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What is an ISP?

An ISP stands for Internet Service Provider. Basically, it's the company that provides you with internet access.

They are the ones who give you a connection to the world wide web. Think of them as the gatekeepers to the internet, providing you with the data pipeline to browse websites, send emails, and stream videos.

What is an ISP

So, next time you log onto the internet, just remember that it wouldn't be possible without your trusty ISP.

How do ISPs work?

ISPs connect to high-speed internet lines, giving their customers fast and efficient service.

The bigger ISPs have their own private, high-speed lines, reducing their reliance on telecom services.

Fiber internet

To handle all the customer traffic, ISPs have a ton of servers in data centers, depending on their service area.

These data centers control the flow of information and multiple ISPs connect to big backbone routing centers for even better management.

You can learn more about the different types of ISPs on Wikipedia.

ISPs are classified into three tiers:

Tier 1 ISPs

Tier 1 ISPs have global reach, own physical network lines and negotiate with other tier 1 providers to exchange internet traffic. They sell network access to tier 2 ISPs.

Tier 2 ISPs

Tier 2 ISPs have regional or national reach, connect tier 1 and 3 ISPs, purchase access to tier 1 networks, but are peers with other tier 2 ISPs. They focus on consumer and commercial customers.

Tier 3 ISPs

Tier 3 ISPs connect to the internet via another ISP and pay for access. They serve local businesses and consumers.

Types of ISP services

Most ISPs offer a combination of following ways to provide internet to businesses and consumers.

Fiber and COAX cables are preferred for stable internet connectivity, but satellite possibilities are great for remote locations, planes or boats.


COAX cable

COAX or coaxial cables has low latency, which it's perfect for anyone who wants to minimize delay or lag time.

You can expect a download speed range of 10 to 500 Mbps and an upload speed range of 5 to 50 Mbps with cable internet.


Fiber cable

If you're a heavy internet user, fiber might be just what you need. It uses fiber optic cables to send data, so it's a whole lot faster than cable or DSL.

You can expect speeds of 250 to 1,000 Mbps for both downloads and uploads.


DSL cable

DSL uses a telephone line to connect you up to the internet.

It's a rather old technology and it's not as popular as cable or fiber internet. DSL isn't as fast as other options, with speeds of 5-35 Mbps for downloading and 1-10 Mbps for uploading.


Satellite internet

Satellite internet uses low Earth orbit satellites for data transmission with ground stations relaying signals.

It offers slower speeds (12-100 Mbps download, 3 Mbps upload) but is a good option for remote areas.

ISPs data collection

Your ISP is responsible for all online communication, including monitoring online activity.

When visiting a website that doesn't use HTTPS, your ISP can see sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card information.

Even if a website uses HTTPS, your ISP can still see which site you are visiting and gather information about your internet activity by evaluating metadata.

ISPs could potentially have access to more personal data than Facebook or Google.

With that in mind, you can enhance your internet security by using a VPN.

ISP companies

A research by BroadbandNow and FCC data shows over 2,850 ISPs in the US offering various services.

The top 5 ISPs, based on estimated coverage, are HughesNet, Viasat, AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile.

American providers

How to check your ISP

To check your ISP, follow these steps:

  1. The easiest way to look up your ISP, is by using who is my ISP tool, which both finds your IP and the ISP.
  2. Find your IP address: You can do this by searching for "What is my IP" in Google or
  3. Perform a Reverse DNS Lookup: You can use online tools by searching "ip reverse lookup" to find out who your ISP is.
  4. Check your network settings: You can check your network settings on Windows, Mac or your router by logging onto its interface
  5. Find the router provided by the ISP and see if there's any branding on it to indicate who the ISP is.

By following these steps, you can easily determine who your ISP is and have a better understanding of the internet service you are using.