Broadband Internet Glossary

Access: The connection between a business and the public telephone network, or between a business and another location. That connection can include a T-1 broadband-access line or a link to long-distance companies. A large portion of a monthly business telephone bill usually covers access costs.
Access point device: A wireless local area network (LAN) device that connects to an ADSL or cable modem to enable broadband Internet access throughout the home.

Analog: A form of voice, video and data transmission that employs a continual electrical signal.

ADSL (Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line): DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) service designed primarily for the residential consumer market. It promotes transmission of voice, video and data over copper telephone wires at very high speeds. The “asymmetric” in ADSL means that the connection transmits data at faster speeds downstream from the Internet to the computer than upstream from the computer to the Internet. ADSL can support speeds up to 8 mbps downstream and 1 mbps upstream, although the connection rarely approaches those figures.

Analog: The still prevalent technology that reproduces sound waves to send local telephone transmissions, computer data and video signals.

Application: A program, such as a word-processing or spreadsheet program, that helps a user accomplish a specific task, such as sending an e-mail or crunching numbers.

Application Service Provider (ASP): An agent that hosts software applications and serves them to individuals, departments or companies over the Internet or a network.

ARPANet (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network): Created in the 1960s by the U.S. Defense Department as the precursor to the Internet. Asymmetric connection: A broadband link commonly seen in ADSL in which downstream data from the Internet to a computer flows much faster than data sent from a computer to the Internet. ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode): A technology that breaks data into small, easy-to-transmit packets; sends them along a communications channel; and then reassembles them at their point of reception to create voice, video, text and graphic elements.

Baby Bell: Another term for a regional Bell operating company, such as BellSouth and SBC Communications; created in the mid-1980s when AT&T – often referred to as “Ma Bell” – was broken up by the federal government on anti-trust grounds.

Backbone: A high-speed data network that handles the data traffic from feeder network to feeder network.

Back channel: The slower of two data paths – usually upstream — in a fixed or satellite-based wireless broadband-access connection; relies on a telephone-line modem to send information from a computer.

Backup: Making copies of important computer files by using floppy disks or magnetic, optical or online storage vehicles.

Bandwidth: The maximum amount of data — text, images, video and/or sound — that can be sent across a communications link in a given amount of time. It’s also a measure of a communications channel’s speed; the higher the bandwidth, the faster the information travels from point A to point B.

Banner: An advertisement on a Web site usually linked to the advertiser’s own Web site.

Bellcore: The research and development organization operated by the regional Bell operating companies, such as BellSouth and SBC Communications, to set standards for telephone industry products.

Bit: The single unit of data used in digital data communications; usually expressed as “bps,” or “bits per second.” Bluetooth: A technology application for short-range wireless links between mobile, hand-held communications devices such as cellular telephones and personal digital assistants; named for the Viking king Harald Bluetooth who united Denmark and Norway around 960 A.D.

Bookmark: The place-holder on an Internet browser that points to a Web site, making it easy for a user to return to a favorite site in one computer mouse click.

Bot: Short for “robot,” a software tool that unearths information by digging through data and Web sites on the Internet.

Broadband: A form of data transmission in which several streams of information – data, voice and video — can be sent at the same time over common communications lines at speeds of more than 1.5 mbps.

Browser: A software application that locates, displays and downloads Web pages from the Internet. The most widely used browsers are Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Explorer.

Byte: A set of bits that collectively create a single character. A byte generally consists of eight bits.

CableLabs (Cable Television Laboratories Inc.): The Louisville, Colo.-based research and development organization founded in 1988 to develop technological initiatives, as well as new products and applications, for the cable TV industry.

Cable modem: A device that converts the data collected from the Internet and sent to a home through a cable TV company’s line into data that a computer can understand. The modem lets the user to connect to the Internet without a telephone line. Cable modems can ferry data up to 36 mbps downstream and from 200 kbps to 2 mbps upstream.

Caching: The practice used by browsers to store recently accessed Web pages on a user’s computer disk. If a user revisits a site, browsers can display the pages from the disk instead of re-requesting them from the server, which takes time.

CATV (Community Antenna Television): The original name for cable TV.

CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access): A standard for the digital cellular data network adopted by Sprint, Bell Atlantic and GTE.

Central Office (CO): The point where a household or business’ telephone lines are connected by the local phone company to other users’ telephones or to the telephone network. To install a DSL connection, a business or household must be within three miles of a CO.

Channel: Any path between two devices that’s used to pass information.

Chat: A forum that lets two or more people online at the same time engage in a written conversation by taking turns typing messages.

Circuit-switched network: A network that transmits information over a communications link with a connection established between two connected parties for the length of their phone call. That connection ensures that the transmission won’t be interrupted or broken up.

CLEC (Competitive Local Exchange Carrier): A telecommunications company that competes with an incumbent telephone company, such as a Baby Bell like BellSouth, in a particular region to offer voice and/or data services.

Click-through: The process of clicking on a Web page ad banner that links directly to an advertiser’s Web site.

