When you connect to a Wi-Fi network that has internet access allows you to surf the internet.
But to what is connected to the Wi-Fi network?
What is an ISP?
What does an ISP do?
And what are its types?
Let’s get started!
What is an ISP?
Types of ISPs
In the 1990s, there were three types of ISPs: dial-up services, high-speed Internet (also referred to as “broadband”) offered by cable companies, and DSL (Digital Line Subscribers) offered by phone companies.
By 2013, dial-up services were rare (even though they were cheap), because they were very slow… and the other ISP options were typically readily available and much, much faster.
What Does an ISP Do?
Most homes and businesses have a device that connects to the internet.
It’s through that device that phones, laptops, desktop computers, and other internet-capable devices reach the rest of the world—and it’s done through an ISP.
Here’s an example of the role an internet service provider plays when you download files and open web pages from the internet.
1. When you use your laptop at home to access a page on a site such as Wikicat.net, the web browser uses the DNS servers that are set up on the device to translate the Wikicat.net domain name to the IP address that it’s associated with, which is the address that Wikicat.net is set up to use with its ISP.
2. The IP address is sent from your router to your ISP, which forwards the request to the ISP that Lifewire.com uses.
3. At this point, the ISP for Wikicat.net sends the page to your ISP, which forwards the data to your home router and to your laptop.
All this is done quickly—usually in seconds.
However, for this to work, both the home network and the Wikicat.net network must have a valid public IP address, which is assigned by an ISP.
The same concept applies when sending and downloading other files such as videos, images, and documents.
Anything you download online is transferred through an ISP.
Is the ISP Experiencing Network Issues or Am I?
When you can’t open a website, try a different one.
If other websites display properly in the browser, your computer and your ISP aren’t having issues.
Either the web server that stores the website or the ISP that the website uses to deliver the website is having problems.
The only thing you can do is wait for them to resolve it.
If none of the websites work, open one of those websites on a different computer or device in the same network.
For example, if your desktop computer doesn’t display the website, try it on a laptop or phone that’s connected to the same Wi-Fi network as the desktop computer.
If you can’t replicate the problem on those devices, then the issue is with the desktop computer.
If the desktop computer is unable to load any of the websites, restart the computer.
If that doesn’t fix it, change the DNS server settings.
However, if none of the devices can open the website, restart the router or modem.
This usually fixes network problems. If the problem persists, contact your ISP.
It’s possible the ISP is having problems, or it disconnected your internet access for another reason.
What is Broadband?
The DSL (or Digital Subscriber Line) internet service makes its connection by utilizing unused telephone wires that cause no interruption to your telephone service.
The speed you experience with a DSL connection varies with your distance from the switching station.
Your speed will be slower the further away you are and faster the closer you are to the switching station and this may be a deciding factor when you attempt to select between a DSL line and a cable connection.
With DSL dropping out of the picture, there’s room for new technology and it’s already here in some areas: it’s called fiber, or fiber optical, broadband.
Supposedly, fiber is hundreds of times FASTER than cable or DSL.
That’s especially exciting news (if it’s true and available) to companies, and gamers and households with a lot of simultaneous wireless usage going on.
Verizon (yes, they are downplaying DSL) now offers FiOS in select areas (put an “f” before “eye” and the “os”-sound in “most”).
FiOS stands for fiber optic services, and it claims to have superfast Internet connection speeds.
And for all of us not in the Kansas area, Google launched Google Fiber in 2013, which offers incredibly ultra-fast Internet speed.
Other companies (and communities) are teaming up to bring the next generation of broadband to you.
The last and slowest broadband service is provided by satellite.
Although this is a good replacement for dial-up for those people living in remote rural areas, the installation costs are quite high, but the ongoing monthly charges are competitive to both cable and DSL.
There are many advantages to the DSL and cable broadband service.
It provides greater bandwidth than other Internet access forms, and that makes it easier for the computer user to multitask with several applications performing in the background while you surf the web. It is possible for you to surf the web while listening to audio.
The networking of computers in the home is made easier with a broadband connection, by either using wireless or wired modems.
The cost of broadband service is higher annually than the cheaper dial-up version by $100 to $500, but given the advantages and ease of a broadband connection, it is well worth the cost.
A broadband connection allows you to play many popular computer games that rely on a fast Internet connection.
Broadband connection, unlike the old dial-up internet connection, will not engage your phone line when in use.
In fact, having a broadband connection makes it possible for you to obtain an Internet phone service so you will no longer need the traditional phone line at all.
Another great benefit of a broadband connection is that you are constantly connected to the Internet. You are quickly able to connect with your work’s intranet and email in a matter of seconds.
