How does the Internet work? (part 1)

Aarushi Ramesh
3 min readFeb 7, 2020

The Internet of Things

The Internet is such a powerful force; it allows us to communicate/recieve information from different parts of the world! It’s just insane and amazing to visualize the different aspects of networking; and how the Internet forever revolutionized our way of seeking information! It all has to do with the hyped up term “ Internet of Things”. The term Internet of Things, or IoT, describes a system of connected devices, appliances, vehicles and digital technologies (and other “things”) that can send data/information without human-to-human or human-to-device interactions. So instead of me walking up to another individual/device in another country to send some info, I can do that using the Internet.

WiFi vs. Internet

I have always used the words WiFi and Internet interchangeably, you don’t even know so many times! But there is a slight difference between these terms. WiFi essentially stands for “wireless networks”, and the Internet is “interconnected networks”. There was a point in time where devices could only be connected through cables to connect from one device to another. It wasn’t too efficient, however, since there was a location limit, and it was kinda inconvenient if you wanted to connect more devices. So essentially what WiFi does is it allows you to connect with devices without cables, in a local area network (like your homes, for example). It does this by using a router, which routes information (in small packets of info) from one device to another.

The wireless local network is completely separate from the Internet. The Internet is a wide area network, or WAN. It is a huge network which links devices and computers across the world.

How is the information transmitted?

So first off, every device on the Internet has some sort of unique identifier, for devices to recognize one another. This is called an IP address. Our laptops, phones, and servers (which are devices that manage/store information) have IP addresses.

So how are these vast amounts of devices all connected globally, around the world? Well first off, this is a simple diagram of two devices are connected to the Internet:

Both of these devices will have unique IP addresses, and the Internet is basically the vast networks which data packets will route to until its destination is reached. So when you send information from your device to another device, the information is split into packets and is routed to the destination device via the Internet. But how exactly does this all work, and that to wirelessly? The computer needs to process the message, convert the text to signals, send it to the Internet, and the router near device 2 needs to convert the signals back into text. For this to be accomplished, there needs to be a protocol stack. Every device needs this, and this usually is in its operating system.

Servers down

When you are accessing a website, you are basically sending a HTTP protocol command to the web server in the Internet, to transmit the webpage (that’s why websites start with http!!) Now you know when you were trying to access a website, and for some reason your web browser isn’t processing the request. It often happens when the web server is down and under maintenance. These are some examples of when the server might be facing a technical problem:

Gateway time-out occurs when web server is communicating fast enough with other servers to process your request.

Networking and the Internet is just a whole new world; there is so much more to explore! Part 2 coming soon..

Originally published at



Aarushi Ramesh

Hello! I’m a student at the University at Texas in Austin. Welcome to my collection of thoughts. I like to write and blog.