What is the Internet? Why is it so expensive?

Let’s just for now keep our modern era aside and go back to the pre-internet era and think about how communication was possible at that time. If I have to write this article and reach a large audience, what would I do? I would obviously take a few copies and mail them writing each address individually. The mail guy takes my mail and keeps it in a hub location. From there it is segregated and to each envelope mail is delivered to their own hub. For example, if I am sending from Mumbai to Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, etc. Each will have its own hub and from there it will be delivered to each person individually.


Oh, wait! What about the newspaper? I can write an article in the newspaper like THE HINDU or THE INDIAN EXPRESS. Since it is an already established newspaper and has millions of people (Audience) reading the paper daily. My chances of getting attracted by more readers are pretty high. This could have been the case if the INTERNET wasn’t there. Now let’s understand how the internet actually works, does anyone own the internet and why do we pay for getting internet access.


If we break down the word Internet, it says Inter Connected Network. Basically, it is an interconnected network of computers. Connecting different computers through the wire in a country is a tough challenge but is achievable. But what about different countries? So, these international companies came up and did this task. They laid fibre optic cables deep down on the ocean floor connecting different countries.



In India, Mumbai is one of the hubs where these fibre optic cables reach. But you must know that laying a cable in the ocean is no easy task and chances of one breaking are also high. Thus we can see developed and developing countries like India has not just one, but a numerous number of links coming from different countries thereby connecting everyone together. See the below image on how are the countries connected.


Underwater cables connecting different countries

Once these lines reach a hub like Mumbai, the line is taken to different hubs throughout the country. They are taken up by ISP (Internet Service Provider). There are basically 2 types of ISP, through which you can get Internet, that is through WIFI (at home, office) and through CELLULAR (Mobile Network).


The WIFI companies like Jio, Rail Wire, Airtel pull the cables from the hub till where the cables have come from the ocean (Mumbai) and then spread across the country through substations, hubs and finally bringing it to your home.


The CELLULAR companies like JIo, Airtel pull cables from MUMBAI to their towers through different substations in between. Through substations, the wires are brought to different towers which are spread across the country. The electric signals which come to the towers are converted into radio signals and transmitted so as to reach our mobile phones.


Now you got an understanding of how all our mobile phones, computers, servers are interconnected through the INTERNET. The internet is a distributed network. So there isn’t any central agency controlling the internet by is accessed by everyone. But the internet service providers have the power to control the content which you can have access to and watch on. If tomorrow, our government comes and says to ban youtube.com, Facebook.com, etc. All the ISP (Internet Service Provider) would block that particular IP address from accessing by anyone. This can be seen in countries like China where youtube.com, google.com is banned and access to these sites are blocked.



FACT: The kingdom of Tonga has faced a cell phone and internet crisis after a fault in the underwater fibre optic cable which cut its main connection with the world. In January 2019, an oil tanker’s anchor dragged across the ocean floor cutting the submarine fibre optic cable. And it took 13 days to get the internet back. This is why underwater cable infrastructure is so important and we rely heavily on its service and maintenance.


If everything is already established, then why are we paying for the Internet? Let’s go back to the companies laying underwater cables. There is a lot of maintenance and service on laying these cables underground. So, our internet service providers like Airtel, Jio pay these companies for their service. In return, they charge us for DATA usage in terms, monthly or data pack wise subscription models.


Since we now have interconnected computers, how do we make ourselves shown on the internet? I have written my article and now I need to show it to the world through the Internet. In the case of physical couriers, I had all your addresses. In the case of the Internet, we have an IP address. Internet Protocol Address. This means, my computer will have a unique IP address and to whom I am sending, that computer will also have a unique IP address. This IP address is not a permanent one, whenever we connect to a network (to WIFI, cellular data, rail wire, etc.) our IP address changes.


So I will type my receivers IP address and send it through Internet. How we send our message through the Internet is through a data pack is a huge topic and we‘ll see that in another article. If I have to send my article to a guy in the US, that data is transmitted to the tower (in case of mobile) and to hubs (in case of WIFI). From there it goes to the main hub (MUMBAI) and from there through the fibre optic cables (Underwater) which goes to the US hub (which is usually located on the seashore). From there it is taken to towers and finally transmitted through radio waves to the receivers mobile.



Sending my article one by one to each person one by one is difficult, so I send it to a place (Server) where everyone has access or a place where everyone knows its IP address. This common IP address can be youtube.com, facebook.com, etc. Writing a lengthy IP address is a hard task and remembering a random set of numbers is even more difficult. So we came up with a domain name. We feed the domain name to the browser and the browser converts this domain name to an IP address.


How do we browse google.com, by typing in the domain name, right? Or more easily said by typing in the URL (Uniform resource language). You can also type in Google’s IP address which is 142.250.217.68 into your browser to access google.com. Now tell me which is easier: typing in the IP address or the URL. Thus, anyone on the internet can view and read my article by typing in my IP address or more easily my domain name: anistonantony.com.


The internet and the Web are two entirely different areas. If you have liked this article, don’t forget to like the content which motivates me to write more. If there is any question, feel free to comment in the comment section, I will be answering all your questions. I will be posting my next article on “What is the web, deep web, dark web and how does it work and most importantly, is it controlled by anyone”. Stay tuned to read more amazing blogs.

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