How the Internet Is Structured

The term Internet is a contraction of ‘interconnected networks’ and, indeed, the Internet is a gigantic global collection of linked networks. The networks that make up the Internet can range in size from tiny (just two or three connected computers) to massive (thousands of interlinked machines).

An Internet service provider (ISP) is a telecommunications business that delivers Internet-related services such as access to the Internet, domain name registration, website hosting, and so on. ISPs enable you to connect to the Internet.

When you use your computer to access the Internet from your home you most likely connect to an ISP via a modem and a local telephone number or through a dedicated high-speed line. When you connect to your ISP you become part of their network, which allows you to access the Internet.

The computers in the office where you work are likely to be connected together into a network known as a local area network (LAN). This enables the computers in the office to communicate with each other. The LAN is most likely connected to an ISP and this connection enables you to access the Internet from your office computer.

Either way, your home PC or your office LAN becomes part of the ISP’s network. The ISP will link in turn to a larger network to become part of that network. That network will be connected to other larger networks to create a communications system that spans the entire globe.

Thus the Internet is nothing more than a network of networks. These networks connect computers using a wide variety of technologies, including conventional and high-speed telephone lines, fibre-optic cables, microwave links, wireless technologies and satellite communications.

Routers

The networks are connected using routers. A router is a specialised computer that directs traffic on the Internet. As the Internet consists of hundreds of thousands of smaller networks linked together, the use of routers is absolutely necessary.

When you want to visit a particular website, you type the address of the site into your web browser. The address goes to the nearest router and the router decides where that site is on the Internet.

The router also determines the most efficient path through all the networks to reach this destination. This determination is based on the traffic in different parts of the Internet and the available connections.

Higher-level networks

The networks in a particular region may be grouped together into a mid-level network. Or they may be linked in a wide-area network (WAN). A WAN covers a larger geographical area than a mid-level network. If the website you are looking for is within the same regional network or WAN, the router will send it directly to its destination.

However, if the website you are looking for is in another part of the Internet, the router will send your request to a network access point (NAP). NAPs connect high-level networks, ie they allow access to Internet backbones.

The Internet backbones are a collection of networks that link extremely powerful super-computers. The backbones are made up of fibre optic trunk lines (aka OC for optical carrier). The fastest OCs can transit 2.488 gigabits per second!

There are many high-capacity backbones around the world, all interconnected at various NAPs. They enable everyone, no matter where they are, to communicate freely with everyone else on the planet.

Repeaters

As you can see the Internet is a veritable jumble of interconnected networks. These networks are linked using a variety of communication technologies that vary from very slow to ultra-fast. And, given the way that routers decide the most efficient route, your data may circumnavigate the world before reaching its destination.

For example, a request from a surfer in Dublin to view a website hosted in London seldom travels directly from Dublin to London; it is likely to be sent via the Americas should this be the fastest route (as measured in milliseconds).

The problem is that the further data has to travel, the more it deteriorates or fades. Repeaters are pieces of hardware that amplify or refresh the stream of data. Boosting the data signals enables the data to circumnavigate the globe yet arrive intact at its final destination.

Linking networks

In order to connect the various lower order networks which make up the vastness of the Internet, various types of equipment are used. These include bridges, gateways and hubs.

Bridges connect LANs. They enable data from one local area network to pass through another LAN en route to yet another LAN.

Gateways are similar to bridges. However they also translate data from one type of LAN to another. For example, they can translate data from a UNIX system so that it is intelligible on an Intel-based system.

Hubs link groups of networks so that the computers in any of the networks can talk to all the other computers in the other networks.

Servers and clients

All the computers on the Internet are either servers or clients. Servers are machines that provide services to other machines (hence the name).

There are various kinds of servers, each with specific functions. For example, web servers host websites, while email servers send and receive emails. FTP servers (file transfer protocol servers) upload and download files. One server machine may contain software for several service functions.

Clients are computers that are used to connect to servers. For instance, you can connect to any website from your home or office computer. The computer you use is known as a client.

When your client machine connects to a server it will connect with specific server software running on the server. If you are sending an email, for example, your client machine will be talking to the email software on the server.

Conclusion

To recap, the Internet is a single gigantic network of networks that are linked using a wide variety of technologies. The millions of individual networks, small and large, that make up the Internet are owned and operated by numerous individuals, small businesses and large corporations. This means that the Internet is built on cooperation and that nobody actually owns the Internet.

