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The Network Stack – What REALLY Runs Your Business?

Part One: The Internet

When is the last time your internet went down? Were you at home? Were you at work? In either case, how did that affect you? No doubt you were probably in the middle of watching the final episode of the final season of (*insert guilty pleasure popular show here*) or trying to hurry up and wrap up some work on a Friday afternoon at 4:50pm.

As a society we have become incredibly dependent on the internet, and our businesses are no exception. When the internet doesn’t work, many times our businesses aren’t either.

So what does it really mean to say “the internet is down?” We’re going to answer that below, but we’ll keep it short and sweet since really all we want to know is who to call to get the Netflix back up and running.

The internet is comprised of many many connections that go many many places. For most of us our piece of the pie is connected via a modem, usually a black box, that connects to the wall. The job of this box is simply to authenticate and communicate with the outside world. Think of it like your ticket to the wild party that is the internet. You pay the Internet Service Provider (ISP) and they give you a modem (ticket) to get into the party. Simple enough, right? That is the internet.

So if it’s that simple, what causes it to break?

Well, there are many reasons, but really there’s usually only a few. If that sounds like a contradiction, it’s because it kind of is, but don’t worry it’ll make sense shortly. One reason is that the modem forgets who it is or it locks up, which is usually solved by turning it off and back on to help it snap back to. After all, everything is basically a computer now, right? So turn it off and back on. Problem solved. Kind of like if your ticket to the party gets smudged. It’s still “good”, just not legible and needs to be reprinted.

Another common reason is that the physical connection to the internet is somehow damaged.

What do we mean by this? Well, have you ever seen some of those “Call before you dig” signs? It’s the same idea as with water lines, if someone busts a pipe upstream, or turns off a valve upstream you get no water. If someone cuts a fiber cable, or runs over a utility box you may not have internet. Unfortunately, because this is a physical problem, no amount of technical talent or hacking is going to fix it. We simply must wait on the guys wearing the orange vests, standing around watching the other guy wearing the orange vest. *just kidding*

The last common issue is lack of proper authentication.

This can be caused by not paying the bill or the changing of usernames, passwords, or network information at the Internet Service Provider level.

There you have it. The excitement and complexity of why your internet stops working summed up in a few short paragraphs.

Granted, while the principles outlined are accurate, this is an oversimplification. If you’d like to find out more write to us at or join us for one of our lunch and learn.

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