The Internet is the world's largest computer network. Individual computers are linked up (through modems or directly) to a "host" mainframe. Hosts are linked to each other through high capacity lines leased from the telephone companies. Most universities and research centres utilize the Internet. According to an article in The Economist, it is estimated that the number of hosts using the net increases by 20-30% approximately every three months ("The Fruitful, Tangled Trees of Knowledge").
The Internet facilitates sending and receiving e-mail, participating in on-line conferences, receiving electronic journals, and downloading software. It also provides the substrate necessary for the World Wide Web.