What is the Internet?

The internet - Asianet Broadband

Almost everyone uses the internet on a daily basis, right from small children down to the elderly. Information on almost every topic on earth is available on this miraculous invention of man. It is being used by kids of all ages to do their homework and play games online or download movies or music. Even housewives and the elderly use it to browse the net for recipes, news, simple tips on daily issues or simply for connecting with friends and family on social media. The internet is an important tool for communication with many apps having been developed over the years for this purpose.

The internet as we know it today is available globally and consists of a series of inter-connected computer networks which communicate with one another through transmission of data using packet switching via standard internet protocols. The origins of the internet are located in military projects created during the second half of the twentieth century by the Department of Defense of the USA, and were initially only meant for use by the military and educational institutions of the nation.

Even though the nascent internet had been in existence for over a decade, it was only in the 1990s that it started opening up to the general public. Although the basis for the internet still remains the same and involves the same basic applications and guidelines, internet technology has been evolving right from the time of its inception. Today, it has become such a vast treasure trove of information and become so huge and extensive. It can be accessed by anybody from anywhere at any time.

However, there are rules and regulations governing the exchange of data over the internet that need to be followed by the internet service provider (ISP). Apart from the complicated network of physical connections, there are technical specifications or internet protocols and another layer of bi- or multi-lateral contracts that need to be strictly adhered to for data transfers over the net. However there is no single governing body for the internet as it’s a grand network of voluntarily interconnected networks.

While internet service was initially available through telephone wires using analog technology, today the internet is increasingly going wireless and using digital technology. While earlier it was meant for use with computers, today, the internet can be wirelessly accessed by mobile phones too. The current statistics as of January 2019 show that there is a digital population of around 4.4 billion active internet users. Of these, 3.5 billion were social media users. Interestingly, India, China and USA rank as the countries with the highest internet users.