Who owns the Internet? Web Architecture Explained

Most people think of the Internet and the Web as something “out there” nonsense, but the Internet is a lot like a physical system. It is the largest and most complex machine man has ever built and once you understand its size and complexity it seems like a miracle.

No single entity “owns” the internet, but every part of the internet belongs to someone! Confused? By the end of this article, you won’t!

Difference between Internet and Web

First, we need to make it clear that the Internet and the Web are two different things. The Internet is the actual hardware and software that make up the global network, Work.

On the other hand, Web is a service that runs on the internet. Most of the internet is not web. The Web and the websites that make up it are only the most familiar mass of internet technology, but other services such as FTPEmail, online video and more also run through the same system.

In this article, we use the web and internet architecture a little loosely to make the explanation simpler, so don’t forget about the bigger picture.

A (Very) Brief History of the Internet

There are many great articles dedicated to the history of the internet, we highly recommend reading Internet society for the perfect combination of detail and length.

For our purposes here, what you need to know is that the internet started as a government project between the US military and public universities. They developed the first technologies that allowed computers to be networked with each other over long distances.

Most importantly, this “internet work” will be decentralized. So if large chunks of it are knocked down, the data can still find a way to get to the right destination. It’s called the internet, because it’s a network made up of other networks. One of these networks is actually completely owned and operated by you!

Internet starts at home

That’s right, the first network you encounter that makes up part of the internet is your own intranet. Your router network all the devices connected to it via Ethernet or WiFi together.

Even if your Internet connection is down, your local network will still work. It’s like the internet in your personal home, and you can really set up your own streaming server, website, and cloud storage without any external network. So this is the part of the Internet that you own. Congratulations!

Last Mile Coverage

Your local network connection to the internet generally happens through what is sometimes called a “last mile” connection. There is a wide range of different last mile technologies. They can be wired or wireless. Common wired examples are DSL (digital subscriber line) connections using fiber or copper.

Connecting to the internet wirelessly is primarily through cellular networks, using 5G, LTE, and other mobile data transmission standards. Rarely, sites can be connected using special long-range WiFi connections.

However, that last mile connection doesn’t get you directly connected to the entire internet, which doesn’t even make sense as a concept. What you are actually connected to is your internet service provider. Good, actually you typically connect to a number of different internet service providers, even though you don’t do business with all of them directly. Don’t worry, it will be clear soon.

Three-tier service provider

Assuming you have fiber optic Internet, you can pay one company for a physical fiber optic Internet connection and then pay another company for actual Internet access. Companies you do business with directly may be “Tier 3” internet service providers. They operate and service the last mile connection into your home and use what their customers pay them to pay the ISPs that actually own the larger network infrastructure to transfer their data.

These are called “Tier 2” service providers. These providers also do business directly with customers, so your ISP could really be a Tier 2 company. Their networks are large enough that they can negotiate “peer to peer” deals with vendors. other Level 2 service providers.

With such agreements, these networks allow internet data to flow freely throughout the system. Since all the Tier 2 networks involved benefit from these peer-to-peer arrangements, they are usually done with little fuss. However, no Tier 2 network can reach the entire internet on its own, which is why they need to purchase internet access on an even larger type of carrier network.

“Level 1” service providers are at the top of the food chain. These companies have massive networks large enough to reach nearly every corner of the Internet, and where they can’t, they have peer-to-peer agreements with other Tier 1 networks to fill the void.

As you can see, the Internet consists of this hierarchical network. It’s a bit like a big tree or blood vessel system. Last-mile connections feed into local exchanges, which feed into high-speed internet backbone networks, which then connect to major international trunks. Your internet packs have to navigate that insanely complicated maze just so you can chuckle at an internet funny kitty. Think about that for a second.

The data center for everyone

So this huge network of networks that we call the internet ensures that we are all connected, but it doesn’t really have any of the content that we want the internet or the web to be in the first place. The content of the internet (such as web pages, cloud storage, etc.) exists at network nodes. The computer from which you upload photos to Instagram is one such node, and so are the servers that host the websites you want to visit.

While you can easily run your own web server from home, today the majority of servers (computers that host content and services) are located in large data centers. These buildings house thousands and thousands of special computers that power the Internet and all the services that run on them. They are often directly connected to connection points in a Tier 2 or Tier 1 network, ensuring they can handle the large amounts of data that must pass in and out of them every day.

Undersea cables, satellites and other large Internet pipes

While we’ve covered the broad strokes, there are some finer details about internet infrastructure that are worth mentioning. Although land-based networking is not exciting, the internet covers the entire world. Where land blocks are separated by giant bodies of water!

Ultra-high-bandwidth undersea cable is the primary data trunk that fills these gaps, but we are also starting to see a new generation of satellite systems, such as StarLink, can form a wireless internet site in the sky. There is even research going on on new ways to transmit data over vast distances using quantum physics.

The Internet is one of the few things with which almost all countries cooperate, because it benefits all of us. So while it is true that no single person or organization owns the internet, it is not wrong to say that we collectively own it and, while just over half of all people have access to access it today, in the near future it will actually connect our last people.

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