Where is the Internet?

With all of our talk about the Internet being this gigantic computer network that spans the globe, you may be wondering: "where does the Internet actually live?"  Indeed, the Internet isn't some kind of abstract thing floating in another dimension that somehow magically lets you look up what the weather's going to be like tomorrow.  The Internet does have physical components; it's just that there are lots of them, and some of them are more readily visible than others.

Server computers

These are a special type of computer that exist primarily to store and let other computers retrieve and/or use various Internet-related functions.  These include websites and web pages, communication (text chat, phone calls, or video chats), and file transfers.  The Internet is estimated to be made up of over 75 million of these types of computers.

Cable infrastructure

How do all of those computers stay connected?  The same way telegraphs and other telecommunications networks stayed connected: lots and lots of cables!  There are over 550,000 miles of fibre-optic cables running along the ocean floor right now in order to connect the server computers that form the backbone of the Internet.  Some of the biggest hubs where these cables meet up include Tokyo in Japan, Hong Kong, New York City, and Cornwall in the U.K.


These are the personal devices that allow individual computers to connect to the Internet.  They used to work using phone lines, but with the introduction of new types of cables and protocols, that isn't necessary anymore.  In fact, many modems nowadays don't need a physical connection in order to provide access to the Internet; they can send and receive wireless signals.  This is what you'll often hear referred to as "wi-fi".  Many homes and public buildings have this type of modem installed, and even some cars are starting to include wireless modems!

Your computer 

Yes, even your computer is part of the Internet, as long as it's connected!  This could be your desktop computer, mobile smart phone, or tablet computer (such as an iPad).  It connects to the Internet with a unique address, and can send information out into the Internet as well as retrieve it.  There are even some Internet-capable computers being released have their own modems built in, and some that you can wear like clothing or accessories!


So, when someone asks the question "where is the Internet?", the answer may one day be "everywhere!"

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