Modem vs Router

Modem vs Router

Modems connect an internet service provider to your home network. Routers, on the other hand, help both wired and wireless devices communicate. In other words, modems connect to the internet, while routers connect your wireless devices to WiFi. 

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) usually supply a single box that functions as a modem and a router. Modems and routers use different technologies, though. You need both to connect all the gadgets in your house to the internet access.

Both routers and modems are necessary hardware for establishing an internet connection. Due to their similarity in having flashing lights at the front and Ethernet connections at the rear, people confuse the two.  

Modem vs Router – Key Differences

A modem lacks built-in intelligence and operates on the ISO-OSI reference model’s data-link layer.LayerHas several layers of functions due to multiple devices connected to it.
A modem does both modulation and demodulation.OperationThe router securely guides a data packet using the routing table to take the shortest route between the source and destination ends.
A PC or router receives the desired data from the ISP through the modem. And the modem may link one computer to the internet.PurposeA router distributes the data across separate devices.
No security is offered.SecurityAdds layers of security.
Lies between the router or PC and the phone line.PlacementThe Ethernet port is positioned between a network system and a modem.

What is a Modem?

A modem connects your home network to an internet service provider. 

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How it Works

The signal involving your computer and a phone connection is modulated and demodulated by using a modem. Modulation converts any transmitted data from your computer to an analog signal from a phone line using a DSL modem. Demodulation, on the contrary, is just the reverse of it.

You cannot access the internet without a modem since it links your computer system to your internet service Provider (ISP). RJ45 connects the modem to a computer or router, while RJ11 connects it to a phone line.

Data is sent by packets using a modem that works on the Data Link Layer. ISP, PC, or router are all connected through a modem. Since a modem is solely designed to deliver desired data retrieved from the website to your computer or network, it is not concerned with protecting the computer or network. 

What is a Router?

A Wi-Fi router is network equipment that routes traffic for data packets and links several networks together. A router may connect two Local Area Networks or LANs, two Wide Area Networks (WANs), or both LAN and WAN simultaneously. 

A router works to deliver the data to the designated computer. It’s not necessary to physically link a computer network to the internet. Wireless routers are popular now.

How it Works

A router filters the incoming data packets before analyzing them to identify the physical and public IP address in the destination field and routing the packet to its intended location. To connect to a computer network, it utilizes an RJ45 cable.

Similar to a modem, a router transmits data in the form of packages while operating on the Physical, Data Link, and Network layers. 

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Difference Between Modem and Router

When it comes to modem vs router, the few key factors that make the different devices apart are:


A modem lacks built-in intelligence and operates on the ISO-OSI reference model’s data-link layer.

But, a router maintains the routing database to forward and channel the data packet to the intended destination path and operates on the ISO-OSI system model’s physical, data-link, and network layers.

Operational Principle

modem does both modulation and demodulation. It performs the decoding function at the other end by converting the analog signal from the telephone line into message data for the network device like a PC. 

It modifies the digital signal of the computer or router to the analog signal of the landline so that it is clearly understood by the phone line when getting through it.

Although a router doesn’t conduct any modulation or demodulation operations, it securely guides a data packet by using the routing table to take the shortest route between the source and destination ends. Different network devices may join the network thanks to the router.


The modem, a crucial component of the network infrastructure for tying any device to the ISP, plays a vital role in the communication system. For instance, a PC or router receives the desired data from the ISP through the modem. And the modem may link one computer to the internet provider.

The router distributes the data packets across the networking hardware and architecture. One of the fundamental components of the WAN messaging system is the router.


A modem merely transfers the data without screening for security risks because it lacks the intelligence to do so. It provides the information precisely in the form it receives from the ISP. As a result, any attacker may readily enter the network using a modem.

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However, the router employs additional antivirus software in addition to the firewall to evaluate the incoming data packets and filter out undesirable data packets. As a result, using the router to introduce unwanted content into the network is challenging.


A modem is positioned between the router or PC and the phone line. It offers connectivity across wired and wireless mediums, including telephone lines and optical fiber. Moreover, it links the ISP to a single PC for network connections at home or the workplace.

A router is between a network system and a modem. The network may consist of a collection of computers, switches, or other connected devices. Both the router and the modem are physically linked to one another.

As a result, a modem may be used by devices connected to a router to access the internet. Since it doesn’t operate on the physical layer, it cannot provide direct communication with the ISP. It functions at the network layer.  

The router offers Ethernet cable and gigabit ports for connecting with various networking hardware and systems. The Wi-Fi connector for wireless network communication is present on the routers.

Understanding the Difference Between Modem and Router

You need to own both a modem and router for a seamless internet speed and overall experience in your home or office. There are also single mesh devices that do the work of both at once.

However, if you need better internet control, try to buy a separate modem and a router. It will enhance your internet user experience.

If you’ve enjoyed this post, check out our post comparing LTE and 5G.


Vanessa is passionate about written communication, especially after beginning her career as a middle school English teacher. She’s an experienced content marketer as well. Vanessa loves to analyze, compare, and contrast, which is why she writes for ContrastHub. Besides writing, Vanessa is a wife, mom, entrepreneur, spicy food enthusiast, comedy nerd and lifelong learner.

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