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Table of contents
1.
Introduction
2.
What is Internet?
3.
History of the Internet
4.
How is the Internet Set Up?
5.
Why is the Internet Called a Network?
6.
How does the internet work?
7.
What is an IP Address?
8.
Uses of the Internet
8.1.
Cashless Transactions
8.2.
Education
8.3.
E-Commerce
8.4.
Advertising
8.5.
Entertainment
8.6.
Navigation
9.
Types of Internet
9.1.
The Public Internet
9.2.
The Private Internet
9.3.
The Deep Web
9.4.
The Dark Web
9.5.
Wireless Internet
9.6.
Satellite Internet
9.7.
Cellular Internet
10.
Advantages of Internet
11.
Disadvantages of the Internet
12.
Different Ways to Connect to the Internet
13.
Technical Aspects
14.
Services and Applications
15.
Social Impact of Internet on Society
16.
Security and Privacy
17.
Difference between the World Wide Web and the Internet
17.1.
World Wide Web
17.2.
Internet
18.
Future of the Internet
19.
Frequently Asked Questions
19.1.
What is the Internet?
19.2.
What are the 3 types of Internet?
19.3.
What are the features of the Internet?
20.
Conclusion
Last Updated: Mar 27, 2024
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What is Internet? Definition, Uses, Working, Advantages and Disadvantages

Author Ravi Khorwal
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Ashwin Goyal
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Introduction

In this gen-z era, it is hard to imagine a life without the Internet. It is used in almost every step of our daily routines. From mobiles to cars, the Internet has paved its way into our lives like a habit. In this article, we will explore the world of the Internet and what is the meaning of internet. We will study its ecosystem and atmosphere, how much value it holds, how much it influences us, and the future and drawbacks of the Internet.

So buckle up and enjoy the ride :)

what is internet

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What is Internet?

The internet is like a huge network of computers and devices that are all connected together. It's a bit like the web, where you can share and find information, talk to people, watch videos, and do lots of other things using your computer or phone.

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History of the Internet

The origins of the internet date back to the 1950s somewhere in the United States. Back then, it was known as Packet Switching. Packet switching, at that time, was considered a better and faster mode to transfer data than the hardware solution to the problem. The packet switching technology was an essential part of the evolution of ARPANET. ARPANET is considered the first known group of interconnected computers by the United States Military. January 1, 1983, is regarded as the official birthday of the Internet. A new communications protocol called Transfer Control Protocol/Internetwork Protocol (TCP/IP) was established. Before this, no computer had a standard way of communicating with other computers.

Also see,  Personal Area Network

How is the Internet Set Up?

The internet is like a vast network of connected devices, resembling a web of pathways. Let us look at how the internet is set up:

  1. Infrastructure: High-speed cables and fiber-optic lines form the internet's backbone, connecting continents and cities
     
  2. Internet Service Providers (ISPs): These companies offer internet access, linking homes and businesses to the network
     
  3. Routers and Servers: Routers direct data, while servers store website content. When we visit a site, our request goes to a server and returns to our device
     
  4. IP Addresses: Every internet-connected device has a unique digital address, guiding data to the right destination
     
  5. Data Packets: Info breaks into small packets that travel the fastest routes, ensuring reliability
     
  6. Protocols: Rules dictate data transmission. HTTP is a protocol used for web browsing
     
  7. Browsers and Apps: Browsers like Chrome help access internet info. Apps, from streaming to email, rely on the internet
     
  8. Cloud Services: Remote servers store data and provide services. Google Drive and iCloud are examples
     
  9. Security Measures: Encryption safeguards data, and VPNs offer secure connections, even on public Wi-Fi

Why is the Internet Called a Network?

In its basic form, the Internet is known as a Network or a Network hub because it connects millions and billions of smaller heterogeneous computer networks from all over the world to an individual entity. This network is possible through linking cables, fibre optic cables and telephone lines, making communication amongst them possible.

How does the internet work?

The Internet works by using a packet routing network that follows Internet Protocol (IP) and Transport Control Protocol (TCP). (TCP/IP) ensures data transmission across the world through the Internet is possible and duly efficient.

It basically uses two primary components called Packets and Protocols.

The data which is transversing the internet is divided into smaller pieces, also called packets. IP Addresses are attached to each packet, and with the help of devices like routers, these packets are sent to their respective destinations.

An IP address is a unique identifier connected to a domain connecting to the internet. Each IP Address has a series of numbers like '192.156.1.2', but remembering a series of numbers seems like a task. To solve this problem, DNS resolvers translate these into readable names.

Once the server has received and accepted the request, it intercepts the requested data along with some additional information like the metadata, type of content, and other relevant information. 

