So, what is the internet?


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So, what is the internet?

A dad and daughter spending time together researching the internet

What's coming up?

In this activity, we're going to give you an introduction to the internet.

You'll learn what the internet is, and how an internet service provider, or ISP, can help you access it on computers, tablets and smartphones.

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Understanding the internet

The internet is a worldwide network of computers. When you connect to the internet, you become part of it, just as everyone else who connects to the internet is part of it.

A graphic representing the connected nature of the internet
A group of people connecting on the internet

When you connect to the internet, it's like talking to a billion other people at once. You can ask them for information on just about anything.

You can purchase goods from a shop, get up-to-the-minute news from the world, send updates and pictures to family and friends or even connect to groups of people with interests the same as yours. The possibilities are endless.

How to access the internet

To access the internet, you need an internet service, also known as broadband. In Australia, this network is built and maintained by the government's National Broadband Network.

It's very much like a telephone service. You pay a monthly fee, and in return you'll be connected to an internet line that runs to your house.

You can also access the internet through a mobile phone service.

A graphic showing a home connecting to the internet
A computer screen with logos of some internet service providers

Getting an internet service

To get an internet service, you need to contact a company called an internet service provider, or ISP. There are many ISPs, including companies such as Telstra, Optus, Vodafone, TPG and others.

The ISP will tell you what plans are available, and what each option may cost every month. It pays to shop around, as some ISPs might have special deals available from time to time.

When you sign up to a service, the ISP may have to send someone out to your home to install equipment to connect you to the internet. Once connected, you are online and should be able to access the internet any time you want.

Well connected

What kind of company do I need to call to get connected to the internet?

An internet service provider

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That's right! Many ISPs are also mobile phone providers.

An electricity company

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No, sorry that's not quite right. Whilst you do need electricity for your computer to work, you need to call an ISP, or internet service provider, to gain access to the internet.


Well done, you've completed the What is the internet? activity.

You should now know that you need an internet service provider to connect you to the internet, and that you can access the internet from a home connection, or a mobile phone network.

For more information on getting the internet at home or on your mobile phone, see our Wi-Fi and mobile networks topic in the Be Connected topic library.

In the next activity, What is a web browser?, you'll learn about the computer program that lets you explore the internet.

A couple reading the news on their smartphone