The Internet currently spans 145 countries and has more than 60 million users. It is estimated that there will be a billion people using the Internet by the year 2000. The majority of Internet activity is in North America. Twenty percent, 40 million of North American population older than 15 years have access to the Internet today. The Internet is providing people with facilities such as online banking, shopping, up-to-date research database on every topic, stock quotes, and weather. Infact, you can even read a whole newspaper off the Internet. People are using e-mail as a faster way of delivering messages than mailing letters. People from far-flung and remote corners have been able to interact through the Internet. All in all, those are just a few illustrations to show how the Internet, which is simply a network of computers is becoming a necessity and basis of communication. The world has indeed shrunk with the global highway, above all making complex and fastidious tasks less arduous, faster and much more competent.
Today, one of the most convenient services provided via the Internet is online banking, which is growing at a very explosive rate. The main purpose of Internet banking is that it s very flexible. Banks are connecting all around the globe in order to provide a service to benefit their customers. Internet Banking lets the customer choose when they want to do their banking. It can be in or outside of trading hours. A customer can balance their credit card accounts on a Sunday afternoon if they want, and there is nothing stopping them. Internet banking also abolishes the problem of standing in a queue for 10-15 minutes. When using Internet banking from home, the disadvantage is that you cannot take money out of the bank. However, some banks allow their customers to turn their money into ECASH (Electronic Cash). E-cash allows customers to purchase products online. Technology is expanding at such a fast rate that soon there may be a way to operate all banking tasks on the Internet.
Moreover, businesses and consumers are taking advantage of the Internet as an incredibly effective, efficient, and economical marketing tool. Consumers are finding online shopping a very convenient. And it is becoming the most popular use of the Internet. The lifestyle of many consumers is one that there is very little spare time to perform tasks such as shopping. The Internet offers a convenient alternative to getting in the car and going from store to store or getting on the phone and sitting on hold waiting for assistance. Almost anything can be purchased online such as book, CDs, airline tickets, cars, food, clothes and etc. It is predicted that home consumers alone will spend $250 billion yearly in online purchases within 8 years. It is estimated that this figure was as high as 40% in 1997 and is still rising. Even those consumers who don't purchase online may use the Internet to research potential purchases. This figure may be as high as 25% of the US population. (Source provided by http://polaris.umuc.edu)
Furthermore, teachers, students and scholars all across the nation connect to the Internet everyday through university accounts, public school networks, and private carriers for research purposes. The Internet is fast becoming a sea of information and creating wonderful opportunities for the educational community. Teachers can find thousands of journal articles on classroom management and learning theories. Students can research on any topic from Abortion to human rights. Moreover, they can translate any document on the Internet in almost any language from German to Spanish. The user can access all sorts of things on the Internet and learn and educate them about anything. The database available on the Internet is usually up-to-date. Lawyers, doctors and other professionals, also use the Internet for research purposes. On the whole, users from every field of the workforce are finding the Internet a fast and reliable way of getting hold of information.
In conclusion, the Internet has become a phenomenon as we approach the 21st century. It has invaded and enveloped our society to such an extent that we are gradually becoming dependent on it. The journey of its development has been short but rapid, so much so that we cannot think of any field where the presence of the Internet wouldn t be useful. Therefore, the Internet is an excellent means of providing access to unlimited data and providing the convenience of performing a lot of complex tasks from the comfort of your computer table.