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What Is The Difference Between a Modem and a Router?

Hello, everyone, in this post, we’re going to talk about the difference between a modem and a router, because a lot of people think that a modem and a router are the same things, but they are not. They are different and have two separate roles on a network. So I’m going to explain the difference between the two.

Now, if you want Internet inside your home or business, you have to have a modem, a modem is what brings the Internet into your home or business. A modem establishes and maintains a dedicated connection to your Internet service provider to give you access to the Internet. Now, the reason why you have to have a modem is because of the two different types of signals that are used on a computer and the Internet.

A computer only reads digital signals, while signals out on the Internet are analog. As analog data comes in from the Internet, the modem demodulates it, the incoming analog signals into a digital signal so that a computer can understand it. And a modem also modulates outgoing digital signals from a computer into an analog signal as it goes out on the Internet. And this is where we get the word modem. The word modem means modulator-demodulator, which is exactly what a modem does. It modulates outgoing data from a computer and demodulates incoming data from the Internet.

The router is installed after the modem. Now there are different types of routers, there are routers that are used in businesses and larger organizations, and there are smaller routers that are used in homes and small businesses.

They do the same thing. For this blog post, we’re going to talk about the small office home office router that most of us are familiar with.

A router is what routes or passes your Internet connection to all of your devices in your home or business, it directs it to all of your computers, tablets, phones and so on, so that those devices can access the Internet. A typical small office home office router will have a built-in switch with multiple ports so that you can connect multiple devices using an Ethernet cable connection. And it also functions as a wireless access point so that wireless devices such as tablets and laptops can have Internet access. Now, technically, you don’t need a router if you only want one of your devices to access the Internet, you can just plug that device, network cable directly into the modem, and then you’ll be able to access the Internet.

However, like most homes and businesses, you’re going to have multiple devices that need access to the Internet, and that’s where you would need a router. There are also different types of modems, three of the most common types are cable DSL and VDSL modems. So depending upon what type of Internet you’re going to use, you need to use the correct type of modem. Cable modems are connected to your home.

Cable Modem

Using a coaxial cable. The Cable is typically provided by the same company that provides you with cable television, such as Optus, which is one of the largest providers in Australia.

DSL Modem

And DSL modems are connected using a typical phone line. DSL is provided by companies such as Telstra, which is the largest provider in Australia.

VDSL Modem

VDSL stands for very high bit-rate digital subscriber line. VDSL uses copper wires or fibre-optic cables in your phone line to deliver high-speed Internet to your devices. VDSL has some of the fastest download and upload speeds you can get.

Now, a lot of times your Internet service provider, when they send you a modem or if you were to buy one at the store, the modem might be a modem router combination. So it will be a modem with a built-in wireless router in one physical device such as this one

Fritz!Box 7490 DB AC1300 ADSL2+VDSL Modem + VOIP NBN Ready


Network Switch

Now, if you’re wondering how switches relate to routers and modems.  Well, keep in mind that most routers will have a built-in switch inside of them. So there’s no need to have a switch if you already have a router that has a switch built into it. For example, a router like this may have a four-port integrities switch so that you can connect for Ethernet cables for your wired devices. The only time that you may need to add switches to this network is if you need it, more wired connections for your devices so you can just connect a switch to your router and then add more connections to the switch.



So just to clear things up even more over here, we have the Internet with all of its routers, then as the Internet is routed into this private network, it first reaches the modem. Then it goes from the modem to its router with its integrated switch, and then it’s passed to all of its computers.

Jason Kearney

Jason Kearney


Jason is the head technician and founder of SECURE A COM. He has worked in the industry since 1998. Working on Telstra infrastructure projects, install and maintenance contracts, and now runs SECURE A COM servicing  B2B and B2C  NBN customers. 

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