Many people assume that gateways and routers are designed to perform the same basic function redirecting Internet Protocol (IP) traffic in the form of “packets” across one or more networks. If you have a landline internet connection at your business’s workplace or office, for instance, you may set up either a gateway or a router to create a secure Wi-Fi.
Routers and gateways aren’t the same, however. Each piece of Information Technology (IT) hardware works in a different way to control IP traffic. To learn more about the differences between routers and gateways, keep reading.
What Is a Gateway?
Also known as a prototype converter, a gateway is a piece of IT hardware that’s designed to regulate the flow of IP traffic across two networks, such as a local network and the internet. More specifically, it provides an entry point — hence the name “Gateway” — for IP traffic coming into and going out of a local network.
What Is a Router?
A router, on the other hand, is a piece of IT hardware that’s designed to route IP packets across multiple networks. It connects two or more similar networks together while also controlling the IP traffic between them.
From a more technical perspective, a router is a layer-three IT device that’s unable to change the IP address of packets. Instead, it’s only able to change the MAC address of packets. When IP traffic enters the router, the router will read its address, as well as its destination address, to determine the quickest path possible.
How Gateways and Routers Differ
Both gateways and routers are designed to control IP traffic, and they both operate across multiple networks. With that said, gateways and routers are used for different purposes. The primary difference between them lies in the type of networks in which they are used. Gateways are designed to regulate IP traffic across multiple networks that aren’t similar, whereas routers are designed to regulate IP traffic across multiple networks that are similar.
Gateways and routers are two common types of IT hardware used to regulate the flow of IP traffic across multiple networks. They are often mistaken for each other because of their similarities. A gateway always functions as a router, but routers don’t have to function as a gateway. As revealed above, however, gateways and routers differ regarding the types of networks with which they work. Gateways work across dissimilar networks, while routers work across similar networks.
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