When setting up the internet at your home or office, it’s good to know exactly what equipment you need and what these devices do. That way, you’ll know what to do if something stops working or needs replacing. Technologies change all the time. The move towards fibre internet has left a lot of people wondering about the difference between modem vs router and what equipment they need to get their fibre internet up and running.
If you want to upgrade your internet connection to fibre, then read on to learn what the difference between a modem vs router and how they relate to the internet. Generally speaking, your internet service provider (ISP) should give you everything you need. If they don’t, then consider choosing an ISP that is a bit more consumer-friendly!
Modem vs router: what do they do?
A modem is a piece of electronic equipment that connects your computer to the internet. After signing up with an ISP and activating your internet line, the modem connects your devices to that internet signal. For connections that are based on telephone lines, such as ADSL internet, the modem is an essential piece of hardware. Without it, you cannot connect to the internet from your computer or cell phone.
You don’t get WiFi signals from a modem – that is what a router does. When you plug a modem into a router, the router then transmits WiFi signals throughout your home and office so that you can connect to the internet with your laptop, phone, or any WiFi-enabled device.
For an ADSL setup, a router works with a modem to produce WiFi. The router gets the internet signal from the modem and creates a local area network (LAN) so that you can connect wirelessly to the internet. Routers generally have one or two antennas and modems don’t – this is the easiest way to tell the difference between them. The antennas on a router are what make WiFi possible.
Can I get one device that acts as a modem and router?
These days it is possible to get an all-in-one modem and router. Also known as a “wireless gateway”, these modem-router combos help to simplify your internet setup, meaning less clutter in your home or office. This should help with the modem vs router debate, but the only problem with these devices is that routers tend to need updating from time to time. Every few years, better technologies come out and it is good to get a newer router so that you can enjoy faster internet speeds.
Modems, on the other hand, don’t need updating as often, so an all-in-one modem-router device might not be the best value for money. As with most things, if you spend more on a device, it is likely to be better quality and have a longer lifespan. So if you are keen to get an all-in-one modem-router, then avoid the cheapest models.
Modem vs router for fibre internet
In the early days of the internet, everybody needed a modem. You had to plug your computer into it in order to receive an internet connection. If you still have an ADSL connection that works through your telephone line, you definitely need a modem. But these types of connections are slowly being phased out and replaced by fibre internet. With fibre, you no longer need a modem but you do need something else to connect your home or office to the internet.
When you get fibre installed in your home or office, the technicians will also install a small box, known as an optical network terminal (ONT). This box connects your place of residence or work to fibre optic cables carrying high-speed fibre internet. An ONT sends light signals to and from your premises. These light pulses carry data so that you can connect your computer or mobile device to high-speed fibre internet.
Although an ONT and a modem operate on totally different technologies, they essentially do the same thing: they bring the internet to your home or office. They are not interchangeable: you need a modem with ADSL and an ONT with fibre. The good news is that when your ISP installs fibre, they have to include an ONT otherwise your internet won’t work. This is one less thing for you to worry about, but it is good to know what the ONT is and what it does in case something stops working.
Do I need a router for fibre internet?
If your ONT has an ethernet port, then you can connect directly to the internet. Simply plug your computer into the ONT using an ethernet cable. If you want to connect wirelessly, then you’ll need a WiFi router.
Routers are also important because they make your internet connection more secure. Most routers have a firewall that protects your privacy, making sure nobody can hack into your devices. Some routers also have built-in virtual private networks (VPNs), which hide your real IP address so that cybercriminals can’t tap into your device when you go online.
An IP, or internet protocol, address is a unique code for each web-enabled device. It allows you to send data (e.g. send emails, upload photos or share on social media), or receive data (e.g. download documents, watch online movies or listen to music online). A router can help protect your internet connection so that you don’t fall victim to cyber crime.
What to do if my fibre internet isn’t working
The first thing to do when your internet connection stops working is to unplug your router and plug it in again after 60 seconds. This simple technique, called power-cycling, solves a lot of connection issues. At the bottom of your router, you should find the contact details of your ISP, and also your username and serial number. Have these on hand when you call tech support. For more information about our fibre offerings or to get a quote for an internet upgrade, please contact us today or check if we’re connected to your address.