Network noob, If it has a WAN do i need a modem?

I am looking around for a modem or Wireless/Modem all in one. I have been spoiled most my life with either having an all in one or just not being aware of where internet came from.

Really just having a hard time looking around discerning what is what. Do Routers now have the ability to act as modems as well? Curious because I barely see the word modem when I am looking around.

Really I am looking for a router/modem combo which is an all in one solution for my significant other that is reliable. She is expecting 75 mbs down (3 up.......).

Currently scrolling through newegg and amazon. Networking is foreign to me so I decided to head over here to hear from some people that have an idea.

Budget is $100 US for All in one. maybe a little more if going for the the modem + router route. (lower is better)

EDIT: One of my primary questions is, If it has a WAN port or an "Internet" port on the back, does this mean I can utilize it as both a modem and router?

tl;tr: you have to know how you connect to the ISP. Is it ADSL, is it cable, is it LTE, ... than you can find a matching AIO solution.
If its only stating WAN or INTERNET with a RJ45 jack there it expects a modem on that side.

A modem is a modem = modulator/demodulator
It translates different types of signals, imagine like in the early times audible audio signal into 010110. Today a modem usually is used to transfer 010101 to a signal for ADSL, LTE or cable network.

A router = is a like a cop on a crossroads; it tells the packets where to go.
A firewall = the cop that stops the bad guys (data traffic you don’t want to move around, like connections from outside in, that’s not related to your connections)

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Thank you for the explanation.

On my current AIO solution, it reads "wan" on the back however it is getting the ethernet cord straight from outside(or wherever). This is some the of the cause for my confusion.

mhmm... so you have that square RJ45 outlet on the wall? well... sadly I also do not know how you get your internet delivered... so its hard to tell.

Yea, sorry for my peasant way of trying to explain everything, for some reason I have never spent anytime messing around with my home network and just took it for granted. I have verizon Fios so I know I have some version of an Actiontec model. On the back I am seeing Actiontec MI424-WR Rev. C .

This goes to a lovely box in my garage (the function of which, I do not know, only that it has something to do with the phone line) which continues on coax cable to a box outside.

If you have Fios, that means you have fibre-optics run to your house. That box in your garage does not continue on coaxial, that's the fibre cable, coming from your ISP. The box has a special gizmo in it that is essentially a multi-purpose "media-converter/demultiplexor" - it splits and then converts optical signals into several other types of mediums - Ethernet, which goes into a "WAN" port of a router (in your case Actiontec), Copper for your phone line and Coaxial for your TV.

On your first question - if it has a WAN port, yes, you generally need a modem or other device :)

"WAN" is an Ethernet cable port, but ISPs do not run Ethernet cable to your house, they run coax or copper, which need a modem to translate the signals to Ethernet.
In your case your ISP runs an optical cable to your house that carries 3 different colors (wavelenghts) of light - one for the phone, one for TV and one for Internet. Here, you do not need a modem but a multiplexer/demultiplexer (that gizmo in the box), so you can distinguish the 3 wavelengths.

Hope that clears some of your confusion.

PS: The box and gizmo are called ONT - Optical Network Terminal

The signal coming from Verizon is PPPoE if on cat 5 cable or PPPoE2 for coax. So yes you need a modem that will convert the PPPoE to a standard ethernet signal.

You don't need a modem for that, a router can talk PPPoE.

PPPoE is Point To Point Protocol Over Ethernet. Ethernet can be carried over Fiber, UTP/FTP/STP, Coaxial etc.

PPP is not a "signal", it's encapsulation, thus you don't need to modulate/demodulate anything (that's what MoDem stands for).


You guys are making me want to learn more about networking.

I thank you guys for all the info. I have decided to get a tp-link all in one for the time being until it fails. Just got it because it explicitly states that is is an all-in-one and is cheap so I will have time to learn a bit more about the proper solution for my specific home network needs.

If y'all wanna keep a convo going please go for, I learn something everyday on this forum.

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@James_Gallier I'm glad you are having a good time learning, but in order for the convo to continue, you'd have to ask more questions ;)

Well since my AIO is receiving WAN Ethernet (PPPoE) does that mean a simple router could connect without the need of a modem?

For some reason FiOS also has us plugging the Coax into the AIO but I don't see the WAN Coax flashing. Something to do with the TV's.

So in what you sent me. The openwrt router the author uses does not have Modem-like capabilities? It is just a plain old router, while the ONT acts as the "modem" that converts the FTTP signal for use in the home. Would that be correct?

From what I read that should work as long as the router has the pppoe capabilities

I would follow the procedure on that site.

You can try this if you want how to convert an old PC to a wrt router it is x86 wrt

That is definitely a worthwhile project. I've got plenty of old comps lying around. Thank you sir.

Keep in mind lunix is a learning experience within its self. You may have to fight with it a while to get it to do what you want. I build a myth box and everything works except the irblasting feature. I have attached uverse and the Cisco box is do new not many people have got it to work yet

by the way they moved the location do down load the iso the location is at