In order to understand the net neutrality issue and how they will affect users of the Internet, it is important to first understand how information is passed along the Internet from one computer to another.

What is the Internet?

The Internet is a series of interconnected networks made up of the computers that access it. Every computer that connects to the Internet is part of a network, usually through an Internet Service Provider (ISP). Every ISP has a Point of Presence, or POP, through which all its users gain access, and those POPs are connected to one another in a larger network structure through Network Access Points, or NAPS, that agree to connect together. There are also several high-speed backbones of T1 or T3 lines, usually controlled by the government or by communications corporations like AT&T, that connect large numbers of NAPs together in order to increase the speed and capacity of the network connections. In short, the Internet is simply a series of interconnected networks that link all computers with Internet access together.

The Internet's Infrastructure-courtesy of www.howthingswork.com

Each computer has a unique Internet Protocol, or IP address that identifies that computer as a unique location on the Internet. IP addresses are series of numbers that look like this: 216.27.62.132, with each number defining a specific feature about that computer or server and its location on the network. While many of these IP addresses simply define individual computers that connect to the Internet, other IP addresses are mapped to text names through the Domain Name System, which allows users find information on the Internet through websites with names like www.du.edu, rather than through the IP address. This makes the information easier for people to search and access.

How Information Passes Along the Internet

All of the networks that make up the Internet rely on routers to pass data between networks and from one computer to another. Routers are specialized computers that send messages through the networks from one computer to another. Routers ensure that information does not go where it's not needed, and that all information requested makes it to its intended destination.

How A Router Works-courtesy of www.howthingswork.com

When Internet data is requested, it travels over a system known as a packet-switching network. The data requested is broken down into 1500-byte packages that are each given an informational wrapper that includes the sender's and receiver's IP addresses, the package's place in the entire data message, and information for the receiving computer on how to receive the message intact. Each packet of data is then sent off across the network by the best available route.

Routing Data Along the Web-courtesy of www.howthingswork.com

The routers run on algorithms that allow them to communicate with one another to ensure that each packet of data reaches the appropriate destination as quickly as possible while ensuring that no one network gets overloaded with too many data packets while others remain idle. It is in this way that information can be passed halfway around the world in a split second.