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How the Internet Works; Facts about the Internet

There is no denying that the Internet has revolutionized humanity. It’s perhaps the greatest innovation ever created. Today, let’s explore the Internet, its pioneers, the organizations that keep it running, its present, and its future.

What is the Internet?

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The internet is a global network of computers. So, every computer connected to the internet has a number called an IP Address. IP means internet protocol.  Every address is different on each computer or phone.

Computers connect to the web through the Internet Service Provider (ISP).  The ISP assigns the IP Address. The revolution of this technology began in 1969. ARPA, an organization in the US developed research on the technologies used in internet communication today. At first, they connected computers in multiple universities and called it ARPANET.

A few years later, Sir Tim, a computer scientist, developed the ARPANET to the internet we now know and use. He invented the core on which most websites work and allowed the internet to become uniform and usable. He never patented the idea.

Construction of the Internet

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How does the internet connect us all? Optical fiber cables span across the world. Each cable consists of optical fibers wrapped in materials for protection. Approximately 420 cables have been laid spanning over 1.1 million kilometers as of 2017.

A ship pulls the cables from one country to the other. Sea plows dig trenches to fix in the cables. If a cable is unburied, they remain vulnerable to damage and disasters occur. In 2008, cable damage caused 60% of India, and 70% of Egypt lost its internet connection. Satellites circle the earth beaming down the internet from the sky.

Who owns this technology?

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Technically the internet is owned by no one and everyone. It’s an autonomous interconnection of various networks. It’s decentralized so no government or body controls it. However, governments can control their citizens’ access via ISPs.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) maintains the database which holds domain names.  They manage the domain name system (DNS). Other organizations like ICANN are Internet Engineering Task Force and the World Wide Web Consortium. These organizations set the standards, make the protocols, and ensure that the internet is safe and open.

How is Data transferred?

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Every time you send a text on your phone, the data is transmitted from alphabetical to electronic signals, and then back to alphabets. For data to travel, it needs protocol stacks. The protocol stacks are called TCP IP. When you send an email, it runs through the transmission control protocol layer. This layer tells the other computer what application to use and assigns a port number. The internet protocol (IP) layer sends the packet using the address of the other computer. The hardware layer takes the ones and zeros across the web. This data goes through multiple routers to finally reach the intended address. Once it reaches the other computer, the same process takes place but reversed.

The Future of the Internet

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How will this technology evolve? for starters, it’s going to get faster. 5G is set to yield at least a tenfold increase in speed. There are scientists that question the safety of 5G. These concerns arise from the high-frequency waves associated with the high data transfer speeds. However, the frequencies produced by 5G are an order of magnitude less than the current international limit of 300 GHz. 5G is already in use in countries like the USA and China. We expect to see more developments in the 5G network in 2020.

We have all seen the developments of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality, Internet of things (IoT), Virtual Reality, and Autonomous cars. All these technologies depend on the web. These technologies require fast connection speeds. The development of the 5G network will further enhance how all these technologies work.

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