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Do I need both a router and a modem?

The internet is used in many aspects of our daily lives. Streaming movies, using smart devices, browsing the internet, gaming, and working from home all depend on it. While many components work to deliver the high-speed internet you rely on, two of the most important pieces of equipment your household controls are the modem and the router. Learn what parts a router vs. a modem play and which is necessary for your home internet.

What is a router?

Your router is like a bridge connecting all your devices and modem via a local area network, also known as a LAN. Using an ethernet cable or a wifi signal, the router can link multiple devices like laptops, smart devices, and tablets.

Not only does it connect all your devices, but it also directs all the information being shared between devices to the right spot. For example, if you’re trying to print something from your computer, the router will ensure the information is being shared with the printer you want to use. A router doesn’t need to connect to a modem to do its job though. Alternatively, you can choose to create a LAN without internet access.

So, what does a router do? In general, your router works to:

  • Assign a local IP address to each device connected to your network.

  • Create a firewall to protect your data and network against security breaches.

  • Manage the traffic and information being shared on your network.

  • Manage any parental controls you assign.

Types of routers

Here are the various types of routers you can choose from for your home network:

  • Wired routers: This device uses cables to connect directly into a modem or computer to create a wired LAN.

  • Wireless routers: These types of routers use antennas to share data and create a LAN.

  • Virtual routers: Unlike physical routers, this is a piece of software that allows computers and servers to act as a router.

  • Edge routers: This type of router can be either wired or wireless and helps connect your network to other networks, such as your internet service provider’s (ISP) network.

  • Core routers: These high-performing routers share information within networks and act as the backbone of your connection.

What is a modem?

A modem is a piece of equipment that connects every device in your home network to an ISP, like Cox, typically by using a coax cable or fiber connection.

The modem works by turning signals from your ISP into signals your devices can use (and vice versa). Every modem has an IP address that will identify it on the internet when networks are trying to connect.

Types of modems

These are the three types of modems you can choose from:

  • Cable: This is the most common type of modem used in households as it utilizes the same cables as televisions to connect to the internet. While this is a shared connection, most households will experience fast speeds capable of supporting a range of online activities, such as gaming, streaming, home automation and online browsing.

  • DSL: These types of modems use a telephone line to connect users to the internet. DSL modems are also common but may provide slower speeds than cable and fiber modems.

  • Fiber: Fiber modems operate on a fiber-optic line, which provides fast speeds on a private line.

Routers vs. modems, what’s the difference?

Simply put, a modem is like a translator communicating between your network and your ISP’s network. While a router is like a traffic controller, ensuring all the information your devices are sending are arrives at the appropriate place. Traditionally, modems and routers have been two separate devices that worked together to create your home network. Now, you can find modem and routers combined into one convenient device for your home network.

Summary: Do you need a router and a modem?

You may be wondering, “do I need both a modem and a router?” Today, technology has made it possible to merge the two into one that’s powerful enough to do both jobs. Devices like Cox Panoramic Wifi provide you with fast speeds capable of supporting all your online activities, including video streaming, downloading music, gaming and much more. You’ll also receive advanced security to help protect against online threats for added peace of mind.

Before purchasing a modem and a router, consider asking your internet service provider about a multifunctional device that can meet all your network needs.

Learn how Cox can enhance your connected experience

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