Lights On a White Modem Router Glowing

Modem vs. Router. vs. Modem Router Combo

When you’re equipping your home with internet service, it can be a little confusing as to what kind of equipment you actually need. There are different options out there, and reasons for needing them vary. Do you need a router and a modem? One or the other? A combination?

Depending on what type of internet you have, how many different devices will be connected to that internet, and how long you plan on using your current type of internet can all impact which device is your best option. Your Internet Service Provider determines what kind of internet you have, thus determining at least the type of modem or the best modem router combo unit.

People who move around a lot may find it beneficial to keep their modem and router separate so the modem can be replaced if they end up with a different internet connection, while those who are well established in their homes and don’t plan on making any significant changes in the near future benefit from the simplicity of a modem router combination.

The order in which data is received by your electronic devices is simple. Data arrives to your home via your ISP, the company that you have selected to deliver internet to your home, be it DSL, cable or others. That wire enters your home, and is plugged into the modem. The modem then passes data along to the router, which then distributes the information to your devices.

Having extra options can help you save money in the long run, and make sure that you have the product that best fits your needs. It doesn’t have to be difficult to determine what the best fit for your needs is, and with this information you’ll be surfing the web with ease before you know it.

What is a modem?


The modem is the entry point into your personal network from your the outside internet connection provided by your ISP. Depending on how you receive your data, be it telephone line, cable, fiber, or satellite, it connects to the incoming connection, and provides an output via Ethernet cable. The modem is specialized to each different type of connection, so if you switch from cable to fiber for your internet needs, you’ll need to replace your modem.

The reason a modem is necessary is that your computer, tablet or smart phone doesn’t know how to read the information that is received through each particular line. For example, your computer can’t read telephone line data, so the modem takes that information and transfers it into data that can be run over the Ethernet cable and understood by the router.

What is a router?


In the world of technology, the router is the piece of equipment that works in conjunction with the modem. It is the device that takes the information that has been translated by your modem, and organizes it in a manner that allows it to be sent it to your electronic devices. The router alone cannot read the information provided by the ISP (Comcast, Time Warner, Cox), which is why it needs to work with a modem.

In short, a router essentially controls the traffic leaving the modem and directs it appropriately. It connects the devices in your networks to one another and like its name says, “routes” the information. They can be customized to make your personal network fit a certain set of needs, such as parental controls and other limits. The same can be said in an office setting for setting up certain controls.

If you have many devices that require wired connections, a router is typically designed to have many Ethernet cords to run all of your equipment. If you have several wired devices, look for a router that has the space to plug each one of them in. For many networks, the router is where the wireless signal originates, and is the hub that allows all of your devices to access the internet. The modem just brings in the information; it doesn’t know where to send it.

Some routers are even designed for use with broadband telephone, for those who are using Voice over IP for their phone instead of a traditional phone line. This is typically set up with your ISP, as they often supply the router for a fee.

What is a Modem Router Combo?

modem router combo

As a way to cut down on necessary equipment or for simpler network options, many people elect to get a combination device. A modem router combo is one device that does the work of both the modem and the router. It translates the information for the ISP and then sends it out in a manner that your devices are able to read.

Most modem-router combos are actually provided by your ISP, and can be either purchased or rented. Because of this, your ISP decides on any updates to the units. While many people recognize that they lose some of their personal controls when buying a modem router combo, the simplicity of setting up the device is a fair trade. Not only this, but troubleshooting a single devices is much easier than

These devices are also popular with individuals who are limited on space. While a modem and a router may be small, many people prefer only having to deal with one device, and fewer cables. It also only uses one electrical outlet to power it, as opposed to one for each the devices

Which one to use?

It all comes down to personal preference and how the device will be used. If you are tech savvy and want to have the ability to customize and upgrade, then having the separate router and modem may be your best bet. On the other hand, if you just want to have a simple internet connection and fewer devices to deal with, then a combination modem router will serve your needs.

Neither option is permanent, so if your needs change or you decide to upgrade to a different device, it can be done. It just comes down to what you need, and if you don’t mind the cost. Talk to your ISP if you still can’t decide, and they’ll help steer you in the right direction.

About the Author tomas

Hey, it's Tomas here! I'm the founder and chief editor here at BlueGadgetTooth. After spending hours explaining my parents how to hook up their Internet, why it's being so slow etc. I decided to start this blog to help people with their gadgets and questions about technology.