There are many different internet providers, often referred to as ISPs, out there. From longstanding telecoms giants like Verizon to newer upstarts like Lets Rev, a huge number of companies offer internet services to users. But what do these companies actually do, and how do they work? How does the internet get from them to you? Let’s find out in our basic introductory guide to the world of ISPs.

What is an ISP?

A company known as an ISP, or internet service provider, gives people and businesses access to the internet and other associated services. An ISP has all the tools and telecommunications network access necessary to maintain an online presence in the region it serves.

Customers can access the internet through their chosen ISPs. ISPs might also offer a choice of various forms of internet connectivity, like fiber and cable. Additionally, connections may be non-broadband or high-speed broadband. A connection’s download rates must be at least 25 megabits per second (Mbps), with upload rates of at least 3 Mbps, for it to be classified as high-speed.

How do ISPs work?

An internet service provider will have access to one or more high-speed internet connections. Larger ISPs have their own high-speed leased lines, reducing their reliance on telecommunications services and allowing them to provide better service to their customers.

ISPs also maintain thousands of servers in data centers, the number of which is determined by their internet service area. All customer traffic is managed by these massive data centers. Multiple different ISPs can also be linked to large backbone routing centers.

ISPs and the different types of services

ISPs provide a number of different internet services:

Cable. Coaxial cable, the same kind of cable used to deliver TV, is used by this service. Due to its low latency, cable internet is a fantastic choice for customers who prefer not to experience as much lag. The upload and download speeds for cable are, respectively 10 to 500 Mbps and 5 to 50 Mbps.

Fiber. Fiber internet offers substantially higher speeds than cable or DSL are able to provide. It achieves this by using fiber optic cable to carry data. Both download and upload speeds over fiber are between 250 and 1,000 Mbps, far higher than other options. Online gamers and other frequent internet users benefit the most from fiber.

DSL. DSL uses a phone line to connect users to the internet because phone lines are still a major part of urban infrastructure. Although it is still commonly used, more dependable broadband connections like cable and fiber are gradually replacing it. DSL is slower than cable and fiber, with upload and download rates of 1 to 10 Mbps and 5 to 35 Mbps, respectively. Customers in rural locations and those who are not heavy internet users might consider this option.

Satellite. Communication satellites are utilized in the operation of satellite internet access. Internet traffic is sent via radio waves between ground stations and satellites, which are usually located in low Earth orbit. With download speeds of 12 to 100 Mbps and upload speeds of 3 Mbps, satellite is slower than most alternative options, although it is generally considered the best option for users in remote, poorly connected areas, as it is still faster than DSL.