The job of directing the request from your device to the servers is carried out through devices called routers and switches. For each packet, the routers and switches search to find the quickest route.

All this data combined is displayed on your device with the help of a web browser application or other applications.

What is an IP Address?

An IP address stands for Internet Protocol address. It is a unique set of numbers that identifies a specific device connected to the internet. It's like a digital address for your computer, smartphone, tablet, or any other device that's part of the online world.

Just like your home address helps mail reach your house, an IP address helps data find its way to the correct device on the internet. It's used to route information, like web pages, emails, and videos, from one place to another.

Uses of the Internet

The Internet has become as essential for us as the air we breathe.

What is the meaning of internet will be thoroughly discussed in the following section:

Cashless Transactions

In these modern days, online cashless transactions have revolutionised the financial stance. Since demonetization, the use of cashless transactions has grown immensely. Mostly, the users use these methods for factors like convenience and security. A lot of incentives and discounts are also provided for cashless transactions by leading companies.

Education

What the meaning of the internet lies in its usability. The internet can not only be used for professional but also educational purposes. By improving the quality, access and removing the largest barrier to education: cost, the internet has proven to be the right fit for an era of sustainable development. 
Also, it emerged as a new tool for effective teaching through the rough times of COVID-19 with the development of applications like Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams etc.

E-Commerce

With the popularity gain of 'retail therapy', many people are taking advantage of e-commerce sites. These platforms allow you to shop from anywhere around the globe from your homes, just a click away from the Hermès bag straight out of Paris. These e-commerce sites acquire warehouses in different locations. This makes it easier to spread deliveries across large areas and cities.

Advertising

A great deal of people utilise the Internet, thereby making it the best medium for marketing and advertising foods and services. Several Internet advertising platforms support the promotion of goods or companies. These platforms deploy commercials, videos, emails etc., to promote products on other websites. These adverts are prices based on factors like distance, audience, and keywords. Social media platforms are also a mode of engaging in online communities and groups for free advertising. 

Entertainment

Thanks to the internet, entertainment is not always real-time and live. With the help of the internet, the public was introduced to OTT platforms which not just let you replay missed episodes of your favourite TV Shows but also provide a customized recommendations as per your preferences and history.
In recent times, there has been a surge of entertainment available on the internet. With it being so accessible and easy to use, anyone can share and upload content.

Navigation

Apps like Google Maps are beneficial to frequent travellers compared to the traditional methods of navigation, which was the enquiry for directions from nearby people. On entering the location, one can get all the details about h location, like the best route possible, estimated time of arrival (ETA), nearby shops, traffic areas and much more.

Types of Internet

The Public Internet

As the name suggests, the Public Internet is accessible to the public and allows anyone from any device to connect to it. Device addressing on the public network should be considered with more care as security, and data privacy are major concerns.

The Private Internet

A private network is different from Public Internet. As the name indicates, it limits access to the network. These kinds of networks are deployed in homes, offices, and schools. Restrictions and rules are designated in private networks to regulate control and limit access from outsiders.

The Deep Web

The deep web contains pages that are not indexed, fee-for-service (FFS) sites, confidential databases, intranets, and sites not available through the standard internet search engines. The only other way to access a deep website is through clicking on a link whilst being on a deep web.

The Dark Web

The dark web is a piece of the internet concealed from search engines. The dark web requires the use of anonymised browsers like I2P or Tor Browser to be accessed. Most of the attention on the dark web is placed on online marketplaces for illegal goods under the cover of an anonymous IP address. It uses "onion routing," that protects users from surveillance and tracking through a spontaneous path of encrypted servers.

Wireless Internet

Wireless internet connection is one of the most common and more widely used. Wireless Internet Service Provider(WISP) delivers internet connections using radio waves or satellites. All of this is accessible to various gadgets.

Satellite Internet

Access to the internet through satellites like communication and geostationary satellites is satellite internet. These connections are location independent and could be taken anywhere as it provides global coverage. It is ideal for remote places where internet access is not available.

Cellular Internet

Wireless mobile networks used over a wide area are cellular networks. These networks allow users to access the internet and make calls from almost everywhere across the globe. This is done by connectivity with cellular towers. The only challenge with this network is that the connectivity differs according to availability.

Advantages of Internet

  • Access to information is one of the most significant advantages of the Internet. It is a matter of seconds to explore anything on the web. One can filter the data according to their need, like type, date and average user rating.
     
  • One can up-skill to the sky's limit through the Internet. This includes online classes, videos, articles, research papers, and much more. Forums like Reddit, Quora and other open-source forums help to gain personal insights.
     
  • Through this hub of networks, one can communicate to and from all over the world. The Internet has made communication more convenient than ever before.
     
