An Internet Service Provider (ISP) is a company that offers services that allow you to access and use the Internet. These services usually include Internet access, Internet transit, web hosting, and registration of domain names. This article provides a brief overview of Internet services providers, including the services they offer an how they work.
As the name suggests, an Internet Service Provider (abbreviated ISP) refers to the organization that provides Internet users with access to the Internet. Whenever you hear the term “provider” being used in relation to the Internet, the term usually refers to an ISP.
An ISP makes the all things related to the Internet possible, including accessing the Internet and using it, as well as participating in it. ISP companies can be organized in a variety of ways, including non-profit organizations, privately owned entities, commercial organizations, and community-owned operations.
Services Provided by Internet Service Providers
Internet services providers offer a variety of services that relate to the Internet. The most obvious service is access to the Internet. However, other services usually include registration for domain names, transit via the Internet, web hosting, colocation (a data center that provides space, equipment, and bandwidth for Internet users), as well as Usenet.
What do Internet Services Providers do?
Whether you use a desktop computer, a laptop, a smartphone, a tablet, or any other device that access the Internet, these devices are able to gain access to the Internet via an Internet service provider.
For example, if you are using your smartphone to access a webpage on the Internet, a web browser will first use a DNS server to translate the domain name of the webpage so that it displays at the correct IP address. The IP address is then sent from the router you are using to an Internet Service Provider. The ISP then forwards your request to the ISP that the webpage you are trying to access uses. From there, the webpage will be able to send the information back to your ISP, which moves through your router, and then to your smartphone.
Though the process may seem lengthy and involved, it really only takes a few seconds.
Types of Internet Service Providers
When Internet Service Providers first came to be in the 1990s, there were three types available:
- Dial-up services
- High-speed (also known as broadband), which were offered by cable companies
- Digital Line Subscribers (DSL), which were provided by phone companies.
By the mid-2000s, dial-up services were used less frequently, as they were extremely slow and often lost their connection. Today, dial-up ISPs are extremely antiquated and all but obsolete. High-speed and DSL Internet Service Providers are still used today, as they provide fast and reliable connectivity. Fiber optic is also now an option, and it is regarded as the fastest ISP available; however, it’s accessibility is limited because physical lines need to be run in order to access it, and municipalities have to install those lines. Satellite is another option, but while it offers a large coverage area, it is often very slow.