This lack of ownership might suggest that the Internet is subject to disruptions. Not so. When an individual network has problems it merely drops out of the overall network, but only the computers on that network are affected. The computers that were communicating through the broken network, using bridges or gateways, will have plenty of alternate channels for doing their business.

Modern Electronic Gadgets and Their Advantages

Today, no one can imagine a life without the electronic gadgets. These gadgets have so many uses and perform several functions. Often these gadgets are available in different and latest designs. There is a wide variety of gadgets including smart phones, music players, home appliances and more. These gadgets work with technology and are quick in their working. Most of them are easy to use and clean. The ease of using these gadgets, make us dependent on them. Most of the times, we feel helpless without these gadgets.

Some indispensable home appliances include fans, Air conditioners, vacuum cleaners and more, without which we cannot imagine our lives today. With the advancement in technology, several new gadgets have entered into the market, which has made human being’s work much easier than before. Owing to this, modern gadgets have become a part and parcel of our lives and we can’t think of living without them for even a day.

Benefits of Modern Gadgets

There are endless benefits that a gadget can offer to us. Usually gadgets are compact in size and can be easily brought at home. For example a coffee machine has a compact design which can fit any kitchen space. Moreover it also helps you make a number of coffee cups in minutes without having to stand. There are several other gadgets which also perform great and are designed to assist people and make their work easier.

Where to shop for Modern Gadgets

You can shop great electronic gadget at online stores. The online stores usually offer a wide variety of electronic gadgets as compared to the local stores. The price online is also less as compared to the retail stores and you can save a lot of money. Besides saving a lot of money you also save time as you can simply order your gadgets online and instantly move to other important things.

Gadgets reviews are available online

Before buying a gadget online you should do an online research first. You should read about the product reviews before purchasing it online. Various online websites offer reviews on the latest gadgets available. Exact product description and specifications are mentioned on the website which let the customers know about the product and make a wise choice.

How to shop online for Modern Gadgets

Online shopping is a very easy process. You just need to browse a website to look for a gadget you require. Enter the name of the gadget into the search engine you will see a list of gadgets stores that sell gadgets. Every store has a different selection of the gadgets. You should look at different gadget stores before making a choice.

Convenience in online shopping

Online shopping is a convenient option when it comes to buying electronic gadgets. You can make a research by browsing different online electronic stores. All kinds of gadgets are available online at very low prices. You can easily compare prices offered by different online gadget stores. The advance innovation of search engine lets you check prices and compare with just a few clicks. Moreover, online stores also give you the freedom to determine which online store offers the best quality gadget at the most affordable item.

Online shopping has become a popular shopping method ever since the internet users have increased. There are a number of customers looking for convenient online shopping ways and online shopping gives you an easy access to a wide variety of gadgets. There is a reason why online stores are becoming popular these days and improving every single day. Advantages of online shopping are an additional knowledge for all the online shoppers that are useful before shopping online.

The Evolution of Technology – The History of Computers

While computers are now an important part of the lives of human beings, there was a time where computers did not exist. Knowing the history of computers and how much progression has been made can help you understand just how complicated and innovative the creation of computers really is.

Unlike most devices, the computer is one of the few inventions that does not have one specific inventor. Throughout the development of the computer, many people have added their creations to the list required to make a computer work. Some of the inventions have been different types of computers, and some of them were parts required to allow computers to be developed further.

The Beginning

Perhaps the most significant date in the history of computers is the year 1936. It was in this year that the first “computer” was developed. It was created by Konrad Zuse and dubbed the Z1 Computer. This computer stands as the first as it was the first system to be fully programmable. There were devices prior to this, but none had the computing power that sets it apart from other electronics.

It wasn’t until 1942 that any business saw profit and opportunity in computers. This first company was called ABC computers, owned and operated by John Atanasoff and Clifford Berry. Two years later, the Harvard Mark I computer was developed, furthering the science of computing.

Over the course of the next few years, inventors all over the world began to search more into the study of computers, and how to improve upon them. Those next ten years say the introduction of the transistor, which would become a vital part of the inner workings of the computer, the ENIAC 1 computer, as well as many other types of systems. The ENIAC 1 is perhaps one of the most interesting, as it required 20,000 vacuum tubes to operate. It was a massive machine, and started the revolution to build smaller and faster computers.

The age of computers was forever altered by the introduction of International Business Machines, or IBM, into the computing industry in 1953. This company, over the course of computer history, has been a major player in the development of new systems and servers for public and private use. This introduction brought about the first real signs of competition within computing history, which helped to spur faster and better development of computers. Their first contribution was the IBM 701 EDPM Computer.

