How Does An Internet Modem Work?

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We all remember the days of dial-up connections. That was some era that we millennials can never forget. The nostalgic sound of the internet getting connected was in reality the sound of your modem booting up and connecting you to the internet. Times have changed now. Technology has evolved and so has the internet and things that come with it. Today’s modem works differently, or rather better than before. It provides a seamless connection so we can carry out all our activities without any interruption. 

But you might think what is an internet modem and how does it work exactly? You are in the right place because in this article we are going to walk you through this incredible invention and its workings. 

You have definitely seen a modem either in your home or office. Essentially, it is a small box that connects your devices to the internet with the help of a cable. Say that you have a connection to Optimum internet and now in order to enjoy their services of super-fast browsing and streaming, you will need a modem for it. This device sits between your home network and your internet provider. There is no way that you can access the internet without a modem. It helps in sending and receiving data by using different types of signals at both your and your provider’s network end. 

Now, let’s take a deep dive into the whole concept of a modem. 

What is a Modem?

If you have an internet connection at your home or your office, the modem in those places basically connects the local area network to the network of your internet provider. As a result of it, the network of your providers gets connected to the internet. Needless to say, this translator is absolutely necessary because, without it, your home internet connection would not be able to speak with the network of your ISP. 

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Now, you might be thinking, what does the word “modem” really mean? Well, this term comes from Modulator and Demodulator. Hang on, don’t get intimidated because we are here to explain all of it in the simplest terms possible. Modulation and demodulation are processes through which the data is sent to and from your provider’s internet network. 

Modulation imposes a digital wave on an analog radio frequency carrier wave in order to send the data to and from the internet network of your provider. Then comes the demodulation part. Well, it is the reverse of modulation, which means that it sets apart the said frequency carrier wave from the digital data.

How Does a Modem Work?

As we have already talked about the concept of modem, let’s move on a little and explore how it really works. A modem needs to receive a signal from the connection of your internet provider and then it has to extract data from the said signals. Afterward, this small device sends the data through an Ethernet port in the form of electrical pulses. 

Well, all the modem types work more or less in the same way except for fiber. The whole concept of modem predominantly applies to cable and digital subscriber line (DSL) modems. Fiber, on the other hand, uses a somewhat similar device to connect your LAN to a fiber connection. However, as it has already been mentioned, the fiber performs the duty of sending and receiving data a bit differently. 

We understand, now you must be curious as to how the DSL modem works. So, without further ado, let’s look at this fascinating concept. 

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How Does a DSL Modem Work?

We are going to lay the whole process step-by-step so you don’t have to get intimidated. 

  1. The DSL access multiplexer (DSLAM) of your internet service provider creates 247 channels, that are all separate from one another. 
  2. After this, the DSALM superimposes a waveform digitally on a separate carrier wave and further sends it to the consumer. 
  3. In the next step, the low-pass filter of the subscriber receives and then segregates the DSL frequencies from the voice frequencies. 
  4. The filter then passes the signals of DSL to the modem.
  5. In this fifth step, the RJ11 socket of the modem receives the DSL signals that have been modulated, and then it passes them on to the demodulator. 
  6. Then comes the whole process of demodulation where it separates the digital wave from the carrier wave with the help of quadrature amplitude modulation.
  7. The demodulator then again sends the wave that is in digital form to the analog-to-digital (ADC) converter. 
  8. This converter then reverts the said wave into a bitstream.
  9. Then comes the role of Manchester encoding, where it converts the bitstream into electrical pulses.
  10. In this last step, the modem successfully transmits these pulses over the Ethernet cable by the application of particular voltages to the copper wires. 

Why Do We Require a Modem?

We all need a modem to have a seamless and uninterrupted internet connection that allows us to carry out all our activities and perform our online tasks successfully. Of course, if you have fiber internet, then the discussion would be a lot different. But for a DSL internet connection, you cannot simply use your internet if you don’t have this small efficient device. 

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To put it in a few words, you need a modem as a translator so it can bridge the communication gap between your network and your internet service provider. It translates the connection of your internet providers into the data that is comprehensible by your devices.

Both cable and DSL internet use radio frequency carrier waves in order to send and receive data. On the other hand, fiber internet uses laser or LED pulses. Ethernet also uses the same method as the fiber but it works around the electrical signals, as opposed to the light to send and receive the said data.

Now the question confusion may arise between a modem and a router. Well, don’t worry because we are here to clear that up as well. The modem does not require a router since a router is used to give Wi-Fi in your home or office. A modem only needs an internet connection. 

On the other hand, a router may need a modem because again, the modem works as a translator for the devices. It can function on its own as a network manager that does not require a modem. The router brings the internet to multiple devices by connecting to the modem and then to the said devices. 

Key Takeaway

Are you planning to go online? Chances are that you will need a modem so that it can allow your network and send signals back and forth from your device to your internet service provider. There are various types of modems that are used for different purposes. However, when it comes to the internet, more specifically DSL, you need a modem. 

This article explained the basics of how modem works in the most simpler terms possible. We hope that now you have a pretty good idea of what goes behind the scenes while you are streaming your favorite show on Netflix. 

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