We’ve all heard the word ‘modem’ when talking about Internet connectivity. Ever wondered what a modem is but been too embarrassed to ask anybody? Usually, a single phone call to the Cox Customer Service phone number or that of your provider would clarify all your queries. If you are too embarrassed to do this, just read on.
A modem is a device that connects the local area network (your LAN) to the network of your internet service provider. It acts as the sending/receiving hub for your neighborhood. As opposed to a router, it does not offer Wi-Fi connectivity for your home. Modems digitally translate information signals from your cable, fiber, or phone lines and make them available to your computer.
Modem involves modulator & demodulator. Modulation imposes a digital wave over an RF carrier wave to transport data to your provider’s internet network and back. On the flip side, demodulation operates in reverse, dividing the digital data that your home network may utilize from the RF carrier wave.
Why Get a Modem?
A modem is required to send (and also receive) data from 2 different paths: the connection to your home network and the one to your internet company. Although there aren’t any Ethernet wires between you and the ISP, the internet data is pre-made to be used on a home network on the ISP’s end. Therefore, providers send data via a number of techniques that are not compatible with ethernet cables. While fiber, too, is equipped with an Ethernet option, it uses glass fibers as opposed to copper wires to establish its connections, necessitating the usage of an ONT.
Here is where the confusion arises. The whole of the Internet’s foundation, as well as the core network of your Internet provider, is made of fiber. Variances are usually accounted for by your home’s final mile connection.
Regardless of this, to send data that is ethernet-ready over these 3 different types of roads, translation is required. In DSL internet and cable, RF carrier waves are used to receive and transmit data over copper cables. In either case, companies digitally insert a wave of data atop the carrier waves to enable a smooth flow across its network. The zeroes and ones aboard must be lifted from the electrical waterways by the modem before being transported to your router like on the subway train.
What Other Functions Does a Modem Have?
A standard standalone modem only translates. A wireless gateway, on the other hand, combines a modem and a router, making it both a translator and a network manager.
Does a Modem Need a Router to Function?
There is no hard and fast rule saying that a router is required for a modem. Technically, it only requires an Ethernet connection, otherwise an Internet connection to any device. This could be a router, gaming console, computer, or another Ethernet-enabled device.
A router, on the other hand, requires a modem because it cannot communicate with the Internet without using one. A router can be compared to an airport that has its own subway station. It gets a package via the modem’s subway connection. Then it reroutes it to your wired device via another subway line. The router re-compartmentalizes the data before sending it using airborne transport in case the destination is a wireless one.
Can You Connect to the Internet Using Any Modem?
No, you are not permitted to use any modem. As previously stated, a cable modem cannot be used with a DSL connection, nor can a DSL modem be used with a fiber connection. Your provider will usually provide the appropriate device for the internet type you have.
If you want to avoid monthly fees, you can buy a modem, but it must be approved by your internet provider. Cox Cables, for example, offers a list of compatible modems for its cable internet plans.
What’s Better – Renting or Buying a Modem?
You don’t need to buy a separate modem if your Internet company provides one for free. Bottom line is, why should you own the modem when you don’t own your Internet connection? Allow your Internet service provider to handle that aspect of your service. This would ensure that you are using the best modem for your connection specifically, as company-given modems are the most compatible ones.
However, there can be times when your provider’s modem has poor quality so you require one with better stability and performance. In such a case, you may save a lot of money and frustration by purchasing a standalone modem.