A Programming Language Evolves

A year later, the first successful high level programming language was created. This was a programming language not written in ‘assembly’ or binary, which are considered very low level languages. FORTRAN was written so that more people could begin to program computers easily.

The year 1955, the Bank of America, coupled with Stanford Research Institute and General Electric, saw the creation of the first computers for use in banks. The MICR, or Magnetic Ink Character Recognition, coupled with the actual computer, the ERMA, was a breakthrough for the banking industry. It wasn’t until 1959 that the pair of systems were put into use in actual banks.

During 1958, one of the most important breakthroughs in computer history occurred, the creation of the integrated circuit. This device, also known as the chip, is one of the base requirements for modern computer systems. On every motherboard and card within a computer system, are many chips that contain information on what the boards and cards do. Without these chips, the systems as we know them today cannot function.

Gaming, Mice, & the Internet

For many computer users now, games are a vital part of the computing experience. 1962 saw the creation of the first computer game, which was created by Steve Russel and MIT, which was dubbed Spacewar.

The mouse, one of the most basic components of modern computers, was created in 1964 by Douglass Engelbart. It obtained its name from the “tail” leading out of the device.

One of the most important aspects of computers today was invented in 1969. ARPA net was the original Internet, which provided the foundation for the Internet that we know today. This development would result in the evolution of knowledge and business across the entire planet.

It wasn’t until 1970 that Intel entered the scene with the first dynamic RAM chip, which resulted in an explosion of computer science innovation.

On the heels of the RAM chip was the first microprocessor, which was also designed by Intel. These two components, in addition to the chip developed in 1958, would number among the core components of modern computers.

A year later, the floppy disk was created, gaining its name from the flexibility of the storage unit. This was the first step in allowing most people to transfer bits of data between unconnected computers.

The first networking card was created in 1973, allowing data transfer between connected computers. This is similar to the Internet, but allows for the computers to connect without use of the Internet.

Household PC’s Emerge

The next three years were very important for computers. This is when companies began to develop systems for the average consumer. The Scelbi, Mark-8 Altair, IBM 5100, Apple I and II, TRS-80, and the Commodore Pet computers were the forerunners in this area. While expensive, these machines started the trend for computers within common households.

One of the most major breathroughs in computer software occurred in 1978 with the release of the VisiCalc Spreadsheet program. All development costs were paid for within a two week period of time, which makes this one of the most successful programs in computer history.

1979 was perhaps one of the most important years for the home computer user. This is the year that WordStar, the first word processing program, was released to the public for sale. This drastically altered the usefulness of computers for the everyday user.

The IBM Home computer quickly helped revolutionize the consumer market in 1981, as it was affordable for home owners and standard consumers. 1981 also saw the the mega-giant Microsoft enter the scene with the MS-DOS operating system. This operating system utterly changed computing forever, as it was easy enough for everyone to learn.

The Competition Begins : Apple vs. Microsoft

Computers saw yet another vital change during the year of 1983. The Apple Lisa computer was the first with a graphical user interface, or a GUI. Most modern programs contain a GUI, which allows them to be easy to use and pleasing for the eyes. This marked the beginning of the out dating of most text based only programs.

10 Secrets to Hiring the Right SEO Company

Even if you are armed with an abundance of knowledge in SEO, you may still need the services of a professional SEO company. Having strong knowledge of SEO is hardly sufficient in some cases. Even if you are doing your best to attempt to obtain a good ranking for your website, you might still wind up wondering why your website is simply not doing well. For starters, you must understand that your website will have to be fully optimized in all elements. Not just that, but your website has to be maintained on a regular basis. SEO is a continuous process that includes a great deal of time and effort. To make things simpler, you will be better off utilizing the services of a competent SEO company to do the work for your website.

There are numerous SEO companies today, and there are a lot of trustworthy companies as well as unreliable ones. Thus, it is crucial that you select the perfect SEO Company. Here are 10 important points that you must keep in mind when selecting SEO services:

Site Evaluation Guide

Does the SEO firm offer you a site evaluation guide? A reliable SEO firm should have the ability to provide you with an extensive analysis of your site, regarding ranking and design structure. This can be done by performing a website audit. The result of this website audit will allow the SEO firm to offer you a proposal of how much work needs to be done to bring you to a certain level of ranking. They must be able to advise and troubleshoot all aspects related to performance, content, and design that might hinder the reading or indexing of your pages.

