An internet service provider (ISP) is an organization that provides services for accessing, using, and/or participating in the Internet. Internet service providers may be non-profit, private, community, or commercially owned organizations. ISPs are capable of domain name registration, web hosting, colocation (storage services), as well as internet transit and access. ISPs can also be known as IAPs (Internet Access Providers). ISPs support one or more forms of Internet access, from traditional modem dial-up to DSL and cable modem broadband service to dedicated T1/T3 lines.
If the internet was a class, and the students were the customers, the internet service provider would be the school sponsoring the class.
Types of ISPs
Access ISPs: Employ a variety of technologies to improve consumer connection to the network of choice. These may include broadband or dialup. A number of access providers also provide email and hosting services.
Mailbox ISPs: Mailbox ISPs offer email mailbox hosting services and servers to send, receive, and store email. Most mailbox ISPs are also access ISPs.
Hosting ISPs: These offer email, File Transfer Protocol (FTP), web-hosting services, virtual machines, clouds and physical servers.
Transit ISPs: These provide large amounts of bandwidth needed to connect hosting ISPs and access ISPs together.
Virtual ISPs (VISP): VISPs purchase services from other ISPs to provide customers with internet access.
Free ISPs (freenets): Freenets provide services free of charge and often display advertisements while users are connected to them.
Digital Subscriber Line (DSL): Operates over regular telephone lines (like dial-up) to deliver download speeds as fast as 100+ megabits per second. There are two types of DSL: Asymmetric DSL (ADSL) and Symmetric DSL (SDSL). ADSL is usually cheaper and offers significantly faster download speeds (how fast information on the internet is delivered to you) than upload speeds (how fast information is sent from your computer to the internet). SDSL, however, provides equally fast upload and download speeds.
Cable Broadband: Offered by your cable television provider. It operates over coaxial cable TV wires and provides download speeds ranging from 3 Mbps to over 100 Mbps.
Satellite: Uses satellites to supply the internet feed to subscribers' installed satellite dishes. Satellite, no matter where you are, offers speeds of up to 15 Mbps for downloading and 3 Mbps for uploading.
Fiber Optic (FiOS): Operates over an optical network using light. Fiber optic connections offer speeds as high as 300 Mbps for downloading and 65 Mbps for uploading.
Net neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers and governments should treat all data on the Internet equally, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, and mode of communication. There has been extensive debate about whether net neutrality should be required by law, particularly in the United States. Debate over the issue of net neutrality predates the coining of the term. The term was coined by Columbia media law professor Tim Wu in 2003. Opponents of net neutrality claim that broadband service providers have no plans to block content or degrade network performance. Despite this claim, there has been a single case where an Internet service provider, Comcast, intentionally slowed peer-to-peer (P2P) communications.