To Be "On" the Internet
RFC 1775

Document Type RFC - Informational (March 1995; No errata)
Last updated 2013-03-02
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Network Working Group                                         D. Crocker
Request for Comments: 1775                        Brandenburg Consulting
Category: Informational                                       March 1995

                        To Be "On" the Internet

Status of this Memo

   This memo provides information for the Internet community.  This memo
   does not specify an Internet standard of any kind.  Distribution of
   this memo is unlimited.


   The Internet permits different levels of access for consumers and
   providers of service.  The nature of those differences is quite
   important in the capabilities They afford.  Hence, it is appropriate
   to provide terminology that distinguishes among the range, so that
   the Internet community can gain some clarity when distinguishing
   whether a user (or an organization) is "on" the Internet.  This
   document suggests four terms, for distinguishing the major classes of


   The Internet is many things to many people.  It began as a technology
   and has grown into a global service.  With the growth has come
   increased complexity in details of the technology and service,
   resulting in confusion when trying to determine whether a given user
   is "on" the Internet.  Who is on the Internet?  What capabilities do
   they have?  This note is an attempt to aid Internet consumers and
   providers in determining the basic types of end-user access that
   distinguish critical differences in Internet attachment.

   The list was developed primarily for the perspective of users, rather
   than for the technical community. The definitions in this list take
   the perspective that users are primarily interested in application
   services.   A curious implication is that some of the definitions do
   not rely on the direct use of the underlying Internet connectivity
   protocols, TCP/IP.  For many technical discussions, therefore, these
   terms will not be appropriate.

Crocker                                                         [Page 1]
RFC 1775                To Be "On" the Internet               March 1995


   The following definitions move from "most" to "least" Internet
   access, from the perspective of the user (consumer). The first term
   is primarily applicable to Internet service providers.  The remaining
   terms are primarily applicable to consumers of Internet service.


      This is a permanent (full-time) Internet attachment running
      TCP/IP, primarily appropriate for allowing the Internet community
      to access application servers, operated by Internet service
      providers.  Machines with Full access are directly visible to
      others attached to the Internet, such as through the Internet
      Protocol's ICMP Echo (ping) facility.  The core of the Internet
      comprises those machines with Full access.


      The user runs applications that employ Internet application
      protocols directly on their own computer platform, but might not
      be running underlying Internet protocols  (TCP/IP), might not have
      full-time access, such as through dial-up, or might have
      constrained access, such as through a firewall.  When active,
      Client users might be visible to the general Internet, but such
      visibility cannot be predicted.  For example, this means that most
      Client access users will not be detected during an empirical
      probing of systems "on" the Internet at any given moment, such as
      through the ICMP Echo facility.


      The user runs no Internet applications on their own platform.  An
      Internet service provider runs applications that use Internet
      protocols on the provider's platform, for the user.  User has
      simplified access to the provider, such as dial-up terminal
      connectivity.  For Mediated access, the user is on the Internet,
      but their computer platform is not.  Instead, it is the computer
      of the mediating service (provider) which is on the Internet.


      The user has no Internet access, except through electronic mail
      and through netnews, such as Usenet or a bulletin board service.
      Since messaging services can be used as a high-latency -- i.e.,
      slow -- transport service, the use of this level of access for
      mail-enabled services can be quite powerful, though not

Crocker                                                         [Page 2]
RFC 1775                To Be "On" the Internet               March 1995


   The test of a nomenclature is, of course, its application to real-
   life situations.  Two simple cases involve home users.  If a user
   accesses the Internet by running a terminal program on their PC and
   then dials up a public service which provides the Internet
   applications, then that user has Mediated Internet access.  The
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