Tools in Figuring out Keywords

What tools does the SEO Agency use to look for keywords? Do they offer competitive analysis based on your chosen keywords? Understanding what methodology the SEO Agency utilizes for keyword evaluation or research is very important. It will be a great help if you perform your own due diligence using basic tools, such as conducting keyword research and analysis through the use of keyword planner in Google AdWords.

Backlinks to Website

Where will the SEO Company return links from? Backlinks are just as, if not more, vital in SEO than onsite optimization. The SEO Company should be able to obtain high-quality backlinks from reputable websites that are highly related to your niche. Ask your SEO Company what techniques they employ for gathering backlinks.

Cost Structure

A dependable SEO Company will not just give you a quote once they figure out how much work has to be included. Charging you high costs will not necessarily ensure you receive high quality services. It also doesn’t ensure that the rate being quoted is proportional and consistent with the services you anticipate the SEO Company will provide. A good SEO Agency should be able to give you a rundown of services to which the performance and price contract will be based upon.

The Timeline

Does your SEO Company provide you with a timeline? It is through hard work and correct planning that results can be attained on time. Some SEO Firms offer SEO plans that claim to put you in the very first page of search results in just a matter of 10 days. Realistically, however, no SEO Company can guarantee you the number 1 position in Google in as short as 10 days.

An SEO campaign will take 6-18 months to deliver the top outcomes you expect. Make sure you don’t give in to false pledges. Conversely, avoid SEO services that provide you with a time limit. A good SEO company knows that optimization is an ongoing process and they should be able to offer you regular maintenance, customer support and proper upgrading.

SEO Technique

What SEO strategy will your SEO Company use to raise your ranking? You should look out for companies that will utilize spam advertising methods to rank you on top in no time. If the strategy includes any form of dishonest practice, such as spamming or deceiving online search engines, then you should instantly turn away.

An excellent SEO company will certainly see to it that you will not be subjected to spam or misleading services. Keep in mind that if it is based on using deceitful strategies, your site might be taken out of Google’s indexing, which will certainly lead your site to being blacklisted. Knowing your SEO Company and doing your own research on how proper SEO is done is extremely vital in choosing the ideal firm.

Providing Targeted Traffic

Do they understand the distinction between plain traffic and targeted traffic? You will hire the services of an SEO Company mainly due to the fact that you need to attract traffic into your website. However, what you need is targeted traffic that gets you visitors who might be genuinely interested in purchasing your products or services. This is based on your desired keywords in order to generate leads.

You don’t want irrelevant traffic that comes to your website because of irrelevant keywords. Unqualified traffic only enhances your bounce rate (surfers that arrive on your page and immediately leave) and not your sales. The right SEO Company will create relevant content for your website and distribute it to relevant channels, social media and Press Releases (PR). This will potentially lead to natural backlinks that will enhance your overall ranking in the search engine.

Transparent Deliverables

A professional SEO Company should have a clear course of action to attain the desired results in a given time frame. They should be able to show the client what’s being completed for the first month and subsequent months. With this, you will be able to determine how much work is being done in relation to your costs, allowing you to determine your ROI. A clear outline of work in the proposal should be available at any time to show the extent of the campaign. This includes how much fresh and high quality relevant content they are going to publish on your website every week. How many distribution channels? What social media, article directories and websites are they going to use to distribute your content? How many PR submissions? And how many backlinks have been generated? These are the qualifying questions that need to be answered by a good SEO firm.

Reporting

A comprehensive report system should be provided to show the progress of the SEO campaign, as well as ranking status of the site. This reporting could be monthly or quarterly. The report should be clear and concise, using the right combination of graphics and texts. This will be the bench mark of how the firm is progressing towards your desired ranking status.

Performance Guarantee

Does the SEO Company offer some kind of guarantee, such as a percentage increase in traffic? Although there are a lot of factors involved in an SEO campaign, a professional SEO company will be able to give performance guarantees based on their years of experience and proven methodology.

These are the major considerations you need to look at when hiring an SEO Agency to make sure that you don’t pour your money down the drain. SEO is a vital marketing strategy to make your brand highly visible online to your target market and to grow your business. It is a time-consuming effort, but it has greater ROI in the long run when compared to other marketing options.

Technological Innovation Through Tech Mining For Market Dominance

Innovation means technological change. The technology change results in practical implication or commercialization, it does not mean just generation of ideas. The importance of technological innovation in today’s competitive economy is very clear, as today the worldwide economy depends on technology and technological innovation to an extraordinary degree.

