What Is Internet Service Provider (ISP)?


Internet Service Provider (ISP) is a company which provides Internet connectivity. It is the gateway for us to connect to world. ISP may provide you Internet connection using copper wire, fiber optic cable or satellite communication. ISP may vary in size on basis of geographical area they cover. That means their size is directly proportional to the number of customers they provide service. ISP themselves get Internet services from other big ISPs.

Evolution of ISP

There are mainly three types of services ISPs provide. Dial up services, broadband connection and Digital Subscribers Line (DSL). Earlier in 90s ISP used to provide internet connection using dial-up connection. This was bit slower but used to work. By the first decade of 20th century dial-up connection became rare and broadband connection took its place. Broadband connection has high-speed and provides better services in the form of connectivity and reliability. Then telecom companies came up with DSL. Though telecom companies also provide broadband connection. Broadband connection have cheap rates if you subscribe for your home where speed can be up to 100. But larger organizations such as educational institutions and companies need high-speed which can vary from 1 to 100 gbps. Here the connectivity is extreme fast and speed is also high.

Direct subscriber line is also a form of broadband connection which has cable connectivity to your home connected to a modem. Modem is a device through which you can connect to the internet. In all these services the data is transferred using electronic signals through wires.

Today all this technologies are becoming old and fiber optic is taking the place. In fiber optic the data is transmitted in the form of light and not electronic signals. Which makes fiber optic less prone to distortions and fiber optic is way faster than old technologies.

How Do ISP Work

The ISP network is like a water supply in a city. There is junction where all the giant ISPs meet. Let’s consider this as a big water distribution center. Then a single giant ISP takes the data and distributes to smaller ISPs like a bigger water pipe provides water supply to smaller pipes. This goes on until the connectivity reaches to your computer. If you have a router after your modem, it allows you to connect several device to itself either in wired form or wireless form. You can consider your router also as a ISP (just for the sake of understanding).


If you want internet connectivity you have to subscribe either of the plan your ISP provides. Then your ISP should give you a username and password with the help of which you connect to the internet. Giant ISPs work as a network highway which has extremely fast data transfer capacity. These ISPs connects with each other so that the whole world can stay connected. Comcast, AT&T, Time Warner Cable, Charter, Verizon are some of the major ISPs in the world.

When we say that major ISPs connect with themselves that means they are in agreement with each other. The data provided by one ISP is consumed by other ISP and vice versa. The end goal is to provide service to the end-user no matter what goes on behind the scene. Like wise every ISP whether it is a small ISP or a big one they are in agreement to provide data to each other.

Your mobile telecom companies are also your internet service provider. You pay them to get internet connectivity. In turn the are also subscribed to some major ISP from whom they consume data.

Every computer on internet is connected to any of the ISPs available. When you access this site then the server where this website is hosted is connected to some ISP and you are also connected to some ISP. All the stuff  works in this way : you request for some data to your ISP and your ISP in turn requests this data to some other ISP which is connected to the server where your data is hosted. So, what connects you the internet is your Internet Service Provider.

ISPs Provide You Internet Connection Using These Mediums

  1. Copper Wires : This is the famous and mostly used medium for transfer of data. The data is transferred  over copper wires. In longer distance signal lost may occur and copper wires are prone to electromagnetic distortions.
  2. Satellite Communications : Satellite communication is used if the internet connectivity is to be provided at remote locations. This is usually used for special purposes such as military applications. The devices here are directly connected to satellite. This is a bit slower form of communications but is highly useful for special purposes.
  3. Fiber Optic Cable : This is latest and fastest form of communication. Here the data is transferred in the form of light. As we all know light travels really fast, so the data transferred here is also very fast. This is less prone to signal lost and electromagnetic distortions.

ISPs in India

National ISPs :

  • Railwire
  • Aircel
  • Idea Cellular
  • Jio
  • Reliance Communications
  • Tata Docomo
  • Vodafone
  • BSNL

Regional ISPs :

  • Hathway
  • Tikona
  • Spectranet
  • Siti Cable

Here we have tried to explain you the concept in bare minimum technical language. If have any doubt or question about ISP let us know in the comment section below and we will try to answer your question.

Happy Learning!

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