Definition of ISP vs Transit provider

Jean-Francois Mezei jfmezei_nanog at
Wed Nov 22 20:35:00 CST 2017

The FCC is about to reclassify "Broadband Internet Access Service" as an
information service instead of Telecommunications Service. This
prombpted the following question which isn't about the FCC action per say.

This is about how does one define Transit provider vs ISP ?

Cogent for instance acts as a transit provider to other networks but
also sells connectivity to companies.

Peer1 in Canada used to sell "transit" to a then small emerging ISP, but
as its sole transit provider, provided the BGP management as well as
peering at Torix.  Is the service to the ISP still called "transit" ?

Or would ISP be defined as the organsation which assigns IPs to end
users via PPPoE of DHCP ?

One could argue that a network which assigns 4 or less IPs per customer
would be an ISP. But what about IPv6 where the ISP could give each end
user a /64 ?

Just curious to see if there are agreed upon definitions from the
network operators's point of view.

I note that large companies tend to do everything from transit, to
residential ISP, business ISP, libraries, airports etc. For Bell Canada,
it is almost all under AS577. So separating what is telecom and what is
information becomes more "interesting".

As a point of reference this is what I *think* the FCC defines as an ISP:

23. Broadband Internet access service also does not include virtual
private network (VPN) services, content delivery networks (CDNs),
hosting or data storage services, or Internet backbone services (if
those services are separate from broadband Internet access service),
consistent with past Commission precedent.69 The Commission has
historically distinguished these services from “mass market” services,
as they do not provide the capability to transmit data to and receive
data from all or substantially all Internet endpoints.70 We do not
disturb that finding here.

24. Finally, we observe that to the extent that coffee shops,
bookstores, airlines, private end- user networks such as libraries and
universities, and other businesses acquire broadband Internet access
service from a broadband provider to enable patrons to access the
Internet from their respective establishments, provision of such service
by the premise operator would not itself be considered a broadband
Internet access service unless it was offered to patrons as a retail
mass market service, as we define it here.71 Likewise, when a user
employs, for example, a wireless router or a Wi-Fi hotspot to create a
personal Wi-Fi network that is not intentionally offered for the benefit
of others, he or she is not offering a broadband Internet access
service, under our definition, because the user is not marketing and
selling such service to residential customers, small business, and other
end-user customers such as schools and libraries.

The full 210 proposed FCC decision is at:

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