Technological innovation plays important role in the economical growth of any country. Us, Japan, and other European countries are developed only due to there technological progress. In recent years, Singapore, India, China and many other countries are advancing dramatically due to technological innovations and progress. High technology companies are a significant and growing component of the economy. The competitive of these companies depends on technological innovations. Innovations improves standard of living. Developments in medical and pharmaceutical technologies have delivered extensive returns in health and life span.

Technological innovation involves tech mining. Tech mining includes understanding the technological innovation processes to track them more effectively and get informed about latest happenings and make valuable business decisions about R&D and subsequent implementation and adoption choices.

Innovation is defined as the process by which technological ideas are generated, developed and transformed into new business products, process and services that are used to make a profit and establish marketplace advantage. A better understanding of the innovation process is essential to figure out empirical measures deriving from innovation activities to generate actionable technological intelligence.

Tech mining is done through data or information extraction from multiple data sources, compilation and analyzing the results and represents key findings in actionable visual representation for easy understanding to what is happening now and predicting the future technologies.

Various types of technology analysis that can be aided by tech mining is as follows:

(A) Technology Monitoring (technology watch) – cataloguing, characterizing, identifying and interpreting technology development activities

(B) Competitive Technological Intelligence (CTI) -exploring out “Who is doing what?”

(C) Technology Forecasting-anticipating possible future development paths for particular technology domains

(D) Technology Road mapping – tracking evolutionary steps in related technologies and, sometimes, product families, technology diversification and technology tree

(E) Technology Assessment – anticipating the possible unintended, direct, indirect, and delayed consequences of particular technological changes

(F) Technology Foresight – strategic planning (especially national) with emphasis on technology roles and priorities

(G) Technology Process Management – getting people involved to make decisions about technology

(H) Science and Technology Indicators – time series that track advances in national (or other) technological capabilities

Reasons to Do Tech Mining

Forecast likely development paths for emerging technologies – identify new products, research or service opportunity
Identify competitors, or collaborators, at the “fuzzy front end” of new product development – keep tract of your competitor’s activity for market dominance.
Identify potential customers for your intellectual property (“IP”) – new licensing, collaboration, acquisition and merger opportunities.
Discover additional application arenas for the outputs of your R&D – identify how to develop new products and services from your existing business processes, without inventing more.
Gauge market potential for prospective technology-based products and services
Be a wiser consumer of others’ science and technology
Manage the risks of technology development and implementation based on better information.

Impacts of Information Technology on Society in the New Century

In the past few decades there has been a revolution in computing and communications, and all indications are that technological progress and use of information technology will continue at a rapid pace. Accompanying and supporting the dramatic increases in the power and use of new information technologies has been the declining cost of communications as a result of both technological improvements and increased competition. According to Moore’s law the processing power of microchips is doubling every 18 months. These advances present many significant opportunities but also pose major challenges. Today, innovations in information technology are having wide-ranging effects across numerous domains of society, and policy makers are acting on issues involving economic productivity, intellectual property rights, privacy protection, and affordability of and access to information. Choices made now will have long lasting consequences, and attention must be paid to their social and economic impacts.

One of the most significant outcomes of the progress of information technology is probably electronic commerce over the Internet, a new way of conducting business. Though only a few years old, it may radically alter economic activities and the social environment. Already, it affects such large sectors as communications, finance and retail trade and might expand to areas such as education and health services. It implies the seamless application of information and communication technology along the entire value chain of a business that is conducted electronically.

The impacts of information technology and electronic commerce on business models, commerce, market structure, workplace, labour market, education, private life and society as a whole.

1. Business Models, Commerce and Market Structure

One important way in which information technology is affecting work is by reducing the importance of distance. In many industries, the geographic distribution of work is changing significantly. For instance, some software firms have found that they can overcome the tight local market for software engineers by sending projects to India or other nations where the wages are much lower. Furthermore, such arrangements can take advantage of the time differences so that critical projects can be worked on nearly around the clock. Firms can outsource their manufacturing to other nations and rely on telecommunications to keep marketing, R&D, and distribution teams in close contact with the manufacturing groups. Thus the technology can enable a finer division of labour among countries, which in turn affects the relative demand for various skills in each nation. The technology enables various types of work and employment to be decoupled from one another. Firms have greater freedom to locate their economic activities, creating greater competition among regions in infrastructure, labour, capital, and other resource markets. It also opens the door for regulatory arbitrage: firms can increasingly choose which tax authority and other regulations apply.

