In response to my Wireless Basics tip, a reader had a question. “I’m still confused about what the ISP actually provides. If my computer has a modem, and I can buy my own router, why do I need to pay (for what seems to be a middleman)to get connected?”

Your ISP (Internet service provider) provides your connection to the Internet. In the same way that the gas company connects you to your gas and the electric company supplies your power. Your ISP provides the either the wires (if you use cable or DSL) or the bandwidth that connects your devices to the rest of the Internet. They pay to power and maintain the infrastructure and for the equipment and servers that connect you with all of the other connected devices on the Internet.

Some ISPs require you to use their equipment to connect while others permit you to use your own. But you’ll still be charged a fee for connection just like the electric company and the gas company charge you to turn on service. Partly because there is some work involved in setting up an account and also because some companies want to make sure you’re connected properly.

~ Cynthia