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    What is the internet and who invented it?

    Over the course of the past twenty years the Internet has developed at a rapid rate and thanks to the introduction of Wi-Fi, 3G, fibre optic and coming soon G.fast, many of us are always connected. But how did it all start and who was behind creating the Internet?

    What is the Internet?

    Whether it’s browsing social media, online shopping, or streaming your favourite TV shows, most people use the Internet every day – but what exactly is it?

    In simple terms, the Internet is a system of communication between computer networks that allows information (whether it’s text, images, sound, or video) to be passed from one location to another. The Internet predominantly works using a method called packet switching.

    Packet switching is a communication method wherein data is broken down into small chunks at its source, then reconstructed at its destination. By breaking large parts of information down into these ‘packets’, computer networks can route this data across the internetwork reliably and quickly. Any packets lost along the way can be retransmitted without having to download the whole file again.

    How was the Internet invented?

    The Internet wasn’t really invented per se, instead it was formed using a culmination of different types of computer communication technology developed by several scientific groups. Various different internets began to connect up over time, forming the Internet we know today.

    ARPANET and TCP/IP

    Back when computers took up a whole room, scientists were constantly looking at new ways to make them process more information at faster speeds.

    This desire for speed and efficiency led to scientists developing ARPANET, a system of computer communication that was created by the US Department of Defence for government research. The first data transfer demonstrating a four-way connected network took place from Stanford University, the University of California at Santa Barbara, UCLA, and the University of Utah.

    In the 1970s, this four-way connection was the first Internet connection in the world. Scientists in many other countries developed their own in the following years, but communication between the different networks was difficult, as each connection used its own language to send and receive data.

    In 1982 Vinton Cerf, a manager for the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), joined Bob Kahn’s research team and together they worked on the first versions of the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and Internet Protocol (IP). TCP/IP became the universal language of the Internet, allowing all computers to reliably send and route the information that was being transmitted to its destination.

    The invention of the World Wide Web and email

    Email was invented in 1971 by Ray Tomlinson as a method of communicating over ARPANET. However, it wasn’t until the early 1990s that email began to be used by ordinary people, becoming one of the driving forces behind the rising popularity of the Internet.

    British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee was the creator of another vitally important invention – the World Wide Web. It was invented in 1991 as a method of sharing research between CERN scientists more easily. Berners-Lee invented the first web browser, server, and website – his idea was based on the concept of embedding links to other pages (hyperlinks) in the HTML of the webpage itself. His Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) and the web address (URL) are concepts still used today.

    For many years, the Internet was predominantly used by government groups and scientists, but in 1995, commercial Internet access started to be sold to consumers.

    Dial-up Internet

    The first iteration of the Internet available for commercial use was dial-up. Dial-up Internet required a phone-line to operate, so phone calls couldn’t be made using a landline while the Internet was in use.

    Speed was a significant issue in the early days. By 1998, the best connection users could hope for was 56Kbps. This diminutive connection speed meant that downloading a file could often become a time-consuming process, and streaming music or video wasn’t viable. In addition, the earliest modems weren’t cheap with the latest 28.8Kbps modem costing up to £399 back in the early 90’s.

    Broadband and Wi-Fi

    The next development of home browsing was the introduction of broadband and wireless Internet.

    Broadband started to replace dial-up in the early 2000s, with half of all Internet users possessing a broadband connection by 2007. Broadband allows a significantly higher volume of data to be transferred at faster speeds by using an ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) connection.

    Broadband also differs from dial-up as it’s always connected to the Internet, and doesn’t need to be ‘switched on’ to work.

    Wireless Internet started rolling out commercially to the public in 1999, with the release of the Apple Airport, closely followed by the release of a Windows-focused Wi-Fi router in 2001. These devices quickly became the norm, replacing Ethernet cables that had to be physically plugged into a computer to work.

    Wireless Internet hotspots were soon introduced at many businesses, such as coffee shops, retail stores, and offices. Wireless Internet hotspots offer the public access to the Internet, often for free, and operate using a wireless local area network (WLAN) connected to a router.

    The invention of 2G, 3G, and 4G

    When smartphones were initially released, early adopters had to make do with a sluggish 9.6Kbps connection, even slower than traditional home dial up. Speeds were improved with onset of 2G, which could reach speeds of up to 56Kbps, but mobile Internet didn’t truly reach its potential until the development of 3G.