Computers and communication technologies also promote more market-like forms of production and distribution. An infrastructure of computing and communication technology, providing 24-hour access at low cost to almost any kind of price and product information desired by buyers, will reduce the informational barriers to efficient market operation. This infrastructure might also provide the means for effecting real-time transactions and make intermediaries such as sales clerks, stock brokers and travel agents, whose function is to provide an essential information link between buyers and sellers, redundant. Removal of intermediaries would reduce the costs in the production and distribution value chain. The information technologies have facilitated the evolution of enhanced mail order retailing, in which goods can be ordered quickly by using telephones or computer networks and then dispatched by suppliers through integrated transport companies that rely extensively on computers and communication technologies to control their operations. Nonphysical goods, such as software, can be shipped electronically, eliminating the entire transport channel. Payments can be done in new ways. The result is disintermediation throughout the distribution channel, with cost reduction, lower end-consumer prices, and higher profit margins.

The impact of information technology on the firms’ cost structure can be best illustrated on the electronic commerce example. The key areas of cost reduction when carrying out a sale via electronic commerce rather than in a traditional store involve physical establishment, order placement and execution, customer support, strong, inventory carrying, and distribution. Although setting up and maintaining an e-commerce web site might be expensive, it is certainly less expensive to maintain such a storefront than a physical one because it is always open, can be accessed by millions around the globe, and has few variable costs, so that it can scale up to meet the demand. By maintaining one ‘store’ instead of several, duplicate inventory costs are eliminated. In addition, e-commerce is very effective at reducing the costs of attracting new customers, because advertising is typically cheaper than for other media and more targeted. Moreover, the electronic interface allows e-commerce merchants to check that an order is internally consistent and that the order, receipt, and invoice match. Through e-commerce, firms are able to move much of their customer support on line so that customers can access databases or manuals directly. This significantly cuts costs while generally improving the quality of service. E-commerce shops require far fewer, but high-skilled, employees. E-commerce also permits savings in inventory carrying costs. The faster the input can be ordered and delivered, the less the need for a large inventory. The impact on costs associated with decreased inventories is most pronounced in industries where the product has a limited shelf life (e.g. bananas), is subject to fast technological obsolescence or price declines (e.g. computers), or where there is a rapid flow of new products (e.g. books, music). Although shipping costs can increase the cost of many products purchased via electronic commerce and add substantially to the final price, distribution costs are significantly reduced for digital products such as financial services, software, and travel, which are important e-commerce segments.

Although electronic commerce causes the disintermediation of some intermediaries, it creates greater dependency on others and also some entirely new intermediary functions. Among the intermediary services that could add costs to e-commerce transactions are advertising, secure online payment, and delivery. The relative ease of becoming an e-commerce merchant and setting up stores results in such a huge number of offerings that consumers can easily be overwhelmed. This increases the importance of using advertising to establish a brand name and thus generate consumer familiarity and trust. For new e-commerce start-ups, this process can be expensive and represents a significant transaction cost. The openness, global reach, and lack of physical clues that are inherent characteristics of e-commerce also make it vulnerable to fraud and thus increase certain costs for e-commerce merchants as compared to traditional stores. New techniques are being developed to protect the use of credit cards in e-commerce transactions, but the need for greater security and user verification leads to increased costs. A key feature of e-commerce is the convenience of having purchases delivered directly. In the case of tangibles, such as books, this incurs delivery costs, which cause prices to rise in most cases, thereby negating many of the savings associated with e-commerce and substantially adding to transaction costs.

With the Internet, e-commerce is rapidly expanding into a fast-moving, open global market with an ever-increasing number of participants. The open and global nature of e-commerce is likely to increase market size and change market structure, both in terms of the number and size of players and the way in which players compete on international markets. Digitized products can cross the border in real time, consumers can shop 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and firms are increasingly faced with international online competition. The Internet is helping to enlarge existing markets by cutting through many of the distribution and marketing barriers that can prevent firms from gaining access to foreign markets. E-commerce lowers information and transaction costs for operating on overseas markets and provides a cheap and efficient way to strengthen customer-supplier relations. It also encourages companies to develop innovative ways of advertising, delivering and supporting their product and services. While e-commerce on the Internet offers the potential for global markets, certain factors, such as language, transport costs, local reputation, as well as differences in the cost and ease of access to networks, attenuate this potential to a greater or lesser extent.