So I get asked these things a lot, and the answers are too long for twitter, so here they are:
Q: Does the internet exist in The Expanse? How does it work?
A: Of course it does, or some version of it does. The big difference between a solar system wide electronic communications network and the one we have now is a thing called light delay. See, in The Expanse, everyone still has to obey the speed limit of the universe, the speed of light. This includes things like radio waves. So, if you go onto Google on Ganymede and run a search for something that exists on a computer on Earth, you won’t be getting your search results any time soon.
This would mean that there would be two layers to the “internet.” The local network on whatever body you’re living on, and the wider network that requires signal repeaters and is only as fast as the speed of light. I’d imagine this would also mean that local computers would cache as much of the most requested items as possible, to limit delays.
Q: Why call them ‘hand terminals?’
A: Because they are not phones. In the universe of The Expanse, we are living in the true internet of things. Nearly every object more complex than a hair brush is a smart or semi-smart device connected to the network around it. The hand terminal is barely a device, on its own. It has little or no memory or processing power. It is literally just a dumb terminal to give the user access to the network and to the various devices around them. It is a portable UI for operating other things. Which is why when the networks go down, the hand terminals become bricks. You can’t even play that game of angry birds classic you downloaded with your google store coupon.