The following terms appear in the news media and discussions concerning the wireless, fiber optic, satellite, and cable networks used for Internet communication.

4G The 4th generation of wireless technology. There are two 4G wireless technologies in use for cell phones: LTE and WiMax.

5G The 5th generation of wireless technology for cellular networks.  Worldwide deployment of 5G began in 2019.

  • Three major flavors of 5G have come out: low-band, mid-band, and high-band, all of which perform very differently from each other. The most widespread version, low-band 5G, operates and performs pretty much like 4G.
  • 5G brings three new aspects to the table: bigger channels or greater bandwidth (to speed up data), lower latency (to be more responsive), and the capacity to connect a lot more devices at once (for sensors and smart devices).
  • All 5G wireless devices in a cell are connected to the Internet and telephone network by radio waves. 

ASCII American Standard Code for Information Interchange is a code using 7 bits to encode the numbers from 0 – 9, all the upper and lower case letters of the English language, and some special characters.

Backhaul Usually a high-speed, high bandwidth wireless or fiber-optic communication link connecting a fiber network such as to the World Wide Web.

Bandwidth Bandwidth is the data transfer rate of a network or Internet connection.  For the Internet user, bandwidth is measured in “bits per second”.  The download speed is given first, followed by the upload speed.  The present federal minimum standard is 25/3 Mbps.

Bandwidth Throttling Term used to describe an Internet Service Provider’s (ISP) narrowing of the amount of bandwidth a location receives.  For example, if your normal Internet speed is 7 Mbps, then your ISP might throttle your bandwidth to 3 Mbps.

Baud  A unit of transmission speed equal to the number of times a signal changes state per second. For digital systems one baud is equivalent to one bit per second. 

Baud Rate Baud rate is the rate at which symbols are transmitted. Baud rate and bit rate are commonly equal in transmission. However, with some modulation techniques, it’s possible to transmit more than one symbol per interval whereby each symbol represents multiple bits.

Bit A bit is the fundamental element of digital information. It can have only two states, i.e. yes or no, true or false, 1 or 0. The various combinations of states of a sequence of bits (e.g. 0101100) is used to represent more complex information items such as numbers, elements of text, colors of pixels in sereen images, voltages to drive an audio speaker, or instructions to a computer’s centeal processing unit (CPU). Bits are physically represented in digital computers with transistors that, like light bulbs, can be turned on or off. They can be communicated over long distances with fiber optic cable by turning the light at the cable‘s source on or off in sync with the time increments of a digital clock. With a digital clock ticking 10 billion times per second,10 Gbs can be transmitted by turning the source light on or off at each tick.

Bit Rate The number of bits of data that can be transmitted per second. (See Mbps)

Byte The byte is a unit of digital information that consists of eight bits. Historically, the byte was the number of bits used to encode a single character of text in a computer.  An invisible control bit is added to the 7 bit ASCII code. For this reason, it is the smallest addressable unit of memory in many computer architectures. 

CAT 5, CAT 5e Types of ethernet cables (CAT 5, 5e, 6, 6a, 7); each is capable of increasing transmission speeds.

Cellular network or mobile network is a communication network providing cell phone service. The network is distributed over land areas called “cells”, each is served by at least one fixed-location antenna (commonly referred to as a cell tower).

CPU A central processing unit executes instructions to process data resulting in what we see and hear on our computers and cell phones.

Dark Fiber Dark fiber is not used in transmitting light waves. It is often installed in anticipation of future use.Not to be confused with the “Dark Web”.

Dark Web The World Wide Web content that exists on darknets, overlay networks that use the Internet but require specific software, configurations, or authorization to access.  

Data Cap The maximum amount of data a person can up/download during a billing cycle before having their bandwidth throttled, Internet shut off, or facing overage fees.

dB or Db Abbreviation for decibel, the unit of measurement for power on a logarithmic scale. It’s used to measure light intensity in a fiber optic cabling system, electrical power in radio waves, and audio sound level.

DSL Digital Subscriber Line: Users get a “high-speed” bandwidth connection from a phone wall jack on an existing telephone network. DSL uses frequencies that the telephone doesn’t, so you can use the Internet while making phone calls on the same copper wire.