    This third generation of mobile Internet could reach speeds of up to 200Kbps, transforming the way people used smartphones forever. 4G was released in 2010, improving mobile Internet speeds even further to a reputable 15Mbps.

    Cable broadband

    Cable broadband was introduced after ADSL broadband, offering potentially faster Internet speeds by operating over cable television wires, rather than a phone line. Cable Internet speeds can fluctuate, and are limited by the bandwidth allowed by the cable wire. While ADSL connections are widely accessible, cable broadband isn’t as common, and is available to around half of the UK.

    Fibre optic broadband

    Speed and efficiency have remained at the forefront of the development of the Internet, with superfast fibre broadband emerging as the next evolution of connectivity.

    Fibre optic broadband delivers vastly improved speeds because it uses fibre optic cables, instead of copper wire. Fibre optic cables are composed from thin strands of glass that allow laser light to travel down them at literally the speed of light – vastly improving the speed that data can be sent and received.

    If you’re interested in supercharging your Internet speed, take a look at our fibre optic broadband packages.

    The Internet of Things

    The Internet of Things (IoT) is the connection of everyday items to the Internet, allowing them to be operated digitally. The concept refers to most products prefaced with ‘smart’ – like smart meters, smart thermostats, and smart locks. The IoT is intended to improve the efficiency of day-to-day life, allowing users to control household functions using a smartphone or mobile device.

    G.fast Internet

    G.Fast is the next generation of fibre broadband and is capable of speeds over 300Mbps – significantly quicker than broadband.

    Unlike full fibre optic connection, G.Fast uses existing copper wires, and improves speeds by expanding the frequency range used by the broadband signal. G.Fast has been introduced in many locations throughout the UK, including Kent and Cambridgeshire, with the service expected to be available to over 10m properties by 2021.

    Here’s the legal bit

    You can see our full residential terms and conditions here.

    * The price for broadband, line rental, call plans and call charges will be increased each March from 2022 by the Consumer Price Index rate of inflation published by the Office for National Statistics in January of that year plus 3.9%. Other prices, content and terms may also change during your contract. See our CPI Plus 3.9% Guide for details.

    Line rental is included in all our broadband packages. The standard line rental price is £21.22 a month, except where you sign up to Unlimited Broadband on an 18 month contract, the standard line rental price is £19.99 a month for the first 18 months, then £21.22 a month (line only, no calls included). The standard line rental price, or where applicable the discounted line rental price, is included in the package price.

    Unlimited Fibre Extra (12 and 18 month contracts)

    Prices and terms are subject to change during your contract.

    For new Plusnet customers that sign up for 12 or 18 months (as appropriate). Line rental is included in the price (line only, no calls included). Price from month 13 or 19 (as appropriate) currently £43.50 a month (incl. line rental). Compatible line required otherwise a £49.99 installation charge may apply (excluding any external construction charges). We'll include a wireless router worth £99.99. Outside of your 14 day cancellation period, if you choose to end your service within the minimum period, you will have to pay an early termination charge.

    The date your broadband and line rental activates, or where your services do not activate at the same time, the service that activates first, will be used as your monthly billing date. If your broadband or line rental service are not activated at the same time, for the service that is activated at a later date, charges will be pro rated for the first month and any applicable discounts for that service will apply once the service starts.

    Subject to availability and cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer. No cash alternative. Exclusions and terms apply.

    Unlimited Fibre (12 and 18 month contracts)

    Prices and terms are subject to change during your contract.

    For new Plusnet customers that sign up for 12 or 18 months (as appropriate). Line rental is included in the price (line only, no calls included). Price from month 13 or 19 (as appropriate) currently £38.20 a month (incl. line rental). Compatible line required otherwise a £49.99 installation charge may apply (excluding any external construction charges). We'll include a wireless router worth £99.99. Outside of your 14 day cancellation period, if you choose to end your service within the minimum period, you will have to pay an early termination charge.

    The date your broadband and line rental activates, or where your services do not activate at the same time, the service that activates first, will be used as your monthly billing date. If your broadband or line rental service are not activated at the same time, for the service that is activated at a later date, charges will be pro rated for the first month and any applicable discounts for that service will apply once the service starts.

    Subject to availability and cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer. No cash alternative. Exclusions and terms apply.

    Unlimited Broadband (12 and 18 month contracts)

    Prices and terms are subject to change during your contract.

