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What's the Difference Between a Cable Modem and Cable Modem Router?

NETGEAR Employee Retired

What's the Difference Between a Cable Modem and Cable Modem Router?


Cable modem. Cable modem router. You’ve likely heard these words when describing one’s home internet and/or WiFi situation. A lot of confusion surrounds the functionality of cable modems and cable modem routers to those that aren’t savvy. No worries, we’re here to break it down as simple as we can so that you could better understand your current Internet Service Provider situation and help get you faster internet speeds & better WiFi, while saving money!


CHP_ARTICLE_MODEMROUTER_2019-12-6_INLINE2.jpgWhat is a cable modem?

A cable modem is the hardware device that connects your home to the internet. This is typically provided to you by your Internet Service Provider (ISP) like XFINITY, Cox, or Spectrum. To create a wireless network, you will need to purchase a separate router to provide WiFi for your household.


What is a cable modem router?

A cable modem router, often referred to as a gateway, is a 2-in-1 combo device providing the functionality of a cable modem, as well as a wireless router. Unlike a cable modem, a cable modem router will provide WiFi for your home network, eliminating the need for any extra equipment.


Why should you purchase your own cable modem?CHP_ARTICLE_MODEMROUTER_2019-12-6_INLINE4.jpg

Whether you know it or not, you’re leasing your cable modem or cable modem router from your ISP. By purchasing your own device, you will save on those monthly leasing fees, potentially saving you up to $156 a year! On top of saving money, you will enjoy a much better WiFi experience and more advanced feature sets. NETGEAR products like Cable Orbi will provide you with whole home mesh WiFi, while the Nighthawk Multi-Gig speed cable modem delivers ultra-high speed connections with DOCSIS 3.1.

CHP_ARTICLE_MODEMROUTER_2019-12-6_INLINE1.jpgWhile it may be convenient to use the equipment that your ISP provides when setting up your Internet service, the downside is that equipment may outdated or using older technology that isn’t sufficient enough to support the Internet package you pay for. If you’re looking for the best experience possible, you will definitely want to look into upgrading your equipment.


Thinking about purchasing your own equipment to replace your ISP modem? Read our guide on How To Buy a Cable Modem.

Not sure which Cable Modem or Gateway is best for your ISP and your speed tiers? Check out our ISP Resource Center for recommendations.


For more information about cable modems and cable modem routers, please watch:

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