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What exactly are we paying ISPs to do? Answered

How do the internet companies provide us with internet? What do they have that we do not?


The hardware mainly, or the use of it.

Dial-up should probably still work on existing phone lines, but other than that you have to pay for a technology-based service.


What they have is lots of money to throw at an upstream provider for an extremely fast connection to the backbone, lots of money to pay for routers fast enough to handle all the traffic from their users to the backbone, lots of money to pay for the "first mile" between the customer and their routers, lots of money to provide servers and services to their customers, lots of money to provide customer support, and lots of money to maintain a billing system in order to have lots of money to continue paying for the rest of it.

If you want to connect more directly to the backbones you can. Some businesses do, even if they aren't selling ISP services to anyone else, because they need the bandwidth. Of course then they also have to take on a lot of the costs that an ISP subscription normally covers.

In brief? Equipment to connect ~directly to the backbone & deliver slices of that connection to the customers, and personnel to ensure the equipment keeps running.


In larger cases, they take part as providers of said backbone.

True. I guess my comment shows my age. Back in the "good old days" the backbone was something provided by the government as part of the DarpaNet that was the original backbone upon which the whole muckety muck was built, and was afaik licensed to providers (and granted to select institutions like NASA and 'edu's that were lucky enough to be close to the trunks..

Cleveland was lucky in that respect, because we were at a terminus for one such trunk (delivering to NASA Lewis (now "GRC"), and one of the local universities (CWRU) had connections.


7 years ago

i've been wondering obout it recently