Well, what IS the Internet?
The internet is a collection of computer networks and data centers that constantly communicate with each other by sharing and transmitting information between locations. These networks and data centers are run by companies, governments, and other organizations that are directly connected by thousands of miles of cables, satellites, and cellular towers. This internet infrastructure allows information to travel around the world almost instantly. It is this infrastructure that allows you to find anything in the World, whether it be something tangible that you need to purchase, something new you want to learn, or something you want to see or hear for entertainment.
The thought of this technology is sometimes difficult to process. Just how much information is constantly being sent and received over vast distances is almost incomprehensible. About 5 exabytes of data gets transmitted per day. This equates to approximately 40,000 standard definition, 2hour movies per second.
Connecting the globe also requires a considerable length of cable. A 20ft extension cord isn’t going to cut it for this one. Hundreds of thousands of miles of cable create a massive web of connectivity, while even more is laid along the ocean floors to connect islands and continents. About 300 submarine cables rated to withstand the underwater environment, yet only as think as a garden hose support our modern internet. Most of these cables are fiber optic because the distance between the two endpoints are so tremendously far away and fiber optic cables transmit data at the speed of light. To give you an idea, the Asia-America Gateway linking California to China is about 12,000 miles long.
Interesting facts about data and the Internet:
By 2025, the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry could use 20% of the world’s electricity and release more than 5% of the world’s carbon emissions.
Google handles more than 40,000 searches and 60% of people use Google Chrome to browse the internet.
There are nearly 2 billion websites, however, only the top 0.1% attract more than half of the world’s web traffic
Most consumer internet traffic is video, including Netflix, Youtube, video clips, and webcams making up about 77% of traffic.
There is also an area of the internet that most people don’t really know about called the “Dark web.” When you search for something online, you will come across the results that have been previously indexed or linked by something else. While the search index is massive, it contains only a fraction of what is available. The remainder, which is about 95% of what the internet represents, is not indexed and cannot be seen by standard web browsers. There are essentially three layers of the internet: surface, deep, and dark. The surface of the internet is where most people browse, shop, and interact. Below that is the deep web including those pages that are not indexed and usually protected behind passwords, like those found on a work office intranet. Even further beneath that lies the dark web, with websites that have addresses intentionally hiding them from view. You need special software to access this portion of the internet and while there are many legitimate uses for this layer, most of the communication and exchanges here are illegal and driven by criminal activity.
In some countries, nearly everyone is online. More than 98% of people in Iceland are on the internet and in other countries like Denmark, Norway, and Britain closely follow that number. 89% of Americans are Internet users along with Spain at 85%, Germany at 84%, France at 80% and Italy at a much smaller 64% of the population. Even though America has nearly all of their citizens connected in some way, relatively, there are only about 300 million users. I say “only” because comparatively, China has more than 800 million Internet users in 2018, yet their country’s online percentage is only at 60%. Similarly, India reached about 500 million internet users with a minority of 40% of the population connected.
With a clear understanding of how massive this interconnected network of information, ideas, products, and communication really is, here is another example. By the time you are finished just reading these last two paragraphs, a few things have happened on the internet. About 156 million emails have been sent, the Google “search” button was clicked 4 million times, 87,000 hours of Netflix have been viewed, 65,000 pictures were posted to Instagram, and 400 hours of video uploaded to YouTube. It isn’t shocking after hearing these figures to comprehend that the Internet isn’t only a necessary means of learning through sharing information, it’s completely integrated into our daily lives.
In short, having access to the internet is a requirement for most businesses to function properly. It vastly improves communication with e-mail, collaboration with video conferencing, sales performance with digital marketing, transparency through publicized information, and also offers the ever-growing importance of cloud services which includes data backups and mobility. At this point, without the internet, core business operations would no longer function properly. It’s kind of a big deal.
Want to learn more about how the internet works?