For decades, most people were so used to using one single type of internet that they have all called it “The Internet.” In Spanish, it’s “la Internet;” in Romanian, “Internetul;” in German, “das Internet.” But what if one day, we would have to use the word “internets” to describe what we’re connecting to? Is that even possible? Can we live in a world in which two world wide webs operate completely parallel to each other? To find out, we first have to understand a little bit of background.
The one internet we have is composed of a series of cables and wireless signals all interconnected into a massive network with other massive networks connected to each other. The simplest way to describe it is as a “network of networks,” or “fractal of networks.” Your computer sends a signal to a router, which sends a signal to another router, and so on,and so forth, until that signal reaches its destination. Don’t believe me? See the route one of my packets takes to Facebook’s server below.
Fascinating, isn’t it? This is one packet’s trip around the world. If you want to replicate this, open your command prompt and type
tracert followed by a domain name (facebook.com, for example).
How Would Two Internets Work?
We already know how two internets work. Take a look at your home network. If you have multiple computers connected to one router, you already have your own internet. Disconnect that router from “the” Internet, and you have a completely parallel internet that no one else can connect to unless their device connects physically to your router. Now, imagine millions of computers connected to that particular router sharing information with each other. It would be a completely separate internet, but it would be functional (although you’d better have an awesome router if you don’t want an extreme level of latency).
A new internet would function like this. It would run on the same TCP/IP protocol as the current internet, but it would be disconnected from it, forming its own isolated chamber. The moment a computer manages to bridge the two together, though, we return to the world of “one unified internet” all over again.
This is kind of what makes it difficult to make multiple internets in the first place. Eventually, and inevitably, you’ll have one router that will bridge both networks and you’re back at square one.
Resolving The Bridging Problem
The one surefire way to resolve an eventual bridging issue is to use a different way to identify connected nodes and hardwire a router to work with that new protocol. Our current internet — the one you’re currently using — is based on TCP/IP, which means that your computer is identified by four unsigned bytes (numbers from 0 to 255) or (as of the IPv6 revision) one 128-bit “string.” All you have to do is add a new convention for identification (like making the string length 192 bits instead of 128 in IPv6) without telling anyone, and you’ve basically made your new internet for now. All you have to do is make sure that every router and networking module you use acknowledges IP strings that long, or simply create an entirely new protocol from scratch that is extremely difficult to replicate.
What do you think? Would it be beneficial to have another internet running parallel to the one we’re using now? Tell us what you think in a comment below!