How does an ISP get an Internet connection?

The internet service provider or ISP has one main job: to get you access to the internet. When you connect to your ISP, whether it is through a browser, streaming app, driving app, or any app on your phone or computer, you can communicate with other internet users in different parts of the world. There is not just one ISP, rather there are several different kinds of ISPs based in different regions across the world. For instance, Comcast’s Xfinity is available to its internet subscribers across 39 states in the US. Whether you are into online gaming, streaming movies in 4K, uploading your recording over Sound Cloud, or simply browsing social media apps, Xfinity internet plans have various internet speeds according to your browsing requirement and budgetary needs. All in all, ISPs like Xfinity make sure that you have access to the internet.

What kind of internet are you getting from your ISP?

But where do the ISPs get an internet connection from? Who provides it to them? These questions will be explored further after exploring the basics. The ISP’s function is to provide internet access but there are many different types of internet connections and each ISPs provide all these or some to their internet subscribers.

  • DSL connection is delivered through phone line from ISP’s home office. However, internet users do not need to own a phone to have this kind of internet connection. ISPs provide this internet connection to their subscribers for a specific bandwidth at a monthly rate.
  • To get cable internet, internet users may reach out to their cable providers and have them hook them up to a network connection. It provides a faster internet connection than DSL, but unlike DSL, it is shared among users having access to the same cable line which can disrupt the network speed.
  • Satellite internet connection might be the only option for internet users living in remote areas. It provides a satellite dish to homes, and it sends and receives signals from satellites around the Earth’s orbit.

Internet connections have different network speeds that depend on how much bandwidth you are getting from your local ISP or your computer or device’s capabilities of handling the data transmission. Faster network speeds allow for faster data transmission, for instance, uploading a file on a website might take you only a few seconds. With slow network speeds, it will take longer for you to upload the file. The type of internet connection you are getting from your ISP also determines your network speed.

Ethernet or Wi-Fi?

The ISPs send a network connection through phone lines or cable wires to homes or business offices, that is received in a router. ISPs give internet subscribers a choice to use either a wireless connection or physical cables. The router, provided by ISP, can either send wireless coverage to its surrounding devices or it can be connected to a computer via an Ethernet cable. Ethernet cable is considered to provide a more high-speed internet connection than Wi-Fi since with Wi-Fi there is always some kind of interference in its wave frequency.

Where does ISP gets the internet from?

Now that it’s clear how internet service is provided by ISPs to its internet subscribers, it will be interesting to explore where the ISP gets internet from. Having an internet connection means having all the computers and devices connected to a single network. For instance, if all your devices are connected to a single router, that is also the internet. If you look at it from a bigger scale, like your neighbors connected to the same physical lines All the ISPs around the world follow this line of hierarchy to maintain their position;

  • Tier 1 ISPs belong to the topmost hierarchy. Tier 1 ISPs own the physical infrastructure such as sea cables that reach out to continents. The Tier 1 ISPs manage their operating infrastructure sending network traffic to lower-tiered ISPs. They don’t have to pay for anything, rather other ISPs who need the network traffic pay them for it. Hence, they have direct control over the network flow that they send to the rest of the country or the world.
  • Below the Tier 1 ISPs, Tier 2 ISPs are operating at the national or regional level. They utilize the network traffic they receive from Tier 1 ISPs and deliver it to the lower tier to the customer ends. Tier 2 ISPs can directly provide to the customer ends but only in a few cases, otherwise, their main responsibility includes delivering network connection to local ISPs.
  • Tier 3 ISPs are the ones whose job is to utilize network traffic from higher ISPs and deliver it to their consumers at homes and businesses. Their main targets are local businesses and households. They provide the infrastructure for an internet connection to their houses and offices by managing physical cables, routers, and switches.

Hence, the internet is extracted by your local ISPs by peering with other ISPs at the same or higher level to deliver it to your homes. Peering is the process of ISPs connecting on an agreement and committing to it. This connection between ISPs guarantees the smooth flow of network connection so it can be delivered to the customer ends.

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