How Does Our High Speed Internet Work?

High speed internet is so common today that it is frequently taken for granted. However, high speed internet did not always exist in our world, and the mechanisms behind it are highly complex. The high speed internet we enjoy today would not ever have been possible without the development of computers, which occurred in the 1950s. Soon after computers were developed, engineers learned to connect them to each other using a network. In 1982, the network connecting computers was standardized so that all computers across the globe could be connected to one another.

At first, only government organizations were able to take advantage of this interconnected network. In the late 1980s, however, commercial internet service providers began emerging and offering their services. In 1995, the internet became fully commercialized. Since this time, electronic mail, internet phone calls, video calls, instant messaging, online shopping, and social networking have had dramatic effects on commerce and popular culture around the world. As engineers continue to develop new technology, higher amounts of information are able to be transmitted over the internet at ever-increasing speeds. The fastest internet connections are commonly known as "high speed internet."

High speed internet access allows a user to receive and send data over the internet at much higher speeds than those typically available with traditional dial-up internet service. According to the FCC (Federal Communications Commission), high speed internet service is any service with a speed faster than 200 kbps in at least one direction. High speed internet works by connecting users to the World Wide Web using a high-speed digital transmission technology. The technology sends all information, including text, sound, and images, digitally by breaking it into "bits." High speed transmission technologies are capable of moving bits back and forth from the World Wide Web to an individual computer much faster than wireless connections and telephone lines.

When a user purchases high speed services, the provider must first set up a connection in the user's home or office. Existing telephone wiring, electrical wiring, or a coaxial cable can be used to connect the user's computers to the high speed connection. In some cases, the user may be able to connect his computers to the service provider wirelessly. If the user has multiple computers in his home, he can also use a wireless home network to connect all the computers to high speed internet.

Depending on the location of the user, there may be several types of high speed internet available, including Broadband over Power Line, satellite, wireless, fiber, cable modem, and DSL. Broadband over Power line is a new technology that uses existing power lines to transmit data. High speed internet via satellite utilizes the signals from satellites orbiting the earth to provide service. Though more costly, this form of service is ideal for remote or sparsely populated regions. Wireless high speed internet requires a radio link between the service provider and the customer. Fiber high speed internet uses fiber optics to provide service by converting data to light and transmitting it over a thin glass fiber. A cable modem utilizes coaxial cables similar to those used to transmit television signals. DSL, or a digital subscriber line, is a wired technology that utilizes copper telephone lines that are already installed in a business or home.

To obtain high speed internet services, users must typically contact a local provider, such as a telephone company, satellite company, or cable company. The exact prices and services available will vary considerably according to location and the package selected. In addition, the maximum connection speed will vary according to method of transmission. Depending on the situation, users may be able to install the required equipment themselves using instructions provided by the company, or they may need to wait for a certified technician to complete the installation.