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
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").
See: Metcalfe's Law
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.