Many people considering between these broadband Internet service options generally narrow the search to the most popular services which are DSL and cable.
A good approach when researching your options would be to ask those in the area you are considering, which service they are using and how it is working for them.
Even though cable broadband Internet service offers a speedy internet connection, this fast speed will not be realized if the connection itself cannot be relied on.
For example, the cable connection you receive depends on the shared bandwidth, the number of users on the system at any time, and the latency on the network.
The bandwidth is just one factor that determines the Internet connection’s speed. It is a measure of the quantity of data that enters the network over a period of time and is measured in bps, or bits per second.
The greater the data flow, the better the network Internet connection. In broadband connections, the supported data rates are generally 300 Kbps and higher, as opposed to the old dial-up maximum of 53Kbps.
Latency is another factor that affects the cable Internet connection’s speed. Latency refers to delays incurred in the network data processing.
A network is described as a low latency if it experiences only small delay times, and high latency if it suffers from long delays.
When the latency becomes excessive, data transmission causes a bottleneck that prevents additional data from coming through and this effectively reduces cable’s Internet connection bandwidth.
So even though the cable bandwidth of your Internet connection is set, its effectiveness can be reduced by bottlenecks of data and a high number of users on the system.
Again, with a broadband DSL connection, the connection speed of the Internet can be severely reduced by the distance a subscriber is located from the switching station.
The further away the subscriber is from the switching station, the slower the Internet connection.
Once installed, a broadband connection is always on. The connection is maintained with the use of a cable or DSL modem. These connect the computer to the cable outlet on the wall, in the case of the cable internet connection; or the DSL modem to the phone line. Only when these connections become unplugged, will the Internet connection be lost.
Unlike the old dial-up service, you will not be dialing a specific phone number to gain access to the Internet.
With broadband service, access to the Internet is given by simply double-clicking your Internet browser icon of choice (this is usually on your desktop – Internet Explorer, Firefox, Netscape, etc.); your default web page will open and you can immediately start surfing the web.
The whole process should take no more than about 10 to 15 seconds, depending on the computer’s speed itself and baring any issues of slowness.
What is a Dialup Internet Service?
Dialup internet service is a service that allows connectivity to the internet through a standard telephone line.
By connecting the telephone line to the modem in your computer and inserting the other end into the phone jack, and configuring the computer to dial a specific number provided by your internet service provider (ISP) you are able to access the internet on your computer.
Dial-up internet service is provided through several ISP. The majority of internet service providers give you a set of telephone numbers either national or local that allows you to dial into a network that feeds into the internet.
This allows you to receive and send an email, search the World Wide Web, participate in chat rooms and plenty of other features the web has to offer.
In order to get a dial-up internet service a person must definitely have a computer and even more important a modem. There are different types of modems, and most of them are inexpensive to purchase.
You can have an internal modem installed in a free slot of your computer, or you can have an external modem that’s hooked up to the computer through cables. A telephone line is linked to the modem.
The modem whether external or internal is controlled by software on the computer. With the Microsoft Windows operating system that software is the Network Connection utility which allows you to connect to the internet.
In the Network Connection utility, you have to set up ISP profile so that the modem knows what phone number to dial so that you can connect to the internet.
Once you have found an internet service provider and joined you must choose a password and username.
When the modem dials the phone number you are given by your ISP, a connection is made, and then information is a swap between the modem and the remote server. A remote server is a computer and related software that is established to handle users who want to access a network remotely.
The username and password you choose for the modem allows access to the dial-up gateway to the internet. The gateway to the internet is a network that allows entry into another network.
If you are looking for an inexpensive internet service dial-up is the way to go. Not only is it the cheapest but also the slowest type of access you can get.
Since the bandwidth is limited it will take some time for the modem to send and receive information. It will be slow loading web pages, listening to music and watching videos online.
There are all kinds of software available that can help speed up your dial-up internet.
With dial-up internet, you cannot use the phone and search the web at the same time.
Remember while one end of the telephone is linked to the modem the other end is in the phone outlet. There are internet services available that allow you to use the phone at the same time and be online.
So as you can see dial-up internet has its pros and its cons. If you are looking for inexpensive internet service and don’t mind not being able to talk on the phone and use the web at the same time then dial-up is definitely for you!
What is Wireless Internet Service?
Broadband internet service is a form of high-speed internet access.
In fact, the name “broadband” has come to be synonymous with high-speed internet use in general.
Since speed is measured by bit rate, the number of bits processed per unit of time, broadband internet service is defined as being 256 kbit/s (kilobits per second) or faster.
Broadband typically downloads at a much faster speed than that, however.
