Routers and Modems for Wifi, What’s the Difference?

Modems for Wifi

The Difference Between Routers and Modems for Wifi

The words router and modem are familiar to anyone who has had a wifi internet connection set up in their home or office. Many people frequently use them interchangeably, but strictly speaking they are not the same thing. This article will clear up some of the confusion and give you some insight into the difference between routers and modems for wifi.

What is Wifi?

One of the first terms to fully understand before discussing routers and modems is wifi. Wifi is a term for a wireless connection standard. While many people believe that the word wifi is short for ‘wireless fidelity’, that is not the case. A marketing agency invented the term ‘wifi’ to find an approachable, easy-to-remember term for ‘IEEE 802.11b Direct Sequence’. Needless to say, they did a great job since ‘wifi’ is one of the most commonly used and well-understood terms around the world.

Routers and Modems for Wifi

If you’ve had internet installed in your home or office, you have probably encountered routers or modems, particularly for wifi. Let’s take a look at the difference between these two. 

  • Modems

Firstly, a modem is a piece of equipment that you need for any internet connection, not just wifi. A modem connects you to the world wide web and allows you to access the internet through your home network. It translates the digital information used by your devices into electrical information that can be sent through a wire. Most simple modems will only have two ports, one to connect to the internet outside your home, and one that uses an ethernet cable to connect to either a computer or a router.

  • Routers

Unlike a modem, a router works specifically in a wireless capacity necessary for wifi. Routers allow all of your devices to connect to each other without the internet, and to connect to the internet simultaneously. 

Using Routers and Modems Together

To set up a wireless connection, you need both a modem and a router. Most internet companies will sell a single device that incorporates both a router and modem to provide wifi. However, it is recommended that you use separate devices for the best connections. 

This is because modem technology does not evolve quickly, so you can use the same modem for years. In contrast, router technology evolves much faster, so you could upgrade it more frequently to expand your network or add more devices. Additionally, it will be more affordable for you to purchase your own modem and router than to purchase from the company that supplies your internet connection. Now that you know the difference between a router and a modem, you can get wifi in your home or office with the best setup possible.


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