While both a modem and a router help your devices connect to the internet, they have separate (and complementary) functions. A modem is a box that connects your home network to your internet service provider, or ISP. A router is a box that lets all of your wired and wireless devices use that internet connection at once and allows them to talk to one another directly. Often, your internet service provider will give you a device typically referred to as a gateway, a single box that serves as both modem and router, but these are still different technologies. You need the features of both a modem and a router, integrated or not, in order to have an internet connection for all of the devices in your home.
If you have a DSL or fiber internet connection, your ISP is likely to require you to use its provided modem, which usually serves as a gateway and router as well, and the situation is more complicated if you also get phone service from your ISP.
A modem transforms digital information from your computer into analog signals that can transmit over wires (and vice versa) by modulating and demodulating electrical impulses sent through phone lines, coaxial cables, or other types of wiring. Most standalone modems have just two ports: one that connects to the outside world, and an Ethernet jack that connects to a computer or a router.
The best router for you depends on the size of your home, how many devices you connect to your network, and where the router is in your home. Most one- or two-bedroom apartments with a couple dozen devices can be covered by a standalone Wi-Fi router. Good ones like the TP-Link Archer AX20 are available for around $80, but great ones like the TP-Link Archer AX50 cost closer to $120. These models function best if you can place them near the center of your home and give all of your devices the best wireless connection possible; even one or two devices with a weak connection can reduce performance for all the other wireless devices on the network.
With the increased number of connected devices in the home, your network now needs higher bandwidth to support all these WiFi devices. Rented WiFi modems or gateways struggle to support every device, but with the latest WiFi modems and routers, you easily get the speeds and connection reliability that you need.
When top-tier speeds and reliability are high on your list, NETGEAR WiFi Cable Modem Routers can easily handle all your high-bandwidth wireless requirements. NETGEAR WiFi Cable Modems and Routers let you take advantage of the fastest cable internet speeds and are compatible with most ISPs. DOCSIS 3.0 and DOCSIS 3.1 compatible NETGEAR modems support multiple channels to boost speeds and are backwards compatible, offering consumers a future-proof solution to enjoy the speeds offered today and still be ready for tomorrow when their service plan upgrades to higher speed tiers.
This means a strong WiFi connection for everyone and WiFi coverage that will reach every corner of your home. The new NETGEAR DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem for Internet and Voice (CM500V) provides a connection to high-speed cable Internet and supports two phone lines. It automatically prioritizes voice over Internet for best call clarity and also offers enhanced call features such as 3-way conference calling, caller ID, call forwarding and more. This cable modem is ideal for XFINITY from Comcast Double and Triple Play service plans.
Plus, your provider can log in to its supplied router remotely, see all your connected devices, and possibly see who uses them. While remote network management is seemingly in good faith, many customers may feel uncomfortable having a stranger observing devices used by children.
If you choose to purchase a router, you may find one that has a better range or better parental controls than the unit supplied by your internet provider. You can get high-quality products from brands like NETGEAR, Linksys, TP-Link, and Zyxel. Better yet, you could install a mesh networking kit that spreads Wi-Fi across your home or small office like a web.
The drawback to buying your equipment is the overall expense. If your modem, router, or gateway fails, the replacement comes out of your wallet. The burden of cost is also yours when you want to upgrade. Free technical support from your internet provider may or may not be available.
If you have a fiber-to-the-curb setup, you need a cable modem or a DSL modem, depending on the connection entering your home. You can ask your internet provider more about what type of fiber connection you have.
Most product listings for routers combine the speeds of all available bands to display one big, impressive number. These listings may also list a class, like AC1900, which combines the specification (Wireless AC) and the maximum combined throughput (1,900 Mbps).
Keep in mind that your wireless device must have radios using the same specification and the same number of streams to get the maximum speed from these routers. Anything less will result in slower speeds.
A Cable modem is a device which helps to translate electrical signal from your Internet service provider to digital signals to help you to connect to the internet. A typical modems comes with 1 Coaxial Cable input (to connect to your wall outlet), 1 Ethernet output (to connect your Laptop, desktop or a Wi-Fi router) and 1 DC plug to connect to a power adapter to power the device.
If you purchase a Cable Modem, you can only ONE wired computer (Laptop or desktop). It does not provide any Wi-Fi signal or help you to connect to multiple devices unless you purchase a separate Wi-Fi router with it.
Every modem is built to work with a specific internet technology and in a specific speed range. CenturyLink uses different technologies (fiber or different types of DSL) depending on your location and the speed you selected.
CenturyLink's all-in-one modem/router, referred to as a gateway, allows you to connect your WiFi-enabled devices to the internet without additional equipment. The latest, premium WiFi gateways that we offer are the models pictured here.
\"Certified\" means our modems have been tested on the CenturyLink network to make sure they perform as expected and work with our internet technology. The drop-down below includes all the CenturyLink-certified modems that are currently in use.
CenturyLink highly recommends using one of our certified or recommended WiFi modems (gateways), which have been tested and approved to work optimally with our high-speed internet technology. Retired and third-party devices are more likely to cause performance issues and may not connect to your internet service correctly.
You will get the best experience and performance by using certified CenturyLink equipment. Why Our modem/router combo (gateway) is tested and guaranteed to be optimized for maximum performance and easy setup. Our modems also come with free 24/7 tech support. You can purchase or lease a compatible modem from CenturyLink to use with your service. If bringing your own modem is an option, you will see a note during the online order process. However, not all modems are able to connect to CenturyLink internet service. Check the drop-down above to learn more about each model of gateway offered.
\"Certified\" means our modems have been tested on the CenturyLink network to ensure they are compatible with our internet technology and that they perform as expected. Our technical experts determine the modem's maximum speed and check IP compatibility. All CenturyLink-certified modems include 24/7 technical support and free McAfee security protection.
If you are looking to use a different modem with your existing service, our representatives can help you determine compatibility. If you are ordering new service, you will be guided to purchase or lease the correct CenturyLink modem to get the best connection and performance.
The bottom line: For many customers, these three words are interchangeable. Since most internet users today prefer the term modem, we use it across our Support Center. We do sometimes call it a router when talking about WiFi. And, if you contact tech support, agents will often refer to it as a gateway. Learn more >
All routers should give you an idea of the amount of square footage they can cover, though some get more specific than others. For example, we recommend the TP-Link Archer A20 and xFi Pods, but both of those give an estimated range based on how many bedrooms are in your house.
Router brands are releasing new technology all the time, and some of the more recent upgrades can make a positive impact on your online experience. Here are a few features you might want to look for when shopping for your new router:
Modern routers use beamforming to direct a Wi-Fi signal to a device. Before beamforming, routers would blast a Wi-Fi signal in all directions. You can think of beamforming as a more efficient, laser-targeted Wi-Fi signal that also results in a stronger connection.
The best satellite broadband router is often the one that is provided by your ISP, or it might be an upgraded router that covers a bigger area (if your home is large). It depends on what you need. While you must use the modem issued by your satellite internet provider, you can use any router you choose. This opens up a lot of options.
The best router for Viasat internet in a big house is one with a large coverage area, so you can get Wi-Fi on any story of the house or even out in the barn. Boosters and extenders can also help strengthen Wi-Fi signals across large areas, however, and may be less expensive than a top-of-the-line router. See our review on how to extend your Wi-Fi with boosters and extenders for more information.
If you want to upgrade your router, here are a few to try. For a router that delivers plenty of performance at a reasonable price, go with the TP-Link AC1900 Smart WiFi Router. This router integrates with Alexa for voice commands and uses beamforming to support faster Wi-Fi speeds. 59ce067264