The internet is interconnected; where is the centre of interconnectivity located and who owns it?
The Internet by definition has no single point or center of connectivity as it comprises many networks that are interconnected. There are usually multiple routes from source to destination, and these routes are determined by various tables contained in routers using various protocols such as BGP.
In individual countries or localities, however, there may be single points of connectivity to the remainder of the public Internet, and there are Internet Exchanges where different networks interconnect (Internet Exchange Map)
Why has no one created a second internet?
Fundamentally because there isn’t a need for one. What would be the point?
Many people create networks using internet (small ‘i’) technologies for use as private networks, sometimes these have access to the Internet (capital “I”). There are other networks that interconnect other networks such as Internet2 or the myriad of special purpose networks. But a second global Internet to compete with the current Internet? There’s just no reason to do that.
Is fiber broadband futureproof?
The simple answer is ‘mainly’. Fiber has much higher capacity and lower latency than any other deployable consumer connection, and it’s capabilities can be upgraded by changing technology at either end rather than changing the cable itself.
The reason we're saying ‘mainly’ rather than ‘yes’ is because it’s possible a more advanced form of fiber or another form of (as yet unknown) delivery mechanism may come along. Predicting technology can be a risky business.
You’re pretty safe for 5 years at least. Probably longer.
Why do we need data connection to access even free websites?
Simply put, for the same reason you need electricity to receive free TV broadcasts. If you don’t have a connection to the Internet, you can’t access any websites, or indeed anything else.
Why does the speed of WiFi drop to 5.5 Mbps once in a while?
5.5 Mb is an 802.11b data rate. 802.11b is a legacy (i.e older) WiFi standard that in most cases you really don’t need. Depending on your router, you should be able to disable 802.11b altogether.
As 802.11b and the 5.5Mb data rate only operate at 2.4 GHz, if you have a dual band router (if you haven’t, get one) you should connect at 5GHz, and this will never happen. (Tip: you can set up separate SSID’s for 2.4 and 5GHz to make sure you always connect at 5GHz). This is not (and indeed cannot be) anything to do with your ISP.
Is the internet really just a communication internet? Will there be other internets that will evolve, such as the internet of consumer items, the internet of energy production and conservation, and the internet of transportation?
There’s a difference between the Internet (capital ‘I’) and an internet (small ‘i’), so we're assuming you mean ‘Is the Internet really just a communication internet’.
Yes, fundamentally, the Internet is just a communication network. There’s no reason you can’t have a functioning network for anything overlaid on the physical Internet.
Other private and parallel networks may need to be established for future applications. Autonomous vehicle control, for example, requires lower latencies than can be delivered using the Internet of today. You also probably wouldn’t want the safety of your car driving at 70mph on the freeway able to be compromised because you’re sharing a network with people playing Candy Crush.
How difficult is it to get a dedicated private internet constructed in one's home?
Please note the difference between Internet (Capital ‘I’) and internet (small ‘i’). Small ‘i’ is ‘an internet’ and capital ‘I’ is ‘the Internet’.
You can construct an internet between any two devices with an ethernet adapter and an IP stack using a single ethernet cable. To connect more devices with wires you need an ethernet switch. To connect devices wirelessly as well you need a wireless access point. If you want services like DHCP (for automated allocation of IP addresses) you need a device that can run a DHCP server (any Linux box, Windows server etc).
That’s a dedicated private internet. You can make it as large and as complicated as your imagination and budget allows. You can even connect it to ‘the’ Internet using a router and any type of Internet connection should you choose to do so.
Can Internet be made offline?
For a single country, yes, particularly in those smaller to medium size countries where the PTT controls all external access circuits and all the last mile and cellular access. We're sure many plans to manage catastrophic civil insurrection are in place in many countries (including some major ones) that include shutting down the cellular network and the Internet to deny communications to the insurrection to prevent them organizing.
To shut down the Internet globally would require either a cyber attack on DNS that propagated before it was discovered, or a cyber attack that poisoned BGP routing tables in routers (these are the tables that tell traffic where to go). Both would be disruptive but fixable. I can’t think of any more global points of failure.
So the answer is that in certain circumstances, yes.
What was it like growing up without having the internet?
by Andrew Marshall, CTI's CEO
Well, of course we didn’t know what we didn’t have, so we didn’t really think about it.
I was born in the UK in 1956, and went to school there. I was very fortunate to enter the computer industry early, and had access to first class technical minds and technical documentation. We had online resources on the 1970’s, although they were very clunky by today’s standards.
You either didn’t know something, or you did. If you didn’t know it, you either had to ask someone who did know, or find a book (usually in a library) and look it up. Sometimes of course, you couldn’t find things at all. To meet new people, you had to be physically present. You got news from newspapers, radio and TV, and you had very little idea of other peoples’ political opinions. If you wanted to hear new music, you had to go and see it live.
What it did mean, however, was that you had to carry more knowledge and skills around with you in your head, so your learning focus was different. It’s probably true that if you have access to the Internet, you really don’t need to learn the name and location of the five longest rivers in Africa, or the names of Henry VIII’s wives. You can just Google it. However we didn’t have that access, so we learned things.
