Where is the Internet and Does it Really Have its Home?
A vast number people use the internet every day to search for answers, access emails in various websites or watch videos on their computer. The internet is so integral to our society right now, but do you know exactly where is the internet’s actual location and how does it work?
In a nutshell, the internet is the biggest network in the world. It connects millions of computers and devices. A network is a group of two or more computer systems linked together.
Is the Internet the World Wide Web?
When some people hear the word “internet”, they think of the World Wide Web. In many cases, these words are used interchangeably, but note that the internet and the World Wide Web are not exactly the same thing. The internet is the physical network of computers around the world. The World Wide Web, on the other hand, is a virtual network connected by links. These websites are stored on servers (computer programs providing services to other computer programs) on the internet. To make things clear, the World Wide Web is just part of the internet; it is not the internet itself.
Connections that Make Up the Internet
Local Area Network or LAN
- These are two or more computers connected to each other.
- Take note that it is local, so these networks are connected but they are close together.
- They cover a small area like an office space or a house.
Wide Area Network or WAN
- These computers are located further apart and are connected through multiple types of wires.
- Consists of two or more Local Area Networks
- The internet is the biggest WAN, which exists today.
Both LAN and WAN can be connected through wireless radio signals and the best example of that is the Wi-Fi connection.
The internet is a physical connection of all the computers that exist in the world and those connections are made through cables or radio signals. Still, that doesn’t explain where all those online web pages and videos come from. Therefore, we have to take a look at the virtual network, which is the World Wide Web and how it relates to the internet.
Servers and Clients Defined
You’ll understand how they relate easier once we break down what servers and clients are. A server is a computer, which serves different computers in a network by using specialized software and also store information.
Webpages, YouTube videos and all the photos are among the things that are stored on a server. When you access these pages on a computer, your computer will act as a client who requests for information. A client requests for information through software known as a web browser. A client communicates with the servers to relay that information.
However, in P2P or Peer to Peer networks, your computer can act as the client and the server. You can see this on programs like uTorrent and Skype.
When you have an internet connection, you can access other people’s computers and files. You can also send files and access the World Wide Web. As mentioned above, the World Wide Web is a virtual connection of websites stored on the servers. These websites use various computer programming languages such as HTML and Java Script to look and function in a certain way. Once the World Wide Web is accessed using your client, information is requested and sent to your screen.
Still, where really is the internet? Well, it’s anywhere when two or more computers are connected and let’s not forget that mobile devices fall into the category of computers.
So, if you’re connected to Wi-Fi or your mobile service provider and you’re receiving those Twitter and Facebook alerts that are, in a sense, on the internet, then you are using it. So you see, you spend hours on the internet more than you think.
The Internet’s Physical Location
Yes, the internet does have a physical location. As mentioned earlier, the internet is a network, which connects millions of computers and devices around the world. High-speed fiber optic cables connect telecommunication buildings and data centers around the world.
Ninety-nine percent of international data traffic travel through these high-speed fiber optic undersea cables. This is the same way people connect to each other in a single country, but this time, the cables are underwater and not underground. These cables, considered as the backbone of the internet, were placed on the sea bed by various companies after the invention of the electric telegraph system.
Did you know that these fiber optic cables have been on the ocean floor for 157 years? The early experiments (in the 1800s) for telecommunication was a type of clock with letters, instead of numbers and the range it covered were only the ends of two gardens. This experiment were later tested on a larger area where the two neighborhoods of a town were used to help signal the railroad trains. The project further expanded and this time, cities were interconnected with the help of a network of railroad lines. With almost all of the cities interconnected, the next step was to connect continents by laying undersea cables.
These undersea cables literally connect the world, linking continent to continent, with the exception of Antarctica. Without them, the global internet just wouldn’t work. Amazingly, these cables are only as thick as a garden hose, making them prone to the occasional shark bites, but it’s never a big problem as the cable network is so vast the electronic request simply reroutes. Contrary to popular belief, the internet is never down.
The internet is above the clouds as well. Facebook has satellites that project internet beams to remote places in Africa. Google has balloons that reach further to the edge of the earth’s atmosphere. These balloons use LTE technology so that people in remote and rural areas can connect with the outside world.
Whether under the ocean or above the clouds, this colossal – and virtual—infrastructure have made our modern lives as convenient as ever. So, where is the internet? Well, it is physically and virtually “everywhere”.