Can You Use a Router without a Modem?

While a router does not need to be hooked up to a modem in order to function, it won’t be able to access the internet without that connection.

I’ve spent years working with different types of technologies, including both routers and modems. That ample experience, backed up by additional research, has allowed me to discover the way both devices work on their own and with each other.

The following guide takes a deep dive into those interactions, looking at both how routers operate as well as the way they help your electronics function. The machines may not need modems to get going, but they’re much less effective without them.

Key Takeaways

  • A router can be used without a modem, but it will not be able to access the internet at large.
  • Setting up a router without a modem is a simple process that’s nearly identical to setting up both together.
  • Public WiFi, personal hotspots, and asking a neighbor are all ways to get extra internet access without purchasing a modem.

A Router With No Modem

Modems and routers are two devices that work towards the same goal. They just do it in different ways. Where a modem directly accesses the internet through a series of different connections, a router interacts between the internet and wireless devices in your home.

In that way, they operate with each other but are distinctly separate devices. A router doesn’t need a modem, but the machine is quite limited on its own.

Without a modem, a router will be able to communicate with other devices over a local area network (LAN), but it won’t be able to go anywhere beyond that. To access the internet at large, the connection also needs a modem.

That’s why most networks utilize both devices. The modem gets you online, while the router sends the signal out to the different wireless devices in your home.

If you want more information on the two, this video is a great reference guide.

How to Setup a Router without a Modem

As routers don’t technically allow modems to function, there are quite a few situations where they can (or need) to be set up without one. That may seem like a difficult task, but it’s quite easy as long as you know the steps that bring it all together.

Setting a router up without a modem is almost identical to doing it with one, with a few small tweaks. First, find the network name and default passkey. Next, connect the router to the power supply and plug it in. Also, hit the power button if there is one.

From there, select the WiFi icon on your computer to see available networks. Find the one that matches the router and enter the passkey. You then want to connect your other devices to the router’s network and put in the router’s username/password.

If you want to make a LAN network, enable sharing among local devices like printers or laptops. You can also set up file sharing as well. Once that’s done, you’re all set up and ready to go.

How to Get WiFi without a Modem

As mentioned, modems are extremely important devices. However, they are not always needed in order to get onto the internet. There are a few extra ways to access the web, even if they aren’t as intuitive or as easy as going with one of the devices.

There are many places in the world with public WiFi. If you are in one such area, don’t be afraid to take advantage of those networks. Being able to jump on a hotspot without a provider is a great way to get onto the web without a modem.

Such places are commonly public spots like parks or coffee shops, but don’t be afraid to check in your house as well. There’s always a chance that your neighbor or someone who lives close by has an open network that’s not password protected.

Even if it is, they may be willing to let you use their WiFi. Don’t be afraid to ask. As long as you’re respectful and trust them, this can be one of the best ways to go.

Just know that open connections don’t have great security. A VPN is a good way to sit on such networks without putting yourself at risk. That costs extra money, but it’s often a worthy investment.

Another great option is to turn your mobile device into a WiFi hotspot. Just about every modern cellphone and tablet is able to act as a hotspot. That does use a lot of data, but if you have an unlimited plan or a high cap it’s a great way to go. 

It’s also critical to create a password in this scenario. You don’t want other people using your data or accessing the same network as your private devices. Always keep your device plugged in as well. Being a hotspot drains the battery quite quickly.


This section brings up some questions about using a router without a modem and then answers them in a few words.

How Long Do Modems Last?

Modems, like any modern device, have a set shelf life. They typically last roughly two to four years depending on the make and model. High-end ones that are well taken care of can sometimes last up to five or six.

Can I Get Internet Without a Modem?

No. While just a router can connect devices together locally, that’s not the same thing as being able to access the world wide web. A modem is needed for that to happen.

Can I Get a Modem and Router in One?

Yes. There are many devices today that combine all the functionality of a modem and router into a single device. Such models are incredibly versatile and make it much easier to get everything in your network up and running.

Final Words

A router is a great device, but it needs a full modem in order to work to its full potential. Always get both, and make sure each is reliable. As long as you have trusted machines from good brands, you’ll have a reliable, long-lasting network.

Have you ever used a router with a modem? Why did you set it up that way? Let us know in the comments below!

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