Federal Internet Law & Policy
An Educational Project

Industry: ISPs
Dont be a FOOL; The Law is Not DIY
ISP Trade


ISP & Filters
Wireless ISPs
SPAM Enforcement

"An ISP, or internet service provider, is a company that provides its customers access to the internet and other web services. In addition to maintaining a direct line to the internet, the company usually maintains web servers. By supplying necessary software, a password-protected user account, and a phone number to dial into the internet connection, ISPs offer their customers the capability to browse the web and exchange email with other people. Some ISPs also offer additional services. ISPs can vary in size—some are operated by one individual, while others are large corporations. They may also vary in scope—some only support users in a particular city, while others have regional or national capabilities.

"Almost all ISPs offer email and web browsing capabilities. They also offer varying degrees of user support, usually in the form of an email address or customer support hotline. Most ISPs also offer web hosting capabilities, allowing users to create and maintain personal web pages; and some may even offer the service of developing the pages for you. Many ISPs offer the option of high-speed access through DSL or cable modems, while others may just rely on dial-up connections. As part of normal operation, most ISPs perform backups of email and web files. If the ability to recover email and web files is important to you, check with your ISP to see if they back up the data; it might not be advertised as a service. Additionally, some ISPs may implement firewalls to block some incoming traffic, although you should consider this a supplement to your own security precautions, not a replacement." - US CERT

See Open Internet Definition of BIAS Provider

ISP Related Issues




Percent of residential customers Percent of nonresidential customers
AOL 22.9 SoVerNet 14.4
SoVerNet 11.8 Adelphia Cable 12.8
Adelphia Cable 11.5 AOL 11.5
Earthlink 8.4 Earthlink 8.8
United Online 5.0 Verizon 6.2
Power Shift Online 4.2 VTel Internet 4.6
VTel Internet 4.2 Green Mountain Access 4.3
Verizon 3.8 Vermont Link.Net 3.3
Green Mountain Access 3.8 2.6
AT&T 2.3 Lightship 2.6 2.3 Charter 2.3
Innevi 1.9 Power Shift Online 2.3
MSN 1.9 Valley Net 2.3
Kingdom Connection 1.5 Kingdom Connection 1.6
Charter 1.1 ABS/Telcove 1.6
GovNet 0.8 United Online 1.6

Vermont Telecommunications Plan, Sept 2004 p. 2-26

  • StatMarket: AOL still the world's favorite ISP March 14 2002
  • US Census: Internet Service Providers, Web Search Portals, and Data Processing Services: 2002 (Nov. 2004)
  • Online Service Providers 2002: 4394 (Table 2)
  • Online Service Providers 1997: 4165
  • 98. Internet Service Providers: Under the new NAICS codes, SBA has developed a small business size standard for "On-line Information Services," NAICS Code 514191.   According to SBA regulations, a small business under this category is one having annual receipts of $18 million or less.  According to SBA's most recent data, there are a total of 2,829 firms with annual receipts of $9,999,999 or less, and an additional 111 firms with annual receipts of $10,000,000 or more.   Thus, the number of On-line Information Services firms that are small under the SBA's $18 million size standard is between 2,829 and 2,940.  Further, some of these Internet Service Providers (ISPs) might not be independently owned and operated. Consequently, we estimate that there are fewer than 2,940 small entity ISPs that may be affected by the decisions and rules of the present action. -- In Re Appropriate Framework for Broadband Access to the Internet over Wireline Facilities, CC Docket No. 02-33, CC Dockets Nos. 95-20, 98-10, NPRM ¶ 98 (February 15, 2002) (based on 1997 census data)
  • AOL subscriptions swell in U.S., CNews 11/27/01
  • Top ISPs Report, NWFusion 11/23/01
  • Top U.S. ISPs by Subscriber: Q3 2001, ISP Planet11/02/01 (note that in August, ISP-Planet reported that the top 20 ISPs account for 90% of the market where ISP-Planet is in November saying that the top 20 ISPs only account for 60% of the market).
  • Top U.S. ISPs by Subscriber: Q2 2001, ISP Planet 8/17/01

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