  • Networking in the form of social media has taken over the world. It has helped in building strong communities from people all over the world. Content in the form of long and short videos, images and texts brings people with similar interests together.
     
  • Online money-related services like banking, stock trading and shopping have become so much more convenient. One can purchase specialities from a different continent in the comfort of their home.

Disadvantages of the Internet

  • All web services in the form of websites, applications and software are prone to breaches. Although these are protected with layers of security, hackers find loopholes and can access the data within these applications.
     
  • While the internet is assisting in making communities via social networking sites, it confines real-life socialisation. Due to this, people cannot forge human bonds.
     
  • Addiction to the internet is the most critical disadvantage. This addiction is more common in teenagers who value virtual life more than real life.
     
  • The improvement in the internet has lessened the attention span of individuals. This decrease is due to the availability of an absurd amount of entertainment across the internet.
     
  • Identity theft is not a joke. Millions of families suffer every year. Cyber attackers constantly use one's personal and financial information in illicit ways.

Different Ways to Connect to the Internet

  • Dial-Up Connection
    A modem establishes a dial-up connection between your computer and the ISP server.
    A dial-Up Connection is an expensive and traditional connection not used today. At a time, the internet connection or the telephone can be used.
     
  • Broadband Connection
    A broadband Connection is high-speed internet access faster than traditional dial-up access provided through cable or telephone. In this connection, multiple people can access the internet simultaneously. In this connection, coaxial cable, optical fibre cable, radio, or twisted pair cable are some of the mediums used for transmission.
     
  • DSL
    DSL stands for Digital Subscriber Line. It supplies an internet connection through the telephone line or network. DSL connection utilises a router to transport data, and the connection speed ranges between 128k to 8Mbps.
     
  • Wireless Connection
    A wireless connection makes use of the Radio Frequency connections between the network nodes. It has a long range and is accessible from locations that are far away.
     
  • Cellular
    All smartphones include an Internet connectivity option available using Internet Service providers. Cellular internet is a wireless form of the internet with high coverage. Cellular technology provides wireless Internet access through cell phones. Speed may vary depending on the service provider. 
     
  • ISDN 
    Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) connection delivers better speed and higher quality than traditional internet connections. It ranges at a maximum of 128 kbit/s bandwidth in upstream and downstream directions.

Technical Aspects

For the internet to function correctly, it needs the proper support to facilitate the exchange of information and data in the form of effective Infrastructure, protocols & standards, IP Addresses and Domain Names. Let us look at these measures closely:

  • Network infrastructure
    Network infrastructure includes hardware and software, systems and devices, enabling computing and communication between users, services, applications and processes, and so forth. Everything involved in the network, from servers to wireless routers, comes hand in hand to make up a system’s network infrastructure. Network infrastructure is crucial to any business or organisation. Without it, the hardware, software, and systems would be of no use.
     
  • Protocols and standards
    In Computer Networks, Protocols are mainly used to govern data communication. The protocol generally defines where, what, and how communication happens. At the same time, Standards on the Internet provide guidelines to manufacturers, vendors, government agencies and additional service providers to ensure the interconnectivity required in today's time. Standards also consider the aspects of accessibility, privacy, security, and globalisation in computer networks.
     
  • IP addresses and domain names
    An Internet Protocol address (IP address) is a numerical tag allotted to every device. A computer, server, network, storage, mobile or any IT appliance connected to a network of computing devices and servers which use an Internet Protocol for communication has an IP Address. In contrast, a domain name is a connection line which describes a limitation within the Internet. Domain names are represented by the protocols and directions of the Domain Name System (DNS). ṣ

Services and Applications

The Internet has revolutionised how people communicate and express, access information, and conduct business. It provides a surplus of services that is attainable to man. This wide range of services has become a necessary element of daily life.

  • Email
    Messages distributed by electronic means are emails. A worldwide email network allows people to exchange messages without any barriers. It delivers messages across computer networks. With the evolution of email client software like Gmail and Yahoo, contemporary forms of email have become available for widespread public use.
     
  • Social media
    This influential era has changed the meaning of the internet. Platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter allow users to make and customise their virtual profiles to share, connect and network with people across the globe.
     
  • E-commerce
    E-commerce marketplaces provide a way for people to buy and sell goods and reach a more comprehensive and global audience from the comfort of their homes. It helps small businesses a possibility to compete with the marketing reach of gigantic businesses.
     
  • Online entertainment
    Online streaming services like Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Prime offer the people a broad variety of content filtered to their needs with the help of predictive technology. One can set their preferences, and the application provides all the relevant content according to the user's choice.

