You may have heard of the terms ‘modem’ and ‘router’ which are often used interchangeably, but they are actually slightly different. A modem is basically your ‘interface’ for connecting to the internet, while a router ‘re-routes’ the internet around your home and can provide an extra layer of security.
When you get your fancy new broadband internet plan, your provider will often give you a new modem, but this is not always the case. Often you’ll have to go out and source your own modem. No matter what, the modem is usually your ‘hub’ that connects you to the internet. These days, a modem is often ‘Wi-Fi equipped’ meaning it can be accessed wirelessly instead of plugging your computer in with an Ethernet cable. So think of a modem as like your first building block to accessing the internet. Modems are pretty simple to understand, and are pretty basic in their function – routers is where it gets more interesting.
A router is simply another link in the chain connecting your home to the internet, and can also be another chink in the armour for internet security. Routers typcially consist of three things – the router itself, a firewall and a network switch. A router can be useful for providing another layer of security and functionality. A router can do the following things:
While many ISPs interchange the terms ‘modem’ and ‘router’, the fact is that they serve a few different purposes. Chances are, if your ISP says it includes a modem in its internet package, it’s a router you are getting as well. This simply enables you to ‘plug and play’ all your devices onto the router so you can start enjoying the internet across multiple devices sooner.
The answer is probably, yes. Buying your own modem can often work out to be cheaper in the long term than simply ‘renting’ one from your provider. And you get to keep it should you wish to change providers at a later time! The problem is many providers charge over $100 for routers that can be matched by a third party product in terms of quality for half the price.
The cheapest ‘aftermarket’ routers can be found for about $30, and spending a little more can get you much more ‘bang for buck’. Often, broadband providers love including modems /routers in their bundles. While many include it ‘for free’, you may be able to supply your own modem and get an even cheaper plan. It definitely pays to shop around and consider pesky modem costs the next time you’re in the market for a new internet plan.
Generally, more expensive routers tend to have a higher speed capacity.
Apart from speed capacities, dearer routers also tend to boast some extra bells and whistles.
Dearer routers generally feature enhanced speed capacity, from 300Mbps improved to over 1Gbps; effective antenna range, some with multiple antennas to reach further nooks and crannies in your home; less interference, with improvements from 2.4Ghz to 5Ghz to make maintaining speed while connecting a lot of devices easier; router ports and other bells and whistles, which aid in connecting multiple devices – some even have USB ports to help making connecting your printer easy. So while you can expect to pay more, the fact is you get more bells and whistles and upgraded technology. What you spend now, you could save later by not having to upgrade for a while.
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