Do You Know How Internet Infrastructure Works?

Even though, as a responsible netizen of the capital city of Orissa you have been using the internet (with the help of your local ISP) for long and are immensely impressed by its magical framework, yet are probably unaware of the fact that the Internet is neither owned by an individual nor by any company.  It is just a global collection of networks – big, small and medium. In fact, its nomenclature carries the theme: inter-connected-network. More expressively, it is a telecommunication network that utilizes telephone lines, cables, satellites as also wireless connection to connect computers and other devices such as smartphones, tablets, etc to the World Wide Web.

Computer Networks and Their Types

Plainly speaking, a computer network comprises an assortment of computer equipment that is connected with wires, wireless links or optical fibers as a result of which the assorted individual devices (called nodes) can communicate with each other and swap data, commonly called Computerized Information. However, these networks vary according to their practical use. For instance, the network you are probably using now to link your laptop to your wireless router, inkjet printer and a some other equipment happens to be the smallest type and is termed PAN or Personal Area Network. It is essentially a suitable one-person Network.

If, however, you work in an office, you would most probably be using a LAN or Local Area Network which covers a cluster of computers, linked to a printer or two, a scanner and probably a single shared connection to the Internet, all located within your office premises.

Then there is MAN or Metropolitan Area Network that covers a metropolitan city or town as also WAN or Wide Area Network that can cover any vast geographical area.

IP Addresses (Internet Protocol)

Every machine on the Internet has a unique identifying number, known as IP Address, where IP represents Internet Protocol which equates to the language that computers use to communicate over the Internet. A protocol stands for the pre-defined way that someone who wants to use a service talks with that service. This “someone” may be an individual, but more often than not it is a computer program, such as a Web browser.

How Computers Do It

An emblematic IP address may look like:, a form of communication used by human beings. However, computers communicate only in binary form and so the above IP address will look like: 11011000.00011011.00111101.10001001.

The four numbers in an IP address are known as octets, as because they each have eight positions when observed in binary state. However, if you add all the positions together, you will get 32. This is precisely why IP addresses are considered 32-bit numbers. Moreover, as each of the eight positions can have two different states, i.e. 1 or zero, the total number of possible combinations per octet is 28 or 256. So each octet can contain any value between zero and 255. Combine the four octets and you get 232 or a possible 4,294,967,296 unique values!

Domain Name System (Internet Protocol)

At the initial stage, Internet consisted of a few computers hooked together with modems and and/or telephone lines and so you could make contacts by providing the IP address of the computer you wished to establish a link with. But it became more and more difficult as larger number of systems came online. In order to resolve the problem, the University of Wisconsin, in 1983 created the Domain Name System (DNS), which maps text names to IP addresses automatically. This way you only need to remember http://computer.howstuffworks.com/index.htm, instead of HowStuffWorks.com’s IP address [This is just an example].

URL (Uniform Resource Locators)

At the time of sending an email message, you use a domain name to do so. For instance, the Uniform Resource Locator (URL) “http://computer.howstuffworks.com/” contains the domain name howstuffworks.com. So does this e-mail address: example@howstuffworks.com. In fact, whenever you use a domain name, you use the Internet’s DNS servers to translate the human-readable domain name into the machine-readable IP address.

Extensively used domain names, also called first-level domain names, include .COM, .ORG, .NET, .EDU and .GOV.