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How Internet Infrastructure Works

By: Jeff Tyson & Chris Pollette

The Function of an Internet Router

All of these networks rely on IXPs, backbones and routers to talk to each other. What is incredible about this process is that a message can leave one computer and travel halfway across the world through several different networks and arrive at another computer in a fraction of a second!

The routers determine where to send information from one computer to another. Routers are specialized devices that send your messages and those of every other internet user speeding to their destinations along thousands of pathways. A router has two separate but related jobs:

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  • It ensures that information doesn't go where it's not needed. This is crucial for keeping large volumes of data from clogging the connections of "innocent bystanders."
  • It makes sure that information reaches the intended destination.

In performing these two jobs, a router is extremely useful in dealing with two separate computer networks. It joins the two networks, passing information from one to the other. It also protects the networks from one another, preventing the traffic on one from unnecessarily spilling over to the other. Regardless of how many networks are attached, the basic operation and function of the router remains the same. Since the internet is one huge network made up of countless smaller networks, its use of routers is a necessity.

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