When we talk about the Internet today, we talk about it in a global sense, as if it were a well-defined entity with a specific purpose of communication. However, this is not the case and when we say “I’m going on the internet”, it would actually be more correct to say “I’m going on the web” (Web = browsing sites). Today we are going to look at the different connections to the internet and the type of service that each one allows.
There are many types of computer networks: home networks, corporate networks, and the Internet, in general, are the most common examples. Devices that connect to these networks have several methods for making the connection. Generally, they use one of these 3 protocols:
Point-to-point (Point-to-point): This connection allows you to connect to another device to communicate directly. For example, two phones can pair up to transfer images or files.
Broadcast/Multicast: For broadcast, the sending device transmits its message to ALL other devices connected to the network. In Multicast, the sender can choose several recipients for its message.
Multipoint: This connection allows a device to connect directly to several devices in parallel to deliver a message to them.
Not all networks support all connection types. Ethernet cables, for example, support broadcast connections but not IPv6.
Let’s take a look at the different types of connections used today.
Types Of Internet
The term “speed” can mean many things, but many consumers associate it with the concept of high-speed Internet service installed at a specific location. Today, the vast majority of homes, offices, and institutions are connected to the Internet via a high-speed Internet connection just like best PCI wireless card 2020 provide.
History and usage
Many universities, governments, and private institutions were involved in the development of the Internet as we know it today in the 1970s and 1980s. During the 1990s, computers and the Internet connection were rapidly democratized to the general public with the emergence of the World Wide Web (WWW).
The Internet connection then became a standard for the majority of homes in the 2000s with connection speeds getting faster and faster. Since then, ISPs have been developing networks to access the Internet from just about anywhere for their subscribers.
ISDN, or Integrated Services Digital Network, supports the simultaneous transfer of voice and data over telephone lines without the need for a modem. It is the earliest example of the establishment of a broadband network.
However, ISDN has had difficulty gaining popularity in the face of competition from “DSL” or “Digital Subscriber Line” and ISPs. In addition to these options involving hardware wiring of devices, wireless broadband Internet connections (not to be confused with mobile broadband connections) allow remote reception of a radio-microwave signal. This technology is used between the base stations of the mobile network, for example.
Broadband connections are attached to a geographic point and cannot move. Due to the cost of installing this infrastructure, there are still white areas that are not covered today. The competition with mobile networks and the upcoming arrival of 5G push ISPs to always improve their facilities and lower prices to remain competitive.
The term “Mobile Internet” encompasses many types of connections that can be accessed wirelessly from a variety of geographic locations.
History and usage
The satellite internet connection was created in the late 1990s to provide an alternative to the traditional modem connection. Although this solution could not compete with the speed of the rapidly growing new broadband connections (see Part I), they still continue to serve remote areas where this type of Internet access is not available.
Early versions of mobile internet did not support data transfer and were mainly created for voice, but with improvements in recent years, mobile internet access is catching up with wireline DSL connection speeds!
Mobile Internet uses several protocols to ensure the Internet connection of its users: 3G, 4G, and future 5G.
Historically, the performance in terms of Mobile Internet speed has always been below that of DSL connections. However, in recent years the improvement of 4G mobile frequencies (in cities and rural areas) has made it possible to compete with traditional lines.
The Virtual Private Network (VPN)
A “Virtual Private Network” or VPN, is a slightly more technical type of connection that allows a “client computer” to connect to the Internet through a “remote server” via a connection method called Tunneling.
History and use
VPNs became popular in the 90s (definitely the decade for new types of connections) when broadband internet for homes proliferated. Large companies installed VPNs so that their employees could connect to corporate resources from anywhere with internet access – the ability to access the intranet, email and confidential files from home or on the move allowed this technology to take off.
At the same time, VPN services to protect one’s anonymity on the Internet for individuals have also grown in popularity and continue to be widely used today. In recent years, international VPN services have seen their sales explode with the massive use of Netflix and the availability of certain films/series only on the American catalogue.
Microsoft has implemented the Point to Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) on its default Windows operating system. Other environments have adopted other protocols such as IPsec or L2TP which are now also standardized.
VPNs require some configuration on the client-side to ensure the best performance. Connection settings vary from protocol to protocol and must be configured well to work properly. The software provided by vendors today is very well done and allows you to automate this configuration, but if you want to go further to use a particular protocol, it can be complicated to configure it for a beginner.
Switched networks (Modem)
Modem connections enable TCP/IP communication via telephone lines.
History and usage
Modem connections were in the majority in the 90s – early 2000s, nowadays much less used, however, this network was used as a basis for building the Internet access we know today.
Devices that use a dial-up connection go through an analogue modem, which automatically calls an assigned phone number to establish the connection. The X.25 protocol is sometimes used to pass data over the dial-up connection over a long distance, such as banking information.
Dial-up communication only allowed access to a very limited connection in terms of speed. Analogue modems were limited at the time to a transfer of 56 Kbps… Moreover, the connection was slow and noisy, small video memory of the noise of a 56k modem when it was connected (For the younger ones who don’t know what to expect: turn down the sound!) :
Since then, these modems have largely been replaced by broadband connections and I don’t know anyone who uses them today to access the internet.
The Local Area Network (LAN)
Well known among video game players, but often misunderstood by individuals, LAN connection consists in connecting several devices in close proximity to each other to share files/data locally. These networks are also very often connected to the Internet to allow the connected devices to communicate with the rest of the world.
History and usage
Local area networks became extremely popular in the early 2000s with the advent of broadband in the home allowing the connection of several devices simultaneously. Of course, universities and governments were using this type of connection long before the general public.
The majority of recent wired LANs use an Ethernet connection, while wireless LAN connections are made via WiFi. Older networks also use Ethernet but also alternative technologies such as Token Ring or FDDI.
Managing a LAN can be complicated, as these networks can handle so many different services (they work with many operating systems and several types of connections). Since devices can only communicate at a local level, a device is needed to manage these communications: the router that distributes the traffic to the network.
The exclusive network connection between two devices (which no other device can use) is also called a direct connection. Direct networks differ from peer-to-peer networks in that the number of connections is limited to two devices.
History and usage
Windows computers support direct connections to manage cable file transfer. On wireless networks, users often set up a direct connection between two devices to transfer images/ files.
Serial and Parallel ports have been widely used for direct networking, however, these technologies are now being used much less in favour of USB. A few years ago some computers and mobiles had an infrared sensor/transmitter for direct file transfers. Since the advent of Bluetooth, this technology is no longer widely used.
Problems Creating a direct connection over a long distance is difficult. The technologies currently used (Bluetooth) limit transfers to a few centimetres/meters of distance.