What Is The Difference Between A Modem and A Router

If you want to connect to the internet or set up a network knowing the difference between a modem and a router is a must. For some modem and router is the same thing but that isn’t true. Both differ in the way they work. Hence, to clear this confusion and to make you understand the difference between a Modem and a Router we are here with this post.

In this tutorial, we will explain the benefits of a modem & a router, types of modem and router, why are modem and router different, and more.
modemSo, without any delay lets know about the difference between a modem and a router.

In short, modem helps connect to the internet while the router helps connect the device to a Wi-Fi.

Difference Between Modem & Router

Specifications Modem Router
Meaning A modem is short for modulator-demodulator; it allows connecting to the Internet. This means it modulates transmissions over telephone lines to receive and transmit data.  A router connects multiple networks. It serves two primary functions creating and maintaining local area networks & managing data transmitted and received data. In short, it routes data between home computers, between computers and the modem.
Work A modem converts data (0 s and 1 s) computer’s digital signals into analog signals of telephone line and vice-versa.  The router examines the data packet and determines the path allowing it to reach the destination computer.
Purpose Modem fetches requested information from the Internet to your network. The router distributes the requested information to your system.
Internet A modem is required to access the Internet as it connects the computer to ISP. The Internet can be used without using a router.
Layer The modem operates on a Data link layer. Router operates at the Physical Layer, Data Link Layer, Network Layer.
Security A Modem does not examine data packets; hence, data is at risk. The router checks every data packet before forwarding; this helps stay safe from threats.
Placed A modem is placed between a telephone line and a router or directly to the computer. A router is placed between a modem and a computer network.
Registered Jack The modem connects to a router using RJ45 and to the telephone line using RJ11. The router connects to the computer network via RJ45.
Ports Minimum of two ports one for ISP and others to connect the router 2/4/5/8
Data Transmission form Packet Packet
Type of device Inter working Networking
Connections Can connect to one PC using Ethernet port Can connect to networking devices or multiple PC via Wi-Fi or Ethernet

What Is A Modem And How Does It Work?

modem do

A Modem is short for modulator-demodulator and it works as a bridge between the local networks and the Internet. It provides access to the Internet and is used to modulate signals on telephone lines.  Through modem digital information is encoded and decoded during transmission. To perform these operations modem connects to your ISP that provides DSL internet or cable service. 

It is used to connect both a single computer and entire home network to the Internet Service Provider (ISP) such as Comcast etc. If you want to access the internet on a single computer modem is best but when it comes to setting up a network you need a router. This is where both modem and router differ from one another. 

Also Read: How To Fix Laptop Keeps Disconnecting From Wi-fi

Types Of Modem

  • Dial-up Modem – uses an analog telephone line to connect two devices by offering an interface between the digital system and an analog system. A dial-up modem modulates binary data into carrier signals of the phone line. 
  • Cable Modem – these modems have coaxial connections that you can find on a cable box or TV.
  • DSL Modem – these have telephone connectors known as RJ-11 jack. 
  • Mobile broadband Modems – popularly known as wireless modems they are in-built in PC or a laptop and use mobile phone lines like Wi-Max, GRPS, etc. In addition to this adding them inside USB ports is easy to get internet access. 
  • Half Duplex Modem – allows sending signals in a single direction at a time. 
  • Full Duplex Modem – as the name explains transmits signals in both directions and consists of two carriers on the line.
  • Two-Wire Modem – for both incoming and outgoing uses a single pair of wires.
  • Four Wire Modem – this type modem uses separate pair of wires for incoming and outgoing. 

Benefits Of Modem

  • The modem can work without a router
  • Protects against overload problem
  • Perform line signal and control

So, this was comprehensive information about the modem. Now let’s learn about the router, how it works, and why being connected to the modem, router is different from the modem.

What Is A Router and How Does It Work?

router do

A router is a small device that connects multiple networks and distributes network traffic between them. It is physically connected to the modem thereby allowing connected devices to connect to the Internet. 

If a router is used at home it’s one connection is with the Internet & other with a private local network. In addition to this, depending on routers you can connect to multiple wired and wireless devices.

Types Of Router

  • Wireless Router –joins different wireless access points and numerous wired LAN switches. 
  • Modem Router – assists in connecting more than one computer with a single DSL line and it offers Network Address Translation (NAT).
  • Bridge Router – as the explains it works both as a bridge and router allowing interface with ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode)
  • Distribution Router – gathers traffic from several access routers, administering quality of service across WAN. 
  • Core Router – as the name explains it is designed to function in the internet core.

Benefits Of Router

  • Protects your device from being exposed to the Internet 
  • Keeps track of what traffic goes to which device on your network
  • Forms a local area network (LAN)
  • Allows connecting different media/device

Now, that we know what both modem and router can do let’s know the advantages and disadvantages of using them. This will help understand which is best and what is the difference between modem and router.

Advantages And Disadvantages Modem And Router



Connects to an ISP
Compatible with ISP
Converts signal from ISP to universal that a computer can use
Helpful in connecting LAN with the Internet 
Speed depends on the cost
Widely uses data communication roadway

Unable to create a local network
Doesn’t support Wi-Fi
Unable to connect multiple devices to the Internet 
Slower in speed when equated with the hub
Offers reliable and steady connection between network hosts
Runs a Firewall
Uses alternative parts if the main parts fail during data transfer



Creates LAN
Splits internet connection to various devices
Hosts Wi-Fi
Delivers data packets in an organized way, to lower data load
Offers reliable and steady connection between network hosts
Runs a Firewall
Uses alternative parts if the main parts fail during data transfer
Connects a VPN

Can’t connect directly to the Internet
Unable to decode ISP signal
Connection slows down when multiple computers are connected to a network. 

Is Modem & Router The Same Thing?

If you are still struggling with this question and are here’s a feature-wise comparison between modem and router. This will surely help understand how modem and router are different.

Modem VS Router Difference

Features Modem  Router
Cellular Connectivity Yes No
Wired broadband connectivity such as DSL, ADSL, cable, optical link Yes No
Layer 3 (IP) and above (TCP), DNS No Yes
Physical layer (layer-1 of OSI) and Mac layer (layer-2 of OSI) Yes No
IP server connectivity No Yes
Decodes signal from ISP Yes No
Creates and managed WI FI No Yes
Connects directly to the Internet  Yes No
 Connects multiple networks No Yes
Analyses packet to detect threats to your computer network No Yes

By far we’ve understood what a modem and a router is, its benefits, pros, and cons, and the key differences. To sum up, we can say modem modulates analog signals, while routers are networking devices that manage both received and sent data inside and outside the network. Where modem operates on the Datalink layer, the router can function on all three layers: Data Link Layer, Physical Layer & Network Layer.

This makes clear both modem and router work hand. A modem collects demanded information while the router distributed this. All this makes both look similar but they are different. Further,  the modem does not offer data packet checking, while the router implements a firewall and check data & to stay protected from threats. This is what makes both differ in working and security.

The Final Word On What Is The Difference Between A Modem and A Router

We hope after reading this guide you have understood the difference between modem and router and how each works to help stay connected. If you have any questions do write to us in the comment box. If you find it interesting share with others and if we missed something let us know. We love to hear from you. Follow us on social media – Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

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