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Internet Service Provider
An Internet Service Provider, or ISP, is the remote computer system that you connect to in order to access the Internet from your personal computer or mobile device.
Most Internet Service Providers are large commercial services, including telephone, cable, satellite, and cellular carriers.
Access providers typically offer a range of plans, depending on how fast a connection you need or how much data you expect to download each month. The range of services and the cost can vary widely depending on your geographic location and the number of service providers in your area. Along with Internet access, Internet Service Providers may also provide users with their own e-mail accounts, as well as other benefits such as free virus protection or family security packages.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I connect to Internet Service Providers?
The way you connect will vary depending on the type of provider. For dial-up Internet Service Providers, you will use a computer modem to connect over your home’s telephone line. DSL providers also use your telephone line, but a special broadband modem provides higher speeds and doesn’t tie up your phone. Cable and satellite companies provide special modems that connect to the Internet using your existing cable line or satellite dish. Many broadband providers also offer wireless adapters, which allow your devices to connect to the Internet anywhere in your home. Mobile phone carriers allow your phone to connect to the Internet anywhere you have a strong enough cellular signal, and some plans even allow you to share that connection with other devices.
How fast can I connect with an Internet Service Provider?
Your type of Internet Service Provider will largely determine the speed of your connection. Cable companies can typically provide download speeds between 1.5 megabytes per second (Mbps) and 100 Mbps, depending on your plan. At those rates, you can download a song in just a few seconds. DSL and satellite providers tend to be a little slower, and dial-up providers are slowest of all.
Will I get unlimited access?
Cable and telephone companies, along with most dial-up services, now offer unlimited data plans. That means you can upload and download as much information as you want for your one monthly fee. Satellite providers and cellular carriers usually offer data packages, where you will pay a flat fee for a specific amount of data usage. If you use more than that, you will be charged at a higher rate.
How much do Internet Service Providers charge?
The cost of your Internet service will vary based on the type of provider, the speed of your connection, and your data access limits. Dial-up services tend to be the least expensive (often available for under $10 per month), but also offer the slowest performance. DSL and cable packages can range from as low as $15 a month for their lowest speeds, to $50 or even $100 a month for their highest speeds. Satellite and mobile providers commonly offer data packages, which increase in price for additional data usage. Some mobile plans offer unlimited data (usually for somewhere between $40 and $60 a month per phone), but many of them reduce your download speeds after you have used a certain amount.