What is ISP?


In 1990, the first ISP provided internet in Brooklyn, Massachusetts.

The need for internet service providers was brought on after the internet was initially used by government research centers and universities as an effective way of sharing data and resources. The commercialization of the internet required a company that could sell this service to the public.

ISP (Internet service provider) is a company that gives individuals and other companies access to the web and other related services. Also known as an Internet Access Provider (IAP), these companies not only provide an internet connection to their end-users, but are also able to provide other network services, email, domain name registration, web hosting, and data center.

An ISP has the equipment and the telecommunication line access required to have a point-of-presence on the Internet for the geographic area served. Your ISP makes the Internet a possibility. In other words, you can have a shiny computer with a built-in modem and could have a router for networking, but without a subscription with an ISP, you won’t have a connection to the Internet.

Every home or organization with Internet access has an ISP. The good news is, we all don’t need to have the same provider to communicate with each other and we don’t have to pay anything extra to communicate with someone who has a different ISP.ISPs act as hubs on the Internet since they are often connected directly to the Internet backbone.

Because of the large number of traffic ISPs handle, they require high bandwidth connections to the Internet. In order to offer faster speeds to customers, ISPs must add more bandwidth to their backbone connection in order to prevent bottlenecks. This can be done by upgrading existing lines or adding new ones.

However, most of these ISPs provided only local service and relied on access to regional and national ISPs for wider connectivity.

The different types of ISPs are based on the technologies that they use to transfer data and establish an internet connection for their end-user. There are different data transmission methods that ISPs use to provide a network connection. Based on these, there are 4 major types of ISPs that provide network services: –

Dial-up Service Providers

One of the earlier but currently outdated technologies used is the Dial-up service. Dial-up systems make use of old telephone wires to transmit data at a rate of around 40Kbps.

Cable Service Providers

This allows users to use the internet while staying on a phone call, activities that could not be performed simultaneously with a Dial-up connection.

DSL Service Providers

Cable Internet is often provided by TV cable companies as a package subscription with a television subscription. In this case, the cable company is the ISP. They make use of cable technology to transmit internet data and connect their users to the public network.

Fiber Optics Service Providers

Currently, fiber optics have been used to transfer data at speeds faster than that of DSL or Cable connections. Many ISPs are incorporating this new technology. However, there are still areas where wired connections are unable to reach. Some ISPs are now able to provide wireless connections by installing a satellite dish that will receive the data signals.

Do I need an ISP to connect to the Internet?

  • On a computer, yes you need an ISP to connect to the Internet. To connect to the Internet, you need either an ISP, cable company, or other company that provides the necessary hardware to connect to the Internet.
  • On a smartphone, your MNO(mobile network operator) provides you access to the Internet.

List of major ISPs

  • AT&T
  • CenturyLink (formerly Qwest).
  • Cox Cable
  • Google Fiber
  • Sparklight (formerly Cable One).
  • Spectrum /Charter Communications (formerly Time Warner Cable).
  • Windstream  (which includes Earthlink).
  • Verizon
  • Xfinity (formerly Comcast).

Levels of Internet Service Provider (ISP): –

Tier-1 ISP -These ISPs are at the top of the hierarchy and they have a global reach.

Tier-2 ISP -These ISPs are service providers who connect between tier 1 and tier 3 ISPs. They have regional or country reach and they behave just like Tier-1 ISP for Tier-3 ISPs.

Tier-3 ISP – These ISPs are closest to the end-users and help them to connect to the internet by charging some money. These ISPs work on purchasing models.

In general terms, ISP provides internet at a cost. It has 3 different levels known as tiers 1,2,3 respectively. It is of different types as discussed above. It has given daily life a faster life by offering higher bandwidth. It acts as a backbone these days.