What Is The Difference Between A Modem And A Router?

When you have used the internet for a while, you will not escape hearing terms like “modem” and “router”. However, it is possible to keep using the internet without proper understanding of those terms. This article comes in handy, to help you understand the terms in a way you may end up helping another person to understand it if you will!

When you have computers in your home, and you connect them to the router, what that does is that it allows the router to create a network for you. Your modem on the other hand connects that network to the internet. When you connect to your Wi-Fi, the router forwards the traffic between your computer network and the internet. The Wi-Fi is your router.

When you understand the differences between the router and the Wi-Fi, you will be better placed to make necessary decisions regarding your connection.

The role of the router

The work of the router is to connect more than one network and route the network traffic between the networks.

Think of your home network. It requires internet connection to serve you. The router comes in to connect your network to the internet and to the private local network. The router provides one connection to your home network and another connection to your private local network.

You will notice that most routers allow you to connect to more than one wired device through the built-in router switches.

Many routers will also provide you with wireless radios which allow you to connect Wi-Fi devices. 

While still on the thought of your home connection, the best way to visualize the router is like this. You have your internet connection and the local network- the router sits between the two.

The router then gives you allowance to connect multiple devices to the internet. It also facilitates those devices to communicate with each other over your local network.

Your router also understands that your devices need protection while on the internet. It ensures that your devices are not over exposed while on the internet. The router makes the traffic coming from your home devices appear to the internet as if they are flowing from one device. The router also observes and keeps track of the traffic that flows to each device in your home network.

It is however not possible for you to connect to the internet directly just by the use of your router. Instead, your router connects to a device that enables the digital traffic to flow over the internet connection that you have connected to, and that device is the modem. 

The role of the modem

The modem term is coined from two terms, modulator-demodulator. The term originated from way back when there was need to modulate signals transmitted over telephone lines. The purpose was to encode the data, transmit it and decode the same when they get to their destination. The modem became so popular for that purpose and the term lasted even after cables and the satellite came in and there was no need to keep using the modems for telephone transmissions. 

What role then does the modem play in giving you an internet connection? First, the modem links to your network depending on the type of connection you have. It plugs in into your telephone, cable, fiber or whatever kind of infrastructure you have. The router then provides an Ethernet cable outlet which you can use to plug into any router- you can also connect a single computer-and that is how you get your internet connection.

One critical thing to note is that your modem communicates with your Internet Service Provider (ISP). You will therefore need the correct modem whose configuration works with the ISP infrastructure. 

Do I need a modem and a router?

An important question then comes up, do you need both the modem and the router, or can you just go by one of them?

Some service providers will give you a device that provides you with both the modem and the router in one gadget. 

The gadget then plays both roles from one place. The modem functionality communicates with your Internet Service Provider, while the router part of the gadget helps to create your home network.

Some ISPs go an extra mile and provide you with a phone interface on the same gadget so that you can enjoy the VOIP benefits.

The gadget that combines both the modem and the router offers you several benefits. One of them is that you do not have to clutter your space with so many devices. The downside is that you do not have the chance to buy your own separate devices and perhaps cut on cost. You also have to go by the device your ISP provides, meaning you may not have the flexibility to buy a quality device of your choice.

How to change router password

The service provider in many instances will provide the router with its default password. You will need to change that password to yours. You may need over time, to also change the password you selected, and for some reason you may need to change it. Say for example if you think someone has identified your password and is using your connection without your consent!

  1. From your browser of choice, key in your ISP address.
  2. Use the default name and password to login. Usually this is “admin” for both.
  3. Select settings
  4. Choose the option that allows you to change password
  5. Key in your new password and save the changes. Ensure you create a strong password, because it will protect you from cyber criminals.

How to restart a router

There are instances that will tell that your router is not functioning as should be. If for example your movie hangs midway, or your smart speakers suddenly stop, or your web pages are not loading- it may be just be the router that needs to be restarted!

  1. Unplug the connection devices- the router and the modem
  2. Wait for minimum 30 seconds.
  3. Connect back the modem
  4. Wait for another 60 seconds.
  5. Connect back the modem
  6. Wait for two minutes
  7. Check if the problem you were solving has been sorted.

How to receive Wi-Fi signal from long distance

If you need to pick the Wi-Fi signals from afar, ensure that your USB connection has an antenna. You will need to connect the antenna to your laptop or computer in addition to your already existing wireless network adapter from the USB.