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Internet Backbone Technology

The Internet Backbone_091623A
[The Internet Backbone: Routing of prominent undersea cables that serve as the physical infrastructure of the Internet - Wikipedia]

- Overview

The Internet backbone is the high-speed network that connects Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to other networks around the world. It's like the highway system of the Internet. The backbone is the core of the Internet and consists of the largest and fastest networks. The backbone connects local area networks (LAN) and wide area networks (WAN) together.
The backbone is designed to maximize the reliability and performance of large-scale, long-distance data communications. It enables a backup network to bear the load of one or more failed networks. 

The world's largest providers (called Tier 1 providers) have networks spanning the globe. These providers include large telecommunications companies such as AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint. They sell services to small ISPs and are ISPs themselves.

Each country typically has multiple backbones connecting all of its ISPs. In the United States, these backbone networks are connected through a small number of interconnection points.


- The Internet Backbone Network

The Internet backbone network is the core of the Internet. It consists of the largest and fastest networks connected together by fiber optic cables and high-performance routers. These networks are owned and operated by commercial, educational, government, or military entities.

The Internet backbone network is the basic network that enables global data exchange. Nearly all web browsing, video streaming, and other common online traffic flows through the Internet backbone.

The Internet backbone consists of many networks owned by many companies. Some of the largest companies running different parts of the Internet backbone include UUNET, AT&T, GTE Corp. and Sprint Nextel Corp.

The Internet backbone is made up of the fastest routers that can deliver 100Gbps relay speeds. These routers are manufactured by vendors such as Cisco, Extreme, Huawei, Juniper Networks, and Nokia. They use Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) to route traffic between them.


- The Internet in Data Communications

The Internet is a global network of billions of computers and other electronic devices. It allows the rapid exchange of information and files between devices using the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) standard.

The Internet supports human communication through social media, email, chat rooms, news groups, and audio and video transmissions. It also allows people to work collaboratively in many different locations.

The Internet makes communication faster and more efficient. Email, instant messaging, and social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have all but replaced traditional letter writing, phone calls, and face-to-face conversations as the primary means of communication.


- The Internet Data Transmission

The data is first broken into small packets of information, as it cannot be sent whole. The data then travels through a physical route to its destination, commonly consisting of a possible mix of  co-axial cables, a twisted-pair cable, or fibre optics. 

This physical route of cables is called the transmission medium. Each transmission medium is restricted to a fixed capacity known as the the bandwidth. In order to successfully transmit data, a minimum bandwidth is required which depends on the data being transported. Data being transported at 300 Mb/s, for instance, requires a minimum of 1 gigabit of ethernet transport. 

The Internet generates massive amounts of computer-to-computer traffic, and insuring all that traffic can be delivered anywhere in the world requires the aggregation of a vast array of high-speed networks collectively known as the internet backbone. 

In computer networking, a backbone is a central conduit designed to transfer network traffic at high speeds. Backbones connect local area networks (LANs) and wide area networks (WANs) together. Network backbones are designed to maximize the reliability and performance of large-scale, long-distance data communications. The best-known network backbones are those used on the Internet. The Internet backbone is made up of many large networks which interconnect with each other. 


- How Data is Transmitted over the Internet

Computers are connected to each other and to the Internet through wires, cables, radio waves, and other types of network infrastructure. All data sent over the Internet is converted into pulses of light or electricity (also called "bits"), which are then interpreted by the receiving computer. 

Data is broken down into packets before being transmitted over the Internet. Each packet contains a header that explains where the data comes from and ends. The packet is then sent over the network in a series of hops. Each packet hops to a local Internet Service Provider (ISP). 

Data packets are converted into light or electrical pulses (also called "bits"), which are then interpreted by the receiving computer. When the packets arrive at the destination device, they are assembled into a message. Packets can be sent along different paths. 

Multipath transmission is used to transmit and combine data, significantly increasing speed. Data encryption and source IP masking protect data from known and emerging threats.


The University of Chicago_050723A
[The University of Chicago]

- Internet Service Providers

The Internet backbone may be defined by the principal data routes between large, strategically interconnected computer networks and core routers on the Internet. These data routes are hosted by commercial, government, academic and other high-capacity network centers, the Internet exchange points and network access points, that exchange Internet traffic between the countries, continents and across the oceans. 

Nearly all Web browsing, video streaming, and other common online traffic flows through Internet backbones. They consist of network routers and switches connected mainly by fiber optic cables. Each fiber link on the backbone normally provides 100 Gbps of network bandwidth. Computers rarely connect to a backbone directly. Instead, the networks of Internet service providers or large organizations connect to these backbones and computers access the backbone indirectly.

Internet service providers participate in Internet backbone traffic by privately negotiated interconnection agreements, primarily governed by the principle of settlement-free peering. The interactions between large corporations and their agreements for sharing each other's networks also tend to complex business dynamics. 


- Security at the Core of the Internet

Due to their central role on the Internet and global communications, backbone installations are a prime target for malicious attacks. Providers tend to keep the locations and some technical details of their backbones secret for this reason. 

Although the Internet is publicly accessible, it is woven together from many privately owned networks that interoperate. Telecommunications companies sometimes show schematics of their core networks, but without much geographic detail. 

Knowing the exact location of the most important Internet cables should help efforts to understand the possible effects of natural disasters or intentional attacks on the Internet.


[More to come ...]



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