Coaxial cable: A durable wire that conducts voice, data and video signals at the same time; usually used by cable TV companies.

Co-location: A federal requirement that regional Bell operating telephone companies let competitors use their office space so they can tap into that telephone company’s network.

Compression: The process that reduces the amount of bandwidth needed to carry video, audio, data and/or telephony services.

Configuration: The process of tuning a computer’s programs and settings.

Cookie: A tiny text file that a Web site places on your computer’s hard disk when you visit that site. The cookie contains such information as passwords, how often you visit the site, and what you buy online.

Copper wire: Used for more than 100 years to build telephone networks, it’s still the primary type of wiring used by telephone companies to link homes and businesses. Copper, however, is being phased out by network builders using more fiber-optic and wireless vehicles to carry voice, video and data traffic.

Coverage area: The geographic sectors or regions where an Internet service provider (ISP) can offer an Internet connection.

CPE (Customer Provided Equipment or Customer Premise Equipment): Telephone-related equipment owned by a telephone company customer.

CRM (Customer Relationship Management): The broadband service provider’s process of handling customers’ questions and complaints, as well as servicing subscribers’ DSL, cable modem or wireless broadband connections.

Cyberspace: The term used to describe the universe of information that can be accessed through computer networks. The term was coined by William Gibson in his 1984 novel “Neuromancer.” Dark fiber: Fiber-optic lines that have been built into a telecommunications network, but don’t yet transmit data.

Data: In broadband terms, an item or piece of coded information expressed in digital symbols that can be translated into voice, video and text elements.

Database: A large collection of data that can be rapidly searched.

DBS (Direct Broadcast Satellite): DBS service providers beam TV signals and provide broadband connections to consumers’ homes or to businesses by using satellite signals. Those signals are received by a small, pizza-size antenna, or “dish,” outside the home or business. DirecTv and EchoStar are the leading DBS service providers in the U.S., counting some 12 million customers.

Dedicated Internet access: A direct telephone or DSL link between a household or business to an ISP. The connection guarantees that the line’s full bandwidth, or power, will be available all the time, unconstrained by the amount of network traffic.

Dial-up connection: A link from a computer to the Internet using a 28.8- or 56-kbps modem that taps into a telephone line. Each time a user wants to connect to the Internet, he/she must “dial up” an ISP, which can be a time-consuming process.

Digital: A telecommunications signal that transports voice, video and data elements using bits of information instead of sound waves.

Digital TV: The process of delivering television signals using the binary, or “digital,” system of breaking those signals into tiny bits. Digital TV offers sharper pictures and sound than standard analog TV.

Digital transmission: A technological process in which information is converted to digital form and then transmitted over a network in a stream of pulses.

DMA (Designated Market Area): The geographic market that a particular TV station’s signal or cable TV system covers. The information that’s collected about viewers in a DMA, including how much TV they’re watching and the programs they like, is used for advertising and sales purposes.

DOCSIS (Data Over Cable Systems Interface Specifications): A cable TV industry standard set by CableLabs for cable modems. That standard ensures that certified modems can be used by all U.S. cable systems that market broadband connections. Domain name: The name of an Internet site. The top-level domains used in the U.S. are .com, .edu, .net, .gov, .int, .mil and .org.

Downstream: The flow of data from an operations center “down” to a computer or other communications terminal. In broadband terms, the downstream path refers to data traveling from the Internet to a computer user.

DSL (Digital Subscriber Line): A type of broadband transmission favored by telephone companies and CLECs that uses digital coding to squeeze large amounts of information through copper-based telephone wires. A DSL connection can carry data and voice at the same time, but doesn’t cut off a home’s or business’s telephone line when someone is online. DSL comes in several “flavors,” including ADSL (Asymmetric DSL), IDSL (ISDN DSL), SDSL (Symmetrical DSL), HDSL (High Bit-Rate DSL) and VDSL (Very High Bit-Rate DSL). They deliver DSL service at different speeds.

DSLAM (Digital Subscriber Line Access Multiplexer): A major component of the DSL equation, it links a customer’s network interface device (NID) to the local telephone network so that broadband traffic can be delivered and received. DSP (Digital Signal Processing): A computer chip that can process sound and video data at very high speeds.

e-appliance (see Internet appliances): Devices, usually under $500, that deliver such elementary Internet services as e-mail and Web access through a dial-up, DSL, cable modem or wireless connection.

e-commerce (electronic commerce): Business transactions conducted by using computers and electronic communications tools; the buying and selling of goods and services over the Internet.

e-mail: Electronic messages, including text, files and/or video images, sent from one person to another via computer.

Encryption: Processing data, such as an e-mail, into a secret code so that only authorized users can read it.

End-user: A person, organization or telecommunications system that uses a computer, telephone or some other network to communicate.

Ethernet: An international standard that networks computers and transmits data over copper wires at a speed of 10 mbps.

Extranet: A computer network or Web site that can be accessed by authorized people, such as customers and vendors, outside the physical confines of a company or organization; a collection of computers and other devices that share information between and among organizations.

