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Chapter 7. Implementation Strategies > The Roles of Internet Service Providers

The Roles of Internet Service Providers

First and foremost, Internet service providers, called ISPs, connect individuals and organizations to the Internet so their customers can communicate with other Internet users. Second, they often provide hosting services for Web sites or other Internet applications, where the ISP installs and operates the server computers and software that make up the Web site. In such cases, the server systems are usually located on the ISP's premises, not on the customer's. Third, ISPs may provide transaction services, such as payment systems, for the commerce operations of their customers. We refer to ISPs that supply such services as commerce service providers, which we discuss in more detail later.

Communications Services

The core of the ISP's service is providing communications. Typically, this includes the fundamentals of Internet systems, including the routing of Internet Protocol (IP) packets, the Domain Name System (DNS), and electronic mail. The communications services may be available by dialup, broadband, or a dedicated data circuit such as T1, and they are available in many different bandwidths. The bandwidth effectively measures how much data can flow over the connection per unit time. How much bandwidth you need depends on your application, but experience suggests that a T1 connection (providing 1.54 megabits per second), or at least a reasonable fraction of a T1 connection, is required for adequate performance in Internet commerce systems.


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