What does an internet servuce provider do (ie technically speaking)?

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What does an internet servuce provider do (ie technically speaking)?

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The internet it like roads. You have big roads that connect different cities/states, medium-sized roads that connect parts of a city to big roads, and small roads that connect your house to medium roads.

Your ISP is a Tier 3 ISP. They connect you to a larger ISP (Tier 2) which will connect to a very large ISP (Tier 1). Tier 1 providers connect to one another, which is what gives all people access to all other computers on the internet.

Your ISP is how you get connected to the larger web. Its basically the road that runs by your house – you use that first to go anywhere that any road connects to.

maintains the wires that connect you to other computers on the internet, as well as the servers that have the wires running between them.

This all needs electricity to run, computer technicians to keep servers running, linemen to keep wires unbroken, trucks for linemen, buildings to house the servers, accountants to pay for all of that (and to bill customers)

Anyone can technically build and connect up their own part of the internet so long as they follow the rules.

The problem is how do you run cables to connect to the rest of the internet? Running Fiber Optics between towns and cities and houses can be very expensive.

That’s what ISPs do, they run and maintain physical cables and connectivity to the internet that they in turn rent to their customers.

Telcos and Cable companies became the big ISPs because they had the benefit of already owning cables (telephone and Cable TV) that ran into lots of peoples homes.

As some users said already, the Internet is like a road system.

Perhaps more literally than you think, even–the grand majority of connections between computers are through unbroken chains of physical cables. Say you have a desktop PC plugged into the wall to get Internet service, and you’re playing some game with your friend on the other side of the planet who does the same. If you picked up the cable you plugged into your PC and followed it like a guide rope, you will almost certainly get to your friend’s house without ever letting go of a physical cable. You may have to dig up some cable from underground and go under an ocean or two, but the cables are really there, somewhere.

The thing is, though, that in most countries, the “road network” that makes up the Internet is entirely made of toll roads. All of those cables are owned by private companies who have to build and fix them, and you pay to use them.

Just like roads, the cables come in many sizes. Big cables that link huge cities together are like massive, multi-lane highways. Medium-sized cables are like freeways that make up the backbones within cities. And finally, there’s the small cables that are like quiet streets that serve small neighborhoods.

Usually, the people who own the biggest cables don’t want to deal with the smaller cables. It’s just too complicated to bother with millions of individual customers and getting them all hooked up. So they let other companies step up and take a crack at just that part. Those are the ISPs you know. They negotiate with the big-cable companies to use the big roads on your behalf, so you don’t have to pay a separate toll fee for every single network your data goes through to get to its destination. You just pay the company that digs the final cable leading to your house.

I feel like a lot of the explanations here are poor because they fail to explain what ISPs do in (a lot of) countries where ISPs just rent the last mile infrastructure from the state/another company.

Pretty key part of being an ISP is peering. That is, negotiating agreements with other internet providers to interconnect their networks.

Broadly this comes in two categories. The (normally cheaper/free) case is simply exchanging your own data with each other. I.e. an ISP peers with Google or Netflix or maybe a bunch of networks via a hub, and they agree to share connectivity to each other. The more expensive one is that the ISP may need to pay another network to get access to not only that network, but the rest of the internet via it. Ideally you offload as much traffic as possible via the former, then whatever’s left via the latter.