fiber internet modem

Do you need a Fiber internet modem for Fiber optic internet?

fiber internet modem

If you’ve heard of a Fiber connection, you know that it’s the future of the Internet as we know it. With more and more Americans working from home, playing advanced online games, and streaming TV shows, the importance of a future-proof internet connection has been creeping into our consciousness. 

Thus, as you prepare for the future of Broadband technology, you’ve likely considered upgrading to a Fiber optics plan. But, before you jump the gun and sign up for an internet that’s as fast as the speed of light, you need to know the equipment necessary to support it, such as a Fiber internet modem and router.

Modem vs router

So, what’s a modem and a router? You probably know these two devices simply as pieces of technology that help you connect to the internet so you can surf the web and make Zoom calls. And you’re not wrong– but let’s dig a little deeper.

A modem and a router both help your various devices connect to the internet. Because these two technologies have complementary functions, an internet service provider may offer a single device called a “gateway” that serves as a modem and a router. Now, integrated or not, you still need the functions that both of these technologies provide to have access to a stable internet connection for every device in your home network.

Before we dig into exactly how a modem and router work, we need to discuss what their independent responsibilities are.

What’s a modem?

A modem is a single device that translates digital data from your devices into analog signals and vice versa. If you have a standalone modem (as opposed to a gateway device), it’ll likely have two ports. One port will connect your devices to the outside world and the other port will be for an Ethernet jack that’ll connect to either a computer or your router. 

So, if you’re wondering, “What is the purpose of the modem?”– simply put, it’s a piece of technology that connects your home to your ISP. While there are three different kinds of modems– a dial-up modem, a DSL modem, and a cable modem– we’ll focus specifically on a Fiber internet modem in this article. But first, we need to get a sense of how modems work.

So, how exactly does a modem work?

A modem reads signals from your internet service provider (ISP) and translates them into signals that the devices in your home network can use. It accomplishes this by modulating and demodulating electrical impulses that are sent through coaxial cables, phone lines, or other types of wires. 

What’s a router?

A router is a small box that enables all the devices on your home network (wired and wireless) to use your internet connection simultaneously. It also allows your devices to communicate with each other. Thus, the main difference between a wifi router and a modem is that a router creates a communicative network inside your home, while a modem connects your home to the outside world.

How does it work?

Routers work by taking data packets from your devices and guiding them to the right destination. In other words, your router acts as a dispatcher by choosing the optimal route for digital information to travel to and from your connected devices. 

Just like there is a particular kind of Fiber internet modem, there are also specific routers that work better for a Fiber connection. So, let’s talk about the equipment required to get an internet connection that’s as fast as the speed of light.

What equipment is needed for fiber optic internet?

If you currently have access to the internet, chances are that you already have a router and a modem, or a gateway device, set up in your home. So, when you upgrade to Fiber internet, you might think you can just dust off your old router and modem and use it to access your new, lightning-fast connection.

But that’s not exactly the case.

Yes, Fiber internet needs a modem and a router to provide a reliable and fast connection. However, they won’t be the run-of-the-mill devices you’ve been using for your current internet access. When you upgrade to the internet of the future, you need to upgrade your setup as well.

What’s a Fiber Internet modem?

We know the answer to the question, “Do you need a modem for Fiber internet?” is “yes.” But, we have yet to discuss what that type of modem is and what sets it apart from the modem you’re using to support your current DSL or cable connection.

It’s important we throw in here that it’s true any modem may have the basic capability to work for a Fiber connection. But, any old modem won’t be able to sufficiently support the extremely fast speeds a Fiber optic service provides. That’s why you need a special modem for Fiber optic internet if you want to receive the full benefits of what you’re signing up for.

fiber optic vs cable internet

ONT: The optimal Fiber internet modem

Whether Fiber optics uses a modem is a bit tricky. Okay, you’re probably thinking, “Wait a minute– we’ve been saying this whole time that Fiber does require a modem to properly function and reach its full potential…”. So, there is such a thing as a Fiber internet modem; it’s just that it’s not technically a modem. But it pretty much does what a standard modem does– with some tweaks here and there to support a Fiber connection. So, if it looks like a bird and acts like a bird…we’ll call it a bird. 

What we’re talking about is an optical network terminal or ONT for short. And just like a modem, it communicates with your ISP for Fiber optic networks. The primary objective of the ONT is to be the last stop in the train of telecommunications between your ISP and your local network to bring you Fiber internet. 

So, let’s get into how exactly an ONT works to enable your lightning-fast internet speeds.

How does an ONT work?

We know that like a modem, your ONT directly communicates with your ISP. But, unlike a modem, it achieves communication by relying on infrared light pulses and Fiber optic cables to reach the internet. By doing so, your ONT can convert optical signals it reads from your ISP into electrical signals, and then BAM– you’ve got the fastest internet on the market today. 

Well, almost. You still have to make sure you have the proper Fiber cables installed and a Fiber internet router to get the full effects of a Fiber connection. But, before we talk about the special router you’ll need, we need to address a question commonly asked when upgrading to a Fiber service: “Why won’t the modem I have now work for Fiber internet?”

Why a regular ol’ modem won’t work for a Fiber connection

The reason why you need a Fiber internet modem (an ONT) is that dial-up, DSL, and cable modems don’t have the technology to work with light pulses. These old-school modems– or modems that are slowly becoming old-school, aren’t equipped to translate the light signals from Fiber optic cables into digital ones. They were only designed to be able to read analog signals and convert them into digital signals.

In a nutshell, Fiber technology is way too advanced for old modems to keep up with. Cutting-edge technology needs cutting-edge devices to support it.

Fiber internet router

Just as you need a Fiber internet modem to support a connection that’s insanely fast, you also need a Fiber optic router. A Fiber optic wireless router is specifically equipped to support Fiber Internet. Your new upgraded router will keep all of your devices in your home network connected to your Fiber Internet service.

How does it support a Fiber connection?

The purpose of your Fiber router is to maintain the symmetric upload and download speeds provided by the Fiber optic cables and distribute them wirelessly among all of your devices. And, unlike the router you used with your previous internet service, a Fiber-compatible router will be able to keep pace with the high speeds that Fiber cables deliver. This is because a Fiber router has special features that are designed to handle the incredibly rapid speeds of Fiber optic networks from your ISP.

The bottom line

A Fiber internet modem brings you an internet connection that’s future-proof. At the end of the day, you simply can’t reap all the benefits a Fiber internet service offers if you don’t have the right equipment to support it. 

At 24-7 & West Wisconsin Telcom, we’re dedicated to setting our customers up for success with the internet that’s the future of Broadband technology. Contact us today to find out how you can access a Fiber internet connection that’s as fast as the speed of light.


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