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An Internet service provider (ISP) is a company that provides access to the Internet.

, it refers to a company that provides Internet services, including personal and business access to the Internet. ISPs directly connect customers to the Internet using copper wires, wireless or fiber-optic connections. An ISP acts as an intermediary between a small business's computer system and the Internet. The ISP feeds the small business's outbound information to the Internet, and also feeds inbound Internet traffic into the small business's Internet connection. ISPs take several forms and offer a wide variety of services. They generally charge their customers for Internet access depending on their usage needs and the level of service provided. An ISP collects monthly or yearly(broadband access) fee in exchange for providing the subscriber with Internet access. For a monthly fee, the service provider usually provides a software package, username, password and access phone number. Equipped with a modem, you can then log on to the Internet and browse the World Wide Web, and send and receive e-mail. For broadband access you typically receive the broadband modem hardware or pay a monthly fee for this equipment that is added to your ISP account billing. In addition to serving individuals, ISPs also serve large companies, providing a direct connection from the company's networks to the Internet. A network service provider (NSP) is a company that provides Internet access to ISPs. Sometimes called backbone providers, NSPs offer direct access to the Internet backbone and the Network Access Points (NAPs) ISPs themselves are connected to one another through Network Access Points. (NAPs) a public network exchange facility where Internet Service Providers (ISPs) can connect with one another in peering arrangements..The NAPs are a key component of the Internet backbone because the connections within them determine how traffic is routed. They are also the points of most Internet congestion. Some ISPs are local while others are national. A national ISP will provide access throughout most of the nation, while a local ISP will only serve subscribers in a limited geographical region. ISP provides different connections for Internet access which ranges from ;

Broadband wireless access Wimax Wi-Fis

Cable Internet FTTH Leased line Modem DSL

When looking for an ISP the initial consideration is the type of access desired. Some ISPs only offer dial-up access which is the slowest type of connection. If you want cable service, you'll be checking with your local cable TV provider to see if cable access is offered. For DSL service, you may have multiple choices - or it could be that DSL is not yet available in your area. Often this can be remedied with a call to the phone company to upgrade local telephone lines. Every ISP has a privacy policy and Terms of Service (TOS) contract that subscribers must agree to before subscription will be accepted. The privacy policy will state what the company will and will not do with personal information collected at the time of sign-up. Name, address, and normally a credit card number are required. The privacy policy should also state under what conditions your personal information might be shared with third parties, government officials, or others. The TOS contract stipulates how you can use the service. For example, dial-up access is often sold as "unlimited access" but this is not to be taken literally. Dial-up accounts normally limit hours per month to 250-400, depending on the ISP. Truly unlimited access (leaving your computer on and actively connected to the Internet 24/7) is called dedicatedaccess. Most DSL or cable subscriptions allow dedicated access. The Terms of Service contract of the ISP will also state rules about hacking, protecting copyrighted materials, denial of service attacks, harassing other people, spam, compromising the service, and many other issues. These are as much for the legal protection of the ISP as to let potential subscribers know what the ISP will and will not tolerate. If you are planning on using web space provided by the ISP, check for limitations here too. Many ISPs do not allow commercial websites to be set up on their servers. This usually means that nothing can be sold from your personal webspace, including for example, a software program you wrote, original music, or any other item. ISP websites are normally for personal use only, to blog, post pictures, and so on. Once you find an ISP that offers the services, privacy policy and TOS you can live with, you can sign up online through a public terminal, or call. From here all that needs to be done is to enter the ISP access number and a few other parameters into the networking software on your computer. Dial-up is least expensive, and perks will vary greatly between ISPs. Some offer multiple email accounts, others vast amounts of webspace, and still others discounts for paying in advance. DSL and cable companies will also differ, so carefully read through offerings before deciding. If you are getting an ISP other than cable, you will likely have choices. There are many websites that offer reviews from present subscribers of various ISPs, which might be helpful in making a decision.

Access provider
ISPs employ a range of technologies to enable consumers to connect to their network. For users and small businesses, traditional options include: dial-up, DSL (typically Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line, ADSL), broadband wireless, cable modem, fiber to the premises(FTTH), and Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) (typically basic rate interface). For customers with more demanding requirements, such as medium-to-large businesses, or other ISPs, DSL (often Single-Pair High-speed Digital Subscriber Line or ADSL), Ethernet, Metropolythian Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet, Frame Relay, ISDN (B.R.I. or P.R.I.), ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode) and upload satellite Internet access. Syncoptical cabling (SONET) are more likely to be used. Typical connection types:

Broadband wireless access Wimax Wi-Fis

Cable Internet FTTH Leased line Modem DSL

When using a dial-up or ISDN connection method, the ISP cannot determine the caller's physical location to more detail than using the number transmitted using an appropriate form ofCaller ID; it is entirely possible to e.g. connect to an ISP located in Mexico from the USA. Other means of connection such as cable or DSL require a fixed registered connection node, usually associated at the ISP with a physical address.

Mailbox provider
A company or organization that provides email mailbox hosting services for end users and/or organizations. Many Mailbox Providers are also Access Providers.

Hosting ISPs Transit ISPs

Just as their customers pay them for Internet access, ISPs themselves pay upstream ISPs for Internet access. An upstream ISP usually has a larger network than the contracting ISP and/or is able to provide the contracting ISP with access to parts of the Internet the contracting ISP by itself has no access to. In the simplest case, a single connection is established to an upstream ISP and is used to transmit data to or from areas of the Internet beyond the home network; this mode of interconnection is often cascaded multiple times until reaching a Tier 1 carrier. In reality, the situation is often more complex. ISPs with more than one point of presence (PoP) may have separate connections to an upstream ISP at multiple PoPs, or they may be customers of multiple upstream ISPs and may have connections to each one of them at one or more point of presence.

ISPs may engage in peering, where multiple ISPs interconnect at peering points or Internet exchange points (IXs), allowing routing of data between each network, without charging one another for the data transmitteddata that would otherwise have passed through a third upstream ISP, incurring charges from the upstream ISP. ISPs requiring no upstream and having only customers (end customers and/or peer ISPs) are called Tier 1 ISPs. Network hardware, software and specifications, as well as the expertise of network management personnel are important in ensuring that data follows the most efficient route, and upstream connections work reliably. A tradeoff between cost and efficiency is possible.


The following are not a different type of the above ISPs, rather they are derivatives of the 3 core ISP types. A VISP is reselling either access or hosting services. Free ISPs are similar, but they just have a different revenue model.

Virtual ISP
A Virtual ISP (VISP) is an operation which purchases services from another ISP (sometimes called a "wholesale ISP" in this context)[4] which allow the VISP's customers to access the Internet using services and infrastructure owned and operated by the wholesale ISP.

Free ISP
Free ISPs are Internet Service Providers (ISPs) which provide service free of charge. Many free ISPs display advertisements while the user is connected; like commercial television, in a sense they are selling the users' attention to the advertiser. Other free ISPs, often called freenets, are run on a nonprofit basis, usually with volunteer staff.