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September 12, 2023updated 14 Nov 2023 5:51pm

What is an ISP?

By Tech Monitor Staff

Most people know that the Internet as an entity is not actually owned by any person or organisation. However, the means by which most people use it in their day-to-day lives very much are. That is where ISPs come in.

ISPs, or Internet Service Providers, are organisations that, as the name suggests, provide access to Internet services. For the average user, that means the ability to connect, but it can cover the means to create a presence online via services like domain name registrations and web hosting.

Most ISPs are private for-profit companies, often very large ones, but they can also be community organisations, non-profits or even projects undertaken by individuals – often in rural areas with little access otherwise

Fire optic cables used by an internet service provider (ISP)
Image: Shutterstock/asharkyu

How do ISPs work?

Connection Facilitation

An Internet Service Provider serves as the gateway that connects users to the vast world of the Internet. It facilitates this connection by providing access through various technologies such as broadband, DSL, cable, or fibre-optic lines. Users subscribe to an ISP to establish a link between their devices and the global network.

Data Transmission

Once connected, ISPs facilitate the transmission of data between users and the internet. When you send a request to access a website or download content, your ISP is responsible for transmitting that request to the relevant servers and delivering the requested data back to your device. This two-way flow of information is a continuous process that enables seamless internet browsing.

What are the largest ISPs?

Comcast Xfinity

Xfinity, the telecommunications brand name for parent company Comcast, is the largest ISP in the United States and is available to around 122 million people. Xfinity had previously operated under the Comcast name but was rebranded in 2010, which was widely viewed as an attempt to disassociate from the poor reputation of its owner – which at one point had the lowest customer satisfaction rating in the US.

China Mobile

State-owned telecoms company China Mobile is the largest ISP in the superpower with more than 945 million subscribers. Together with a small number of other companies including China Telecom, China Mobile caters to the vast majority of the Chinese population. Given its close ties to the state, China Mobile is one of multiple companies sanctioned by the US. In 2022 the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) designated it a threat to national security.

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The author generated this text in part with GPT-3.5, OpenAI’s large-scale language-generation model. Upon generating draft language, the author reviewed, edited, and revised the language to their own liking and takes ultimate responsibility for the content of this publication.

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