What Exactly IS The Internet?

If you think of a pipe that completely circles the Earth, and it has holes in it to allow traffic to move in and out of the pipe, that’s pretty much the Internet. Each "hole" allows ISP’s such as Wifi Midwest to communicate with all other ISP’s, servers, routers and many other devices. Each device that connects to the Internet has a function. Some allow you to be steered to other ISP’s, or to websites, or to email servers.

Each "hole" is called a POP, or Point Of Presence. All ISPs are ultimately connected to these POPs, which then allow you to contact any website on the Internet, regardless of their location anywhere on the Earth. When you call up a website such as eBay, you jump in here and are directed to jump out in San Jose, California, all in the blink of an eye.

But, how does "it" know where you want to go? When you type in www.wifimw.com, a DNS server (Domain Name Server) converts www.wifimw.com into this numerical string:

Why does it do that? Because numbers are what computers understand! It’s easier for us to remember a name and not a long string of numbers, so, a DNS server converts what’s easy for you into what’s easy for a computer, and the servers on the Internet can then direct you to where you want to go.

Every computer, every website, and every device that connects to the Internet has a unique address. These are called IP addresses, or Internet Protocol addresses. If 2 devices have the same address, an error message is generated and both are usually locked out until the problem is resolved.

Why Do You Need An Internet Service Provider?
The Internet is a separate entity and is not a normal part of the telephone system we all use. Because of that, some sort of interface is needed which converts your computer’s signals into digital traffic that is then put out onto the Internet by an ISP through a POP (as described above). This is where an ISP such as Wifi Midwest comes in. We use servers, routers and switches to place you onto the Internet, which comes to our office and facilities on separate high speed digital data lines. The dollar investment in servers and other equipment is quite substantial, running in the tens of thousands of dollars or more! Obviously, this is beyond what a normal household could afford, but an ISP like Wifi Midwest can spread the cost out over many subscribers. This makes it affordable for you, and profitable for an ISP. Everybody wins!

How Does Email Work?
When you send an email to someone, the other person’s email address is converted into a numerical sequence by a DNS server, which then directs that email to your friend’s ISP’s email server. So, an email address such as john@wifimw.com would be converted to john@ and then sent to the server address. At the end, the name of the account (john) is verified, and then your email is stored in that server until John downloads, or reads his email. At that time, John's ISP’s server removes it and puts it onto John's computer, which clears the server’s storage and makes room for the next message.