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Internet Service Provider

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Internet access in the United States


What is an ISP?

    An internet service provider, or ISP, is a company that provides access to the internet for individuals and businesses alike. Usually, this service comes bundled along with other services provided by the company should the customer be interested, but there is always the option to get just the internet access. This includes phone service, cable or satellite, depending on the company. The main providers of internet access in the United States are AT&T, which uses a DSL network, and Comcast, which uses cable modems. No matter the provider, the three main functions of an ISP are to provide the customer with a legitimate internet address, to serve as a gateway to the internet and to pay for the internet itself. This means that they pay the access fees and other charges of using the internet that most customers don't think about. Although dial-up used to be the method by which most people connected to the internet, it is mainly through broadband connections that people connect to the internet nowadays. The difference between these two methods being that dial-up takes over the phone line when activated, meaning you can no longer make or get any calls on that line, whereas broadband is always on, with no need to dial or hang up, thus freeing up your phone line. The most common forms of broadband are Digital Subscriber Lines (DSL), cable modems and mobile broadband via cell phones and other mobile devices.

What is available to you?

    Depending on the resources available and the level of technology that is being used in the customers area, the quality of the service can vary greatly. This means that the speed of your connection, how you connect to the internet, and even the amount of data that you can download or upload, among other things, can be limited depending on where you are located. There are places even in the United States that have little to no infrastructure set up in terms of the cables required to have “high speed” internet access. Because of this, the people living in these areas have to sign up for either satellite access, if even available, or dial-up service, which has become practically obsolete in the world we live in today as it has already been outdated for close to a decade. Still, if you’re rich enough, live in another country like South Korea, where everyone has genuine high speed internet access, or are just plain lucky, you might have access to fiber optic cables in your area, which provide some of the greatest speeds that we have been able to achieve commercially.

Can we do better?

    The lack of such technology in America, one of the most advanced countries in the world, is because of the stranglehold monopolistic companies like AT&T and  Comcast have placed on the country. In 2011, a study about the broadband internet connections showed that the United States came in 26th globally with an average measured speed of 4.93 Mbps. This is compared to South Korea, the leader in this study’s results, which has an average speed of 17.62 Mbps, and Romania & Bulgaria, which came in second and third with speeds of 15.27 Mbps and 12.89 Mbps respectively. This is due to the lack of regulation by the government concerning the matter, and the fact that most people in this country don’t know enough about how these companies are providing the masses with primitive technology and service and charging ridiculous prices for that service. As these companies don’t see the action of setting up fiber optics for the entire country as profitable compared to the service they are providing right now, especially in areas that don’t have a dense population. 

    As such, it is up to us to get our government to pass legislation that would lead to these companies to set up an infrastructure that would provide high speed broadband internet access nationwide. If we cannot get these companies to do what is good for the whole country, as the set up of such an endeavor would lead to the creation of a large number of jobs, the government itself could  undertake this venture and charge the companies for the use of the infrastructure, which would greatly reduce the debt that the country has already generated over time.


Kroenke, David. Using MIS. 3rd ed. Upper Saddle River:

Prentice Hall, 2011.