What is an ISP? The companies that provide you with access to the internet, explained
ISPis an acronym for internet service provider.
- In addition to receiving an
internetconnection from an ISP, you may also be able to access an email account and web hosting services. ISPscan come in many forms, like dial-up, high-speed (also called broadband), and DSL.
If you're reading this article, you can thank an
What is an ISP?
Internet service providers, or ISPs, are companies or organizations that provide you with access to the internet.
ISPs can also offer other options, like web hosting and email services, and they can range in form from giant telecommunication companies to small nonprofits.
When you connect to your ISP, you join its network to access the internet - whether that's through a browser, a streaming platform, or an app on your phone. ISPs are also interconnected, and you can connect to many networks as you access different sites.
Some of the most prominent ISPs include:
Types of ISPs
The following are several types of ISPs that are in use today.
- Dial-up: This was a popular option in the early days of the internet. It has since largely fallen out of use, though not completely. Dial-up works by connecting to the internet via an existing phone line.
- Broadband: This is a high-speed internet option that makes it possible to access high-quality options like video conferencing. Broadband can be accessed through options like a phone or cable company as well as other wireless providers.
- DSL: Also known as a digital subscriber line, DSL is a type of broadband internet connection that uses a dedicated line and a modem.
- Fiber: Fiber tends to be the fastest internet option because it uses fiber optic cables, rather than the traditional copper wiring. Since it's relatively new, and it takes time and resources to lay the cables locally, it's also less widely available.
ISPs can provide Wi-Fi and Ethernet
Wi-Fi is a wireless internet connection that can be accessed through a router, while Ethernet requires a physical wire (known as an Ethernet cable) that connects your modem to your computer, TV, or video game console.
You can have an ISP that works with both. To be able to do that, you simply need a router that also has an Ethernet port. ISPs that allow for both Wi-Fi and Ethernet connections accomplish this through what's called a "mixed network."
Using an Ethernet cable instead of Wi-Fi can also help speed up your internet access.'Why isn't my internet working?': How to identify why you can't connect to the internet and troubleshoot accordinglyHow to boost your internet speed at home in 8 ways, and make sure you're not being overcharged for low speeds'What is a good internet speed?': The internet speeds you should aim for, based on how you use the internetHow to use a Google speed test to check how fast your internet speed is
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