When you sign up for an Internet connection at home you are usually sent a package from your internet service provider. You’ll receive cables, wire splitters and filters if you’re getting DSL, and a sleek little device called a modem. Initially, folks new to Internet connections would think that a computer would be enough to connect to the web. This brings up the question on why a modem is needed.
Importance of Modems
The term ‘modem’ is really derived from modulator-demodulator, which basically explains what this device is for. In simple terms, this device ‘translates’ signals from one form to the other. Its function is to modulate or convert the digital signals from your computer so that it can be transmitted through your phone wires.
It also does its job the other way around. That is to demodulate analog signals from your phone wires into digital signals and data that your computer can make use of. Remember that your computer can only understand digital signals while the signals transmitted through your phone lines go by various voltages depending on your phone provider.
Types of Modems
Dial Up/Narrowband: Through the years we have seen various kinds of modulating devices. The very first ones are for dial up or narrowband. They are either added to your computer via expansion slots, like PCI slots, or external and connects to your computer’s ports, like your computer’s USB or serial ports for instance. Typical speeds often go out at 56 kbps, though in reality you lose speed due to transmission loss and other factors. This simply means you never really reach internet connection speeds of 56 kbps on dial up.
Radio: Today, we now have radio modems that facilitate wireless connections. Wireless connections come in handy whenever cables are to be avoided or just add too much cost to build a network. The same technology that is behind your mobile phone also works for your WiFi. You may experience various speeds depending on they type of equipment you have and your internet bandwidth.
Broadband: The next step up when it comes to internet connection speed and bandwidth is broadband. ADSL modems are not limited to the frequency you get out of your phone lines. Cable modems also work the same way although they run through RF signals. Your broadband equipment is usually a separate item and connects to your computer as opposed to installing it within your computer. With broadband, speeds of 1 gigabits and higher are now possible.
Modems are necessary to get an internet connection. They provide you with access to information and a connection to the world outside.