Home > Router

Are modems still used?

Why Modems Are Still Essential for Internet Service Providers?
Last Updated on July 26, 2023
Are modems still used
You can trust PC Guide: Our team of experts use a combination of independent consumer research, in-depth testing where appropriate - which will be flagged as such, and market analysis when recommending products, software and services. Find out how we test here.

Are you familiar with the role of a modem? This piece of hardware is pivotal in establishing an internet connection for your computer. In an era where innovative technology such as fiber-optic and Wi-Fi networks are prevalent, you might find yourself pondering, “Are Modems Still Used?” The answer is a resounding yes, but the full story is a little more complex.

Modems are not just devices of the past; they continue to serve as essential components in our internet infrastructure. Today, they function in both residential and commercial settings, linking computers to the internet service providers (ISPs) via wide area network (WAN) connections. Modems enable us to perform various online tasks, from simple downloads to complex data transfers.

Whether it’s a fiber-optic modem connecting via an Ethernet cable or a wireless modem providing Wi-Fi access, the use of modems in the digital landscape remains vital. Stay tuned as we delve into their continued relevance in today’s fast-paced world of connectivity.

Understanding modems

A modem is a small box that allows you to connect to the internet using a phone line or a cable. It takes the signals from a system and converts them into signals through phone cables. This allows you to access the vast world of information on the internet.

The Evolution of Modems

Modems have come a long way since their inception. From the early days of dial-up modems that converted digital signals into audible sounds for transmission over the telephone system. Then, to the more advanced DSL and cable modems that use telephone and coaxial cables respectively for faster and uninterrupted internet access.

Today, we even have satellite modems that are used in remote areas lacking infrastructure, although they are slower, more expensive, and prone to intermittent connections during bad weather.

Types of Modems

There are various types of modems available today, each with its unique features and capabilities. Cable modems, for instance, are commonly used with cable internet services, providing high-speed internet access.

DSL modems, on the other hand, are used with DSL internet services, often offering more consistent speeds compared to cable modems. Satellite modems are used in areas where cable and DSL services are not available, providing internet access via satellite signals.

Modems and Internet Speed

The type of modem you use can significantly impact your internet speed. For instance, a DOCSIS 3.0 modem can support downstream capacities of up to 1Gbps, while a DOCSIS 3.1 modem can support up to 10Gbps.

The latest DOCSIS 4.0 modems can even support upstream capacities of up to 6Gbps. However, it’s important to note that the actual internet speed you experience will also depend on your internet service plan and network conditions. 

Broadband Internet

Recently, broadband internet has become widely available. With broadband, you can access the internet faster than a modem can provide. Broadband connections use a different technology that doesn’t require a modem. Instead, you connect your computer directly to the broadband or modem/router combo.

Dial-Up connections

While broadband is more common now, there are still some places where dial-up internet is used. Dial-up connections might be the only option in remote areas or places with limited infrastructure. 

Dial-up requires a modem, which uses the telephone line to connect to the internet. However, dial-up is much slower than broadband and can be frustrating for high-speed internet tasks.

Modems in Today’s Digital World

Despite the advancements in technology, modems are still very much in use today. They serve as the gateway to the internet, converting signals from your ISP into a format that your devices can understand and vice versa. Whether you’re streaming videos, downloading files, or browsing the web, a modem is working behind the scenes to make all these activities possible.

The future of modems

As technology advances, the need for traditional modems may decline further. With the rise of wireless internet and 5G networks, many devices can connect to the internet without requiring a physical connection. 

However, modems might still be necessary for specific purposes, such as in certain industries or special applications.


Despite the advent of advanced networking technologies, the question, “Are Modems Still Used?” is still frequently asked. The answer is, unquestionably, yes. Even though their popularity has diminished with the surge of broadband, fiber internet, and wireless technologies, modems continue to hold their place in our digital world, especially in certain scenarios.

For instance, modems play a pivotal role in local area network (LAN) settings, offering connection to multiple devices like laptops. They can work hand-in-hand with separate routers to manage upload speeds efficiently and provide firewall protection to secure the network. In fact, optical network terminals, a significant component of fiber internet, act as a kind of modem, translating light signals into data that your devices can use.

Additionally, the modem technology is critical for features like parental controls in our home networks, a testimony to their enduring relevance. And let’s not forget the niche areas like remote rural locations where dialup connections, dependent on modems, are still a reality.

As we witness the world becoming increasingly interconnected, it is intriguing to anticipate how technology, including modems, will continue to evolve and shape our internet access ways. So, while the methods of connectivity change and improve, modems, in one form or another, are here to stay.


Can I Still Use a Modem if I have Broadband Internet?

Yes, you can still use a modem if you have broadband internet. However, in most cases, you will connect your computer directly to the broadband router or modem/router combo, bypassing the need for a separate modem.

Are modems built into routers now?

Some devices combine the functionalities of a modem and a router into a single unit, known as a gateway. However, separate modems and routers are still commonly used, as they often provide more flexibility and control over your network settings.

Do people still use cable modems?

Yes, cable modems are still widely used today, especially in areas with cable internet services. They provide high-speed internet access, although the actual speeds can vary depending on network conditions and your internet service plan.

Do you still require a modem and router?

Yes, both a modem and a router are typically needed for a home network. The modem connects to your ISP, while the router distributes the internet connection to your devices. Some devices combine these two functionalities into a single unit, known as a gateway.

Maria is a contributer to PC Guide, highly-interested in productivity and AI tools, and ensuring the inclusion of detailed product info and coverage across versus pieces.