What Is The Difference: Modem vs Router vs Access Point

Using the internet is very simple. You connect to your Wi-Fi, load a website, and… you are connected. But what if something goes wrong with your hardware. Do you really understand what all these devices you have at home are doing?

What Is The Difference: Modem vs Router vs Access Point

Here’s a short explanation of the networking devices that you can find in your home.


What Is A Modem

Modems are devices, usually provided directly by your ISP (internet service provider), that allow you to connect to these providers in order to get you access to the internet. The acronym modem stands for modular-demodulator. A modem is your gateway to the internet, no matter if you are using a cable, DSL, fiber optic, or telephone line.

Usually, a modem is not enough, because standalone modems cant sent data to more devices simultaneously. So, if you are living in a typical household, where more tablets, smartphones, laptops or smart TVs need to be connected to your home network, that´s where routers come into play.


What Is A Router

A router is a device that connects all your home´s devices to each other and helps to handle all your network traffic. In other words, when your modem receives information from the internet, it sends this information to the router and the router makes sure that the information is viewed only on the device that asked for it. For example, your laptop doesn’t receive a video that you want to see on your smartphone.

While routers can be wired, wireless, or a combination of both, you have to know exactly, which type should you buy, or you might get some connecting issues with some devices you are using in your home.

The network created by your router is known as LAN, a local area network, which is a collection of devices connected to the network in a certain location. While the wireless LAN, or WLAN, is a network allowing devices to connect and communicate wirelessly. Devices on a WLAN communicate via Wi-Fi. In most home cases, your WAN is the internet.



Modem, Router, and Access Point: What Is The Difference?
Modem vs router vs access point: What is the difference? / Image credit: Mateusz Dach


What Are Wireless Access Points

Since computers or laptops can be connected to the internet through a wire, it is very inconvenient to use this type of connection for more devices in your home. Fortunately, today you have the option to connect all these devices to your home network over Wi-Fi, but you need something to broadcast that wireless signal.

Wireless access points (WAP) are typically attached to the router. Most modern routers for home use have wireless access point built-in, but you can still find standalone access points to expand your network area coverage.

In the last year, mesh network kits are growing in popularity, they are insanely effective for larger homes with removing dead spots. They consist of the main router and few individual satellites (nodes) that can act as wireless access points or can take on the job of a router as well.