What Are ISP Proxies (Static Residential Proxies)? A Guide
Meet the love child of datacenter and residential IPs.
ISP proxies combine the qualities of datacenter and residential IPs: they’re fast yet hard to detect. This guide will help you learn more about ISP proxy servers, how they work, and what you can expect from them.
- What Is an ISP Proxy?
- How Do ISP Proxies Work?
- Their Benefits
- Use Cases for ISP Proxies
- Where to Get Static Residential Proxies
An ISP proxy is an intermediary IP address that is associated with an internet service provider (ISP) but does not involve end users. In other words, it’s hosted on a server and not a residential device (like a mobile phone or desktop computer).
Historically, static proxies were all datacenter addresses. Run on the servers of cloud hosting companies, they could stay online for months at a time. Residential proxies borrow the IPs of mobile and desktop devices, relying on people like you and me to keep their Wi-Fi on. This made it impossible to ensure long-term access to the same peer-to-peer residential IP address.
However, at some point, proxy providers came up with an ingenious solution: why not take a datacenter IP address and register it under an internet service provider? They did, and this is how ISP proxies were born.
This business model is pretty new, and it’s challenging to get major ISPs on board. So, ISP proxy networks are still pretty rare. But lately, more companies have started offering them, and today multiple major providers can sell you some.
Static Residential and ISP Proxies – Why the Two Names?
ISP proxies and static residential proxies refer to the same thing. Why have two terms, then? Static residential proxies is the older name, which was first used by the few providers that sold them. However, at some point these IPs were discovered by the sneakerhead community, and they renamed them. Nowadays, ISP proxies is by far the more popular name, but they’re still used side by side.
Like any other proxy server, ISP proxies send your connection requests via a different IP address. They hide your own IP and location in the process, so that websites see you or your automation software as a different person.
If you’re familiar with the main proxy types, you’ll know that datacenter IPs are cheap and fast but don’t take much to detect. Residential IPs, on the contrary, cost a lot and charge by traffic but are nearly undetectable. The difference between being obvious and invisible edges on something called ASN – a number that identifies the owner of that IP address. Cloud hosting company? Away with you! Consumer ISP? Go right ahead.
ISP proxies use the ASNs of consumer internet service providers, without needing to deal with unstable Wi-Fi connections of end users.
More about the differences between datacenter, residential, and ISP proxies.
What happens when you take a datacenter IP, with all its virtues, and stick an internet service provider’s ASN on top? A pretty sweet deal:
- Fast speed. Unlike flaky consumer connections, data centers run on 1 Gbps or even faster lines. This ensures a low response time that barely impacts your connection speed.
- High uptime. How often does a commercial server go down? Most ensure 99.9% uptime, so the answer is: barely ever.
- Optional rotation. While IP rotation is very useful for tasks like web scraping, sometimes it’s not desirable. With backconnect servers, ISP proxies can rotate just fine, but they don’t have to.
- High anonymity. Perched under consumer internet service providers, static residential proxies look like legitimate IP addresses in the eyes of websites. This lets them avoid security mechanisms that rely on IP reputation.
- Unlimited bandwidth. This last point highly depends on the proxy provider’s pricing model. But having full control over individual IPs, they don’t need to charge customers for the consumed traffic. With smart use, this allows saving serious money when running data-intense tasks.
At first sight, the benefits look pretty amazing – and for the most part, they are. But there are also considerations that make ISP proxies less of a no-brainer than they could be:
- High price. The most obvious downside is how expensive these proxies are, largely because of their sourcing challenges. Bought per IP address, they cost 2-3 times the price of private proxies. Bought per traffic, a gigabyte costs several dollars more compared to a residential proxy network.
- Limited locations. Just like datacenter proxies, residential static addresses are held in servers around the world. The costs and operational challenges make renting multiple servers pretty prohibitive. So, these IPs usually cover a limited number of locations.
- Fewer subnets. Proxy providers rent static residential proxies from various ISPs. They control IP addresses that fall into neat related ranges called subnets. While static IPs can have a large variety of subnets, they will never compare to peer-to-peer residential proxies.
- Regional ISPs. The sneakiest issue with static residential IPs concerns the ISPs that rent out their addresses. Some of them are small, regional companies that offer commercial services. IP databases may identify these proxies as datacenter addresses, which negates their main benefit – anonymity. If you’re wondering how widespread this can be, a static residential IP provider we tested had over 35% of its proxies identified as datacenter addresses. The issue can be avoided by getting specialized plans, which might cost extra.
Being highly anonymous and predictable, residential static IP addresses excel against protected targets, when there’s a need for consistent identity. One use case that instantly comes to mind is managing multiple social media or e-commerce accounts. While these platforms often rely on browser fingerprinting, having a good IP reputation helps in keeping the accounts safe.
Another, increasingly popular use case is sneaker copping. For one, shoe retailers suffer from bots, so they have erected advanced protection mechanisms. What’s more, static residential have a fast connection speed (still relevant in this niche) and IP-based pricing. Stores like Footlocker played around with heavy loading .gifs that would quickly expend the traffic allowance of residential plans.
Social media management and sneaker scalping aren’t the only use cases. Static residential proxies work just as well for web scraping. In this case, the main consideration is whether it makes financial sense to use them.
Despite their increasing popularity, ISP proxy servers are still rare. You can get them from several major providers, whose IPs often trickle down to smaller, specialized resellers. If you’d like to try out this proxy type, take a look at our list of the best ISP proxy providers. It’ll help you choose from the leading companies in the market.
ISP proxies offer a powerful combination of datacenter and residential IPs. While not without flaws, they are quickly gaining ground in certain niches. Considering their success, we can only expect static residential IP addresses to become more widespread – hopefully, driving down the price.