Modem Versus Router: What's the Difference?

Many people use the terms modem and router synonymously, but they are very different things. Keep reading to find out the differences between a modem and a router.

What is a Modem?

A modem is an electronic device that connects your home or office network to the larger network. It does so by connecting to an internet service provider or ISP (think Xfinity modem that connects you to the world). Xfinity sometimes uses Arris modems for rental equipment but has more recently switched to the X1 modem for advanced features, speed, and efficiency. A modem may also include a built-in firewall to protect you from cyberattacks.
Typically, a modem connects you to the internet via a Coax cable (which looks like a TV cable) and then out to your computer or router via an Ethernet cable. The connection between you and the internet is called a wide area network or WAN. Your ISP assigns every device on its network a specific IP address. However, these addresses may change if you reboot things, or the ISP may randomly change your IP number. It's not constant.
Many ISPs, like Spectrum Network, use their own specific modems to connect customers. So, if you sign up for their internet service, you will rent a Spectrum router from the company for as long as you use them.
Some people choose to purchase their own modems instead of renting from the ISP. There are both pros and cons to doing so. Typically, the ISPs prefer you to rent from them as it makes money, but also, if anything goes wrong, they simply swap out the device. Regardless, some customers still prefer to own their own equipment.

What is a Router?

Unlike a modem, a router manages connections and devices on your own internal network called a LAN (local area network). It essentially connects to the modem, grabbing internet service and supplying it to all the devices on your home network. That can include computers, smartphones, and smart devices like Amazon Alexa. It will also connect smart appliances like Ring Doorbells.
A router assigns an internal IP address to every device within your network, manages communications, and throttles network speeds and bandwidth based on your preferences.
You can connect devices to a router via Ethernet cable or WiFi. A router also manages your WiFi network by sending out a signal so your devices can find it. You can then log in using your chosen password or login authentication format.
The router allows you and others in your network to share devices like printers, scanners, and file servers. In addition, you can log into the device and set permissions (like parental controls) to limit access and allow or disallow connections to ports and applications.
If your network needs to cover a wide area, you can use mesh networks that connect a lot of smaller devices to the router, basically blanketing your building with internet access. For example, Netgear Orbi is a popular mesh network used by people to cover WiFi dead spots in their homes.

Modem and Router Differences

Some ISPs prefer to combine a modem with a router, but in many cases, the provider will rent you a modem, but you have to supply your own router. The biggest difference between the two devices is that one connects you to the internet, and the other carries that internet connection to your individual devices.

Can You Protect a Modem or Router With a Warranty?

There are dozens of modem and router brands out there to choose from. Those consumers who wish to own their own equipment have many options. A popular option is Google’s Nest router, which is a well-respected high-end solution.
Regardless of which equipment you decide to buy, make sure you purchase an extended warranty. Unfortunately, most manufacturers only offer a limited warranty covering defects for a short time (a few months to one year). Obviously, you want your modem to last much longer than that. With an extended warranty, you have lasting protection against damage.
Upsie offers an affordable, no-hassle modem warranty that covers your device for up to three years. In addition, Upsie’s warranties cost up to 70% less than warranties from competitors. And, Upsie’s modem and router warranties don’t have deductibles. This means you can make unlimited claims up to the purchase price of the device without worrying about any extra fees.
You can reach Upsie claims 24/7 and talk to a live agent who can schedule your repair. After approving your claim, Upsie’s representatives will help you schedule a local repair or help you use Upsie's free two-day shipping. Either way, it will be fixed in a jiffy, or if it can't, Upsie will replace it on the first claim.
Upsie offers the best warranty for routers and modems. Upsie also offers warranties for laptops, printers, tablets, and other electronics. In addition, Upsie offers a Smartphone Subscription Warranty for new and old smartphones in good working condition. This means you can even buy an Upsie Smartphone Subscription for a two-year-old smartphone. Visit to learn more.

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* This article is over 6 months old and may or may not be updated.