Difference Between Modem and Router

No part of our life is left untouched by the internet. We live in a digital era and are surrounded by various digital devices that are running with the help of the internet.


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How many of us know the underlying architecture of the internet? Or How many do we know how we connect to the internet? Only a few.

The Internet has become an inevitable part of our world, but its underlying architecture is a little complex system; this doesn’t mean one needs to learn or comprehend it to access it. But having a basic understanding of a few terms can actually help to discover the hows & why’s of this beautiful connection.

Key Takeaways

  1. A modem is a device that connects a computer or network to the internet through a telecommunications network.
  2. A router is a device that connects multiple devices to a network and routes data between them.
  3. A modem is used to connect to the internet, while a router is used to connect devices to a network.

Modem vs Router

The difference between Modem and Router is that Modem stands for “Modulator-Demodulator”, a hardware component that helps the computer or any other network device connected to the internet.

Modem vs Router

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A modem converts the analogue signals from cable wire or telephone to digital data through modulation so that connected computers can understand the same and, in reverse, demodulates the digital data to analogue signals so that the same can be sent back to standard phone lines.

A router is a hardware device that routes the data within or from one local area network to another network. Router authenticates the user or connected machines and allows connection between them only.


Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonModemRouter
DefinitionA modem is a hardware that modulates the analogue signal from a phone or cable to a computer and demodulates it from a computer to a phone or cable.A router is a hardware that connects or routes data within one or multiple local area networks.
PurposeIt is a device that carries information from the internet to your local area network.The device routes the information to the respective computer connected to the local area network.
Internet AccessA modem is required to access the internet as it connects your local area network to the internet service provider.A router is not essential to access the internet.
ProcessModem receives the analogue signal from the telephone and modulates it to digital form, i.e. ‘0’ or ‘1, and demodulates from digital to analogue.Router routes the data packets to the respective computer basis the IP mentioned on their header.
Operation Layer in OSI ModelData Link.Physical Layer, Data Link Layer, and Network Layer.
Cable UsedRJ45 for Router and RJ11 for Telephone.RJ45 for the computer.
SecurityModem transfers the data without any authentication and check; thus, no security is assured.The router checks each data packet through the information saved on its header and then only transfers the same. Thus, security is ensured.


What is Modem?

Modem acts as a communication bridge between your LAN (local area network) and the internet.

Modem stands for modulator-demodulator means it modulates the analogue signals from telephone lines to digital bits form (‘0’ or ‘1’) so that it can be easily encoded and transferred from the sender computer.

And on the receiving end, it demodulated the digital signals to analogue and decoded them.

It can be connected to any infrastructure, i.e. telephone, cable, fibre, or satellite, which further provides the standard Ethernet cable output that you can connect to your computer or to any router to access the internet.

The ISP (internet service provider) provides a unique IP address to your LAN that is assigned to it and used to connect to the internet. In the OSI model, the modem operates on the data link layer.

Apart from fibre optic, a modem is essential to access the internet. The types of modems that exist are Dial-up, DSL (broadband modem), Cable modem, and Mobile broadband.

The modem doesn’t ensure security as it only transfers the packet or information as it is received.


What is Router?

A router is a device that is used to connect or route data within one or multiple local area networks.

It routes the data packets to their destination using the IP address mentioned in the data packet header.

The router is used to connect two LANs or WANs or LANs and WANs. The router only distributes the data packets to one particular computer.

RJ45 cable is used in the router to connect the computer to the network.

Security is ensured in the router as it screens each data packet received and passes it to the recipient only if it is ok. After identifying the physical address, it routes it to the specific destination.

Thus it saves the computer and network from potential threats or harmful attacks. The router is not essential to access the internet.

In the OSI model, the router operates on the physical, data link, and network layer.


Main Differences Between Modem and Router

Knowing the difference between Modem and Router helps us to understand the technical terminology as well as their actual purpose and functioning,

  1. A modem is a device that modulates and demodulates the signals, i.e. from analogue to digital and digital to analogue, whereas a router is a device that is used to connect or route the data within one or multiple local area networks.
  2. A modem converts the signals in the form of data packets from the internet to the local area network and vice-versa, whereas a router scans, analyzes and distributes the data packet to route them to their respective destination or recipient computer or network.
  3. The modem works on the data link layer of the OSI model, whereas a router works on physical, data, and network layers.
  4. The modem doesn’t validate and screen the information coming into the network, thus posing a threat to the network. A router screens the data packet and, basis the mentioned IP address in the header, route them to the respective destination, thus, secured enough.
  5. In a modem, RJ45 is used to connect the router and RJ11 for the telephone line, whereas, in a router, RJ45 is used to connect the computer networks.
  6. A modem is necessary for internet connectivity, whereas a router is not essential to access the internet.
Difference Between Modem and Router
  1. https://www.computerhope.com/jargon/m/modem.htm
  2. https://www.lifewire.com/what-is-a-router-2618162
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