is a convenient option if you don’t want to plug in two devices. This could become outdated quite quickly though. Using both a modem and a router is generally the best option.

In Summary

Both a modem and a wireless router work together to perform a single function. However, they have distinct roles to play when it comes to your wireless network. A router relies on the modem to send the internet to all of your devices in your home.

Since many modems only have one LAN Ethernet port, you can only connect one computer at a time. This won’t provide the same level of security as a router, however. So, if you have several devices that must connect to the internet, you have to have a router.