What Is the Internet?

The Internet: A Network of Networks

What is the Internet? The Internet is the following:

   – A flock of independent networks flying in loose formation, owned by no one and connecting an      unknown number of users
   – A grass roots cultural phenomenon started 30 years ago by a group of graduate students in tie-dyed      shirts and ponytails
   – Ma Bell’s good old telephone networks dressed up for the 1990s
     A new way to transmit information that is faster and cheaper than a phone call, fax, or the post office

Some Internet facts:

   – The number of hosts (or computers) connected to the Internet has grown from a handful in 1989 to      hundreds of millions today. 
   – The MIT Media Lab says that the size of the World Wide Web is doubling every 50 days, and that a      new home page is created every 4 seconds.

Internet Hierarchy

What Is the Internet?

The Internet has three components: information, wires, and people.

   – The “wires” are arranged in a loose hierarchy, with the fastest wires located in the middle of the      cloud on one of the Internet’s many “backbones.” 
   – Regional networks connect to the Internet backbone at one of several Network Access Points (NAPs),      including MAE-EAST, in Herndon, Virginia; and MAE-WEST, in Palo Alto, California.
   – Internet service providers (ISPs) administer or connect to the regional networks, and serve      customers from one or more points of presence (POPs).
   – Dynamic adaptive routing allows Internet traffic to be automatically rerouted around circuit failures.
   – Dataquest estimates that up to 88 percent of all traffic on the Internet touches a Cisco router at      some point.

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