Most people use their home network to access the Internet, but many have no idea how these networks work. Can you tell the difference between a modem and router? Have you ever asked, "do I need a modem and router?" To put it simply, the modem connects your home to the Internet, while a router creates the network inside your house.
Knowing how the blinking boxes plugged into your wall work can help you to get the Internet up and running again the next time there's a power outage or connection disruption.
Short take: what’s the difference between a modem and a router?
|Brings Internet to your home
|Brings Internet to your devices
|Has public IP address
|Assigns local IP addresses
|Uses a WAN network
|Creates a LAN network
Modems bring the Internet to your home
A modem is a device that connects your home, usually through a coax cable connection, to your Internet service provider (ISP), like Xfinity. The modem takes signals from your ISP and translates them into signals your local devices can use, and vice versa. The connection between your house and the Internet is known as a wide area network (WAN). Each modem has an assigned public IP address that identifies it on the Internet.
Routers bring the Internet to your devices
A router connects your devices to each other and, in hard-wired connection setups, to the modem. The router connects to your modem and then to your devices (laptops, smart TVs, printers, etc.) via either an Ethernet cable or, in the case of a wireless router, WiFi signal. The router creates a local area network (LAN) within your house, allowing your devices to share files and peripherals like printers. The router manages all the information going to and from each device and the modem and makes sure it all ends up safely in the right spot. However, a router doesn’t need to connect to a modem to function. You can choose to create a LAN without Internet access.
Simply put, your router:
- Assigns a local IP address to each device on the network
- Creates a firewall to prevent security breaches
- Manages the traffic on your network
- Handles any Parental Controls