An internet service provider – the mouthful version of ISP, refers to companies that provide internet access to the masses and includes ISP giants like Asianet. This service could be for home use, office use or even for mobile users. There are different types of technologies that ISPs use to transmit data to their users. It could be in the form of old technologies like the dial-up or more recent ones like DSL, cable, satellite or wireless systems.
The most commonly accessed technologies offered by ISPs include the cable (copper wire internet connections) and DSL (digital subscriber line). These are excellent choices for home use and come with a bandwidth that drives the cost of the connection. Bandwidth refers to the amount of data that can be delivered through an internet connection in a given amount of time.
The internet has a long history and was earlier dedicated for use only by government research laboratories; its use further spread to universities and from there on to their employees too. Thus was born the need for ISPs – to serve these employees at their homes and elsewhere. The first ISP was based in Brooklyn, Massachusetts, the USA in 1990.
Internet service providers are also sometimes referred to as internet access providers (IAP). Modern-day ISPs may not only offer internet service for their customers but also provide other services like telephone and cable television.
Typically, ISPs, however, offer internet connectivity to their customers. These ISPs are interconnected to one another at network access points and form backbones or what is otherwise known as the main highway of communication. Thus, smaller ISPs link with larger ISPs for their internet access and these pay still other ISPs in a cascading effect till they reach Tier 1 carriers that are ISPs that can connect with every other network without having to purchase IP transits or make payments.
In a more simplistic manner, look at it as the network or arteries in your body. The major arteries emerging from the heart pass along a lot of blood (read this as data), to the smaller arteries (think cities), which are then passed onto still smaller arteries (neighbourhoods), before finally being passed onto thin capillaries (individual customers).
And this is how systematically ISPs work by bridging locations between faraway countries, states and cities to deliver your data within seconds without any lag. This could be in the form of an email, an information file, an enjoyable music clip, a video download or an online game.