• Reza Nilofer

IT Support 101: Evolution of internet technology


If you are old enough to remember dial-up internet, you are part of the internet pioneer generation. You have been there and grew up with the internet at your fingertip. From dial-up internet modems to the new fibre broadband internet access, the technology has come such a long way. Do you still remember the dial-up tone on your 56K modem? Do you know why it sounded the way it did?

The sound was a bridge, a kind of digital to analogue tunnel in the frequency of sound that we can understand and hear. Think of it as an announcement that from now on the connection on your line is going to be an internet connection, no other type of connection welcome. It was the first form of mass-produced internet, which was available to the public—originating in the United States of America.

Dial-up using phone line


Dial-up of Dial-up internet access is the technology most would acknowledge as the first type of internet technology. This service primarily uses our home phone line connecting our computer's modem to the internet via our telephone line.

The modem connected converts the digital signal of our computer to an analogue signal that travels over the phone line, which is what we hear as a dial-up tone. Yes, that dial-up tone is our modem and computer trying to communicate with your Telecommunications provider or ISP (Internet Service Provider). These start around 56 Kbps speed connection.



Integrated Services Digital Network is the next level of dial-up. Similar technologies but working under a different protocol. A fancy way of saying it works the same way but in a different manner.

These work with a DSL cable modem and were able to reach up to 1 Mbps speed, which was blisteringly fast for its time—allowing for video conferencing and many other applications. It was great for businesses allowing them to communicate offices across the globe effectively and efficiently. 1 Mbps may not sound like much these days, but at the early years, it was a massive leap from dial-up which maxed out at 512 Kbps at its fastest.



So someone figured out how to use the same fibre coaxial cable used to transmit your live sports cable programming to your home to carry internet signals. And unlike dial-up, cable provided a continuous connection to the internet, which is a huge leap in technological terms.

Before cable modem in most countries, most people used dial-up to connect, they had their computer dial a number to connect to the internet. And now you did not have to. That was a fantastic leap. And with speeds of up to 400 Mbps for business connections, it allowed for higher bandwidth applications to implement—better quality internet connection allowing streaming technologies like YouTube, for example. Without Cable, YouTube itself would never be possible. We need that speed to watch videos online.

Gaming went on to the next level with console gaming and people playing online together. Being able to not only play but also speak to one another online as they play. So much information shared on the internet, cable was a huge breakthrough. Most countries today in 2019 are still using cable internet connection. Which goes to show how fast and reliable the technology is. Still.

Fiber or Fibre


Cable modem relies on electric signals carried along with copper cables, which has its physical limitations since copper metal has resistance and reduces the strength of the electric signals over long distances. So the next leap in connection if fibre cables. Fibre cables carry light signals, the light that travels through a clear fibre cable uninterrupted over extremely long distances. It's the only disadvantage is that the cables pinches and they would no longer be able to carry the light particle. These light signals are carrying binary signals through a fibre cable, and it needs to travel through the fibre uninterrupted from one point to another. This medium is the fibre line inside the cable, a transparent plastic which refracts light within itself and carries the light successfully from one side to another.

Remember the movie SWAT? Where they use this gear, allowing them to see what is going on in the other room using a cable they push under the door? That is the same technology, but instead of an image, they carry light signals. Which allows speeds of up to 10 Gbps reached to many households.



If you are in one of those countries lucky enough to experience Power-Line internet, which is easily the transition between cable and fibre. You would have the experience of attaching your modem to your power plug, and that would make it work. Not quite near as fast as fibre connection, but it's great for countries with terrible infrastructure.

Power line infrastructure is the necessary minimum any country would have. Much easier to send to a home than water, using the same power line for the internet was a great idea. Unfortunately, the advertised initially speed was never reached. So this was never really a high-speed option.


Satellite broadband

You know Elon Musk right? Recently his new agenda is to launch twelve thousand internet satellite into orbit, a technology he calls Starlink. Necessarily it can transfer the internet faster by fifty per cent than fibre-optic cables, which is excellent for people in the middle of nowhere, in a village in some jungle in the forest—no need for cables to run through your house.

You could purchase stocks faster than people on a fibre network. You are technically speaking, of course. Your gaming ping would reduce substantially, which could give you the upper hand in international tournaments with faster emails and data transfer—improving your business and app capabilities. The possibilities are endless.

Average internet speed 2011 to 2018

Is this graph useful or what and somewhat lovely. It is nice to see how much speed has improved worldwide with the quick and fast implementation of new internet technology in the world. Before 2011 we were averaging about 2.5 Mbps from 2007 to 2011, which is a long time to remain about the same speed. But since 2011, there has been a massive acceleration. All thanks to the worldwide implementation of fibre-optic cables. This infrastructure that is fibre-optic drastically increased the average internet speed of the world. Allowing for fast download speeds and all that great 4K Netflix movies and shows you can watch and binge.

The internet has evolved and continues to do so. The better the internet infrastructure becomes, the higher the level of technology and application can develop to maximize its usage and potential. It is truly a great time to be alive.

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