Identifying differences between a modem and a router

So how do we connect your home to the internet? The key is the modem.

Short for modulator-demodulator, the modem allows your home to ping the global network via fiber optic cables, DSL phone lines, or the same coaxial cable used to deliver cable television.

The modem only provides a connection for a single internet-connected device. In order for the internet connection to be shared amongst multiple devices on your home network, a router is used to set up a local area network. As its name suggests, the router directs, or routes, data requests from devices connected to a wireless network to the web servers they want to connect to, and then returns the requested information to the devices.

Routers do this by creating a local network that multiple devices can connect to, enabling them to share the home’s primary internet connection as well as communicate with each other on the network.

As with modems, routers’ network speeds and routing ability have increased dramatically over a few decades. While the fastest local networks will be between devices that maintain a wired connection to the router, even wireless traffic speeds can now exceed most real-world internet connection bandwidth.

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