Internet Service Provider - ISP

Definition of 'Internet Service Provider - ISP'


A company that provides access to the Internet to subscriber-based customers. An Internet Service Provider offers dial-up, cable, DSL (digital subscriber line), fiber optic or other types of Internet access. Local Internet Service Providers serve customers in a limited region, such as the Southeastern United States, while national providers serve customers throughout the country.

Investopedia explains 'Internet Service Provider - ISP'


Dial-up Internet access is the slowest type of Internet connectivity offered by ISPs. Cable, DSL and satellite Internet access typically provide much greater speeds than dial-up. Depending on the customer's geographical location, the types of access offered by Internet Service Providers may be limited. Rural areas, for example, may only have access to dial-up connections.

Before the advent of Internet Service Providers, access to the Internet was limited to those who had an account at a participating university or government agency. During the mid-1990s, the number of Internet Service Providers increased to several thousand. Many of these ISPs were small companies that leased Internet services from one of the larger ISP companies and then resold the service to area customers and businesses. In the late 1990s, many of the ISPs and telephone companies began consolidating.



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