Monday, July 25, 2022

How Does the Internet Work?

     To understand what the internet is and how it works, we need to familiarize ourselves with a few crucial components such as:

  • Network – A group of computers that are connected and can exchange information and data under a managed procedure.
  • Packet – The small amount of data bundled with information about that data, source, and destination sent to other devices on the network as a message.
  • Protocol - Regulated transmission techniques that are comprehensible by all computers on the network and used to send and receive the packets on the networks.
  • Switch – A piece of hardware on a single network used to forward/distribute the packets to the intended devices or destinations on the networks.
  • Router – Another electronic device used as a gateway on every network to control and route the traffic of packets between networks.


    Now we know that a group of computers that are connected and in communication with each other is called a network. When we connect different networks to each other, we are creating a “network of networks,” which is called the Internet.

    When a device on a network wants to send a message to another device, it would bundle the data (packet) with a header, including the destination address and other necessary information, and sends it to the “switch.” Switch knows every device on the local network and will forward the packet to the desired destination device if the device exists on the local network. When the destination device is not on the local network, the switch will send the packet to the “router” as the gateway of this local network to the outside world and other networks.

    The router will determine where to send the receiving packets and forward them to the next routers using the Internet’s addressing system or protocol called “IP” (or Internet Protocol).  When packets arrive in the right network and subsequently desired device on another network, the replied packets will go through the same path to be transmitted and giving us the internet as we know as use it every day. The video “Life of an IP Packet” is a well-simplified visual display of the basic internet concept, which is definitely worth watching.

    The chart below from shows the rapid growth of the internet since the 1980s in the world, and obviously, we should expect the continuance of this growth in quality and quantity in the future. Faster, easier, and cheaper internet access seems inevitable with new technologies and societies’ dependency on them, as we witness.


    Constant progress in this field is projected, and companies continue to develop and employ new ideas and technologies. Perhaps some of these technologies, like Google’s “Loon Project,” won’t succeed due to business or technical reasons. Still, others like Elon Musk’s “SpaceX Starlink Internet” project would continue to examine different approaches to bringing the internet to every corner and remote area of our planet.

    How Does the Internet Works” is another simple and valuable source of learning about the general concept of the internet, deeper dive into coverage issues, and connecting different continents showing some fascinating scenes of the scope of wiring and connectors on the ground and underwater in the ocean.









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