The web runs on internet service provider (ISP) infrastructure. From the hilarious tweet you sent out this morning to the cloud-based AI tools your team is using to do its job, ISP infrastructure is integral to a seamless internet experience. These high-speed networks ensure that communication over the web is fast and uninterrupted. Every computer is part of a network, whether connected to the public internet or a local network in your company or home. ISP infrastructure affects everyone, from the large corporation to the home user. With that in mind, let’s explore how an ISP is set up.
The Architecture of an ISPThe internet is unique in that no governing entity controls it. Instead, it’s a web of interconnected networks that cooperate to ensure that everyone has access to the entire network. An ISP is comprised of NAPs, PoPs, fiber optics, IP addresses, domain addresses, and routers. What function do each of these components have, and how do they work together?
- Network access points (NAPs). NAPs help ISP networks connect, allowing users to access data on other networks and vice versa. They do this by acting as a bridge where providers can connect their otherwise separate networks.
- Fiber optics. Fiber optic cables are essential for transmitting high volumes of data quickly from one point to another. Therefore, many ISPs have a backbone of fiber optic cables to ensure network traffic flows smoothly.
- Points of presence (PoPs). PoPs are distributed access points that allow users to connect to the internet via their internet service provider. Placing access points closer to users lowers latency and reduces the bottlenecks inherent in a centralized network setup.
- IP addresses. IP addresses provide a way to identify devices on the network and correctly route users to the information they’re looking for. Users are most familiar with IPv4 addresses, which come in a series of four sets of numbers.
- Domain addresses. It would be difficult to remember a unique IP address every time we navigated to a website. Domain names are the system the internet uses to simplify this. Every domain address is unique and points to a specific IP address, so finding a website is as easy as remembering a name.
- Routers. If you access the internet, you use a router. These devices make sure that both data retrieved and uploaded is routed correctly. Accurate routing ensures data is shared with the right people and not shared with the wrong people.