What is an ISP? The companies that provide you with access to the internet, explained

Internet service providers, or ISPs, are companies or organizations that provide you with access to the internet. ISPs can come in many forms.

If you're reading this article, you can thank an internet service provider.

What is an ISP?

Internet service providers, or ISPs, are companies or organizations that provide you with access to the internet.

ISPs can also offer other options, like web hosting and email services, and they can range in form from giant telecommunication companies to small nonprofits.

When you connect to your ISP, you join its network to access the internet — whether that's through a browser, a streaming platform, or an app on your phone. ISPs are also interconnected, and you can connect to many networks as you access different sites.

Some of the most prominent ISPs include:

*  Comcast

*  AT&T

*  Verizon

*  Spectrum

Types of ISPs

The following are several types of ISPs that are in use today.

*  Dial-up: This was a popular option in the early days of the internet. It has since largely fallen out of use, though not completely. Dial-up works by connecting to the internet via an existing phone line.

*  Broadband: This is a high-speed internet option that makes it possible to access high-quality options like video conferencing. Broadband can be accessed through options like a phone or cable company as well as other wireless providers.

*  DSL: Also known as a digital subscriber line, DSL is a type of broadband internet connection that uses a dedicated line and a modem.

*  Fiber: Fiber tends to be the fastest internet option because it uses fiber optic cables, rather than the traditional copper wiring. Since it's relatively new, and it takes time and resources to lay the cables locally, it's also less widely available.

Fiber optic networks are generally the fastest internet option available.

ISPs can provide Wi-Fi and Ethernet

Wi-Fi is a wireless internet connection that can be accessed through a router, while Ethernet requires a physical wire (known as an Ethernet cable) that connects your modem to your computer, TV, or video game console.

You can have an ISP that works with both. To be able to do that, you simply need a router that also has an Ethernet port. ISPs that allow for both Wi-Fi and Ethernet connections accomplish this through what's called a "mixed network."

You can hook up an Ethernet cable to your devices instead of using Wi-Fi.

Using an Ethernet cable instead of Wi-Fi can also help speed up your internet access.