What is the Internet?

The History of Power and Revolution of the Internet in New Zealand with NZ Compare
Friday, 19 January 2024

The rapid and continuous development of the internet and social media is continuing to propel humanity into a new both exciting and unknown era. Most of us use the internet every day – for work, for school, for connection, for relaxing. It is all around us. But what is the internet? Where does it come from?

As Early as the 60s

Did you know that the internet has been around since as early as the 1960s? That’s a lot longer than one might think! It initially started as a way for government researchers to share information with each other. In this era, computers were large and could not move around. It also wasn’t really invented per say. Rather, it was developed over time using different types of computer communication technologies. As the different internets began to connect up, it gradually formed the internet that we know today. 

In 1969, the first computer network using telephones came online, delivering its first message. This technology was called the Arpanet. However, the system crashed after only the first two letters of the message were transmitted. 

From One Computer to the Commercial Use of the World

The US Department of Defense took control of the Arpanet. They wanted to help American military technology stay ahead of their enemies and prevent surprise attacks. With the launch of satellite Sputnik 1, they wanted to be prepared. However, as the growth and development of  the Arpanet continued, they began to voice concerns over security as it became more difficult to know who was using it. Therefore, researchers and the private sector took control, transforming it into the internet. But it wasn’t nearly as capable or powerful. 

By 1990, the arpanet no longer existed and the World Wide Web was invented in 1991, introduced by English computer programmer Tim Berners-Lee. The World Wide Web would allow the internet to become a hub of information, rather than just a network to transmit files. It soon became commercialised and available for public use. This historic moment was the catalyst for the immensely powerful, multifaceted internet that we know today. 

The Era of Dial Up

The first type of internet available for public use was the dial-up. Requiring a phone line to function, this meant that landlines couldn’t make calls while the internet was in use. The main issue this posed was the speed, or lack thereof. A good connection in 1998 was 56Kbps. Such a slow internet speed meant that it took a long time to download any files. Forget streaming! It simply wasn’t possible during this time. Not to mention, early modems were quite pricey and therefore, not available to many households. 

The Age of Wireless Broadband

At last, broadband and wireless internet were introduced to the world. Broadband began to replace dial-up in the early 2000s, with more than half of internet users connected to broadband by 2007. With a higher volume of data able to be transmitted, at faster speeds, it is no wonder that social networking now had the environment necessary to begin flourishing. Broadband also could connect to the internet without the need to be switched on – meaning that users were always connected. Wireless internet also began to roll out to the public in 1998, with Apple Airport harnessing it, and many other businesses soon offering free hotspots. 

Smartphones and the Internet Boom

Soon, mini computers – the smartphones – started to connect to the internet. While slow at first, speeds showed signs of improvement with the release of 2G. Its true potential was unleashed with the development of 3G and then 4G in 2021, which changed the use of smartphones forever. 

Types of Internet Found in the Home Today


3G/4G/5G are each respective generations of cellular technology. The difference for each generation is largely down to their capabilities, particularly speed, network volume and accessibility (range of service). For example, with 3G speeds, mobile devices can handle video calling and internet access – however, it may struggle from time to time and run a little slow. Whereas 5G speeds have reached levels where life-like virtual reality and 4K ultra high-definition streaming on mobile phones. 


Both of these variations run on copper wiring, which is the original broadband network connection in New Zealand. This is widely available broadband service, due to its existing infrastructure. ADSL stands for Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line, and is known for its asymmetric download and upload speeds – downloading is fasting that uploading. This option suits users who typically use the internet for emailing, basic web browsing and social media. If you are wanting to stream 4K, this might not be the best option for you. 

VDSL is considered the best broadband service on the copper network, and faster than ADSL. However, you must be located within 800 of the cabinet or exchange to use the speeds of up to 20Mbps.


The most common and fastest speed for most Kiwi households, fibre is ground-breaking broadband technology, using fibre optic cables. These contain hundreds of strands of glass fibre to transport incredible amounts of data at incomprehensible speeds, and as never seen before. Fibre performs consistently across all distances from the exchange of cabinets. Most fibre plans allow for multiple device use simultaneously, for various activities and tasks, without any of them buffering. Fibre is an awesome addition to diverse New Zealand households! 



The next generation of fibre sees households and businesses enjoying dramatically increased upload and download speeds and capacity. Revolutionise the way ou work and play with this unparalleled technology, which includes ultra-high-definition video, low-latency gaming and an immersive digital landscape – which is designed to elevate and streamline your entire internet experience. Available in some areas, this incredible technology requires devices capable of supporting HyperFibre speeds. 

A Place for Connection

The internet has blossomed into a place for more than just information storage and location. We now use it to connect with one another – including with people on the other side of the planet. Families use it for streaming, gaming, emailing and instant messaging, and for many everyday tasks. It’s a tool that many of us simply cannot live without. 

The Internet of Things

With the development of the internet, more and more everyday items and tasks have been connected to the internet, enabling their digital operation. Many products became ‘smart’ – smart TVs, smart thermostats, even smart washing machines. The ‘internet of things' concept was driven by the purpose of making every day life easier and more efficient, and giving users control of household functions. 

Did you know that you can compare your internet speeds?

That’s right! With Broadband Compare, you can compare different internet providers and plans side-by-side. This is a great way to find a plan with a speed that might suit your needs better. For example, if you have a household where each person streams in the evening, you might benefit from a faster internet connection. There is nothing worse than lagging streaming! 


Not only can Broadband Compare show you the internet speeds of plans available to you, but it can also show you the prices of each plan, so that you can make an informed decision, and get a great deal. The best part? Broadband Compare is free to use! You may even be able to enjoy joining perks that many providers offer, such as freebies, discounts on the first few months, and free subscriptions to streaming platforms. 

To do so, follow these simple steps: 

  • Go to Broadband Compare
  • Type in your address
  • Hit enter.
  • Browse all the different plans available to you & compare them side-by-side.
  • Find one you like and switch!

Or, if you’d prefer to speak to a friendly person, then give our customer service team a free call on 0508 22 66 72. They offer bias-free and hassle-free advice on power providers available to you.

From the team at NZ Compare, we wish you a wonderful, safe and sunny summer!

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