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Who is the ISP?

Right now, as you are reading this article, you are using the service of your ISP to obtain information from the Internet. ISP, the acronym of Internet Service Provider, is also known as the gateway to the Internet. An ISP is a company that provides you with an internet connection for your home and office usage. Without the presence of an ISP, you won't be able to watch your favourite show on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, etc. Anything which requires the Internet will not function until your ISP allows you to access the Internet. 

General Jul 21, 21 by Nisal N 15 min Read
Who is the ISP?

Moreover, ISP's main job is to make sure that you can access the internet services on your device without any issues. While at the same time, it maintains both the hardware and the software network infrastructure, which makes it possible for you to access the Internet. Today, we will find out the importance of ISP, how it provides you an internet connection, and what things you need to consider when selecting your ISP.  

What Is An ISP?

An ISP, as we have stated above, is a company that provides you with an internet connection, which you can use to surf the Internet and get the required information from the world wide web (www). In addition to providing users with an internet connection, ISP can also offer software packages like browsers, antivirus solutions, email accounts, or a VPN for you to access the Internet securely. Moreover, it can provide hosting services for businesses and create a website from scratch. All the ISPs working in your country are connected via a network access point, public network facilities that are also known as the backbone of the Internet. 

With the advancement in computers and other network-related technology, it was evident for the internet population to grow at a tremendous rate. But the two most important inventions which fueled up internet users are the invention of affordable personal computers and the ethernet connection. For a lot of people, ISP is a cable company that, in addition to providing a TV subscription, offers internet connectivity. ISP forms a connection between your computer and all the servers, which as a whole, store all the information present on the Internet. 

Let's take an example that will clear a lot about ISP's position in your network connection. When you are sending an email to your manager, it first goes from your computer to the ISP's computer or server; from there, its destination is scanned. We already told you that ISP is connected to the different servers that are present all over the world. Thus, it finds out the server to which your email needs to be sent and transfers it to that server using another server on the network as a bridge.

The Working Of ISP

The above-mentioned example doesn't actually show you how an ISP internally works; well, all your questions regarding the working of the ISP will be answered in this part. Starting at the top of the internet access pyramid, we have Tier 1 internet service providers. The Tier 1 internet service provider is the set of those ISPs which have access to all the networks on the Internet. They perform their work only by using network peering agreements for which they don't have to pay anything. In order to understand the importance of Tier 1 ISPs, you need to think of them as a major highway of the Internet from where all information is bypassed. The Tier 1 ISPs are connected from all the corners of the World Wide Web. Some of the Tier 1 ISPs are Google, Verizon, Deutsche, etc. 

These Tier 1 internet service providers allow Tier 2 ISPs to purchase access to the Tier 1 network. Then Tier 2 ISPs will sell the internet access to various organizations and home users. But in some cases, a Tier 1 ISP will sell directly to the users and the organizations. On the other hand, a second intermediary ISPs are set up, which are also called Tier 3 ISPs. These Tier 3 ISPs will purchase a specific bandwidth from Tier 2 ISP and then again sell that bandwidth to the end-users. 

When your personal computer gets connected to the Internet, it goes through a number of hops before it finally reaches its destination. If you are using a modem for the internet connectivity, your traffic will go from your modem to your Tier 2 ISP provider to Tier 1 ISP network, and then it goes again through a different set of ISPs before it is finally received at the destination. 

Can You Connect To The Internet Without Using ISP?

So now we are almost in the very middle of our article, and we are sure there is one question that might be lurking in your mind. If you are thinking about accessing the Internet without getting connected to that ISP, you are not the first to find an alternative ISP. But the hard truth is, no, you won't be able to access the Internet if you don't have an ISP connection. 

Furthermore, if your ISP is down due to some reason like maintenance or wire breakage, even then, you won't be able to access the internet services unless your ISP diverges your traffic to some other ISP or you do it by yourself. A number of home networks now prefer redundant internet connections. Thus, they use a cellular service provider or a secondary ISP connection as their backup. Your mobile hotspot, which you use to make a connection with the Internet, can also be considered as one of the forms of ISP, but the central control of the internet connection is in the hands of your network service provider.  

Why Is ISP Necessary?

You cannot directly connect your IP address to another IP address and attain the information that you want. ISPs are not directly connected to the Internet. The ISPs come together with servers that store the website's data to form the Internet. If you wake up one day and think that you are not going to pay your ISP anymore but still want to surf the Internet. For this, you need to make your own server that can take in your connection and then direct it to the Internet. 

Once you have bought all the components of the server and put them together to make a server, the next thing you need to do is buy a bunch of IP addresses from your country's ISP because tier ISP doesn't provide a single IP address to an individual. After you get the IP address, all you have to do is connect your devices to the server and start surfing the Internet. But by the time you could actually visit the website that you wanted, you have already spent money on five figures. 

But now, you are managing a private ISP of your own. Thus, it is not feasible for an average internet user to create their own ISP. As a result, ISP companies are necessary, as they are specifically dedicated to providing internet services to thousands of users from their hardware. 

Different Connection Offerings From ISPs

Until the 2010s, most ISPs offered only three types of services: dial-up, broadband cable, and a digital subscriber line (DSL). But as the Internet grew, the issues in the dial-up connections started to show up. It became clear that dial-up connection, even though it is affordable, is not obsolete. So now we have a total of 5 different types of internet connections that any standard ISP company can provide, and all of them are explained down below. 