    For new Plusnet customers that sign up for 12 or 18 months (as appropriate). Line rental is included in the price (line only, no calls included). Price from month 13 or 19 (as appropriate) currently £32.88 a month (incl. line rental). Compatible line required otherwise a £49.99 installation charge may apply (excluding any external construction charges). We'll include a wireless router worth £99.99. Outside of your 14 day cancellation period, if you choose to end your service within the minimum period, you will have to pay an early termination charge.

    The date your broadband and line rental activates, or where your services do not activate at the same time, the service that activates first, will be used as your monthly billing date. If your broadband or line rental service are not activated at the same time, for the service that is activated at a later date, charges will be pro rated for the first month and any applicable discounts for that service will apply once the service starts.

    Subject to availability and cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer. No cash alternative. Exclusions and terms apply.

    Unlimited Broadband (no contract)

    Prices and terms are subject to change during your contract.

    For new Plusnet customers that sign up for a 30-day rolling contract. Line rental is included in the price (line only, no calls included). Price from month 13 currently £34.48 a month (incl. line rental). Compatible line required otherwise a £49.99 installation charge may apply (excluding any external construction charges). We'll include a wireless router worth £99.99. You may terminate your services at any time without having to pay an early termination charge.  Outside your 14 day cancellation period, you'll have to give at least 14 days' notice.

    The date your broadband and line rental activates, or where your services do not activate at the same time, the service that activates first, will be used as your monthly billing date. If your broadband or line rental service are not activated at the same time, for the service that is activated at a later date, charges will be pro rated for the first month and any applicable discounts for that service will apply once the service starts.

    Subject to availability and cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer. No cash alternative. Exclusions and terms apply.

    Existing customers

    Please see our price guide, log into your account in the Member Centre or call us on 0800 073 1120 to discuss your contract.

    Speeds

    Φ Broadband speed is described as 'average download speed of 10Mb', as it is based on speed available to at least 50% of customers at peak time (8-10pm). Your actual speed will be dependent on your location, phone line, home wiring, Wi-Fi connection and time of day. Find out why speeds vary. Check your speed and products available at your location via 'check availability' on our home page.

    † Fibre broadband speed is described as 'average download speed of 66Mb' and 'average upload speed of 18Mb' on Unlimited Fibre Extra and 'average download speed of 36Mb' and 'average upload speed of 9Mb' on Unlimited Fibre as it is based on speed available to at least 50% of customers at peak time (8-10pm). Your actual speed will be dependent on your location, phone line, home wiring, Wi-Fi connection and time of day. Find out why speeds vary. Check your speed and products available at your location via 'check availability' on our home page.

    Ө Up to 6x faster: based on a comparison between the average Unlimited Fibre Extra download speeds with the average Unlimited Broadband speeds. The actual speed you'll get depends on your location, phone line, home wiring, Wi-Fi connection and time of day. Find out why speeds vary. Check your speed and products available at your location via 'check availability' on our home page.

    ** Plusnet Reward Card

    Once your broadband and line rental are activated you will be issued claim information via email. Follow the instructions in this email to be issued with your Plusnet Reward Card. You must submit your claim within two months of the email being issued. The card must be activated within three months of it being issued.

    Your Plusnet Reward Card is issued by GVS Prepaid Ltd, an Electronic Money Institution authorised in the UK by the Financial Conduct Authority with Firm Reference number 900230; pursuant to license from Mastercard International. Mastercard ® is a registered trademark of Mastercard International Inc. GVS Prepaid Ltd's company registration number is 09193070 and its registered office is at Westside, London Road, Hemel Hempstead, HP3 9TD.  See Plusnet Reward Card terms.

    £60 Plusnet Reward Card with Unlimited Broadband

    £60 Plusnet Reward Card offer ends 22 September 2021, and is available to new Plusnet customers ordering Unlimited Broadband on an 12 month contract online at www.plus.net or by calling Plusnet. Subject to availability.

    £65 Plusnet Reward Card with Unlimited Broadband

    £65 Plusnet Reward Card offer ends 22 September 2021, and is available to new Plusnet customers ordering Unlimited Broadband on an 12 month contract online at www.plus.net or by calling Plusnet. Subject to availability.

    £65 Plusnet Reward Card with Unlimited Fibre

    £65 Plusnet Reward Card offer ends 22 September 2021, and is available to new Plusnet customers ordering Unlimited Fibre on an 18 month contract online at www.plus.net or by calling Plusnet. Subject to availability.

