ISP stands for Internet Service Provider, which is a company or organization that provides services for Internet access. The propriety forms of service providers include privately owned ISPs, non-profit, commercial, or community-owned ISPs. 

This video produced by Eazl defines ISPs, explains the way they function, and who regulates them.

Services rendered by the ISPs include:

  • Internet access and transit;
  • domain name registration;
  • web hosting; and
  • colocation.

The first-ever ISPs were established in 1989 in Australia and the USA. The first commercial ISP was based in the USA and served its first customer at the end of 1989. 

Depending on their type, ISPs use different technologies to provide Internet access to users.

ISP providers are classified into the following:

Access providers, which provide Internet access using telephone modems, cables, Ethernet (wireless Internet), or fiber optics. The Internet, provided wirelessly, includes mobile Internet access and satellite Internet access. 

Mailbox ISPs, which host both email name domains and provide storage space for their users’ email boxes. Some mailbox ISPs can also be access providers. 

Hosting ISPs, which provide web-hosting and cloud storage.

Transit ISPs, which usually have smaller networks and, in turn, pay larger, upstream ISPs to connect to broader networks. 

Virtual ISPs purchase services from other Internet providers. As a rule, Virtual ISP customers use the network and the services of the provider, from which the Virtual ISP purchased the services. 

Free ISPs, which provide Internet access free of charge. However, just like commercial TV channels, they show adverts to their users while they stay connected.

Wireless ISPs, which provide Internet access through wireless networking. 


  1. The article "Internet service provider" on Wikipedia gives the definition of the term, dives into the history of an ISP, and provides classifications.
  2. The article "What is an Internet Service Provider?" on What Is My IP Address explains what an ISP is and clarifies its types.
  3. The article "Web Host vs. ISP: What is the Difference?" on The Balance Small Business defines an ISP and highlights the differences between it and the web host.
  4. The article "Internet Service Provider (ISP)" on Lifewire explains what ISPs do and gives tips on how to hide internet traffic from them.
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