Internet Access

by john york

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It would be helpful to provide a brief historical summary of the

Internet before jumping into the different means of accessing "The Net".

The Internet was developed primarily by Vinton Cerf, an American

computer scientist, in 1973 as a part of a United States Department of Defense

Advanced Research Projects Agency project managed by American Engineer, Robert

Kahn. In 1984, the project was turned over to the private sector and to

government research and scientific agencies for further development. In 1993,

the Internet was turned over to the public and by early 1995 access was

available in over 180 countries and there were over 30 million users. It is

expected that 100 million computers will be connected to the public Internet by

the year 2000.

The public Internet can be accessed in several different ways: through

a LAN, by a host, terminal access or gateway access. A LAN is a Local Access

Network where there are a group of computers and other devices that are spread

over a relatively limited area and connected by a communications link. This

also allows you to communicate with any other computer on the network. If you

access by a host, it is usually done through a LAN or with telephone lines and

modems combined with Internet software on a personal computer. Terminal access

is usually done by a telephone line and a modem and it is used with terminal-

emulation software on a personal computer. This also allows you to interact

with another computer that is an Internet host (explained later). Gateway

access is similar to terminal access, but it is provided through on-line or

similar services or other networks such as Bitnet, Fidonets, or UUCP nets that

allow users to minimally exchange e-mail with the Internet.

The Internet is made by using different kinds of electronic transport

media including optical fiber, telephone lines, satellite systems, and LAN's.

Most computers that are connected to the Internet are called hosts. The

function of hosts is to interface users (PC's) to other hosts in the Internet.

Other devices that are called routers which route data, usually in data

"packets" to other computers. Networks and computers that are part of the

global Internet have unique registered addresses and get access from Internet

service providers.

There are many different services that the Internet provides.

The World Wide Web (WWW) allows you to create and use point-and-click hypermedia

presentations. Documents are joined across the Internet to form a wide variety

of information that can be browsed easily through the WWW.

E-Mail is a service that allows a message to be sent from one computer to

another.

Gopher allows you to create and use computer file directories which are joined

through the Internet for other users to browse.

File Transfer Protocol allows you to transfer computer files between host

computers. This is still the primary use of the Internet.

UseNet enables users to distribute news messages among thousands of structured

newsgroups.

Most of the existing telecommunications providers and an explosion of

new companies have begun offering Internet access service. A sample of these

companies include:

America Online

AT&T

Bell Atlantic

Cable and Wireless

Digex

Erol's

MCI Communications

Pacific Telesis Group

Sprint

U.S. West

UUNET

A good example of the effects that the Internet is having on

technological development in the business world can be shown with MFS

Communications and UUNET Technologies. These companies are about to merge,

planning a new way to access the Internet that would solve telephone network

congestion. Users can now be connected through MFS's local networks (the users)

directly to UUNET's Internet network. This provides a direct, dedicated line to

the Internet. Also, it bypasses the conventional telephone company network

switch, allowing users to access the Internet at 128 Kbps which is four times

faster than today's 28.8 Kbps modem. This connection eliminates congestion

among local phone lines. This new DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) service is

expected to be available in early 1997 in selected markets, followed by a

nationwide rollout.

The WWW is providing the introduction of news business tools and uses

that may lead to billions of dollars worth of business transactions through the

Internet in the future.