    £70 Plusnet Reward Card with Unlimited Fibre

    £70 Plusnet Reward Card offer ends 22 September 2021, and is available to new Plusnet customers ordering Unlimited Fibre on an 18 month contract online at www.plus.net or by calling Plusnet. Subject to availability.

    £70 Plusnet Reward Card with Unlimited Fibre Extra

    £70 Plusnet Reward Card offer ends 22 September 2021, and is available to new Plusnet customers ordering Unlimited Fibre Extra on an 18 month contract online at www.plus.net or by calling Plusnet. Subject to availability.

    Amazon.co.uk Gift Card

    Once your broadband and line rental are activated you will be issued claim information via email. Follow the instructions in this email to be issued with your Amazon.co.uk Gift Card. You must submit your claim within two months of the email being issued. The card must be activated within three months of it being issued.

    Amazon.co.uk is not a sponsor of Plusnet, line rental vouchers promotion or otherwise affiliated with Plusnet. The logos and other identifying marks attached are trademarks of and owned by each represented company and/or its affiliates. Please visit the Amazon.co.uk website for additional terms and conditions.

    Amazon.co.uk Gift Cards may be redeemed on the Amazon.co.uk website towards the purchase of eligible products available on Amazon.co.uk. Gift Cards cannot be reloaded, resold, transferred for value, redeemed for cash or applied to any other account. Amazon.co.uk is not responsible if a gift card is lost, stolen, destroyed or used without permission. See Amazon's website for complete terms and conditions. Gift Cards are issued by Amazon EU S. à r.l. All Amazon ®, and © are IP of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates.

    Cashback Cheque

    Once your broadband and line rental are activated you will be issued claim information via email. Follow the instructions in this email to be issued with your cashback cheque. You must submit your claim within two months of the email being issued.

    Please note that your cashback cheque may be automatically sent to you without having to claim for it as set out above.  If this applies, this will be confirmed to you in the order journey.

    £25 Plusnet Cashback Cheque with Unlimited Fibre

    £25 Plusnet Cashback Cheque offer ends 15 January 2025, and is available to new Plusnet customers ordering Unlimited Fibre on a 18 month contract online at www.plus.net or by calling Plusnet. Subject to availability.

    £25 Plusnet Cashback Cheque with Unlimited Fibre Extra

    £25 Plusnet Cashback Cheque offer ends 15 January 2025, and is available to new Plusnet customers ordering Unlimited Fibre Extra on a 18 month contract online at www.plus.net or by calling Plusnet. Subject to availability.

    Broadband Extras

    Plusnet Safeguard

    Included with all of our broadband packages, Plusnet Safeguard filters inappropriate web content for your household. Further information can be found here.

    Plusnet Protect powered by McAfee

    Our security package protects you from online threats. Charges apply for Unlimited Fibre broadband customers. Further information can be found here.

    Evening & Weekend UK & Mobile calls:

    Evening & Weekend calls: Calls of up to an hour to UK landlines beginning with 01, 02, 03, 0845 and 0870 numbers made Monday-Friday 7pm to 7am and any time Saturday or Sunday (except calls to indirect access numbers (which include calling cards) and dial-up internet access). Calls must be started and finished within these times to be inclusive (non-chargeable). A fair usage limit of 150 calls or 1000 minutes a month (whichever is reached first) applies to calls to 0845 and 0870 numbers (if you exceed this limit, we have the right to charge you for further calls made, suspend and/or terminate your service in accordance with our terms and conditions).

    Mobile calls: Calls to UK mobiles and 070 personal numbering services made Monday-Friday 7pm to 7am and any time Saturday or Sunday. Calls must be started and finished within these times to be inclusive (non-chargeable). A fair usage limit of 1000 minutes a month applies (if you exceed this limit, we have the right to charge you for further calls made, suspend and/or terminate your service in accordance with our terms and conditions). Hang up and re-dial before 60 minutes and you won't be charged. Some 07 numbers do not constitute mobile numbers and may not be included as part of an inclusive mobile package.

    Unlimited UK & Mobile calls:

    Anytime calls: Calls of up to an hour to UK landlines beginning with 01, 02, 03, 0845 and 0870 numbers at any time (except calls to indirect access numbers (which include calling cards) and dial-up internet access). Calls must be started and finished within these times to be inclusive (non-chargeable). A fair usage limit of 150 calls or 1000 minutes a month (whichever is reached first) applies to calls to 0845 and 0870 numbers (if you exceed this limit, we have the right to charge you for further calls made, suspend and/or terminate your service in accordance with our terms and conditions).

