Updated: 12/10/2023 by Computer Hope

An ISP (Internet service provider) is a company that provides Internet access to users or subscribers of its service. An ISP gives you an Internet account (access to the Internet), e-mail address, and web space for a web page for around $20.00 U.S. dollars a month. Prices may vary in other countries.


An ISP is also called an access provider, IAP (Internet access provider), network provider, and OSP (online service provider).


As more people move to broadband, the traditional dial-up ISP and all its services are being replaced. Today, if you are using broadband, you have a broadband provider such as Xfinity and are probably using other online services to provide other services. For example, using Gmail as your e-mail provider.

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OSPs like AOL (America Online) allow access to proprietary features such as chat rooms, stocks, software, more support, and accessibility globally. These services use specialized software or browser to give users access to these services. Today, all OSPs are only an ISP, as all services are provided through the Internet and any browser.


ISP was featured as a top term of 1996.

Do I need an ISP to connect to the Internet?

On a computer, you need an ISP to connect to the Internet. To connect to the Internet, you need either an ISP, cable company, or other company that provides the necessary hardware to connect to the Internet.

On a smartphone, your MNO (mobile network operator) provides you access to the Internet.

ISP history

The first ISP is widely believed to be Telenet, the first commercial version of ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network) introduced in 1974. The first ISP for the Internet we know and use today is considered to be "The World," who started serving customers in 1989.

List of major ISPs

Computer acronyms, External IP address, Internet, Internet terms, Network terms, NSP, Provider, Telenet, Web host