The Internet is a computer-based global information system. The Internet is composed of many interconnected computer networks. Each network may link tens, hundreds, or even thousands of computers, enabling them to share information and processing power. The Internet has made it possible for people all over the world to communicate with one another effectively and inexpensively. Unlike traditional broadcasting media, such as radio and television, the Internet does not have a centralized distribution system. Instead, an individual who has Internet access can communicate directly with anyone else on the Internet, post information for general consumption, retrieve information, use distant applications and services, or buy and sell products.
The Net has brought new opportunities to government, business, and education. Governments use the Internet for internal communication, distribution of information, and automated tax processing. In addition to offering goods and services online to customers, businesses use the Internet to interact with other businesses. Many individuals use the Internet for communicating through electronic mail (e-mail), retrieving news, researching information, shopping, paying bills, banking, listening to music, watching movies, playing games, and even making telephone calls. Educational institutions use the Internet for research and to deliver online courses and course material to students.
Use of the Internet has grown tremendously since its start. The Internet’s success arises from its flexibility. Instead of restricting component networks to a particular manufacturer or particular type, Internet technology allows interconnection of any kind of computer network. No network is too large or too small, too fast or too slow to be interconnected. Thus, the Internet includes inexpensive networks that can only connect a few computers within a single room as well as expensive networks that can span a continent and connect thousands of computers.
A Local Area Network is a collection of interconnected computers that can share data, applications, and resources, such as printers. Computers in a LAN are separated by distances of up to a few miles and are typically used in offices or in universities. A LAN enables the fast and effective transfer of information within a group of users and reduces operational costs
Other "types" of networks include wide area networks (WANs), such as the Internet; and private branch exchanges (PBXs). WANs are similar to LANs but they connect computers separated by longer distances, typically across the country or internationally, and they use specialized and expensive hardware and leased communications services. PBXs provide continuous computer connections for the transfer of specialized data such as telephone transmissions, but they are not ideally suited to send and receive the short bursts of data used by most computer applications.
Internet access refers to the communication between a residence or a business and an ISP that connects to the Internet. Access may be subdivided into three categories: dedicated, dial-up, and wireless. With dedicated access, a subscriber’s computer remains directly connected to the Internet at all times through a permanent, physical connection. Most large businesses have high-capacity dedicated connections; small businesses or individuals that desire dedicated access choose technologies such as digital subscriber line (DSL) or cable modems, which both use existing wiring to lower cost. A DSL sends data across the same wires that telephone service uses, and cable modems use the same wiring that cable television uses. In each case, the electronic devices that are used to send data over the wires employ separate frequencies or channels that do not interfere with other signals on the wires. Thus, a DSL Internet connection can send data over a pair of wires at the same time the wires are being used for a telephone call, and cable modems can send data over a cable at the same time the cable is being used to receive television signals. Another, less-popular option is satellite Internet access, in which a computer grabs an Internet signal from orbiting satellites through an outdoor satellite dish. The user usually pays a fixed monthly fee for a dedicated connection. In exchange, the company providing the connection agrees to relay data between the user’s computer and the Internet.
Dial-up is the least expensive access technology, but it is also the least convenient. To use dial-up access, a subscriber must have a telephone modem, a device that connects a computer to the telephone system and is capable of converting data into sounds and sounds back into data. The user’s ISP provides software that controls the modem. To access the Internet, the user opens the software application, which causes the dial-up modem to place a telephone call to the ISP. A modem at the ISP answers the call, and the two modems use audible tones to send data in both directions. When one of the modems is given data to send, the modem converts the data from the digital values used by computers—numbers stored as a sequence of 1s and 0s—into tones. The receiving side converts the tones back into digital values. Unlike dedicated access technologies, a dial-up modem does not use separate frequencies, so the telephone line cannot be used for regular telephone calls at the same time a dial-up modem is sending data.
Now that you have the basic knowledge of the Internet itself, let’s talk about the information in it and how it gets transferred…excited? You certainly should be!
All information is transmitted across the Internet in small units of data called packets. Software on the sending computer divides a large document into many packets for transmission; software on the receiving computer regroups incoming packets into the original document. Similar to a postcard, each packet has two parts: a packet header specifying the computer to which the packet should be delivered, and a packet payload containing the data being sent. The header also specifies how the data in the packet should be combined with the data in other packets by recording which piece of a document is contained in the packet.
A series of rules known as computer communication protocols specify how packet headers are formed and how packets are processed. The set of protocols used for the Internet is named TCP/IP after the two most important protocols in the set: the Transmission Control Protocol and the Internet Protocol. TCP/IP protocols enable the Internet to automatically detect and correct transmission problems. For example, if any network or device malfunctions, protocols detect the failure and automatically find an alternative path for packets in order to avoid the malfunction. Protocol software also ensures that data arrives complete and intact. If any packets are missing or damaged, protocol software on the receiving computer requests that the source resend them. Only when the data has arrived correctly does the protocol software make it available to the receiving application program, and therefore to the user.
Hardware devices that connect networks in the Internet are called IP routers because they follow the IP protocol when forwarding packets. A router examines the header in each packet that arrives to determine the packet’s destination. The router either delivers the packet to the destination computer across a local network or forwards the packet to another router that is closer to the final destination. Thus, a packet travels from router to router as it passes through the Internet. In some cases, a router can deliver packets across a local area wireless network, allowing desktop and laptop computers to access the Internet without the use of cables or wires. Today’s business and home wireless local area networks (LANs), which operate according to a family of wireless protocols known as Wi-Fi, are fast enough to deliver Internet feeds as quickly as wired LANs.
Increasingly, cell phone and handheld computer users are also accessing the Internet through wireless cellular telephone networks. Such wide area wireless access is much slower than high-capacity dedicated, or broadband, access, or dial-up access. Also, handheld devices, equipped with much smaller screens and displays, are more difficult to use than full-sized computers. But with wide area wireless, users can access the Internet on the go and in places where access is otherwise impossible. Telephone companies are currently developing so-called 3G—for “third generation”—cellular networks that will provide wide area Internet access at DSL-like speeds.
Well, e-mail has prospered since the development of the Internet, and to make it even easier it’s basically a more convenient replacement to the regular postal mail. Also the DNS server, which is basically a naming service which creates website names in a more user friendly format instead of IP addresses.
Hmm…So you may be interested in internet speed more commonly known as bandwidth. Computers store all information as binary numbers. The binary number system uses two binary digits, 0 and 1, which are called bits. The amount of data that a computer network can transfer in a certain amount of time is called the bandwidth of the network and is measured in kilobits per second (kbps) or megabits per second (mbps). A kilobit is 1 thousand bits; a megabit is 1 million bits. A dial-up telephone modem can transfer data at rates up to 56 kbps; DSL and cable modem connections are much faster and can transfer at a few mbps. The Internet connections used by businesses can operate at 45 mbps or more, and connections between routers in the heart of the Internet may operate at rates from 2,488 to 9,953 mbps (9.953 gigabits per second). The terms wideband or broadband are used to characterize networks with high capacity, such as DSL and cable, and to distinguish them from narrowband networks, such as dial-up modems,
which have low capacity.
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