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How does the internet work?

What is the internet?

Internet is a portmanteau of Interconnected Network. Network, in this case, is referring to a computer network which is two or more computers connected together so data can pass between.

People often use the word Internet to reference going online, however, it is actually an intricately linked worldwide computer network. This network is connected by copper cables, fiber-optic cables, wireless radio connections and satellite links. The Internet may seem like an invisible kind of magic but it is much more tangible than that.

In less than 20 years, the web has expanded to link up around 210 different nations. Even some of the world’s poorest developing nations are now connected.

How does the internet work?

To understand how it works you need to understand 3 key things: Information packets, protocols and routeing.

coloured blocksData is transferred across the internet in packets. Essentially it would take too long to transfer a whole data file in one packet and so the data is broken down into many tiny packets. Each packet contains a fraction of the data, the recipient Internet Protocol (IP) address and instructions on how to rebuild the packets to create the data file. The IP address works like putting an address on a letter, it instructs the network where to send the data.

protocolsProtocols are the rules which the internet follows. The primary protocol used is Hypertext Transfer Protocol or HTTP. You may notice this at the beginning of web addresses in your browser. HTTP is the foundation of communication in the World Wide Web and is a set of rules for transferring files (text, graphic images, sound, video, and other multimedia files).

The initial data packet travels from your computer to the Point of Present (POP) which is connected to the Network Access Point (NAP) which can connect to millions of other NAPs. The connections between your PC and the POP (router) can either be via WiFi or Ethernet, the connections between your POP and the NAP are the regional ISP backbone and these are traditionally Copper cables, the connections between the NAPs are mostly Fibre Optic cables. The copper connections between your POP and the NAP are often slower and connectivity delays are more likely to happen here. However, Fibre Optic is becoming more widely available to households and offices via FTTC and FTTP.

Internet diagram


For more information on the internet, broadband or connectivity contact ITC on 023 8024 9820

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