How the Internet works (and is paid for)

The Internet has been one of the most life-changing and fast-growing technologies in the world. According to the latest ITU estimates, 4.9 billion individuals around the globe are using the Internet, which is 4.8 times more than in 2005. The average global Internet user spends around 7 hours per day online, and in 2021 alone, more than US$293bn dollars were spent on digital media and online subscriptions.

This study, led by Plum and commissioned by Google, explores in detail how the modern Internet actually works to deliver content to end users. This includes analysis of how data moves around the Internet, how the Internet is coordinated and governed, and the key features of today’s Internet. It also includes analysis of the economics of the Internet and how its infrastructure is paid for.

The study is divided into three parts:

  • The first part explores how data and content move around the Internet, and how it is coordinated and governed;
  • The second part focuses on the economics of the Internet and how the delivery of content is paid for;
  • The third part provides cases studies of the economics of the Internet in five APAC countries: South Korea, Australia, Indonesia, Japan, and Singapore.

A three-page summary is also available.