The Evolution Of The Internet

The internet is, without a doubt, one of the most impactful phenomena of the 21st century. Its rapid growth can easily be demonstrated through the fact that it served zero users a few decades ago and now, it is serving 5 billion users – that is approximately two-thirds of the world’s population! Besides, according to a report by Newton MA-based market research business – Strategy Analytics, the number of devices on the internet is expected to rise to 35 billion by the year 2025. That number is more than a hundred times higher than the total population of the United States! Another measure of the increasing influence of the internet is the large number of offers internet service providers are putting out. You can easily find out about Xfinity internet plans and the packages of other providers online. 

The bigger the role internet plays in our lives, the more questions are asked about it. People often wonder about how the internet was born and how it is distributed all around the world. If you are one of those people, this blog was written just for folks like you! Below, we explore the evolution of the internet and how it reaches humans around the world.


The Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) is widely considered to be the forerunner of the Internet.  As the network’s name suggests, it was created by the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) – an agency of the United States Defense Department – to link all its computers using telephone cables. This was in anticipation of the bombardment of their data if it was all in one place – military commanders had been looking for an organizational communications system that was not situated in one central place since the beginning of the Cold War. 

Although ARPANET was created for militaristic purposes, its scope was never restricted to them. Two key figures in ARPANET, Robert Taylor and Joseph Licklider, authored a renowned essay, “The Computer as a Communication Device.”. In it, they rightly predicted everything that could be done through a communications platform, including 1) communication will happen more effectively through machines than in-person and 2) global communities will form. It was, perhaps, this broad vision behind ARPANET that allowed it to evolve into the internet.

World Wide Web

The internet blasted onto the scene with the invention of the World Wide Web (WWW) in 1989 through the work of Sir Tim Berners Lee of the United Kingdom. WWW drastically increased the accessibility of powerful yet low-cost tools. Alongside, it paved the way for much easier and cheaper communication between people from all parts of the world. 

Evolution Of Internet Transmission


In the 20th century, the internet was predominantly transmitted through phone lines. Although the speeds that dial-up internet allows sound very low in comparison to today’s times, the technology was highly revered in times past as it made so many things which were considered impossible possible. 

2G (Second Generation) Cellular Internet

The first 2G (second-generation) cellular internet was introduced in 1991. It enabled various services, including text messages, multimedia messages (MMS), and picture messages.

Digital Subscriber Line (DSL)

In early 2000s, DSL succeeded dial-up technology in a way that it was another type of internet transmitted through phone lines. However, there was one major change: it allowed broadband transmission enabling much higher speeds. The high speeds were so popular that by 2007, more than half of all internet connections were DSL.

3G (Third Generation) Cellular Internet

Ten years after the launch of 2G, the first 3G (third-generation) cellular internet was launched. It enabled people to video call and see television on their cell phone devices. Obviously, this was a big deal back then!


In 1996, residential broadband through cable TV lines was introduced. It quickly rose in popularity not only because of its broadband capability and high speeds but also because internet service providers (ISPs) often provided an opportunity for users to save money by bundling up their internet and television packages. Finally, in 2019, more than twenty years after its invention, cable internet became the most widely used type of internet in Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries. 

4G (Fourth Generation) Cellular Internet

2006 saw the launch of 4G (fourth-generation) cellular internet. Since then, 4G has evolved to enable download speeds of up to 100 Mbps. It is worth noting that 4G technology is still not available in all parts of the world.


The internet took the next leap forward through the introduction of fiber technology throughout the world. Fiber allowed subscribers to get blazing speeds of thousands of MBs per second. Importantly, although the speeds offered were much greater, the prices of fiber internet were not much higher than those of DSL and cable internet. This is why, today, fiber internet is the fastest-growing type of internet in the United States. Nonetheless, because fiber-optic lines have not been set up in all areas, cable internet remains the most widely used.  

5G (Fifth Generation) Cellular Internet

5G (fifth generation) cellular internet technology was launched in 2018. However, it is not widely available for use as of yet. This type of cellular internet is expected to allow speeds up to 10,000 Mbps in the future.

Wrapping Up

From the above, we can see the internet has grown so tremendously over the years that it is now difficult to imagine a world without it. This is it. We wish you the best of luck with all discussions about the internet.

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