I understand that the reason we pay the ISPs is to rent the equipment used to connect with the rest of the world us such as the optic fibers, the cellular towers, the satellites. However, if I want to create my own ISP for myself, meaning that I buy the necessary equipment:

  1. do I need to talk to all the servers in the world to get their server as part of my network (Facebook, Google, Hostgator, ...)
  2. Or there is already a central point where everyone already agreed to connect to so that new ISP can just plug their equipment into that central point and get the World Wide Web for free?
  • The Internet is ISPs connecting to ISPs, and they often charge each other for the privilege, in much the same way that they charge other customers. – Ron Maupin Jul 7 '17 at 17:17

Most ISPs have to buy service from other ISPs to be able to reach every part of the internet. That is called "transit". If you start a small ISP you usually buy transit from one or more bigger ISPs. They will have connectivity to the whole internet, and they will sell that connectivity to you.

You can also set up direct connections to other networks. This is called "peering". Usually those are the networks you exchange a lot of traffic with. Paying a transit provider for the packets you exchange can be a waste of money if you can easily connect directly to the other network and cut out the middle man. Sometimes other networks want you to pay them to set up a direct connection, but in many cases the peering if settlement-free.

The problem with setting up direct connections is the number of network interfaces you need, pulling cables between routers etc. Because of that there are "Internet Exchanges" (IX). An IX is basically a large switch (large IXes are more complex, but from the outside they function as a large switch) that many internet providers and enterprises connect to. That way they can all talk to each other, if they want to. One connection to an IX can let you set up direct peering with hundreds of networks.

As you can see there is a reason you pay your ISP. They invest in routers, connections, and very likely pay larger ISPs to transport part of their traffic. You could set all of that up for yourself, but be prepared to invest tens of thousands of dollars/euros/etc for equipment and connections. And then you'll probably pay more than you pay your current ISP for the transit costs, as you won't be able to negotiate lower prices for buying in bulk.


You can peer with other ISPs to become an active part of the Internet - that starts as soon as you have at least two peerings and forward data between them. This will usually cost you money when you're small and earn money when you're large.

Another way is to connect to a larger Internet exchange (IX) where you simultaneously peer with a large number of other ISPs.

The Internet has no "central point", it consists of small and large, interconnected networks.

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