The Internet is a publicly accessible computer network connecting many smaller networks from around the world.
It grew out of a U.S. Defense Department program called ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network), established in 1969 with connections between computers at the University of California at Los Angeles, Stanford Research Institute, the University of California-Santa Barbara, and the University of Utah. ARPANET’s purpose was to conduct research into computer networking in order to provide a secure and survivable communications system in case of war. As the network quickly expanded, academics and researchers in other fields began to use it as well.
The term Internet itself was defined in 1985 by the Federal Networking Council (FNC) as commercial implementation of key Internet protocols (TCP/IP) took off. The US National Science Foundation (NSF) created a network called NSFNET in the 1980s to connect academic computer centres. Private networks appeared based on the same technology and interconnected with NSFNET which continued to form an important part of the network until at was shut down in 1995 and an essentially private Internet emerged.
The early success of private access to the Internet in the 1990s in the United States can be attributed in part to the availability of unmetered local calls and an earlier determination by the FCC (the “ESP Exemption”) that made it possible for Internet service providers (ISPs) to be treated as end-users of the telephone network, preventing the local telephone operators from charging the ISPs for access to the system. In most other countries, dial-up Internet access was associated with per minute telephone charges during the same period. By 2011 the FCC had moved in the direction of tighter control and regulation of the Internet, including requiring service providers to give details of how they handle congestion on their networks. This represents a big step away from the FCC's determination over preceding decades not to regulate data services.
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