Functions of an Internet Modem

| Updated on March 27, 2024

The use of modems enables digital data to be transmitted over analog networks. Modems are devices that modulate an analog carrier signal in order to carry digital information as well as to demodulate the analog carrier signal in order to decode the digital information.

In this article, you will find everything you must know in order to have great internet at home or office.

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Modulated Signals

To enable digital data to be sent from one location to another without loss of information, a modem creates an easily transmitted and decoded signal. Typically, modems are used to send information over a telephone channel, but modems can also transmit data over the radio and optical networks that allow analog signals to be transmitted.

Data Compression

The use of data compression by modems reduces the time it takes to transmit data and reduces the amount of error in the signal. As data had to be transmitted via traditional phone lines in the early days of modem technology, this was especially necessary. Phone lines were not designed to carry digital data, so their size and speed were severely limited. By utilizing data compression techniques, the amount of data sent is reduced.

Error Correction

Occasionally, transmission between modems generates data that is damaged. Error correction is therefore employed by modems. Information is grouped into frames. The information displayed in every frame is accompanied by a checksum, a small piece of information derived from what is displayed. Checksums are like fingerprints that identify particular frames of data. In both cases, the modem that receives the information determines its checksum from the frame that has been transmitted and compares its checksum to that of the modem that sent it. In either case, the information remains intact. A difference indicates that the frame was corrupted during transmission; the receiving modem will send it back and wait for the transmitting modem to resend it.

Flow Control

Each modem transmits data at its own speed. In order to catch up with faster modems, slower modems must slow down, or else there will be too much data to process for the slower modem. The slower modem begins to send characters to the faster one if this starts happening. The character indicates that a pause in information transmission will take place until the slow modem catches up with the fast modem. It sends a different character when it is ready to continue transmitting, so the fast modem knows to start transmitting again. Thus, when one modem transmits, the other receives.

Modem Speed Classification

Usually, a modem’s speed is measured by the amount of data it can transmit in a given amount of time. Bits per second (bps) are usually used for this measure. One alternative method of classifying modem speed is to measure how many times a modem sends a new signal in a unit of time. The signal rate is expressed in bauds (Bd).

Internal vs. External Modems

In contrast to an internal modem, an external modem is a discrete device housed in its own enclosure. Modems are normally connected to computers and telephone lines by cables. A computer’s motherboard contains a circuit board that is used to connect a modem to it. Dial-up and wireless (WiFi) modems are both available for internal use. Transmission and reception of signals are accomplished via the telephone network. Connecting to them requires authentication. A dial-up modem has a much slower speed than other modem connections — the fastest one listed at the time of publication is 56.6 Kbps. There is no need to connect Wi-Fi modems to a telephone network, and authentication is not always required.

Modem Technology Types

Modulator-demodulator is abbreviated as “modem.”. Modulators take signals from computers and other devices and translate them into wireless signals.

A modem can be a cellular modem or a cable modem, which sends data over cable television channels, or a dial-up modem, which sends data over telephone lines and satellite modems, which are most commonly used in remote areas without internet access.

There are advantages and disadvantages to different types of networks. In the dial-up world, for example, the speed of dial-up networking is generally slow, however, you can use it anywhere you have a phone line, even if you don’t have digital lines or fiber optic or cable connections.

How to Choose a Modem

If you want to use a modem with your internet service provider, you must use one that is compatible with their network. If you aren’t interested in picking your own modem or dealing with maintenance issues, many Internet providers rent them to you.

You should usually choose a modem that supports the maximum network speed your ISP offers if you wish to choose your own. With a wireless router, your home is equipped with a Wi-Fi network that allows devices to communicate wirelessly with each other and with the internet. The wireless router can either be a standalone device that plugs into a modem or a combined device that includes a modem.

A standalone router can be faster or more reliable than a modem-integrated router.

Risks with Modems

If you have a modem connected to the internet, your device is potentially vulnerable to malware and hackers.

To prevent outside access to your network, many routers and modems are equipped with firewalls. In addition to running security software on your devices, you can also protect them.


That is all for this article. We hope things are pretty clear about internet modems now. Though we have tried to cover everything from the functions to the types and risks, if you still have questions please leave them in the comment section below. We will get back to you. You can also share any information you might have about modems that we have missed out on.

Also Read: How to Install Spectrum Internet On Your Own

Chitra Joshi

Content Writer & Marketer

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