What is an ISP?

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What is an ISP?

By Holly Chittenden

ISP stands for Internet Service Provider and is an organisation or business that provides access to other users to the internet. Whilst some ISPs offer other services such as telecommunications, a company that terms itself to be an ISP is one that offers services related to accessing the internet. This can range from offering direct internet access, domain name registration and hosting, IP transit, dial-up access and colocation services.

There are many types of ISPs, some of which are commercial with others being privately owned or not for profit. Additionally, some ISPs can own the network they are selling, whilst others act as re-sellers, buying transit from a network owner and selling it on.

The internet is a series of networks across the world made up of fibre, copper, satellite and wi-fi which enables data to travel across it. ISPs provide the ability to link to the internet network. Whilst some ISPs can be customer facing, others can simply offer transit links between parts of the internet network to others.

Across the internet, peering is used to exchange routes between networks using BGP. With peering, traffic crosses or swaps between networks for free and for the mutual benefit of the networks involved. ISPs use the term transit when referring to paid usage across a network. In order to achieve end-to-end reachability ISPs will often use a combination of buying and selling transit as well as peering arrangements to enable worldwide internet access.

Custodian Data Centre’s multi-homed IP transit service boasts multiple peerings and direct links with full transit providers meaning that we are able to connect businesses located at our facility with the rest of the world. With sub millisecond latency available across diverse fibre routes, Custodian Data Centre has access to a global network.

What to think about when choosing an ISP?

  • Availability
  • Download and upload speeds
  • Cost and contract terms
  • Terms of service
  • SLAs
  • Reliability
  • Customer support