What is the internet?

Buildings connected by networks

The internet is a global network of computers that any computer can join. It is a WAN - which is a series of connected LANs.

Data packets are sent between computers using protocols that manage how data is sent and received. The internet also uses different models - such as the client-server model and the P2P model - to connect computers in different ways. The internet is leading to more and more people using cloud computing to store files and use web applications online.

Technologies and services available over the internet include:

  • web pages – HTML documents that present images, sound and text accessed through a web browser
  • web applications - web software accessed through a browser
  • native apps - applications developed for specific devices (such as smartphones) and accessed without the need for a browser
  • email
  • file sharing
  • voice calls
  • streaming audio and video
Diagram of the many uses for the internet

Web browser

A web browser is a piece of software that enables the user to access web pages and web apps on the internet. There are a range of browsers available, and they are usually free to download and install.