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Modem vs Router vs Modem Router: Your Complete Guide

When it comes to setting up a reliable internet connection, understanding the difference between modems, routers, and modem-routers is essential. If you’ve been asking yourself “what is a modem?”, “what is a router?”, or “what is a modem-router?”, then you’ve come to the right place. This MATE guide will walk you through the basics, helping you make an informed decision when choosing the best device for your needs. We’ll also clue you into the benefits of using MATE’s TP-Link VX230v modem—an excellent option for those seeking a seamless internet experience.

Modem: The gateway to the internet

A modem (also known as a standalone modem) is a device that connects your home or office to your internet service provider (ISP), allowing you to access the internet. Essentially, the modem connects your local network to the wider internet. 

Key functions of a modem:

  • Connects to the ISP to provide internet access
  • Translates signals between your home network and the ISP
  • Supports wired connections using an Ethernet cable

Router: Connecting multiple devices

A router is a device that allows multiple devices to connect to the internet via a local area network (LAN). In other words, the router connects your wireless devices, such as smartphones and laptops, to the internet (via the modem). The router creates a local network that enables you to connect multiple devices wirelessly and share your internet connection. Some wireless routers also have ethernet ports, allowing you to connect devices using an Ethernet cable for a more stable connection.

Key functions of a router:

  • Creates a local network for multiple devices
  • Allows for wireless connections (Wi-Fi) and wired connections (ethernet)
  • Provides network security and manages traffic

The difference between modem and router

Understanding the difference between a modem and a router is crucial when setting up your internet connection. The main difference between the two is their function. A modem connects your home network to the internet, while a router creates a local network and enables multiple devices to connect to the internet. In short, the modem connects to the ISP, and the router connects your devices to the internet.

Modem router: A combination of both

A modem router is a single device that combines the functionality of both a modem and a router. This means that it not only connects to your ISP but also creates a local network for your devices. The advantage of a modem router is that it saves space and reduces clutter, as you won’t need separate modem and router devices.

Why choose MATE’s TP-Link VX230v modem router

As a new MATE customer, you have the option of adding our TP-Link VX230v Modem Router to your purchase when signing up to one of our unlimited data MATE nbn plans. Take the hassle out of setting up your new internet connection with a pre-configured nbn-ready modem that offers a plug-and-play experience. By opting for MATE’s nbn-ready modem, you’ll enjoy the following benefits:

  • Guaranteed compatibility with any nbn technology
  • Delivers internet speeds of up to 350Mbps
  • Dual-band WiFi 6 (AX1800) offering:
    • 1201Mbps via 5GHz
    • 574Mbps via 2GHz
  • Enhanced wireless experience with multiple device support
  • Robust hardware interface:
    • 1× DSL port
    • 1× Gigabit WAN port
    • 3× Gigabit LAN ports
    • 1× FXS port
    • 1× USB 2.0 port
  • Supports VoIP calls simply by connecting the device to your existing telephone set
  • Advanced security options, including WPA/WPA2/WPA3-PSK

When you choose MATE’s TP-Link VX230v Modem, you’re not only getting a high-quality modem router but also the assurance of seamless internet access and exceptional customer support.

Modem Vs Router Vs Modem Router

How to choose between a modem, router and a modem router

When deciding whether to opt for a separate modem and router, a modem router combo, or simply a wireless router, consider the following factors:

  • Space and clutter: If you want to minimise clutter and save space, a modem router combo might be the best choice. They also tend to have a much simpler installation process.
  • Performance: Some users may find that having separate high-end modem and router devices results in better performance, as each device can be optimised for its specific function. On the other hand, a modem router combo can still offer an exceptional online experience with superfast download speeds and reliable connectivity. 
  • Compatibility: Whether you opt for a modem router or separate devices, it’s important to ensure that the device you choose is compatible with your internet service provider and supports the required internet speeds and features of your internet plan.
  • Budget: Consider your budget when choosing between separate devices and a modem router combo. While price can be highly variable when it comes to these devices, a combo device will generally come with a more affordable price tag than the alternative.


Understanding the difference between modems, routers and modem routers is crucial when setting up and optimising your internet connection. Each device serves a specific purpose, and choosing the right combination depends on factors such as space, performance, compatibility and budget.

MATE’s TP-Link VX230v Modem offers a reliable and high-performance solution for customers seeking an exceptional internet experience. With its pre-configured plug-and-play design, guaranteed nbn compatibility and advanced security options, you can trust MATE to provide the seamless connection you need.

Frequently asked questions

Do I need both a modem and a router for my home internet connection?

Not necessarily. While it used to be the case that you needed both a modem and a router for a complete home internet connection, these days you can opt for a modem-router combo, also known as a gateway. A modem-router combo is a single device that combines the functionality of a modem and a router, allowing you to connect to the internet and share the connection with multiple devices on your local network. This way you can enjoy all the functionality of both devices into one unit, saving space and reducing clutter.

How do I know if my modem is compatible with my internet service provider?

To determine if your modem is compatible with your internet service provider, check the specifications of the modem and consult with your ISP. Most ISPs provide a list of compatible modems on their websites, or you can contact their customer support for assistance. When choosing a modem, ensure that it supports the required internet speeds, technologies (VDSL, fibre, HFC, satellite etc.), and additional features such as VoIP calls.

Can I use my own modem and router with MATE’s internet services?

Yes, you can use your own modem and router with MATE’s internet services, as long as they are compatible with the specific nbn technology at your residence. However, to ensure the best performance and seamless experience, we recommend using MATE’s TP-Link VX230v modem router, which is pre-configured and compatible with any nbn technology.

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