1.   Satellite 

If you are living in a remote area or in the countryside, then a Satellite connection is the one you might need to access internet connectivity. This type of internet connection requires you to have a receiving dish on the top of your home so it can receive infrared signals from the closest tower. The satellite connection involves a lot of infrastructure from both the ISPs and the user's endpoint. Moreover, if there's bad weather or fast winds, there are a lot of chances for your Internet to have slow to zero connectivity. 

2.   DSL 

DSL is considered a big brother of a dial-up internet connection; many phone network providers offer DSL services that have high-speed internet connectivity. The internet connection is delivered to the user via the existing telephone network. There are two main types of DSL technology, and they are symmetrical and asymmetrical. 

In a symmetrical connection, a user has equal upstream and downstream speed. But in the asymmetrical, the downstream speed is much more as compared to the upstream. Also, in DSL, the asymmetrical connection is preferred because most of the users on the Internet are downloading the content and not uploading it often. 

3.   BroadBand Cable 

The average speed of a broadband cable connection around the globe is 50 Mbps. The dial-up speeds and even the DSL speed are not up to the level of broadband cable as these two technologies have aged. A broadband connection can have a simple wire that can both send and receive data with over 50 Mbps of speed. But if you are looking for more speed, you need to go with the fiber optic cable connection. 

4.   Fiber Optic Cable 

In a fiber-optic connection, data uses light as a transfer medium instead of electric voltage, which is generally used in broadband cable connections. One of the best things about the fiber optic cable is that it transmits the internet packets at the speed of light. 

A fiber optic cable is quite reliable, and it is immune to electric interference, unlike copper. In addition to this, it has the bandwidth capability of 10 gigabits per second data transfer, and it can go up to 31 terabits per second. A fiber connection can transmit a signal up to 205 kilometres without the use of boosters. You might wonder, but fiber cables are running across the ocean's bed and providing connections between different countries across the globe. 

5.   Wifi Broadband 

Wifi is the wireless technology that makes it possible for the internet devices like computers, smartphones, tablets, etc. in order to connect with the network wirelessly. Wifi is quite similar to fiber optic cable and broadband connection. The only difference is, with wifi broadband, you are getting the same amount of speed but with a wireless connection. In most modern homes, wifi broadband is used to access the Internet as it can provide internet connectivity to a number of devices all at once.

Things To Keep In Mind While Selecting Your ISP 

There are a number of ISPs available right now for you to choose from, but to find out which one is best for you, you need to know some crucial points, which are highlighted below.

Availability 

The very first thing you need to look for is the availability of an ISP provider in your area. The connection coverage can vary from ISP to ISP based on your location, which can help you filter out your choice. Likewise, you need to know if the ISP is able to provide you with the type of connection that you need. For example, if you are living in a remote location far away from the city, does your ISP have a satellite option or not? The availability is a significant concern when you are living in a rural area as there are no fiber or copper wires present for the internet connection. So you have to rely on a satellite connection which your ISP provides. You can find the connection using your zip code; this will filter out the ISPs that are not providing connection on your zip code. 

Cost Of The Connection 

For some, the cost is a significant concern, and for some, it is the least concerning factor while deciding the internet connection. But one thing is sure, and you need to have a balance between your internet speed and the cost you are paying for it. In a lot of cases, the uptime, performance, and support of multiple ISPs are quite the same, and thus, it all boils down to which one is offering reliable connection at an affordable cost. 

Some of the ISPs require you to buy a modem by yourself. While some might provide you with their modem but on the lease and its rent is added to your internet bill. You need to be careful while choosing your ISP's cost because if you are not careful, their plans can quickly stack up together with extra features which you don't even need in the first place but end up costing you more on monthly payments. 

Service Level Agreements (SLA)

The SLA is a contractual commitment that binds the ISP company, and a user is a legal contract of providing guaranteed service metrics like uptime, latency, jitter, packet loss, and response/repair time. There are some ISP companies that are not offering guaranteed services at all, and a number of them try to avoid service-level commitments altogether with a disclaimer attached to their contract; you need to read the disclaimer carefully before signing up on their network.

Type Of Connection 

There are two types of connection, a standard connection which is used for homes and small businesses. This connection uses broadband service to provide users with an internet connection. Then there is a high availability service in which you are getting 99.99% of uptime with less than 2 hours of downtime each year. With the high availability service, you will be getting fiber optic connection for sure. The main difference between the standard connection and the high availability connection is the SLA because, in high availability service, you are getting SLA, while in standard, you will be getting SLA, but the service will not be as vigilant as the other one. 

Reliability

Last we have is the reliability of the connection. In a lot of ways, reliability does play an important role, especially in the case of business owners. If you have unreliable Internet, you are surely going to be stressed, and there will be times when you are counterproductive due to the downtime. It doesn't matter how great your connection is or how fast the internet speed is; one day, you will have some issues with your Internet, and that's when you need a reliable ISP that can fix your problem in no time and get you back on the web. 

Even if you are a home user and you are not running a business from the specified internet connection. You still want your connection to have the best of the uptime all year long. So when making a decision, always consider how fast the ISP solves your network problem.

Wrapping Up 

This is what an Internet Service Provider does, and that's how it provides you internet connection as their service. Choosing an ISP is probably the most crucial decision you are going to make for getting the connectivity for your home or business. We hope this article is able to answer all your questions which are related to the ISP and its working. If there is something that is still not clear to you, please feel free to comment down and let us know. 

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Nisal N

Computers has always fascinated me since I was a kid and here we are. I love travelling for 2 reasons: the first one to see a new part of the world and second (the most important one) to experience the rich culture hidden among the country and people. I'm pretty good at cooking but very poor when it comes to baking.

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