1. The internet

The internet, along with the systems that run on it including the World Wide Web (“the web”), is vital for living, learning, and working in today’s society.

Decorative Check your knowledge

What is the internet?

The internet is a system of computer networks, which rely on shared protocols, or standards, in order to communicate with each other. The web is just one of the applications that relies on the internet. Others include email, instant messaging, Voiceover IP (VoIP), and file transfer (FTP).

Video What is the internet (YouTube, 3m44s)

Connecting to the internet at Charles Sturt University

Enrolled students have access to the internet in a variety of ways and while we currently don’t enforce any download quotas, your usage is tracked, and you may be contacted if there is excessive or unusual usage patterns. Learn how to connect to the internet at Charles Sturt University through the Current Student: Support pages. You can also view the policy on acceptable use of ICT resources which can be found in the Charles Sturt Policies web page.

Why is Australia’s internet so slow?

The internet relies on a whole range of physical infrastructure including routers, exchange points, telephone lines, fibre-optic cables, and satellites. This physical infrastructure has a large impact on your internet experience.


Submarine cable map from Australia to the world.
Screenshot of internet submarine cables. Source: Submarine Cable Maps by TeleGeography. Map data @2023 Google, INEGI

Australia’s size, location in the world, and dispersed population mean that we have slower broadband speeds than many other countries (the Speedtest Global Index places Australia as the 88th (November 2023) fastest country for fixed broadband), and much slower speeds than some other countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

How does your internet speed rank against the global averages?

Decorative Do an internet speed test at Speedtest.net to find out.

Digital access

Digital access, or getting online is one of the key steps towards digital citizenship and is in part about recognising that internet access is a privilege not available to a large section of the population.

While internet access is not currently enshrined as a human right by the United Nations, it is recognised as being important for “the fulfillment of many human rights” (Tomalty, 2017). The 2015 UN resolution ‘Transforming Our World: the 2030 agenda for sustainable development’ calls for countries to “significantly increase access to information and communications technology and strive to provide universal and affordable access to the Internet in least developed countries by 2020” in order to increase innovation and industrialisation across the world.

The digital divide

It might surprise you to know that not every home in Australia has access to the internet. Around 2.6 million Australians don’t use the internet – that’s about 10% of the population – and over one million homes don’t have an internet connection. Part of this is down to our geography – it is hard to get internet connections in remote communities because of the cost of improving the infrastructure. However, age, cost, ability to use technology and confidence are also causes of this division in our society. Recognising that not everyone has access, or feels capable of accessing the internet is a key part of digital citizenship.

According to data from the International Telecommunication Union, in 2016 less than 50% of the world’s population were using the internet. Many developing countries have little or no internet access. This means that comparatively Australians have a good level of access. Visit Individuals using the Internet (% of population) by the World Bank for more information.

The digital divide isn’t just about whether or not we can access the internet. It’s also about the quality of our internet connection. The difference between average download speeds in different countries demonstrates further inequality in digital access.


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Digital Skills: Security and Safety Copyright © 2023 by Charles Sturt University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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