Can one AS unite several ISPs, can/does an ISP own several ASes? No matter what I read nobody really clarifies this relationship or at least doesn't writes it down. Or is ISP and AS just a synonym? Is there a special reference in the rfc towards this topic?


An Internet Service Provider is a business entity. An Autonomous System is a construct of the BGP protocol. An ISP can own several AS's or only one.

An autonomous system is

a set of routers under a single technical administration [RFC 1930]

So it's unlikely (but not impossible) for two or more companies to share an AS.

  • 2
    It is also possible for a company to own an AS without being an ISP.
    – JFL
    Jun 11 '20 at 11:53
  • 1
    A company can have a public IP network and an AS number and purchase transit service from a transit provider and announce its network to the Internet. You can consider it as an ISP in a way but it provide this service only to itself, not to other company.
    – JFL
    Jun 11 '20 at 12:05
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    Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc.. all have their own ASes (many of them actually) but they do not provide Internet connectivity to customers, they are not considered ISPs.
    – JFL
    Jun 11 '20 at 12:07
  • 1
    Any organization with a large network can have an AS. For example, my client is a government agency and we have our own AS.
    – Ron Trunk
    Jun 11 '20 at 12:20
  • 1
    An ISP isn't anything official, and has nothing to do with the BGP protocol. If all the ISPs went out of business, there would still be ASes.
    – Ron Trunk
    Jun 11 '20 at 12:22

If your organization is having more than two ISP connect ed to network for internet access and you wants to confiagure EBGP routing protocols then AS number comes into picture

AS number mean autonomous systems number organization should purchase one AS number if not you need to buy from concern entity and isp will have one AS number. In EBGP routing protocols will communicate different AS numbers..

In EBGP configuration different AS number is mapped with each othe to enable communication from isp to organisation..


An Autonomous System is a set of routing prefixes advertised via BGP.

While that can match an ISP, providers can also advertise multiple ASes - e.g. from mergers, acquisitions or from customers. On the other hands, customers can have multiple ISPs advertise their AS for redundancy, route optimization, or anycasting.

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