How does the internet function?


Internet is basically various computers sending and receiving data among themselves. It is very much the same as making a telephone call.


When you connect to the Internet, your computer becomes part of a network.

Every computer that is connected to the Internet is part of a network, even the one in your home. For example, you may use a modem (modulators and demodulators) and dial a local number to connect to an Internet Service Provider (ISP). At work or at school, you may be part of a local area network (LAN), but you most likely still connect to the Internet using an ISP. When you connect to your ISP, you become part of their network. The ISP may then connect to a larger network and become part of their network. The Internet is simply a network of networks.

Most large communications companies have their own dedicated backbones connecting various regions. In each region, the company has a Point of Presence (POP). The POP is a place for local users to access the company's network, often through a local phone number or dedicated line. The amazing thing here is that there is no overall controlling network. Instead, there are several high-level networks connecting to each other through Network Access Points or NAPs. They share their network with others. 

Internet Network Example:

Here's an example. Imagine that Company A is a large ISP. In each major city, Company A has a POP. The POP in each city is a rack full of modems that the ISP's customers dial into.  Imagine that Company B is a corporate ISP. Company B builds large buildings in major cities and corporations locate their Internet server machines in these buildings. Company B is such a large company that it runs its own fiber optic lines between its buildings so that they are all interconnected.

In this arrangement, all of Company A's customers can talk to each other, and all of Company B's customers can talk to each other, but there is no way for Company A's customers and Company B's customers to intercommunicate. Therefore, Company A and Company B both agree to connect to NAPs in various cities, and traffic between the two companies flows between the networks at the NAPs.

In the real Internet, dozens of large Internet providers interconnect at NAPs in various cities, and trillions of bytes of data flow between the individual networks at these points. The Internet is a collection of huge corporate networks that agree to intercommunicate with each other at the NAPs. In this way, every computer on the Internet connects to every other.

All of these networks rely on NAPs, backbones and routers to talk to each other. What is incredible about this process is that a message can leave one computer and travel halfway across the world through several different networks and arrive at another computer in a fraction of a second!

The routers determine where to send information from one computer to another. Routers are specialized computers that send your messages and those of every other Internet user speeding to their destinations along thousands of pathways. A router has two separate, but related, jobs. Firstly, to ensure that information doesn't go where it's not needed. This is crucial for keeping large volumes of data from clogging the connections of "innocent bystanders."Secondly, it makes sure that information does make it to the intended destination.

In performing these two jobs, a router is extremely useful in dealing with two separate computer networks. It joins the two networks, passing information from one to the other. It also protects the networks from one another, preventing the traffic on one from unnecessarily spilling over to the other. Regardless of how many networks are attached, the basic operation and function of the router remains the same. Since the Internet is one huge network made up of tens of thousands of smaller networks, its use of routers is an absolute necessity.

Every machine on the Internet has a unique identifying number, called an IP Address. The IP stands for Internet Protocol, which is the language that computers use to communicate over the Internet. A protocol is the pre-defined way that someone who wants to use a service talks with that service. The "someone" could be a person, but more often it is a computer program like a Web browser.