Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Networking Infrastructure

So now you know how packets travel from one computer to another over the Internet. But what's in-between? What actually makes up the Internet? Let's look at another diagram:

Diagram 3
Diagram 3

Here we see Diagram 1 redrawn with more detail. The physical connection through the phone network to the Internet Service Provider might have been easy to guess, but beyond that might bear some explanation. The ISP maintains a pool of modems for their dial-in customers. This is managed by some form of computer (usually a dedicated one) which controls data flow from the modem pool to a backbone or dedicated line router. This setup may be referred to as a port server, as it 'serves' access to the network. Billing and usage information is usually collected here as well.
After your packets traverse the phone network and your ISP's local equipment, they are routed onto the ISP's backbone or a backbone the ISP buys bandwidth from. From here the packets will usually journey through several routers and over several backbones, dedicated lines, and other networks until they find their destination, the computer with address But wouldn't it would be nice if we knew the exact route our packets were taking over the Internet? As it turns out, there is a way...


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