Internet today is used by many as the primary source of information consumption. It has given access to an unlimited supply of entertainment sources, such as movies, music, videos and games but have you ever wondered How exactly does Internet work?
What is Internet?
The Internet is a global system of interconnected computers and devices across the planet. It is a network of networks. Internet is a vast, sprawling collection of networks that connect to each other. A network is a group of connected computers that are able to send and receive data to each other. The devices connect to each other and to the Internet via wires, cables and other types of networking infrastructure.
The internet started as an experiment in late 1960s. It was called ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network). It was used as a way to communicate between computers and by government researchers to share information. ARPANET was a great success but had less reach. Other networks were then created to fulfill the need of a proper system to share information.
How does Internet work?
To understand the Internet, look at it as a system with two main components. The first of those components is hardware.
The global internet is powered by vast undersea submarine cables. This is all thanks to submarine cables that connect with data centers around the world. You won’t believe but there are cables under the oceans connecting countries together. Thin hair like material make up for the cables and they carry a bandwidth of 100+ gbps. These Internet undersea cables work on fibre-optic technology. Submarine cables are made up of thin glass fibres on the inside. For strength they are covered in plastic. Light beams are fired from one end to another which help in transfer of data and information.
Who laid the cables?
The submarine cables are generally owned by telecom companies and carriers of various nations . They can also be owned by the investors who invested in the telecom projects. The India-Asia-Xpress (IAX) system connects India eastbound to Singapore and beyond while the India-Europe-Xpress (IEX) system connects India westbound to the Middle East and Europe. These are owned by Reliance Jio.
There are occasions when the cables break due to regular wear and tear or other accidents underwater. In those cases the connections are routed to backup cables until the cables are fixed and back on track. There are infinitely many backup cables lying in the oceans and ready for use.
Undersea cable landing stations
These submarine cables connect to different countries at different landing stations. For instance, India has a total of 5 landing stations. These are at Mumbai, Cochin, Trivandrum, Tuticorin and Chennai with Mumbai being the largest. Mumbai is the busiest landing station and connects with 11 cables in total. The world has a total of 1.3 million kilometers of submarine cables in service with a total of 426 submarine cables.
Other types of hardware that support the Internet include routers, servers, cell phone towers, satellites, radios, smartphones and other devices. All these devices together create the network of networks.
How does data move through the Internet?
Devices that store the information we seek on the Internet are called servers. The end point where the information is to be delivered is called client. Every other connection point between server and client is called node. Internet follows different Protocols which are set of rules and regulations. Protocols create the framework within which all devices must operate to be part of the Internet. These Protocols even help in the communication of devices on internet.
Transmission control protocol (TCP) and Internet protocol (IP) are the most important protocols. Each device connected to the Internet has an IP address. This is a virtual address of each device and helps in healthy communication on the internet.
In networking, a packet is a small segment of a larger message. A Packet is a combination of data and information. When data is sent on internet, it is first broken up into smaller packets, which are then translated into bits. The packets get routed to their destination by various networking devices such as routers and switches. When the packets arrive at their destination, the receiving device reassembles the packets in order and can then use or display the data. Packets are sent across the Internet using a technique called packet switching. Each packet has a header and footer which tells the receiver how to arrange the packets to form the desired information and display it correctly. These packets move through an ISP (Internet Service Provider)
Routers forward packets to different computer networks based on their destination. They ensure the packets gets delivered to the right network. Switches connect devices that share a single network. They use packet switching to forward packets to the correct devices.
How does Internet work – An Illustration
Suppose you are in Delhi (India) and you wanna visit Tech Everyday on your desktop. You open your browser and search for the website. The browser will show-up the desired result in less than a second. But have you ever wondered what happens on the inside?.
Your device IP requests for the website, the request goes from your router to the nearest mobile tower, then to the nearest data station. From there the connection heads to any of the 5 undersea cable landing stations depending on the traffic. This a mostly a wired transfer.
Tech Everyday’s server is in Singapore so the connection proceeds via the submarine cables to Singapore and then to the city where the server is located. The data is then collected in packets and brought back the same way. These packets move through an ISP. Each packet travels back up the network and down to your computer. The packets then get organized and combined together and give the result. All this takes place in nano-seconds.
Now you know how the Internet work. The current IP version has enough IP addresses as per the demand. The Internet has come a long way since it’s inception as a Defense Department research project. No one really knows what the Internet will become. One thing is sure, however. The Internet will unite the world like no other mechanism ever has.
That’s how the Internet work in a nutshell. No doubt it is a complex process but I tried explaining in the easiest way possible. Do comment and tell us if the blog was helpful. Stay Tuned for new and improved blogs in the future!
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