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The Communications Blog

Internet 101 - Part 1

This is the first of a series of articles that will help to explain more about the internet and wifi and how to get the most out of your internet service.

Let's start with a few definitions.

What is the "internet"?  Simply put, it's a collection, or 'network', of millions of computers, located around the world, all interconnected together.  These computers are usually referred to as "servers", since they 'serve' information to you and others who want to access them.  Just think of a 'server' at a resturant, who 'serves' your meal to you when you request it.  When you 'request' information from a 'server' on the internet, it 'serves' that information to you.  Sounds pretty simple, doesn't it?  While the technology behind all of this isn't really 'simple', the generate idea behind it really is that simple.

So, when we talk about an "internet connection", we're talking about a way to get your computer connected to this huge network of millions of 'servers' around the world.  That "internet connection" can be in several different forms, so let's talk a bit about that.

Let's start with a "router".  A "router" is a device that is used to connect between your computer (or other devices) and the system that is providing the "internet connection" to your house (or business).  If you've had an internet connection (or we might say "internet service") from a cable TV company or a telephone company, then they probably provided a "router" (and probably charged you $5 to $10 per month for the use of this "router").  They may have also referred to this device as a "modem".  A "modem" is a device that converts data from one format to another.  The cable TV and telephone companies use technology to provide internet service that requires a modem at your house (or business) to convert the data to a format that your computer can understand.  The "modem" that they provide is also a "router" (one device with both 'functions' built into it).  Some internet services (such as fixed wireless, like ours) do not need to use a modem, but they do still need a router between those systems and your computer (or other devices).

So now we know what the internet is (a 'network' of millions of computer 'servers' located around the world) and we know what a 'modem' is (a device that cable TV companies and telephone companies use to convert their data format to one that your computer (and other devices) can understand, and we know what a router is (a device that connects yoru computer (and other devices) to an internet connection/service.

This covers some of the basics of internet service and sets a good foundation for continuing on in our next article.

John Rayfield, Jr.