What is a Modem?
In an era when we depend on the internet for almost everything, understanding what a modem is and how to choose one is essential to having the best internet service possible
Here is a fact: we don’t use the internet anymore. We totally depend on it, whether for working, for playing online or watching series with friends and family.
With everyday life revolving around the internet, thinking about how to have the best speed and quality of service is essential. For that, the modem is a key part.
Why? You can think about a modem as being responsible for connecting you to the outside world, i.e. the internet. The modem takes the signal that comes from an Internet Service Provider, also called ISP, and translates it into an internet connection. It can also significantly affect the efficiency of your Wi-Fi.
In order for you to have the best internet service at home or at work, here is everything you need to know about what a modem is and how to choose the best option.
So, what is a modem?
We don’t know very well how most of the technological devices we use in our day-to-day come from, but understanding what a modem is can help a lot to choose the best one for your home or work.
Do you remember the beginning of the internet? If not, know that the internet connection to your home computer (forget cell phones and tablets) was made only by cable. That is actually still the role of a modem.
The name is short for modulator-demodulator: it means that the device modulates and demodulates data between the world-wide-web and a computer.
It was in the 1920s that the idea of a modem was invented, in a very simple way, to connect teleprinters over phone lines instead of the leased lines, which were very expensive. Then during World War II the Allies developed a voice encryption system that is considered an early modem.
But it was not until the late 1950s that modems became a commercial thing. In that decade, companies finally needed to develop technology to connect computers over long distances and increased the number of modems.
What are the types of modem
There are three types of modems: cable, DSL and fiber. They all operate via different cable mediums and depend on your Internet Service Provider, or ISP.
It is very common that the ISP provides the customers with a modem when a service is contracted. Actually, the modem is often rented (and the amount is usually hidden in a long list of what is charged on the bill).
This fee can be over $100 a year, which is why you might consider purchasing your own modem. If you use the same ISP for more than a year, you will save yourself a pretty amount of money in future rental fees and will recoup the cost of having your own modem. ISP’s also don’t often rent out the most updated modems, but there are services that require consumers to use unique devices for their services.
And there is a very important thing: even if cable modems are most prevalent in retail, you probably won’t find fiber-based products in common stores.
If the company you hired allows you to have your own modem and you decide to buy one, it is important to be sure to choose the best type of modem for your internet service. It means that it should be compatible with the download and upload speeds that you subscribe for your ISP.
If your modem is not able to support the speed of your service, it will result in a slow or uneven connection. This can be very frustrating if you are using a service that depends on a steady conexion, such as movie streaming.
Here is how you can compare your internet service and a new device when buying one.
Modem vs your internet
So first things first. The download speed represents how fast data comes into your house or work when you are using services like streaming movies or online games. The upload speed indicates how fast you are able to send data to Internet service, when you upload photos for example. For you to know even better how to identify the two of them, the download speed usually is the larger number.
The modem’s speed capacity is described in bytes per second, being megabytes or gigabytes. It means that if you have a 600 Mbps, or megabytes per second, plan, you will want to make sure that your modem is not limited to 300 Mbps. The description in bytes per second is the same one of internet plans.
If you choose a modem that is more limited than the service you are paying for, you will probably restrict your download and upload speed and will not be able to use the services you ordered fully.
What should I know on how to choose a modem
As we saw earlier, choosing a modem is not trivial. Since the device is responsible for creating your computer’s connection to the internet, it is essential to have a device with the most advanced technology.
But it is also essential that your modem is compatible with the internet service you have purchased.
As we learned, there are three types of modems, cable, DSL and fiber, which operate via different cable mediums. Many companies also do not allow consumers to use their own modems and provide the devices.
But if you decide to purchase a cable or a modem, it is important to be sure to choose the appropriate type for your internet service. To do this, just check the download and upload speeds of your contracted service and the device you are considering purchasing.
And you should not forget: the download speed represents how fast data comes into your house or work when you are using services, and the upload speed indicates how fast you are able to send data to internet service.