Virtual ISP
A Virtual ISP also known as an Affinity ISP, is an Internet Service Provider
Internet service provider
An Internet service provider is a company that provides access to the Internet. Access ISPs directly connect customers to the Internet using copper wires, wireless or fiber-optic connections. Hosting ISPs lease server space for smaller businesses and host other people servers...

 (ISP) that resells the resources of existing ISPs under another brand name.


A Virtual ISP (VISP) purchases services from another ISP (sometimes called a wholesale ISP or similar within this context) that allow the VISP's customers to access the Internet via one or more Points of Presence
Point of presence
A point of presence is an artificial demarcation point or interface point between communications entities. It may include a meet-me-room.In the US, this term became important during the court-ordered breakup of the Bell Telephone system...

 (PoPs) that are owned and operated by the wholesale ISP.

Virtual ISPs can vary from a normal ISP buying access points off a third party to a complete white label
White label product
A white label product or service is a product or service produced by one company that other companies rebrand to make it appear as if they made it.-History:...

 service where the branding of the VISP is usually such as to portray the image of being an ISP in their own right.

There are various models for the delivery of Virtual ISPs. As an example a wholesale ISP could provide network access to end users via its dial-up modem
A modem is a device that modulates an analog carrier signal to encode digital information, and also demodulates such a carrier signal to decode the transmitted information. The goal is to produce a signal that can be transmitted easily and decoded to reproduce the original digital data...

 PoPs or DSLAMs installed in telephone exchange
Telephone exchange
In the field of telecommunications, a telephone exchange or telephone switch is a system of electronic components that connects telephone calls...

s, and route, switch, and/or tunnel
Tunneling protocol
Computer networks use a tunneling protocol when one network protocol encapsulates a different payload protocol...

 the end-user traffic to the VISP's network, whereupon they may route the traffic toward its destination.

In another model, the wholesale ISP does not route any end-user traffic, and needs only provide AAA
AAA protocol
In computer security, AAA commonly stands for authentication, authorization and accounting.- Authentication :Authentication refers to the process where an entity's identity is authenticated, typically by providing evidence that it holds a specific digital identity such as an identifier and the...

 (Authentication, Authorization and Accounting) functions, as well as any value-add services, like email
Electronic mail, commonly known as email or e-mail, is a method of exchanging digital messages from an author to one or more recipients. Modern email operates across the Internet or other computer networks. Some early email systems required that the author and the recipient both be online at the...

 or web hosting.

A complete VISP will consist of a pure rebranding of another ISP offering where the host ISP manages all aspects of the service. This model is commonly used for charities and other affinity organisations where 'MyOrganisation' ISP is actually a virtual service on another ISP.

Any given ISP may use their own PoPs to deliver one service, and use a VISP model to deliver another service, or, use a combination to deliver a service in different areas.

The service provided by a wholesale ISP in a VISP model is distinct from that of an upstream ISP, even though, in some cases, they may both be one and the same company. The former provides connectivity from the end-user's premises to the Internet or to the end-user's ISP, and the latter provides connectivity from the end user's ISP to all or parts of the rest of the Internet.

A VISP can also be a dial-up white label
White label product
A white label product or service is a product or service produced by one company that other companies rebrand to make it appear as if they made it.-History:...

 service offered to anyone at no cost or for a minimal setup fee. The actual ISP providing the service generates revenue from the calls and may also share a percentage of that revenue with the owner of the VISP. All technical aspects are dealt with, leaving the owner of VISP with the task of promoting the service. This sort of service is, however, declining due to the popularity of unmetered dial-up access.


The world's first Virtual ISP was pioneered by the UK arm of the Canadian Intasys Corporation (now Ace*Comm) in partnership with Easynet
Easynet Global Services are a provider of managed network, hosting and telepresence solutions for businesses and enterprises worldwide.Founded in 1994, Easynet Global Services are part of the Easynet group of companies, along with Easynet Connect and UK Online.It was a part of BSkyB, a FTSE top 50...

. Called 'Intasys Online' the VISP was launched in London in 1996 and was used primarily as a demonstration ISP for other virtual ISPs. Intasys operated successfully as a branded ISP provider providing virtual ISPs for clients until the internet arm was sold to Zygo Productions in 1998.
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