But useless as that may sound, learning that way gives you (or gave me, anyhow) a certain edge. I learned to learn, if you will. I don’t need to rely on spellcheck and I only need a calculator for complicated math. Your mileage may vary.
I am a great advocate of the Internet and use it constantly. However, I can see the dangers of it to young minds, particularly when paired with 24x7 access via mobile devices - but that’s a whole different question.
Additional, added later:
Thinking about this later, I missed some important aspects. We didn’t just rely on pens and paper (or even typewriters) prior to widespread Internet access. Pretty much most businesses in the 80’s had fax machines, and a lot of private individuals. Most of the business and personal correspondence we would today use email for was done by fax. In the 60’s and 70’s, larger businesses had Telex machines, which were networked Teletypes (think typewriter with a modem). A business I worked in did a lot of UK-US commerce and had a Telex machine, it could even be used in real time as instant messaging (although hideously expensive).
However, computers and computer communications in private hands predated the Internet’s widespread deployment. Once personal computers became generally available in the late 70’s, Services such as Compuserve and AOL and widespread BBS (Bulletin boards) were accessible by dial up modem and provided services that would be familiar to Internet users today. The were very slow - my first modem was 300bps/300bps - but better than anything we’d seen before.
Also worth mentioning was the advent of the pocket electronic calculator in the 70’s, I remember before it was invented, and we had to use slide rules and log tables. Not fun.
How did the Internet and technology, and computers dramatize the hotel industry? What businesses have been invented since the Internet/computer?
Main effects of Internet access & Internet tech on the hotel industry:
Pricing. The availability of price comparison and availability online has affected pricing dynamics for operators and customers;
Pay Per View. Declining revenues for hotels as customers bring their own devices;
Point 2 above has affected companies that provide video content to hotels;
Telephones: Hotels don’t make money out of people making phone calls any more.
Hotels now have to provide wired & wireless Internet access or they die. Mostly this has to be free these days. This has a cost.
Payment infrastructure: reduced fraud and skips as credit card infrastructure (thanks to the Internet) now allows online auth;
We're sure there are many others.
What business have been invented? That’s a pretty long list. Just a few random samples: ISP’s, CGI studios, anything to do with digital photography, Drones, social media, cyber security, anything to do with media streaming, action cameras, smart phones, any app that runs on smart phones.
How can we build a decentralized internet?
Not completely sure we understand what you’re looking of here. Please comment as appropriate (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Internet (capital I = Public Internet) is by design decentralized. With the exception of certain bodies that are required to issue IP addresses and register new DNS entries, there is no centralized control of the network, and different parts of the network are peers. DNS is, in effect, a distributed database, as are routing tables.
Certain countries where the state PTT control communications into the country may regulate who can connect, but that’s not centralization.
Should every user have a VPN at home for internet safety? How big/widespread is the danger?
We’ve been seeing a lot of media advertising recently pushing the need for personal VPN’s, and every time we see one we raise an eyebrow.
Using a VPN can do two things. Firstly, it can obscure your geographic location. Secondly, it can encrypt, or makes unreadable, all of the Internet traffic between your device and the VPN company you are using.
Sounds like a good idea, right? Except that you have to pay for it, and honestly, you probably don’t need it. Here’s why.
Geographic location: Do you really care if a web site you’re browsing could, if it wanted to, discover your approximate geographic location? Remember this isn’t your exact address, it’s the city or neighborhood. (check this out: find out your public IP - go to What Is My IP? Shows your real IP - IPv4 - IPv6 - WhatIsMyIP.com® it will tell your your IP and the location recorded for that IP. That’s all anyone else can get as well. Definitely not your address).
As an aside, you’re probably in a phone book or on a voting register or similar, so if anyone wants to find your address, they probably can with a lot more accuracy than geo-locating your IP from a website.
Encryption: Encryption will encode your traffic so that nobody eavesdropping on your Wifi or some other black hat technique can read it. A VPN will do this. However, once again, you don’t need it because it already happens.
Your Wifi is probably secured anyway, and anything confidential that you do (think online banking, email, even Facebook) is already encrypted (see that ‘https://’ before the URL? That means it’s encrypted.
There are circumstances - especially in businesses - where VPN makes sense. For most users, it doesn’t. The vision that the advertisers put forward that shows desperate criminals spying on your family because you don’t use a VPN are misleading at best.
From a practical point of view, for Internet safety there are more effective, everyday things that you can do:
Make sure your WiFi is configured correctly so that it is encrypted and has a strong password
Make sure all your passwords are strong, don’t write them down, and change them periodically.
Don’t use the same passwords on multiple websites
Don’t click on links or download attachments on emails that you aren’t expecting
Make sure your device has adequate antivirus and spyware protection.
Can a hacker hijack the control of your computer if you are using a cable-based internet connection?
Generally, how you are connected to the Internet has no bearing on whether you are or are not vulnerable to a hijack.
To protect against hijacks, here’s some general guidelines:
Make sure your operating system is patched up to date to protect against vulnerabilities
Use a good quality firewall/router for your connection, and follow best practice guidelines for it’s configuration
Do not open unknown links, download unknown attachments, or install software from unknown sources.
Most hijacks involve an email-borne attack vector or a socially engineered software download. Guarding against this is your best protection.