Selecting an Internet service provider ISP

Internet service provider (ISP)

Company that provides home or business users with a connection to access the Internet. It can also host web sites or provide a link from web servers to allow other companies and consumers access to a corporate web site.


Indicates the speed at which data are transferred using a particular network medium. It is measured in bits per second (bps).

Selecting the right partner to host a web site is an important decision since the quality of service provided will directly impact on the quality of service delivered to a company's customers. The partner that hosts the content will usually be an Internet service provider (or ISP) for the majority of small and medium companies, but for larger companies the web server used to host the content may be inside the company and managed by the company's IT department.

The quality of service of hosted content is essentially dependent on two factors: the performance of the web site and its availability.

The performance of the web site

The important measure in relation to performance is the speed with which a web page is delivered to users from the time when it is requested by clicking on a hyperlink (see Table 7.2 for examples). The length of time is dependent on a number of factors, some of which cannot be controlled (such as the number of users accessing the Internet), but primarily depends on the bandwidth of the ISP's connection to the Internet and the performance of the web server hardware and software. It also depends on the 'page weight' of the site's pages measured in kilobytes (which is dependent on the number and complexity of images and animations). Table 7.2 shows that the top 5 sites with the lowest download speeds tend to have a much smaller page size compared with the slower sites from 95 to 100. However, viewing these slower sites over a broadband connection shows that this is perhaps less of an issue than in the days when the majority, rather than the minority, were dial-up Internet users.

Table 7.2 Variation in download speed (across a 56.6 kbps modem) and page size for the top 5 and bottom 6 UK sites week starting 6 October 2005

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