In some ways, the internet actually is a series of tubes. Some cell phone and internet companies might like you to think that your mobile internet connection is truly wireless — but in reality, your data is largely still just shooting through wires that criss-cross the Earth.

When you send a photo to a relative, write an email to a friend, or upload a video to Snapchat, your data travels huge distances in just seconds, largely because of a giant network of internet infrastructure that helps the world share its information.

Want to know more about how your favorite app or website makes it to the cell phone in your pocket? TIME explains in the video above.

Write to Charlotte Alter at charlotte.alter@time.com and Mathew Katz at matt.katz@time.com.

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