Put simply, the internet is a tool for communication; this communication can be in the form of data, text or multimedia. It is a global system of interconnected computer networks that link up billions of devices across the world. These networks are governed by a specific set of rules known as standardized communication protocols. The different networks are linked by an array of networking technologies that include electronic, wireless and fiber optics.
In its heydays in the 1960s, the internet was developed for use by the academic and military. The, however, saw this technology opening up and becoming popular with the masses. A greater push towards its further development and commercialization was also put forth. However, the purpose of the internet still remained the same – an amazing tool used to connect computers together. This technology has now become incorporated in virtually every aspect of modern living. It is being used for electronic mailing, telephony, file sharing, voice, and video sharing. But then the question arises – how does this internet or ‘net’ actually work?
The internet works by connecting your computer to any other computer in the world via a series of dedicated routers and servers. With such a connection, you can securely send and receive information which can be in the form of text, voice or video. The World Wide Web (www) is backed by the internet which is its technical infrastructure and backbone.
The present-day internet has grown into a massive network of networks where information is transmitted in the form of ‘packets’. The routes for the destination of these packets are enabled by routers that connect your computer to the internet via an internet service provider (ISP). Routers are basically packet switches that are connected to other routers via the network for safe transferring of packets between them.
For example, once you click ‘send’ on your computer, the data is sent to the wireless access point (WAP) using the Wi-Fi. The WAP sends this data to your wired router which then sends it to a series of other routers till it reaches its destination address. All this is facilitated through multi-lateral commercial contracts and protocols or technical specifications. And this happens within a bare few seconds of your clicking send!
To assure transfer of data to the right address, a globally unified ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) authority coordinates the designation of unique identifiers to these data transfers. These include IP addresses, domain names, protocol ports, and parameter numbers.
Interestingly enough, however, the internet has no governing body, just a set of rules and regulations!