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How do computers connect to the Internet?


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May 08, 2011 2:24PM

Internet Protocol Suitee
Connecting to the Internet consists of having a physical connection to a network which has a connection to the Internet, having an address that works on the Internet, and having routes to destinations on the Internet.

Modern computers have a local area network (LAN) port which uses the Ethernet protocol (IEEE 802.3). Through this port, a cable consisting of at least four wires connects pins 1&2 and 3&6 as receive and transmit paths to a connection device. That connection device, be it a switch, hub, or router, allows the physical connection to be successful.

Once the physical connection is there, the computer either uses a built in hard-coded "static" Internet Protocol (IP) address, or it requests one "dynamically" via the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP).

Finally routing is either statically assigned ("set default route") or it is provided by the DHCP server as the "gateway" address.

A computer which has the physical connection... which has a valid IP address... and which has a route to other destinations is therefore connected to the Internet.