What is the Difference Between a Gateway and a Router?

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Updated August 9, 2022

If you are building a wireless network, you may wonder what is the difference between a gateway and a router. The best routers, after all, may offer slightly different features from a gateway. Keep reading to learn all about the differences between these two.


  • Routers and gateways are similar devices, with some key differences, as gateways primarily operate via a single node whereas routers can connect dissimilar networks.
  • Routers participate in highly adjustable dynamic routing, whereas gateways conduct static routing protocols throughout a network entity or network device.
  • In some cases, a single device provided by an Internet service provider that includes both a router and a modem is called gateways.

Differences Between Gateways and Routers

Gateways and routers are similar in a number of ways, so if you are learning how to limit download speed on a router the process will be nearly identical to a gateway. The main difference between the two is that gateways feature a single point of access to computers outside of your network, operating like a door. Routers, on the other hand, work to determine the shortest path between computer A and computer B, particularly with regard to an Internet signal derived from a modem. Routers can be a gateway but not all gateways are routers.

Insider Tip

If you live in a residential home and use an average amount of Internet, you will likely want a standard router over a gateway.

There are many more slight differences between the two, though they both use cable or satellite Internet, in case you are wondering what is an LTE router.

Dynamic Routing

One of the things routers are known for is dynamic routing, which is a network technique that adjusts routing on the fly for the most efficient route between two different devices. The ability to participate in dynamic routing is essentially what makes routers so useful when it comes to delivering a wireless signal. Gateways are simpler devices, without the ability to dynamically route the signal. With gateways, it is typically one-way in and one way out, otherwise known as static routing.

Hybrid Devices

In some cases, a gateway refers to a hybrid device that includes both a modem and a router in a single package. In these instances, a gateway router is basically interchangeable with a commercial router, with the added benefit of also including a modem or another means to access the Internet. Some companies use the word incorrectly, however, so practice caution before making a purchase.

Physical Server Integration

Gateways are essentially built to interact with a physical server, making them ideal for large commercially-minded networks that include plenty of network cards, network access control devices, and various internal routing tables.


Is it better to use a separate modem and router?

Using a single router over a hybrid unit does increase customization options, but otherwise the experience will be similar.

Do you need a router if you have a modem?

If you want wireless Internet you will need router hardware above a modem. The difference between routers and a modem is that the latter receives an internet signal and the former disseminates this signal to connected devices. To further enhance the signal, you can also setup a WiFi range extender.

What is a modem?

A modem is a device that receives Internet signals from a provider and it sends this information to a destination address, such as a router with heavy network traffic. Modems occasionally include additional features, which is one of the primary differences between gateway devices and modems.

STAT: For any kind of workplace, the gateway is a computer system that is responsible for routing the traffic from the main workstation to outside network. (source)

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