Definition of ISP vs Transit provider

Siegel, David Dave.Siegel at
Mon Nov 27 20:24:44 UTC 2017

Though not an industry standard definition, we've defined them at a product level where I work.  These have changed somewhat over the years, but pretty much fall along the following lines.

IP Transit: A wholesale product that does not include IP Addresses, email address, DNS, or any other "value-added" services.  When customer has filed a 499-a, collection of USF surcharges is waived.  Availability is typically limited to a sub-set of the total POP footprint and generally does not include access backhaul on our network.

Dedicated Internet Access: A product generally sold to businesses that includes IP addresses, recursive DNS, and 5 domain names.  Available across the whole of the footprint and pricing includes backhaul on our network, but not off-net (3rd party) backhaul.  USF is always assessed.  (email and usenet services are defunct with our service, but I'm sure many still offer email).

I can see the second product definition for DIA being a pretty good match for your ISP definition, be that consumer broadband or what have you, with minor modifications.

FWIW, hope that's helpful.


Dave Siegel
Vice President
Product Management
1025 Eldorado Blvd
Broomfield, CO  80021
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-----Original Message-----
From: NANOG [mailto:nanog-bounces at] On Behalf Of Jean-Francois Mezei
Sent: Wednesday, November 22, 2017 1:35 PM
To: Nanog at
Subject: Definition of ISP vs Transit provider

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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