Although there are benefits to using a LAN or WAN, most individuals need to communicate with a resource on another network, outside of the local network within the home, campus, or organization. This is done using the Internet.

As shown in the figure, the Internet is a worldwide collection of interconnected networks (internetworks or internet for short), cooperating with each other to exchange information using common standards. Through telephone wires, fiber optic cables, wireless transmissions, and satellite links, Internet users can exchange information in a variety of forms.

The Internet is a conglomerate of networks and is not owned by any individual or group. Ensuring effective communication across this diverse infrastructure requires the application of consistent and commonly recognized technologies and standards as well as the cooperation of many network administration agencies. There are organizations that have been developed for the purpose of helping to maintain structure and standardization of Internet protocols and processes. These organizations include the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), and the Internet Architecture Board (IAB), plus many others.

Note: The term internet (with a lower case ā€œi") is used to describe multiple networks interconnected. When referring to the global system of interconnected computer networks or the World Wide Web, the term Internet (with a capital ā€œIā€) is used.