Internet access is the means by which individual terminals, computers, mobile devices, and local area networks are connected to the global Internet. Internet access is usually sold by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that use many different technologies offering a wide range of data rates to the end user. Consumer use first became popular through dial-up connections in the 1980s and 1990s. By the first decade of the 21st century, many consumers had switched away from dial-up to dedicated connections, most Internet access products were being marketed using the term "broadband", and broadband penetration was being treated as a key economic indicator. The Internet began as a network funded by the U.S. government to support projects within the government and at universities and research laboratories in the US - but grew over time to include most of the world's large universities and the research arms of many technology companies.
Contributions by W163, Jim.henderson, and Dave1185.