As a result, broadband internet service is categorized into two different connection groups: Tier 1 (T1) broadband connections range from 1.544 Mbit/s to 2.048 Mbit/s, and Tier 3 (T3) broadband connections range from 44.736 Mbit/s to 159.2 Gbit/s.
With these rates of data transmission, broadband represents an evolution from the original high-speed internet service, Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN), and is by far a significant improvement upon the original internet service, dial-up.
The latest development in broadband internet service is the incorporation of wireless capabilities. Wireless broadband internet service is exactly what the name implies: it is your high-speed internet access without cables or wires.
The versatility of wireless internet, and its potential for increasing productivity by users, has consumers demanding the service at an increasing rate. They want it in their home, at their office, even at their local coffee shop or bistro.
Hence the development of wireless broadband internet service: it is a packaged internet service deal that provides the ability to access the internet wirelessly from any location within the service’s coverage area.
Wireless Broadband Network
A term you may recognize in association with wireless broadband internet service includes a wireless network.
A wireless network is a single broadband internet arrangement established for your home or office. It requires several pieces of equipment that are all one-time cost items: a wireless transceiver, such as a wireless card or antenna, and a wireless router.
In addition, you will have to purchase a broadband service, which is a continual expense. You cannot utilize your wireless broadband tools without ongoing broadband service.
Together, the wireless devices and the broadband internet service make up your wireless broadband network. When employed, the network will send data to your broadband internet connection via these wireless tools that utilize a special wireless technology (known as Wi-Fi).
As a result, you will be able to access the internet from anywhere inside the coverage area, as determined by the location of your wireless router.
Wireless Broadband Service
Wireless broadband internet service is growing in popularity for locations outside the home or office as well.
When considering broadband, another term you may recognize is wireless internet service. Although often used interchangeably with wireless networks, the two do not mean the same thing.
Wireless broadband internet service generally refers to a package deal that combines both the wireless technology and broadband service, and to which you can subscribe to.
It differs from the wireless network in two ways: 1) it includes both technology and service, whereas having a wireless network necessitates your having to buy both, and 2) it is generally used in larger locations outside the home or office, such as the downtown area of a city or a college campus.
Areas that provide wireless broadband internet service are known as hotspots. Starbucks Coffee and Borders Books are two common retailers that feature internet hotspots.
Downtown areas in larger cities and major airports are two common public areas that also feature internet hotspots. They all provide wireless broadband internet service.
The service is mostly utilized by laptop computers and handheld devices that are “wireless-ready”, meaning they are capable of connecting to the internet via internal or external wireless devices or cards.
However, they require a paid subscription to the broadband service intended especially for this wireless use.
Wireless Broadband Mobile
Wireless internet connectivity in cell phones is growing in popularity as well. Cell phones, and other devices featuring windows mobile applications, are now all being designed with advanced wireless technology.
This allows them the ability to connect to a wireless broadband internet service, or to the internet via their own cellular phone network.
EDGE and EVDO are two of the more popular next-generation mobile system technologies utilized by cellular phone developers.
LTE (Long-Term Evolution) is a high-speed wireless communication technology used for cell phones and mobile data devices such as tablets.
LTE is designed to allow up to 300 Mbps download and up to 75 Mbps upload with latency as low a 5ms.
LTE works on multiple frequency bands often varying by country.
EDGE (Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution) was introduced into the North American via GSM (Global Systems Mobile) networks in 2003 and is now available worldwide.
EDGE increases data transmission rates and improves transmission reliability in mobile devices that use it.
More importantly, it allows the mobile device to connect to the Internet wirelessly, but its download speed is significantly slower than other mobile wireless technologies.
EDGE transmits data at approximately 236.8 kbit/s, which is below the standard for a broadband connection.
However, its theoretical maximum speed is 473.6 kbit/s, so it still considered a wireless broadband technology.
EVDO (Evolution-Data Optimized) is significantly faster than EDGE.
It transmits data via radio signals, and for this reason, is classified as a wireless broadband technology.
It is employed in mobile devices around the world via CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) networks: cellular networks that achieve high data transmission speeds and support a vast number of users.
WiMAX is an emerging wireless broadband technology whose download speeds are approximately 10 Mbit/s.
It is expected to be within the 40 Mbit/s range by next year.
There is currently only one major WiMAX provider due to the fact that it must be run on its own network: it cannot utilize GSM or CDMA networks as EDGE and EVDO do.
However, there are plans for widespread WiMax commercial deployment by 2010 and will be marketed as a significantly advanced wireless alternative to Cable and DSL internet services.
An internet speed test shows the speed you get from your ISP.
If this speed differs from what you pay for, contact your ISP and share the results.