About the Internet

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Here’s how it works

The Internet is not like a telephone network. The global Internet consists of tens of thousands of interconnected networks run by service providers, individual companies, universities and  governments. In most countries, a telephone network is run by a single company for several years at a time. Open standards are what enable this network of Internet networks to communicate. And they’re what make 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. This broad range of people and groups are what contribute to the rapid and continued development and adoption of Internet technologies. Open, transparent, and collaborative processes (and the use of products and infrastructure with dispersed ownership and control) are what make the global internet what it is.

“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 in flux and understanding and measuring it is a challenge. Check out these resources for Internet statistics, trends, and demographics.


The Internet Society’s Pulse Platform
Curates data from trusted sources to help everyone understand the health, availability and evolution of the global Internet.

The Internet Society’s Global Internet Report
The forces of change that will shape the Internet.

Center for Applied Internet Data Analysis (CAIDA)
Internet data from and across a wide variety of Internet infrastructure.

Mozilla’s Internet Health Report
What’s happening to the health of the Internet.

NSRC Connectivity Providers Database
International networking developments and Internet connectivity providers, with major emphasis on countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East, and Oceania.

RIPE Atlas Analyses and Use Cases
A global network of probes that measure Internet connectivity and reachability, providing an understanding of the state of the Internet in real time.

The World Bank
Individuals using the Internet (% of population).


Internet World Stats
The big picture of world Internet users and population statistics.

Internet Traffic Report
The flow of data around the world.

Akamai Research
The state of the Internet.

Internet usage worldwide: statistics and facts.

Unfamiliar with an Internet term? Learn what it means.


History of the Internet

From the early days of ARPANET to today’s mobile technologies, the Internet has come a long way. Its history is complex and involves many people and stories. We share some of the different histories of the Internet.

How the Internet is changing

The Internet is still evolving. And not just its infrastructure. How we use it and where we use it are also continuously changing. 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?

Explore the possibilities for the future development of the Internet and strategies for helping it evolve in the best possible way.

Shape tomorrow

Need help turning your passion for the Internet into action? Giving is one of the simplest ways to contribute.