Router vs Modem - What is the Difference Between the Two?

Router vs modem – what is the difference between the two?

/ 12:03 PM October 05, 2021

While each and every one of us uses our home network to connect to the internet, most of us don’t know how these networks function. Can you differentiate router vs. modem? Probably not.

In layman’s terms, your modem connects you to the internet. At the same time, your router distributes the internet connection to your devices.


Router vs. Modem – Key Differences

Router vs. Modem - Key Differences

If you have both at home, and you’re thinking of ditching one of them, it’s important to know the full details about a router vs modem. Both separate devices help you access the internet. But when setting up your home network and an internet connection, knowing the difference between router and modem can help you troubleshoot.


  • With public IP address
  • Supplies internet to your home
  • Uses a WAN network (wide area network)
  • Best for single-device connection
  • It has 2 types: Dial-up and DSL


  • Authorize local IP addresses
  • Supplies internet to your devices
  • Creates a LAN network (local area network plan)
  • Best for multiple devices connection
  • Makes a firewall to avoid security breaches

What to Know on Modems

What to Know on Modems

With a connecting coax cable, you can connect your modem to the internet. Simply put, your modem is that device that connects your home to the internet. Regarding the comparison of router vs modem, there are two types of modems.

Modems are available in analog (Dial-up) and digital subscriber lines ( DSL ). If you’re under a plan and paying a monthly fee from your Internet Service Provider (ISP), it’s similar to renting the modem but with added benefits.

How does your modem work? It takes signals from your ISP and converts them into signals. The signals are what your devices pick up and use. Each modem has its own and unique IP address that it recognizes on the Internet.


Related Article: How to Change an IP Address

What to Know on Routers

If it wasn’t clear in the router vs. modem topic, here are the full details about what a router is. It’ll help you better weigh in as to which one you need the most – router vs. modem. Through an Ethernet cable or WiFI signal, your router can connect to your modem.

You need a router to get a wireless internet connection at home or your office. It is an essential device in setting up your Wi-Fi. Through the router, you can connect other devices to the Wi-Fi.


Although the router can’t connect directly to your devices without its middleman – the modem, the router gets data from an ISP (internet service provider) then converts it. But, the router needs to receive data from the modem to connect to the ISP.

Another main function of a router is covering data. This converted data is what the router sends out through your devices to connect to the Wi-Fi. For a router to be able to prevent congestion, it controls every device’s internet traffic. This explains why your internet connection slows down whenever there’s a lot of devices connected.

Which is more important, router or modem?

Which is more important, router or modem?

To clear out this modem vs router confusion, let’s sum up which one you need the most. Or it can also be that you need them both as one can’t work with the other. Let’s delve deeper.

While these two devices look similarly the same by physical aspects, these two do different things. Both have Ethernet ports and indicator lights, and they can also transfer data from one source to another.

To answer which one is more important, router vs. modem, let’s consider this. The modem is your network’s converter, whereby the router is like a traffic checker. Before, these two were two separate devices that one couldn’t work without the other.

But considering today’s modern technology, you don’t need to have both. Some gadgets have combined both the function of router vs modem. These multi-functional devices can provide you with the combined functions of a router and a modem.

Do I need both a modem and router for Wi-Fi?

Do I need both a modem and router for Wi-Fi?

While both routers vs modems play different roles in connecting your household or office to the internet, one can be a standalone depending on your preferences. Technically speaking, you don’t need both, and however, practicality-wise, the answer is yes, you need both.

Again, it depends on your preferences on your network setup, as modems can only connect to one device at a time. You will still need a router if you want to access the internet using multiple devices.

Why you need a modem:

With the types of modems available, you have a few options. Keep in mind to choose the modem that offers faster internet speeds.

If you’re alone at home, you’ll need a modem. While you get internet signals from your ISPs, they also translate them into internet signals. The signals are what the router creates, converts, and distributes to your devices.

Even if you’re alone at home, but you plan to connect just one device, a modem can do the job. But if you have your mobile phones or tablets to connect to the internet, you’d still need a router.

Why you need a router:

Like the modem, there are also different types of routers available. Your best option and the most widely used are the wireless routers. Although wired or not, the router still needs to connect to a cable or a modem physically. But if you want a combination of both router and modem, there’s a device that can do both.

A router makes it possible for you to get an internet connection from your modem, and it will then distribute it to your wireless devices. A router also lets you connect two or more devices at the same time.

Key Takeaway

While you have preferences to consider in the router vs. modem bout, the details above have given you a clearer view. Wired or wireless, both of them are pretty straightforward to use. While a router works to distribute internet signals to your phone, it can’t fully function without the data coming from the modem.

While for some, having both just won’t fit on your shelves, you can have the option of just having one device. We still advise you to talk to your Internet service provider for further assistance about this option.

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