Hardware needed to connect to the Internet includes a digital subscriber line modem or cable modem. A router is required to add a network that allows sharing of Internet access. Networks can be wired or wireless. To access the Internet with a dial-up connection, a dial-up modem is needed.
Access to the Internet requires an account with an Internet service provider. Service can be provided either via cable modem or DSL. Wireless cellular connections can also be used to access the Internet. Smartphones and other mobile phones with data plans can access the Internet. Access can be shared via hotspot functionality available with some cell phone plans.
The Internet is an international system of computer networks using standard Internet protocol. It includes millions of academic, business, government, public and private networks linked by a variety of networking technologies. The Internet includes a vast array of resources and information, including the Web, email and file sharing. The U.S. government started the precursors to the Internet in the 1960s with early networks that later were joined with those in France and the United Kingdom. The official Internet is thought to have begun in the 1980s and has grown exponentially since that time. The number of Internet users worldwide is estimated at 2.92 billion, as of 2014.