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Dated: Sep. 30, 2006

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By Hackman

Disclaimer: Much of the information in this set of questions and answers was not thoroughly researched, and no guarantees are made as to its accuracy.

A few years ago, when I knew little about the Internet, I asked myself: "Why do I have to pay for an Internet connection? Why can't I just connect directly to the Net? And where would I connect to anyway, if I wanted to do that?" Well, here are some questions and answers about the nature of the Internet backbone.

Q. What is the Internet backbone?

A. It is a term referring to the largest and most important data connections on the Internet. The backbone is made up of very high-bandwidth connections and high-performance computers which serve solely to route data around on the Net.

Q. Who runs the Internet backbone?

A. There are several companies which run different parts of it, but the largest is UUnet. Other major backbone providers include Sprint, MCI and Intermedia (formerly known as Digital Express or Digex).

Q. Why can't I connect directly to the Internet backbone?

A. In theory, you can. However, it would be expensive, as you would first need to pay to have a fiber-optic cable routed to your house. Even after that, you would have to pay an Internet wholesale provider like UUnet for access.

Q. If only a few companies collectively own most of the major data pathways on the Internet, doesn't that mean that those companies pretty well own the Internet?

A. Yes.

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Skelanth's Comment
How does one get in touch with a provider like UUNet? I've looked - nothing. UUNet connections forward to Verizon but Verizon offers no mention of internet backbone service. The reason being, having a personal, dedicated T1 at home directly linked to a backbone... hell of a lot better than going through a company that often provides bandwidth that is variable based on number of users currently active at any given time in a day.
14 Fri Dec 2012
Admin's Reply:

A great question Skelanth...I looked up UUNET as well and didn't get anywhere other than Verizon pages. It's very strange!

Dave's Comment
So does that mean that Internet backbone owners can completely control ecommerce and the internet. Like lets say Surfwax (a search engine) pays an Internet backbone owner to slow down connections to Google. And Surfwax also paid to get superior bandwidtch/connections. That would be like a Robber Barron wouldn't it. Since the web neutrality law really is completely meaningless and self contradicting the company has a full right to do as they please and be bribed into doing something like this.
20 Sun Jun 2010
Admin's Reply:

My personal view is that your question and point is 110% valid. However, playing a devil's advocate...these companies are supposed to be very closely watched by various government agencies. But then again, a corporation's main concern is money, not the well being of society so anyone can draw thier own conclusions.

Hnin Wutyi's Comment
How many backbones can con connect to cover
31 Sun Jan 2010
Admin's Reply:

To Cover what exactly? Sorry, I didn't understand the question.

Hnin Wutyi's Comment
I want to get much knowledge
31 Sun Jan 2010
Admin's Reply:

Well then consider TechiWarehouse.Com your oyster

Mike's Comment
I like the Question Answer format.
15 Tue Dec 2009
Admin's Reply:

Me Too. Makes it easy to get to the point.