If you’re reading this article, you can thank an internet service provider.
What is an ISP?
Internet service providers, or ISPs, are companies or organizations that provide you with access to the internet.
ISPs can also offer other options, like web hosting and email services, and they can range in form from giant telecommunication companies to small nonprofits.
When you connect to your ISP, you join its network to access the internet – whether that’s through a browser, a streaming platform, or an app on your phone. ISPs are also interconnected, and you can connect to many networks as you access different sites.
Some of the most prominent ISPs include:
ISPs can provide Wi-Fi and Ethernet
Wi-Fi is a wireless internet connection that can be accessed through a router, while Ethernet requires a physical wire (known as an Ethernet cable) that connects your modem to your computer, TV, or video game console.
You can have an ISP that works with both. To be able to do that, you simply need a router that also has an Ethernet port. ISPs that allow for both Wi-Fi and Ethernet connections accomplish this through what’s called a “mixed network.”
President Joe Biden has offered to cut down the cost of his infrastructure plan – the American Jobs Plan – from $2.25 trillion to $1.7 trillion, presenting a counteroffer to Republicans on Friday.
The offer did not address the $1.7 trillion American Families Plan, which is largely focused on care-economy measures, so the initial $4.1 trillion combination of packages would now come to about $3.2 trillion.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that officials including Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo offered up the reduced package.
“In our view, this is the art of seeking common ground,” Psaki said.
Psaki said that proposed funding for broadband was reduced to match that of Republicans, and proposed funding for roads, bridges, and major projects was also reduced to be more in line with senators’ proposals. Investments in research and development, supply chains, manufacturing, and small businesses will be shifted into different legislative pushes.
But the White House said it would continue to push for funding for critical transportation infrastructure, especially railways.
Psaki also said the White House planned to reiterate the president’s unwillingness to raise taxes on Americans making under $400,000, such as through a gas tax and user fees.
“He believes that the extraordinarily wealthy, that companies – many of whom have not paid taxes in recent years – can afford a modest increase to pay for middle-class jobs,” Psaki said.
Republicans had previously offered a $568 billion counteroffer to the White House, well below the $2.25 trillion originally proposed and still substantially lower than the new counteroffer. It would preserve Trump-era tax cuts, which are directly countered in Biden’s proposed funding.
After the GOP group met with Biden last week to discuss its $568 billion counterproposal, Biden gave them a Tuesday deadline to bring him a new plan to negotiate, but that never happened.
Instead, the group met with Buttigieg and Raimondo, and a new plan wasn’t introduced, with the senator from West Virginia who led the Republican plan, Shelley Moore Capito, telling reporters after the meeting that there was “progress, but we still got a ways to go.”
“I think they’re digesting what we proposed, and I think the plan is for them to react to that,” Capito added.
Capito’s office said in a statement to Insider that Friday’s White House offer was “well above the range of what can pass Congress with bipartisan support” and that Republicans and the White House still differed on what’s considered infrastructure, how much should be spent on it, and where that money should come from.
“Based on today’s meeting, the groups seem further apart after two meetings with White House staff than they were after one meeting with President Biden,” Capito’s office said. “Senate Republicans will further review the details in today’s counteroffer and continue to engage in conversations with the administration.”
Separately this week, Capito also floated using unused unemployment benefits to fund infrastructure after April’s weak jobs report, which caused a growing number of GOP-led states to end Biden’s weekly $300 unemployment benefits early.
The White House’s counteroffer comes as Democrats are increasingly calling on Biden to ditch negotiations with Republicans and act big on infrastructure legislation.
Psaki said the negotiations were an art of a “different kind of a deal – a deal for the working people.”
Simply put, broadband is any high-speed internet service. Broadband is the most common kind of internet service available, and that’s been true in most populated regions of the US for a couple of decades.
If you’re reading this, there’s an extremely good chance that you’re using broadband internet.
Broadband internet, explained
Prior to the widespread availability of broadband, most internet was delivered to residential homes via dial-up service – the same technology used for telephone calls. This meant that picking up the phone would turn off your internet access, and internet speeds were pathetically slow – about 0.056 megabits per second (Mbps).
These days, nearly every home in the US uses broadband. And in contrast to dial-up, the average broadband speed in the US is about 124Mbps, according to DecisionData.org – that’s about 2,200 times faster.
While the average broadband speed is 124Mbps, actual broadband speeds vary dramatically depending upon where you live, your service provider, and your actual broadband service plan. Since 2015, the Federal Communications Commission has defined broadband as any service that delivers at least 25Mbps download speed and 3Mbps upload speed, though broadband can also reach “gigabit” speeds – 1,000Mbps.
Broadband isn’t the same thing as Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi is the wireless network that broadcasts internet signals around your home or office. “Broadband” describes the type and speed of those signals, which are delivered to your home and then passed through a router. The router can then send the internet to your computer and other devices via Ethernet cable or wirelessly via Wi-Fi.
The four major types of broadband internet
There are four major kinds of broadband service. Not only do they use fundamentally different technologies to get the data to your door, but they vary by speed and price. Here is a brief overview of each:
Broadband cable internet uses the same coaxial cable that brings cable TV into your home; it’s become a popular form of broadband because it lets consumers use the same company for their television and internet access.
Cable is fairly fast, usually able to reach speeds as high as 500Mbps (depending upon the service plan you choose). Cable’s bandwidth is shared among everyone in a service area, though, so you might find it slows down in the evening when everyone is at home and streaming video.
Digital subscriber line (DSL) uses phone lines to send and receive data and is championed by traditional phone service providers to leverage their infrastructure.
It’s relatively slow, especially compared to cable, generally limited to about 5Mbps to 35Mbps. But in rural areas, it’s often the most available option.
As the name suggests, fiber uses fiber optic cables to transmit data using light rather than electricity.
It’s generally the fastest residential internet you can buy, topping out at 1,000 Mbps (which is referred to as a “gigabit” service). Like cable, fiber shares bandwidth across groups of customers but carries so much data that customers should never notice a slowdown.
Fiber isn’t available in many areas but is slowly spreading to new cities.
Satellite internet isn’t common because it’s typically the most expensive service per megabit, offering the lowest overall value. It’s most often used in rural regions that are poorly serviced by DSL, cable, and fiber.
The economics of broadband satellites might be changing, though, as SpaceX deploys its Starlink constellation of broadband internet satellites. While still being deployed and operating in a limited beta capacity, Starlink costs $99 per month and is expected to eventually offer download speeds of 300Mbps.
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However Starlink has also proved controversial, as its satellites are clearly visible from Earth, attracting complaints from scientists and environmentalists about light pollution and space junk.