    Mobile calls: Calls to UK mobiles and 070 personal numbering services made at any time. Calls must be started and finished within these times to be inclusive (non-chargeable). A fair usage limit of 2000 minutes a month applies (if you exceed this limit, we have the right to charge you for further calls made, suspend and/or terminate your service in accordance with our terms and conditions). Hang up and re-dial before 60 minutes and you won't be charged. Some 07 numbers do not constitute mobile numbers and may not be included as part of an inclusive mobile package.

    Anytime International 300:

    Anytime calls: Calls of up to an hour to UK landlines beginning with 01, 02, 03, 0845 and 0870 numbers at any time (except calls to indirect access numbers (which include calling cards) and dial-up internet access). Calls must be started and finished within these times to be inclusive (non-chargeable). A fair usage limit of 150 calls or 1000 minutes a month (whichever is reached first) applies to calls to 0845 and 0870 numbers (if you exceed this limit, we have the right to charge you for further calls made, suspend and/or terminate your service in accordance with our terms and conditions).

    25% discount to top 35 international destinations: (Anytime International 300) Get a 25% discount on chargeable calls to all countries listed in our top 35 international destinations. For more information see our tariffs guide.

    300 Anytime minutes: (Anytime International 300) Means 300 inclusive minutes to USA mobiles, Canada mobiles and all landlines listed in our top 35 international destinations. Hang up and re-dial before 60 minutes and you won't be charged.

    Other call information:

    Mobile minutes: Are available to Line Only and the Anytime International 300 call plan and adds 100 inclusive minutes to UK mobile numbers and 070 personal numbering services at any time. Hang up and re-dial before 60 minutes and you won't be charged. Some 07 numbers do not constitute mobile numbers and may not be included as part of an inclusive mobile package.

    Service calls outside of your inclusive minutes: The charge for calls to service numbers beginning 084, 087, 09 and 118 consists of a 9.58p per minute access charge from Plusnet, plus a service charge set by the company you called. For more information visit www.plus.net/ukcalling.

    Calls to Plusnet Support and other Plusnet line rental customers are included in all line rental packages. Calls to other Plusnet phone customers are included for the first hour. Hang up and re-dial before 60 minutes and you won't be charged.

    For more information on our landline tariffs, see our guide here.

    For more information on call rates for service numbers, see our guide here.

    Phone Line Extras

    Voicemail

    1571 Voicemail: Included as standard, our answer phone-style feature takes messages when you can't get to the phone.

    Voicemail Extra: This advanced voicemail service lets you record your own greeting, store up to 30 messages and listen to them when you're not at home. Voicemail Extra costs £3 a month. Further information about Voicemail Extra can be found here.

    Caller Display

    See the number of the person who is calling you (you'll need a phone that supports this service). Further information about Caller Display can be found here. Subject to availability.

    Plusnet Call Protect

    Included in all line rental packages, this blocks nuisance calls on your landline and sends them straight into your junk voicemail. Further information about Plusnet Call Protect can be found here. Subject to availability.

    BT Sport from Plusnet on the Sky Digital Satellite Platform

    BT Sport is available to existing UK Plusnet residential broadband customers with a Sky satellite receiver box, a satellite dish installed and an active viewing card. No access to any online content is made available by BT via www.btsport.com or via the BT Sport App. Excludes Multi-room. BoxNation available in SD only. There is a minimum term of one month starting from your next billing date following sign up.

    † BT Sport HD requires a Sky HD satellite receiver box, HD cabling and an HD-ready television to view the HD channels.

    You don't need a Sky viewing card to order, but if you already have one you'll need to give us the viewing card number.

    BT Sport App from Plusnet

    BT Sport App from Plusnet is available to existing UK Plusnet residential broadband customers. There is a minimum one month term starting from your next billing date following sign-up. Monthly rolling contract.

    You can access BT Sport online or via the BT Sport App in the UK and in over 25 European destinations. Requires minimum 400Kbps line speed or good Wi-Fi/3G/4G signal and a compatible device. Maximum of two devices may be used simultaneously. Must be aged 17 or over. TV licence required. Terms apply.

    Our award-winning, UK based customer support is available 7 days a week

    0800 432 0200

    8am - 8pm Monday to Friday
    9am - 7pm Saturday
    9am - 6pm Sunday

    0800 432 0080

    8am - 8pm Monday to Friday
    9am - 7pm Saturday
    9am - 6pm Sunday