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Tech Report: Internet 101

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Even though the internet has been around now for a long time, it is part of our everyday lives yet there are some people that do not know what it actually is or does….

It’s hard to imagine life without the Internet. We all use it for so many things. It’s a worldwide computer network that most everyone uses to move computerized information from one place to the next place. Look at it this way - you’re getting ready to send an email. Somewhere there’s someone else at their computer, or phone, ready to receive it. Information is moved from one place to the other without anyone truly governing or owning that information. And while no one “owns” the Internet, The Federal Government or the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) is charged with insuring every American has access to high speed internet service known as broadband. The FCC aids people in making informed decisions about broadband. So the FCC monitors providers like Frontier to make sure that we and other providers are accurate and being truthful. (That’s where Frank comes in he speaks the truth)

Basically, the Internet is a collection of standalone computers (and computer networks in companies, schools, etc.) all loosely linked together, mostly using the telephone network. The connections between the computers are a mixture of old-fashioned copper cables, fiber-optic cables (which send messages in pulses of light), wireless radio connections (which transmit information by radio waves), and satellite links. There are other support mechanisms built into the Internet like routers, servers, cellphone towers, smartphones, radio towers and satellites - all of these provide the backbone for the Internet.

There are hundreds of millions of computers on the Net, but they don't all do exactly the same thing. Some of them are like electronic filing cabinets that simply store information and pass it on when requested. These machines are called servers. There are tens of millions of servers on the Internet.

  • Machines that hold ordinary documents are called file servers.
  • Machines that hold people's mail are called mail servers.
  • Machines that hold Web pages are Web servers.

Apart from clients and servers, the Internet is also made up of intermediate computers called routers, whose job is to make connections between different systems. If you have several computers at home or school, you probably have a single router that connects them all to the Internet. The router is like the mailbox on the end of your street: it's your single point of entry to the worldwide network.

This is where DNS look-ups come in. The information you’re sending or searching for is like a letter placed in an envelope. The Domain Name System (DNS) can be compared to the addressor of the envelope; it gives the details of where the site is located, which is how your computer knows where to go for the data you’re looking for.

Internet speed is a certainly common conversation today. Simply put, the internet has a capacity or potential based on the size of the pipes connecting the “computers.” Performance is affected by numerous factors that could stem from anywhere in the internet – from your own home to the other side of the world.

Slow internet speeds are often caused by some sort of congestion. Some potential reasons for this congestion are:

  • Increased usage by consumers may overwhelm a circuit (graphic B – today’s average home utilizes approximately 17 Mbps at any given time)
  • Popular Content that many people are trying to access at the same time
  • Broken or malfunctioning hardware (e.g. – dug up cable line, computer fail, etc.)

By Ken Arndt; President, Eastern Region Of Frontier Communications

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