What is an ISP?

ISPs are a crucial piece of the puzzle when it comes to connecting your home or business to the internet.

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, updated on September 19th, 2023       

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Internet service providers, or ISPs, help make the broadband connection at your home or office possible, but what are they and what do they do? It’s important to know about the functions of an ISP before you buy your first internet plan, which you can find out all about right here with Savvy in our helpful guide.

What is an ISP and what do they do?

An ISP, or internet service provider, is a company which offers internet access and related services to individuals, businesses and other organisations. ISPs play a crucial role in the functioning of the internet by connecting users to the global network.

Here's a snapshot of what ISPs do:

  • Internet access: the primary function of an ISP is to provide users with access to the internet. They do this by maintaining a network infrastructure that connects users to the internet backbone, which consists of high-capacity data lines and servers.
  • IP address allocation: ISPs assign unique IP (internet protocol) addresses to their customers. IP addresses are essential for identifying devices on the internet and routing data packets to their destinations.
  • Data transmission: ISPs transmit data between users' devices and the websites, servers or online services they want to access. This involves routing data through their network to ensure it reaches its destination efficiently and securely.
  • Technical support: they also provide technical support to help customers troubleshoot issues with their internet connections or related services. This is essential in cases where a connection drops out or a complex problem is unable to be solved by the customer.
  • Bundled services: in some cases, an ISP might also provide bundled services in addition to your internet plan. This may range from bonuses like free streaming subscriptions or entertainment packages to home or mobile phone plan bundles.

How do I compare the best ISPs in Australia?

Comparing ISPs is crucial when searching for the plan which best suits your needs. The main factors to consider include the following:

  • Available plans: evaluate the plans offered by different ISPs, specifically the speeds and data allowances included on these plans. Consider your usage patterns and select a deal which provides the service you need.
  • Price: compare the prices of plans, taking into account any promotional rates, setup fees and other contract terms. Take the time to consider any possible costs before signing on the dotted line and look for the cheapest available plan which meets your needs.
  • Coverage: check the coverage area of the ISP to ensure they offer service in your location, which is especially important when comparing home wireless broadband plans. For example, rural areas may have limited options.
  • Contract terms: understand the contract terms, including the length of the contract and any penalties for early termination. Many plans will come without fixed terms, providing you with greater freedom month-to-month, so assess your preferences for a plan.
  • Equipment: check whether the ISP provides necessary equipment like modems or routers and whether there are associated fees. If you have a modem already, check whether it’s compatible with your new ISP and if they’ll charge activation fees for you to use it.
  • Evening speeds: it’s important to have a grasp of what your ISP’s performance looks like at peak times, such as in the evening. If, for example, your NBN 100 plan is said to cap out at 95Mbps download in the evening, you may wish to go with another provider who can offer the full 100Mbps speed.
  • Bundled services: some ISPs offer bundles which include internet and phone services. In other cases, this may be with certain energy deals also. Assess whether bundling services is cost-effective for your situation.
  • Extras: as mentioned, some ISPs offer additional services like included entertainment packages. Consider these extras if they align with your needs and determine whether they’re worth it for you.
  • Technical support: research the quality and availability of customer support. Prompt and knowledgeable support can be essential when issues arise, particularly when they’re urgent.
  • Customer reviews: read reviews and ratings from other customers to gauge the quality of service and customer support provided by the ISP.

By thoroughly comparing plans and ISPs based on these factors, you can make an informed decision and choose the best provider for your internet needs in Australia. You can do just that through Savvy, as our simple online comparison and quote process makes it easy for you to compare available offers in your area side by side.

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Compare internet plans with Savvy

Regardless of whether you're looking for an internet plan for a one-person household or for your medium to large business, you can compare a range of offers from leading Australian providers side by side with Savvy. Get started with a free, no-obligation quote today!


Savvy is partnered with Econnex Comparison (CIMET Sales Pty Ltd, ABN 72 620 395 726) to provide readers with a variety of internet plans to compare. We do not compare all retailers in the market, or all plans offered by all retailers. Savvy earns a commission from Econnex each time a customer buys an internet plan via our website. We don’t arrange for products to be purchased directly, as all purchases are conducted via Econnex.

Any advice presented above is general in nature and doesn’t consider your personal or business objectives, needs or finances. It’s always important to consider whether advice is suitable for you before purchasing an internet plan. For further information on the variety of internet plans compared by Econnex, or how their business works, you can visit their website.