What Is ISP? Introduction to Internet Service Provider

Aaron Paul updated on Feb 22, 2023 to Knowledge Center

The Internet that we use today is connected through a variety of methods. Satellites in the sky play a vital role in keeping us connected to one another. On the other hand, underwater or submarine cables keep the world connected to one another.

But, before one byte of data reaches the user's end, it goes through many different filters. One such filter is the local internet provider or the ISP. So, what is ISP? How does it work, and what makes it a necessary aspect of the Internet as we know it?

In this article, we'll explore the definition of ISP and its importance. So, let's dive right into it. 

Definition of ISP

An internet service provider (ISP) is a company that provides internet access to its customers. There are two types of ISPs: wired and wireless. Wired ISPs use cables to connect their customers to the Internet, while wireless providers use radio waves for this purpose.

The first ISP was CompuServe in 1979, which was followed by Prodigy in 1984 and AOL in 1991. But since then, wireless connections have taken over, and the way ISPs are defined has changed. But, what has remained constant is the way ISP transfers the Internet to the user's end.

In simple words, ISP is the organization or company responsible for allowing the user to access the Internet through various services. The three main types of ISPs include:

  • Privately owned internet providers;
  • Commercial ISPs;
  • And Community/non-profit ISPs.

These three main types of ISP providers ensure that the Internet is provided to the user's end through a variety of means. This includes cables, wireless means, routers, or other devices that users might connect to their phones, computers, laptops, etc.

Another way ISPs are categorized is through various classifications. These classifications include:

  • Mailbox providers
  • Access providers
  • Virtual and Free ISPs
  • Wireless ISP
  • Transit ISP
  • ISPs in rural regions (through a blend of wired and wireless methods)

These types of ISPs connect users around the globe. The interconnection of these various ISPs ensures that users stay connected to the Internet. These factors are called peering, or IXPs, where various ISPs interconnect with one another.

Importance of ISP

An Internet service provider (ISP) is an organization that provides services for accessing and using the Internet. An ISP may provide dial-up, broadband, or satellite internet access. The importance of these ISPs can be summed up by their services.

The ISP usually offers a range of services such as:

  • web hosting
  • domain name registration
  • web design and content publishing,
  • email services and other online services.

The term "ISP" is often used interchangeably with "Internet service provider" in general usage. Now, the one factor that should tell you the importance of an ISP is that without ISPs, it wouldn't be possible for a common user to access the Internet.

Through cable, fiber, or wireless means, these ISPs provide connection to individual users around the globe. Therefore, it allows them to access the Internet on their computer, laptops, mobile phones, etc. Thus, the four main types of ISPs that make it possible include:

Most of the cable/fiber ISPs today rely on the submarine cable network around the globe. Whereas wireless providers like Starlink rely on their satellites and wireless towers.

Examples of ISP

There are plenty of organizations and companies around the globe that are leading ISPs. However, they have smaller ISPs operating under them, providing Internet to smaller areas, remote areas, rural areas, suburbs, etc. Some of the major ISP organizations include:

  • AT&T
  • Verizon
  • Comcast
  • Spectrum
  • Virgin Media O2 (Great Britain)
  • Vodafone (UK)

These are some of the leading ISP organizations around the globe. They operate largely under their own names, but they do have sub-ISPs that provide Internet on smaller levels. But it depends on the country, region, and even continent.


These are some of the key factors about ISPs and their importance. We analyzed the essential aspects of an ISP and talked about a few examples from around the globe. Therefore, without ISPs, there would be no internet as we know it today.


If you have further questions, then you might find their answers here:

1. Is ISP the same as WIFI?

A WIFI device allows your Laptop or PC to connect wirelessly through the Internet. However, the WIFI device itself needs the Internet with the help of an ISP. So, they are two different things—but both equally necessary to access the Internet.

2. How do I identify my ISP?

You can go to IPCheck.org to see who your ISP provider is.

3. How to find my ISP username and password?

Unless you have it saved somewhere, the only way to find your ISP username and password is by contacting your network provider.

4. Does my ISP know what websites I visit?

In theory, an ISP can detect and find out which websites a user can visit. However, there are ways to mask your internet activity, such as by using a VPN.

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