How exactly does an ISP connect you to the vast network of computers which is the internet?

In my area there are several ISP's. For example. Bell, Rogers, and Cogeco all connect you to the "same internet." Some services such as start.ca and Distributel piggyback on Bell, Rogers or Cogeco to give you the same Internet cheaper with fewer bells and whistles.

My question would be, how does Bell, Rogers or Cogeco, etc. connect you to the Internet, and is there any way to do this yourself possibly by installing a cell tower at your home or running cables from your home to connect to the same network these big wigs connect to?

I know there is currently a company that usually piggybacks who is setting up their own infrastructure in London, Ontario (start.ca) how would this be done? Could it theoretically be done for one household (if that person was willing to pay) for the infrastructure?

Any insight on this or how a big company is able to connect over the little guy (if that is the case) or how one would connect to the network without going through a company is welcome. Is there a central hub all of these companies connect through?

I want to get down to the nitty gritty of the situation, and any insight at all is welcome.

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2 Answers 2


The Internet is a global internetwork. It consists of a large number of networks that are interconnected. Anyone with sufficient connectivity (peering) can act as a provider to others.

So basically, what an ISP does is to connect their customers to their peered networks. At the same time, the number of peer links and their respective bandwidth decide about the quality an ISP can offer.

Effectively, you run (or rent) cables, likely fiber, leading to other providers, carriers, or (more or less public) Internet eXchanges (IX). Then you install routers between all those connections. Finally, you can begin offering connectivity services to others.


The Internet is a web of interconnected ISPs. There are national (and international) ISPs known as 'Tier 1" providers. They own their own infrastructure that spans the globe (sometimes they lease fiber links, for example, undersea links). They connect to each other at various locations and to smaller "Tier-2" providers. They in turn connect to small, regional providers like you "Tier-3."

Some large companies, like Google, Facebook, Amazon also have their own physical networks and act as quasi-ISPs.

All of the interconnections are the result of business arrangements (I carry your traffic for some price, etc). That's where the profit is.

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