Science & Technology in Action

2nd Edition

Broadband and the Internet


This lesson looks at the Internet and the meaning of broadband. The following concepts are explained: analogue and digital data, bandwidth, modem, router, internet protocol, ISP and URL.
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Contains the full lesson along with a supporting toolkit, including teachers’ notes.

Lesson excerpt

What is the Internet?
The Internet is a worldwide computer network, or more accurately a network of networks, which can be accessed from business and home computers and even from mobile phones. Users can communicate with one another using services such as e-mail, or can retrieve information (data} from other remote host computers. The ‘information’ – which can be text, music, photographs, a movie, animation, an on-line game or other computer programme – is downloaded to the user’s computer in the form of a digital file. The user’s computer is known as the client and the host computer is called the server.

So the Internet, made up of thousands of networks and millions of computers offers:

  • an infrastructure on which services such as email can run,  and 
  • an incredibly vast store of information; for example, the word broadband entered in a search engine brings up some 400 million references.

Strictly speaking the term ‘Internet’ refers to the physical infrastructure. The collection of web pages on the various computers is theworldwide web, often simply called the web. It is literally a web of information because the documents arehyperlinked together.  The thousands of computers that make up the Internet are connected by many different types of communication links –cable, microwave and optical fibres. 

How do I access the Internet?
Users are generally connected to the Internet by an Internet Service Provider (ISP). ISPs are organisations authorised to connect customers to the Internet. eircom is the largest ISP in Ireland. To connect to the Internet via eircom your computer must first connect to eircom’s server. There are two common ways of doing this, namely dial-up and DSL. 

True or False?

  1. The Internet is one large host computer that holds all web pages. false
  2. When a user sends a file to the Internet the process is called downloading. false
  3. When a user connects to the Internet, the user’s computer is called a client. true
  4. The Worldwide Web is another name for the Internet. false
  5. Eircom is Ireland’s largest ISP. true
  6. DSL means Direct Subscriber Line. false
  7. A DSL provides different bandwidths in the upstream and downstream directions. true
  8. Digital data is represented by binary codes. true
  9. The word modem comes from the two words modulator and demodulator. true
  10. A byte is eight bits. true