Dynamic & Static ISPs An Internet Service Provider will either set up a user with a static IP address or a dynamic IP address. (1)

Dongle Another word for USB or stick. More commonly used in European countries. (2)

Fiber Optics A type of Internet connection that uses thin glass fibers, or strands, to transmit data via light rather than radio waves. Fiber optic cable includes many strands protected by a weather proof cladding and looks like any other cable.

FiOS The acronym FiOS stands for fiber optic services and is Verizon’s fiber optic communications network bundling Internet, telephone, and television services.

FTTC Fiber to the cabinet: A fiber optic line that terminates in a nearby cabinet and completes the transmission to the customer with copper cable, making the transmission slower.

FTTH Fiber to the home: A fiber optic network that uses optic fiber all the way to customer’s home.  It is the same as FTTP

FTTP Fiber to the premises, the same as FTTH.

GBps An abbreviation for gigabytes per second.  One GBps = 8 Gbps.

Gbps An abbreviation for gigabits per second.

Hotspot An location where a high-speed Internet connection is available by cell phones and computers via WiFi.

ISP Internet Service Provider: Provides your computer or cell phone’s connection to the Internet for email, media access, communications, and information.

Jitter The jitter we’re talking about here is an inconsistent transmission of bits of information that results in delays or distortions of your audio or video reception.

Last Mile The final leg of the telecommunications networks that deliver Internet services to the customer. This usually pertains to a twisted pair copper wire connection of individual homes to a fiber optic network. The copper wire connection significantly reduces the bandwidth that can be transmitted to the home.

Latency Latency is the time it takes a data packet to travel from point-to-point on a network. On a video call, high latency could create a disconnect between the audio and the video. If latency becomes too high, you could experience gaps of no audio or video even though you’re still connected.

Loss budget The total amount of allowed loss, in dB, in a given fiber optic installation. Loss may be due to insertion loss because of connectorization, attenuation because of cable length, splicing of cable runs, and other factors. (4)

MBps An abbreviation for megabytes (one million bytes) per second. Note the capital “B”. One MBps = 8 Mbps.

Mbps An abbreviation for megabits (one million bits) per second.

Middle mile The final leg of telecommunications networks that deliver telecommunications services to retail end-users (customers).

MTBF (MTTF) Mean time between (to) failures, a predicted (averaged) elapsed time of a system between failures.

MTTR Mean time to repair a measure of average time required to repair a failed component.

NID A device called a network interface device on the outside of your home or business. 

ONT Optical network terminal, an indoor device for broadband service.

Petabit Pbit or pb equals 10 to the 15th bits, or 1000 terabits.

Ping Rate Another term to describe latency. Ping measures the round-trip time for messages sent from the originating host to a destination computer that are echoed back to the source. 

Return loss The loss of signal power caused by a reflection.

Reverse Auction An auction where the lowest bid wins the opportunity to provide service to the buyer for the lowest price. 

Router A device that enables more than one computer, smart phone, or tablet to access the Internet simultaneously via WiFi or ethernet 

SIM Card An abbreviation for subscriber identity module that is used to identify and authenticate Internet and cell phone users.

SLA Service level agreement usually is an agreement between an ISP and an end-user to provide user support beyond the router.

SMS An abbreviation for short message service, used for text messages.

Take Rate The percentage of potential subscribers who are offered the service who actually do subscribe. 

Tb or Tbit Terrabit.

Terrabit A terrabit = 1000 gigabits = 1,000,000 megabits

Tether A way to access the Internet with a device that doesn’t have Internet access by connecting it to a device that does.

Transceiver A radio communication device that is able to both transmit and receive information. It is a combination of a transmitter and a receiver, hence the name transceiver.  

Twitter A social media platform where users can follow other users (or be followed) and communicate by creating short snippets no longer than 140 characters long.

URL A uniform resource locator (URL) is the method used to identify a site on the Internet by its correct address.  

USB An abbreviation for universal serial bus, which is a device used to either store files or connect to the Internet.

VoIP Stands for voice over Internet protocol; enables phone service via the Internet instead of a telephone wire.

Web search engine Or Internet search engine is a software system that is designed to carry out a web search (Internet search). (1)

Wireless communication is the transfer of information by radio waves (including Bluetooth and WiFi) between two or more points that are not connected by physical means such as fiber cable or copper wire. 


(1)  Wikipedia

(2) (Broadband Glossary)