WHAT IS THE INTERNET?
The Internet is a global network of networks enabling computers of all kinds to directly and transparently communicate and share services throughout much of the world. Because the Internet is an enormously valuable, enabling capability for so many people and organiza- tions, it also constitutes a shared global resource of information, knowledge, and means of collaboration, and cooperation among countless diverse communities.
HOW DOES THE INTERNET WORK? WHO OWNS IT?
Starting at the top, each country typically has one or more backbone public internets which are connected to each other through a variety of global arrangements. At the regional and local levels, there are tens of thousands of organizations of every conceivable kind that have built their own enterprise internets and connected them to national backbones. Most of the networks are oper- ated by organizations that either provide Internet access to internal staff or specialize in providing widespread public access to end-users.
There are basically four kinds of access provided:
- host access where end-users connect their computers to become part of the Internet, or
- terminal access where end users connect to a host computer which is directly connected to the Internet, or
- network access where a network of computers become a part of the Internet, or
- gateway access where another kinds of computer networks, online services, or e-mail services are indirectly interconnected.
HOW BIG IS THE INTERNET?
As of 1 Feb 1995, the Internet consisted of more than 50,000 networks in 90 countries. Gateways that allow at least e-mail connectivity extend this reach to 160 countries. At the end of 1994, 5 million computers were indicated as actually reachable - with an estimated total of 20-40 million users. Network growth continued at around 10 percent per month. Now predictions assert that Internet traffic will increase 93-folds between 2000 and 2005 and that Internet growth will supass voice traffic in 2002, increasing to more than eitht times that of voice-traffic levels by 2005 (voice traffic refers to "talking on the phone").
WHAT INTERNET SERVICES EXIST? WHAT CAN I DO?
Internet access is provided over almost any medium from simple telephone dialup to satellites or extremely high speed optical fiber connections. Internet services number in the hundreds, and depend upon a combination of the access computer software and the available bandwidth. The most common services are file transfer, World Wide Web, e-mail, and remote computer access. Other popular services include: information discovery services, real-time written interactions, audio and video conferencing, directory services to discover the addresses of people, or even multicast-ing of audio and video programs. Such as Internet Talk perhaps the ultimate value of the Internet, however, is enabling communication among millions of people and organizations who can be reached through the network, or who provide abundant and diverse information and software on Internet computer servers. For many pro- fessional, business, educational, and governmental activities today, the Internet is a indispensable tool.
HOW DID THE INTERNET HAPPEN?
The Internet technology and networks were originally developed by the research arm of the USA Department of Defense to provide robust interconnection of its information resources and researchers. During the 1980s, the technology and networks were adopted by other government agencies and countries, as well as the private business sector. Today, internet technology and the Internet have found massive acceptance and use by hundreds of thousands of organizations around the world.
WHAT ARE THE ECONOMICS OF THE INTERNET?
The Internet makes use of extremely cost effective arrangements where Internet capacity is usually pur- chased at dedicated unmetered flat rates based on bandwidth, or at metered dialup rates. The network transport technology is also highly cost effective because it uses "connectionless" techniques to share capacity.
WHERE IS THE INTERNET GOING?
The Internet today is growing exponentially worldwide.
Simple easy-to-use software and inexpensive access to
the general public over nearly every telecommunications
medium are becoming widely available. Almost every
conceivable non-profit and for-profit use is underway or
being envisioned. The Internet's future rests with the
global Internet community and the Internet Society -
established in 1992 as the international organization for
coordination and cooperation of the Internet and its
technologies and applications.