Although most people have high speed Internet in their homes or on their phones today, they often do not appreciate the technology behind it. Nowadays, people are using the Internet every single day to get the information they would have had to put more effort into locating otherwise. With the large shift in how people get their information, it is important to understand the detailed process that information goes through to be communicated to the user.
Most Internet connections are somewhat similar in how they communicate, but on different scales of implementation. In the home, a computer is either connected directly to a modem or to a home router. A router is a device that basically acts as a splitter so multiple computers can access the Internet through one connection. The modem is assigned a unique IP address that identifies that Internet connection to the rest of the world, while the router will assign IPs to each connected computer for local identification. The connection is then routed to a hub that services a neighborhood or other type of smaller region. After that, with the use of XFP transceiver modules within a regional data center that the ISP owns, the connection is routed to other collections of networks that the user is requesting information from.
Innefficient At First, But…
Although routing information this way may seem inefficient since it takes many hops to get to its destination, it makes things much easier to handle when it comes to balancing loads between certain areas. If information did not take a couple hops to reach a regional data center, then one area with a problem could potentially crash the network in a very large area. Since there are only so many SFP fiber optic modules that a data center can have, it is better that a network chokes on a smaller level so it can be upgraded or tweaked as needed to fix the small area it is affecting. The amount of issues customers have would multiply many times, which would create unhappy people and a lot of customer service issues at call centers.
One of the technologies that have helped both home Internet and data centers is Quality of Service engines (QoS). This technology uses a small (or large if in a data center) processor that routes information based on its importance level. For example, a video game needs low latency, so if someone is playing a game and downloading a file at once, the game’s information will be pushed to the front of the line before the download gets its information through. This means that websites that do not rely on instant communication will act normally, along with the video game or voice call that someone is on simultaneously.