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A virtual internet service provider (VISP) is an internet service provider company that offers internet services under another brand name, allowing customers to access the internet through multiple points of presence (POPs).
A virtual ISP is also known as wholesale ISP or affinity ISP because the POPs used by the VISPs are controlled and managed by the wholesale ISP.
Virtual ISP was first introduced by the U.K. arm of a Canadian corporation called Intasys. VISP was introduced in London in 1996 and was used as a demonstration ISP for other virtual ISPs.
Virtual ISPs use the facility and services of a large existing ISP. However, they also use their own brand names for marketing and billing purposes. Virtual ISPs are available in different types of models. A wholesale ISP may offer internet access to its subscribers through PoPs or a digital subscriber line access multiplexer. A normal ISP may use its own points of presence to deliver a single service and make use of the VISP model to deliver other services. A combination of both PoPs and the VISP model could also be used to deliver a service in various areas. A virtual ISP is also available as a dial-up, white label service, which is usually offered to anyone for free or for a minimum setup fee. In this type of model, the main ISP offering the service makes money from calls; a percentage of revenue generated may also be shared with the owner of the virtual ISP.