Switch vs Modem vs Splitter vs Bridge

Updated on Sep 29, 2021 by

There are several network devices used in your installation, switches, modem, splitter, bridges and something else. Maybe you are familiar with some of them. How do they differ from each other, do you really know what they differ? This paper will shed light on what they are and how they differ.

Switch vs Modem vs Splitter vs Bridge: What Are They?

Switch in Networking

A network switch is a hardware network device that enables networked devices to communicate with each other efficiently. When a switch receives a packet of data, it determines where the packet will go so that data will be only sent to the computer or devices that it is intended for. More information about network switch guide and selection are available on Network Switch WiKi and Selection Guide.

figure 1 Ethernet switch.jpg

Figure 1: Ethernet switches


The modem is the short way of saying “modulator, demodulator”. It’s a small network device that lets your computer send signals back and forth along a telephone line or a cable from outside of your house.

figure 2 Ethernet modem.jpg

Figure 2: Ethernet modem

Generally, a modem just connects to your ISP so that you can connect Internet. It provides a connection for a single, wired device, but if you have more devices to share the modem’s internet connection and want to use WiFi, you still need a router. When you sign up for the services of ISP, you will be provided with a modem. The type of modem you need depends on the type of internet service you receive from your ISP. If you want to buy your own modem, make sure the models are recommended or approved by your ISP.

Ethernet Splitter

A splitter is a small gizmo with three Ethernet ports on it — two on one side and one on the other. Each pair of Ethernet splitters only channels two cables because it relies on the fairly old 100BASE-T standard. As the name implies, Ethernet splitter can split a single Internet connection to create extra connections, which allows two devices to share a single Ethernet signal, reducing the number of Cat5 cables you need when connecting two networks. Get more information in this article: What Is PoE Splitter and How Does It Work?

figure 3 Ethernet splitter.jpg

Figure 3: PoE splitter

Network Bridge

Bridge, which can be also called network bridge or Ethernet bridge, is a network node that connects two networks using different protocols together. It is applied to connect a local area network (LAN) to another local area network that uses the same protocol. It serves as the entry and exit point for a network. The purpose of a network bridge is to divide the networks into manageable sessions.

Switch vs Modem vs Splitter vs Bridge: How They Differ?

Switch vs Modem

Switch and modem are two devices that are often seen in networking. They both have some physical ports on the front or back of them, which provides the connection points for computers, a connection for electric power, and LED lights to display working status. A switch and modem are often connected through a router. A router can be connected to the modem on one end (ISP) and to a switch on the other end (local network). In terms of their differences, modems are used in a home networking environment between the home internet connection and your ISP. Network switches are most often used in large networks, such as enterprise, campus or data centers. The configuration options of them are totally different.

Switch vs Bridge

Similar to switches that operate at the data link, a bridge is a type of network interconnection device that connects two network segments together. They both improve the performance, reliability, and security of the network. Switches are used to connect devices in the same network, multiple devices can send data at the same time. As mentioned above, routers and computers can work as bridges. Compared with switches that can generally have tens of ports, most network bridges only have two or four ports. And a bridge can connect fewer LAN, while a switch can connect more networks.

Ethernet Splitter vs Switch

Both switches and Ethernet splitters are primarily used for connecting different computers or other networking devices. However, switches can work standalone or in a group via stacking or clustering, while Ethernet splitters need to be used in pairs. Ethernet switches can be used for networks including different devices and power input is needed so that it can divide an Ethernet signal into various signals, and the signals can operate at the same time. But for Ethernet splitters, there is no need for power input.


As for switch in networking vs modem vs splitter vs bridge, we know they have something in common but are used for different purposes. The best Ethernet device is the one that suits your needs most. Hope this post can help you before you find the best suitable devices.

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