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Digital Literacy How the Internet Works The Internet TCP/IP

'' in essence these packets are a way of sharing access to the network'' - what does this mean??

'' in essence these packets are a way of sharing access to the network'' - what does this mean??

To understand why packets allow shared access to the network, let's examine how they work.

Packets are pieces of data coming from a server to you, to be reassembled and viewed as a whole. The packets don't have to arrive in order, or even by the same route.

Let's say you request a website with some huge images on it. This will take up a lot of bandwidth. If all the packets had to arrive in order, and if your network didn't have much bandwidth, you'd basically block other people on your network from accessing anything until you were done downloading all your images. If you were on website A and someone wanted website B, traffic would look like this:


However, packets don't have to arrive in order. Even on a network with little bandwidth, everyone can access things at roughly the same time. The above situation would actually look like:


Now you're sharing access to the network.

My guess is, that having a package manager is less time consuming because it allows you to install updates and remove software with what they refer to as simple commands. Using this over a network means multiple peoples have access at all times.

1 Answer

What is meant by sharing is sharing resources - sharing the device resources. All technology works on on/off status - the device can be in the on or off state but not both. What this means is the computer is able to perform only 1 task at a time. Because the speed at which these tasks are processed it appears things are done simultaneously, but they are not. There is a precise order to all these events. By creating packets (smaller pieces of data), the device (server, router or whatever) can processes what appears to be several things at the same time - if one fails the rest continue to be processed. So if your home has 5 computers all connected to the internet, you think all are accessing the internet simultaneously, but instead, the router handles each request after the other, one at a time. If the packet system did not exist, the computer first to arrive at the router with the request would block the others from accessing the internet. All 5 computers would suffer in performance. Your lightbulb appears to be on. But in reality the bulb continuously changes state between on and off. The faster it switches this state, the brighter it appears. Computers work the same way, just much faster.