Social Impact of Internet on Society

What is the meaning of internet lies in the eyes of the beholder. In these modern times, the Internet connects people from one end of the world to another, allowing a global conversation. The Internet helps young people state their opinions and express their political freedoms. This liberation effectively shows the positive impact of the Internet on political freedom.

  • Economic Impact 
    For instance, the Internet contributed 5.6% to the GDP in India in 2015-16. By 2020, this contribution had grown to 16%, of which apps drove 8%. Broadly, the e-commerce industry’s gross sales were estimated at about $33 billion. Online grocery, e-pharmacy and social commerce are the elements of the economy that are expected to see a bulk of the action in the forthcoming years.
     
  • Social Impact 
    What is the meaning of internet has not yet been understood by some. An individual's social and professional life can be disrupted by internet addiction. Cyberbullying and isolation are some of the banes associated with the internet. 
        
  • Political Impact
    A large percentage of people in most nations agree that the internet has positively made an impact on politics. Voters in European democracies have considerably changed their voting preferences in favour of populist leaders. Notably, social media plays an integral part in amplifying political grievances nationwide.
     
  • Educational Impact
    The use of the Internet in the education sector lets educators and instructors analyse the needs of the students and tailor lessons to correspond to them accordingly. Classes can be accessed in isolated communities. The Internet in education also enables the student to study materials on various multimedia platforms as well.

Security and Privacy

One's security and privacy are always at risk of breach, or it is just a breach away. Hackers find ways to access our protected networks to gather private information such as passwords and login credentials for sensitive sited like your bank. Internet privacy refers to several layers of security, data-sharing protocols, data transparency initiatives and much more.

Installing software designed for the sole purpose of protecting your computer, like anti-virus or anti-malware, is highly advised  Also, the use of a Virtual Private Network (VPN) adds another masked IP address for protection. On top of that, the dark web allows users to completely preserve their anonymity by using not-so-common browsers.

Difference between the World Wide Web and the Internet

World Wide Web

Internet

WWW stands for World Wide Web. It is by far the most common way to navigate the Internet.

The Internet is a public network of network and wireless connections between groups of servers computers and numerous devices from around the world

In simpler words, the World Wide Web can be viewed as a collection of books in a store.

In simpler words, the Internet can be viewed as a big book-store.

The World Wide Web is differentiated from other systems by using HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol).

The internet uses the TCP/IP protocol to connect devices worldwide.

The World Wide Web was originally known as NSFNET.

ARPANET was the first rendition of the internet.

The World Wide Web is software oriented.

The Internet is predominantly hardware-based.

Scientist Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web in 1989.

It originated in the late 1960s.

The World Wide Web is used to gain access to resources worldwide.

The Internet has a vast range of applications in entertainment, shopping, education, communication, research, navigation, advertising, and banking.

Future of the Internet

  • Advancements in technology
    With the advancement of technology, the internet is growing and becoming more and more intelligent. With the help of artificial intelligence and machine learning, the internet has reached great heights in terms of development.
     
  • Development of the Internet of Things (IoT)
    The working of industries and economies can be redefined by combining the Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence. Thus creating intelligent machines which simulate innovative behaviours and possess decision-making. These programmes and applications can help businesses and economies make investment decisions, automate processes, reduce downtime, operating costs, and increase efficiency.
     
  • Role in shaping global connectivity
    The Internet has transformed the interaction of people by breaking the barriers of distance. It is the reason for the uplift of social networks and communities. It has also made significant advancements in the operations of businesses by providing them with new ways to reach customers.
     
  • Potential challenges and concerns
    The Internet serves as a bane as it serves like a boon. Energy consumption and carbon footprint are significant challenges as it is an ever-growing community.
     

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Internet?

The Internet is an extensive system of connected computers, servers, mobile phones and smart appliances worldwide that allows people to share information and communicate with each other using a technology called the Transfer Control Protocol/Internetwork Protocol (TCP/IP). Set up using fibre cables and other wireless means, the Internet provides us with everything we need.

What are the 3 types of Internet?

Broadband, DSL or Digital Subscriber Line and Cable are some of the types of internet. High-speed internet is provided by either cables or telephone companies or even existing cable lines. Broadband, DSL and cable connections are considered to be connections with high bandwidth.

What are the features of the Internet?

Being collaborative and accessible to the world in nature, the Internet is a platform for everyone to share information. Ease of usability, low development and maintenance cost, several layers of security and flexibility are some features of the Internet. 

Conclusion

We hope this article helped you in understanding , what is the meaning of internet. For more information, you can refer to our Guided Path on Coding Ninjas Studio to upskill yourself in PythonData Structures and AlgorithmsCompetitive ProgrammingSystem Design, and many more!

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