The ICT Lounge
Section 4.5:
The difference between the Internet and the Intranet

The internet and the intranet and two very different things.

In this section we discuss the differences between the two including their respective purposes and uses.

Key Concepts of this section:
Understand the difference between the internet and an intranet.
Know the uses of the internet and an intranet .
Be able to compare the internet to an intranet in terms of what they are used for.

Internet and intranet
Key Words:
Internet, Intranet.
There are two main types of network environments. These are listed below:
The internet and an intranet.
Each of these have their own purposes and uses and we will discuss both of these in detail below.

We will also compare the two of them in terms of how their purposes differ from each other.

What is the internet?
The internet is a huge collection of computers and devices that have been joined together all over the world. (click to zoom)

Hand-drawn plan of ARPANet showing how the four computers were to be connected.

Notice how it is dated 1969. Did you think the internet was that old?

One use of the internet is to send emails from one location to another.
To connect to the internet you need a computer, a router/modem and an internet service provider (ISP).
ISP's provide you with a login and password so you can connect to the internet.
The internet is a huge collection of computers and networks that have been joined together.

The internet is the world's largest WAN (wide area network) and it is getting bigger all the time as more and more people connect their devices to it.

When you connect your device/computer to the internet, you can potentially access and share data from other computers that are connected.

The internet started off as a military project in the 1960’s called ‘ARPANet’.

ARPANet was initially designed to connect 4 powerful computers so that researchers had access to them all.

Over the years more and more computers connected to ARPANet until it eventually became the internet that we know today.

As of February 2016, there are 3.3 billion devices and computers connected to the internet. Click here for up-to-date internet usage stats.

What is the internet used for?
Because there are so many computers connected to the internet, it is literally the largest source of shared information in the world.

The list below highlights this and some other uses of the internet:
  • Browsing web pages using the World Wide Web (www)
  • Sending and receiving emails
  • Sharing files and information
  • Video Conferencing (face to face discussion using a web cam)
  • Voice calls (like Skype)
  • Streaming music and video
  • Online banking
  • E-Commerce (buying/selling goods online)
  • Advertising
  • Blogging
  • Social media
  • Playing multi-player online games.
The internet allows us to do all of the above list across vast distances.

For example: You can send an email to someone in a different country.

How do you connect to the internet?
To access the internet you need several things:
  • A computer or device (such as a tablet or a mobile phone)
  • A router or a modem (to send digital data over the telephone network)
  • An ISP (internet service provider).
Mobile phones or tablets don't necessarily need a router as you could access the internet using a paid data plan.

Internet Service Providers (ISP) are companies that provide users with access to the internet, usually for a monthly or annual fee.

Once you have paid your fee to the ISP, you would be given a username and password which you can use to connect to the internet.

Here in Bermuda, internet service providers include Logic and CableVision.

What is an intranet?
Intranets are like private internets and are not accessible from outside connections. (click to zoom)
An intranet is private and only exists within the premises of an organisation such as a school.
An intranet is private and only exists within the premises of an organisation such as a school.
An example of a school intranet. It contains information that is relevant to the people using it. (click to zoom)
Intranets are like a private internet. They function in a similar way to the internet but are only accessible by users of the intranet (outsiders cannot connect).

Intranets exist only within the building or the company and users need a login id and password before they can join.

What are intranets used for?
Intranets offer similar features to the internet such as:
  • Viewing web pages
  • Sending emails
  • Sharing files and information
  • etc.
Schools often make use of intranets to provide information to students.

This information could include:
  • Learning resources
  • Course information
  • Homework schedules
  • etc.
Only students in the school that own the intranet would be able to access this information. Everyone else is locked out.

How do you connect to an intranet?
Anyone with the right to use an intranet would be given a login id and password.

Anyone without the correct login details would be unable to connect.

You would also normally have to be physically within the building where the intranet exists in order to use it (inside the school or business premises for example).

Login id's can also be used to restrict users from accessing certain parts of the intranet.

For example:
Students could be given access to course information and homework schedules only and teachers could be given access to everything on the intranet.

Comparing the internet and intranet
The table below summarises the differences between the internet and an intranet in terms of their purpose and how they are used:

The internet allows users to share information globally.
Intranets allow users to share data with a room or building.
The term ‘Internet’ comes from the phrase International Network.
The term ‘Intranet’ comes from the phrase Internal Restricted Access Network.
The internet is used to share data globally.
Intranets are used to share data locally and privately.
The internet is used to provide information that is relevant to a wide range of people.
Intranets are used to provide information which is relevant to a single company or organisation.
The internet can be accessed from anywhere as long as you have an internet connection.
Intranets can only be accessed from within the company or organisation that owns it.


Click the above task and answer the questions about
the differences between intranets and the internet.

Please add your questions/comments below:

Links to Theory Units:
Links to Practical Units:
Section 11: File Management
Section 12: Images
Section 13: layout
Section 14: Styles
Section 15: Proofing
Section 16: Graphs and Charts
Section 17: Document Production
Section 18: Data Manipulation
Section 19: Presentations
Section 20: Data Analysis
Section 21: Website Authoring