Your Internet Consultant - The FAQs of Life Online

1.9. What is BITNET?

BITNET is a major wide-area network. It is not based on the TCP/IP protocols that Internet networks must use. Therefore BITNET isn't truly a part of the Internet. BITNET (BIT stands for Because Its Time) users can send and receive electronic mail to and from the Internet, thanks to gateways that act as "translators" between the different network protocols. Electronic mail is the only tool available--or necessary--for BITNET sites.

Other non-TCP/IP networks are also linked to the Internet using a hodgepodge of gateways, but more commonly, the sites on BITNET and other networks that don't do TCP/IP are switching to networks with capabilities of talking in the TCP/IP language so that they can fully utilize the resources of the Internet. BITNET seems to have peaked in terms of its popularity and use; its numbers of sites and users is declining as sites manage to connect directly to the Internet.

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