About the Internet

What is the Internet? While it may seem like a simple question, defining the Internet isn’t easy. Because unlike any other technology, the Internet can be whatever we make it. We can shape it. We can mold it. But most importantly, we can use it to connect people, communities, and countries around the world.


How it works

Unlike the telephone network, which for years in most countries was run by a single company, the global Internet consists of tens of thousands of interconnected networks run by service providers, individual companies, universities, governments, and others. Open standards enable this network of networks to communicate. This makes it possible for anyone to create content, offer services, and sell products without requiring permission from a central authority.

Who makes it work

The Internet ecosystem is made of many organizations and communities that help the Internet work and evolve. The rapid and continued development and adoption of Internet technologies can be attributed to the involvement of a broad range of people and organizations; open, transparent, and collaborative processes; and the use of products and infrastructure with dispersed ownership and control.

“The Internet belongs to everyone and no one.”

– Bruce Sterling, Short History of the Internet

Facts and figures

Who uses the Internet? How is it used? How does it affect us? The Internet is constantly changing, and understanding and measuring it is a challenge. We’ve collected a variety of resources for Internet statistics, trends, and demographics.

Internet World Stats
The Big Picture of World Internet Users and Population Statistics.

Internet Traffic Report
Monitors the Flow of Data Around the World.

Cowles/Simba Information Services
Various research studies include data on World Wide Web advertising revenue, Internet user base, and electronic sale of tangible goods.

Provide comprehensive data on advertising revenue on the Internet, and the impact and trends of advertising on the Net.

Forrester Research, Inc.
Demographic analysis of Web users and the penetration of the PC market, including age and income bracket analysis.

The Gartner Group
Internet Strategies (INET) is the Gartner Group’s service for the research of trends on the Internet and WWW.

comScore Media Metrix
Audience measurement service. Monitors WWW, Internet, and online service usage, as well as computer hardware and software trends.

Stanford-Poynter Project “Eyetrack”
Study evaluating interaction of Internet users with a wide range of sites.

Network Startup Resource Center
A database of international networking developments.

A Brief History of the Internet

The Internet today is a widespread information infrastructure, the initial prototype of what is often called the National (or Global or Galactic) Information Infrastructure. Its history is complex and involves many aspects

How the Internet is evolving

The evolution of the Internet is happening now. More than just its infrastructure, how we use it and where we use it to connect are in a state of continuous change. What might the Internet look like in 10 years? What are some of the biggest challenges we face, and how can we ensure the continued development of an open Internet for everyone, everywhere?

Shape Tomorrow

Help preserve the foundations on which the Internet was built and join us in keeping it open, global and available to all.