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How We Access The Internet

Today, when we want to access the internet, we use high speed cable modems, digital subscription lines, and, increasingly, mobile connections. But we havenít always had so many ways to connect to the internet. In fact, there was a time when home consumers didnít have access to the internet at all.

The very first internet connection was created between the University of California and the Stanford Research Institute on October 29, 1969. This was a two node construct, with signals only able to be sent between the two schools. It was named Arpanet. Within two months two more nodes had been added, to the University of Utah and the University of California, Santa Barbara. Arpanet continued to expand, encompassing more and more universities and colleges. Meanwhile, separate networks (often built on other technologies) began to spring up around the world. Each of these was an internet in its own right, and they could not talk to each other. The TCP/IP internetworking stack fixed this, making it possible for machines on one network to talk to another. As long as the network ran a copy of the TCP/IP protocol, internetworking of the internets could take place.

Internet access was still limited to university computers, and then usually only a few terminals. That, however, changed with dial-up. When internets first began popping up, there was no such thing as a home computer. By the 1980ís, the home computer was in full swing. And many wanted to communicate with others. Using speakers hooked up to their computers, early computer geeks could dial into a local newsgroup and get news and files by putting the phone receiver on the speaker. The speakers would emit a pattern that had data in it, and it would be transmitted to the newsgroup server. Not technically part of the Internet, newsgroups remained the primary use of home computer networking technology until the internet (born from Arpanet and a half dozen other networks) was opened to the public.

In the early 1990ís, the internet was finally opened to the public. Dial up modems--essentially a phone dedicated to calling websites--became popular. These were the architects of the internet revolution; cheap, easy to use devices that let you access the worldwide collection of websites. There are two issues with the dial up modem: there is not much bandwidth available and the modems use the same frequencies as human speech--meaning you canít make a call while you are browsing the internet. DSL, or digital subscription lines, popped up to replace traditional dial up modems. DSL still relied on the phone network, but the data was carried on frequencies above the human hearing range. And because the signal was so high, both voice calls and data can be carried at the same time. Because it is a higher frequency, more data can be carried and thus it is much faster than dial up. This is the first broadband internet connection, or an internet connection that uses more bandwidth to carry data.

Cable internet was the next major innovation. This technology relies on cable television network, designed to carry video rather than just sound. That means that cable internet access is almost always going to be faster. Cable companies also pioneered a powerful new way of getting your services: bundling. Many companies offer cable TV, cable internet and cable telephone for one monthly price. These bundles can save you a lot rather than getting each service individually. Telephone companies now also offer bundles. By running high capacity fiber optic cables into your house, telephone companies can provide you with TV, internet and telephone service just like with cable. Whichever service type you choose, the internet speeds you will get are incredible.

The most recent type of internet access is mobile. Based on the mobile phone networks, you can use mobile internet access anywhere you have a signal. It is not as fast as cabled source, but with the new 4G standard beginning to be rolled out, we are now seeing truly broadband speeds. Mobile internet is likely the future of the World Wide Web. Its ubiquity makes it immensely appealing. Furthermore, mobile internet has bundled services from the very beginning.

However you access the internet, the important part is that you accessed it. The internet is the greatest repository of knowledge mankind has ever seen. So access and enjoyFree Web Content, but donít forget to appreciate it.

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