Internet, Modem, Router…what’s the difference?

We’ve all heard about the terms modem, router and internet, but unless you’re very tech-savvy, you might find it hard sometimes to differentiate between those. And yet, they are the main components to any smart home network.

Did you know that these might be included in the same device, they may be separate or you can have multiple of each?

Let us try to explain what your home network consists of, and how to get the most of each part.

The entry point to your home: The Modem

Your modem can use coaxial cable, fibre optics or a phone line to transfer that data and the basic difference between those is the speed they can carry data − fibre optic system can carry up to 10 giga, or billion, bits per second, whereas coaxial cable is limited to only 50 mega, or million, bits per second.

If you have a choice about your modem you need to make sure it will work with your internet provider. You should talk to your ISP about what standards they support, and what maximum speeds you can use on your account. Keep in mind that in the future your ISP may allow faster speeds so it might be wise to get a modem that can run faster than you need now to plan for a future upgrade.

Unless you plan to have multiple internet connections to your home you probably want to get a modem that includes a router.

Connecting your smart devices so that they can work together: The Router

The main choice about which router to use comes down to speed. You will want a router that can handle the same speed as your internet connection at least.

If you have lots of device to device traffic on your home network then you will need a router that can handle traffic of that speed also.

This is the part in which it turns really interesting for your LIFX lights: If you’ve connected your lights to your router, even if your internet crashes for whatever reason, your lights will continue being connected to your phone and you won’t need internet to turn them on or off.

The invisible force that makes it all work: The Wi-Fi and the Access Points

Wireless standards run on two different wifi bands, 2.4GHz and 5GHz. Keep in mind that most Wi-Fi systems allow you to access these two, so even if you’re used to the 5GHz band, you will most certainly be able to find the 2.4GHz band under your Wi-Fi list on your phone, which is the one that’s going to work to connect your LIFX lights.

If you’ve got a small to medium home, you will have enough with a single access point and, if you have never heard about access point before, it’s probably because it’s built into your router (and you don’t need to worry about it).

However, if your home has multiple floors, a large floor space or more than 20 devices, you might already have considered installing more than one access point.

Tip: If you need multiple access points you should buy ones that are designed to work together in a mesh such as the Google Wifi or Ubiquiti Amplifi systems.