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Difference between Internal and External Modem

Last Updated : 20 Mar, 2024
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Modem stands for Modulator/Demodulator that modulates and demodulates electrical signals sent over telephone lines, coaxial cables, or other types of cables or we can say that they convert digital data from your computer into analog signals that can be transmitted over the cable, as well as modem translate incoming analog signals back into digital data that your computer can understand. In this article, we are going to discuss what is a modem and its types, and the differences between types of modems.

What is Modem?

A modem is a hardware networking device whose basic function is to convert data to a signal. The main function of a modem is to convert the analog signals that come from telephone wire into a digital form. In digital form, these converted signals are stored in the form of 0s and 1s. The modem can perform both the task of modulation and demodulation simultaneously. Modems are majorly used to transfer digital data in personal systems. The modem is also known as a signal translator as it translates one signal into another signal by modulating the digital signal into an analog signal for transmission and then demodulates receiving analog signals into digital signals.

Features of Modem

  • A modem allows you to connect only a certain number of devices to the internet.
  • Modems can both modulate and demodulate signals concurrently.
  • Modems can be upgraded with a special software patch.
  • To connect to the Internet using a modem, the devices must be configured with an Internet Service Provider (ISP).
  • When the modem is linked to the hub, it slows down the operation.

There were two types of modems available:

Types of Modem

Types of Modem

Internal Modem

As the name suggests internal modem is an internal part inside a computer. It usually comes with the computer and that too pre-installed. The best thing about internal modem is that it operates with the computer’s power supply and doesn’t need an additional supply to work.

Features of Internal Modem

  • Internal modems are installed within the computer, and often connect to the motherboard via an expansion slot such as PCI or PCIe.
  • Internal modems are less likely to be stolen or damaged.
  • It simplifies the transmission process, allowing for a more rapid and reliable internet connection.
  • It also has one important feature, it does not require an external power supply to operate. instead it uses the computer’s power supply.

Examples of Internal Modem

  • Dial-up Modems: These are some of the most popular internal modems. They use a phone line to establish a communication link and were widely used in the early days of the Internet.
  • Fax Modems: This type of internal modem allows you to transmit documents over a telephone line by digitally transforming received information into a printable version. Despite being regarded an old technology, fax modems are nevertheless used in a variety of commercial contexts.

External Modem

An external modem is quiet similar to the internal modem in that it also allows access to the Internet. The external modem is an external part of the computer. It can be used when a computer is unable to fit an internal modem inside of it. The modem typically connects to the computer via a serial or USB cable, and it also needs an external power supply to operate.

Features of External Modem

  • External modem does not need computers power supply hence they allow system to work fast.
  • It is portable and lightweight because it is located outside of the computer.
  • They are more expensive than internal modems due to their increased capabilities and independence from computer.
  • External modems are more prone to theft and physical damage.
  • It works with all sorts of computers, therefore even if a machine does not support internal modems, we may connect external modems.

Examples of External Modem

  • USB Modems: USB modems are used to plug into a computer or router via a USB port.
  • Ethernet Modems: Ethernet modems are used to communicate with a computer or router over an Ethernet connection.

Difference between Internal and External Modem

Internal Modem External Modem
It has built-in UART. It doesn’t have built-in UART. They use the computer’s serial port as UART.
Its Price is low as compared to external modem. It is comparatively high in price.
For internal modem, user doesn’t need to buy any external accessories. In an external modem, RS232 interface cable has to be brought.
It is hard to transfer the internal modem to another computer. The external modem can be moved easily.
It is present inside the computer. It is present outside the computer.
It can insert into a vacant expansion slot. It cannot come into the expansion slot.
No holder case is required. Holder case is required.
It is incompatible with different kind of PCs. It is compatible for all kind of PCs.
The user is unable to see the status of the modem directly. The user can check the status of the modem directly.

Frequently Asked Question on Internal and External Modem – FAQs

How does an internal modem work?

An internal modem translates digital signals from a computer into a format that can be transmitted via a telephone line or another transmission channel. When data is received, it is re-converted into a digital format that the computer can interpret.

Who uses internal modems?

Internal modems are typically used by customers who require a continuous or highly frequent internet connection, such as in organisations where internet connectivity is required regularly or permanently.

How does an external modem work?

External modem translate digital data from a computer into analog signal appropriate for transmission via communication lines, such as phone or cable lines.

Can I use an external modem with a wireless router?

Yes external router can be used with wireless router to provide internet.

 How long does an internal modem last?

Internal modems often have a lifespan of several years, depending on their overall use and care .

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