Facilities-based competitor: A telecommunications company with its own network that competes with a Regional Bell operating company like Qwest or BellSouth to deliver telephone, broadband and other services.

Federal Communications Commission (FCC): The U.S. government agency that sets standards for equipment; controls broadcasting and wireless telecommunications licenses; and establishes federal regulations for the telecommunications industry.

Fiber optics: A technology that can transmit huge amounts of digital information at super-fast speeds over a glass strand, or “fiber,” using light pulses.

Fiber-optic cable: Ultra-thin, pliable cylinders of glass or plastic that transfer voice, video and data at high speeds using light waves.

Fiber to the Curb (FTTC): In a hybrid fiber-coaxial cable network built by a cable TV or other telecommunications player, the process of running fiber-optic lines to a point a short distance away from a household or business. That network can carry a substantial amount of broadband traffic at high speeds.

Fiber to the Home (FTTH): In a hybrid fiber-coaxial network built by a cable TV or other telecommunications player, fiber-optic lines run directly into a household or business. That network can carry an enormous amount of broadband traffic at ultra-high speeds.

Firewall: A security system placed between networks that filters unauthorized traffic from the data passing through those networks. A firewall prevents intruders, or “hackers,” from breaking into a user’s computer and manipulating or stealing files.

Fixed wireless data: Very fast wireless service that delivers broadband connections by trafficking data through a ground-based, antenna-to-antenna system.

Frame: A complete picture on a computer screen consisting of two fields of interlaced scanning lines.

Frame relay: A protocol for sending small packets of data at very high speeds over a network’s digital lines.

Frequency: The number of times an electromagnetic signal repeats an identical cycle in a unit of time, usually one second. One Hertz (Hz) is one cycle per second; a KHz (Kilohertz) is 1,000 cycles per second; a MHz (Megahertz) is 1 million cycles per second; and a GHz (Gigahertz) is 1 billion cycles per second. Frequency also can refer to the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, or channel, in which a device, such as a radio, television or telephone, operates.

Frequency Division Multiplexing (FDM): A technology that separates different types of traffic traveling over the same wire by dividing up the bandwidth into separate channels or signals.

gbps (gigabits per second): A measurement of speed for digital signal transmission that’s expressed in billions of bits per second.

Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO) satellite systems: iSky Inc., Lockheed Martin’s AstroLink, and Hughes Electronics’ Spaceway, among others, whose networks are being built to deliver high-speed broadband services via satellites in orbit 22,300 miles above the Earth.

G.lite: An easy-to-install DSL service aimed at residential use. Also called “Universal ADSL,” it supports downstream speeds of up to 1.5 mbps and upstream speeds of up to 512 kbps.

GUI (Graphical User Interface): A software tool originally popularized by Apple Computers that combines pictures and words on a computer’s screen.

Hard disk: An internal aluminum or glass disk about 3.5 inches in diameter that a PC or laptop computer uses to store information.

HDSL (High-Speed Digital Subscriber Line): A DSL service that offers equally fast upstream and downstream data-transmission speeds ranging from 784 kbps to 2 mbps.

HDTV (High-Definition Television): Rooted in digital technology, HDTV transmissions over specially equipped TV sets offer sharper pictures, brilliant colors and crisper audio feeds than analog television sets that have been the industry standard for 50 years.

Headend: A device that receives signals from each data station in a LAN and then retransmits those signals to all of the LAN’s data stations.

HFC (Hybrid Fiber Coax): A broadband-friendly technology that combines fiber-optic cable in the backbone and coaxial cable in the subscriber feeder plant; generally refers to an upgraded cable system.

High-speed access: A broadband Internet connection that transmits data such as e-mail and Web pages much faster than so-called “dial-up” services. The most best online casino australia common high-speed access services are DSL; cable modems; T-1 and T-3 lines; DBS; and fixed wireless.

Hit: The measurement of the number of visits a Web page receives over any particular time frame.

Home network: The system that links a household’s or business’s computers and other devices using a broadband connection. The most common techniques for doing that are Ethernet; USB (Universal Serial Bus); HPN (Home Phone-Line Network); power line; and wireless.

Home page: The Web page summoned to your computer screen when the computer and its browser are turned on.

Home PNA (Home Phone line Networking Alliance): A professional association of high-technology companies that wants to adopt a single phone-line networking standard. The organization also promotes a variety of interoperable home-networking solutions.

Host: A computer connected to a network that provides data and services to other computers; a multi-user computer that has terminals attached to it.

HTML (HyperText Markup Language): A computer coding language used to create documents transmitted over the World Wide Web. HTML “links” text to other files on the Internet.

HTTP (HyperText Transport Protocol): The protocol for moving hypertext files across the Internet.

Hypertext: Any computer-based text that contains links to other documents. When hypertext is seen with an interactive browser, certain words are underlined or appear in a different color. That invites users to click on the word or words to link to another location that carries more information on the subject at hand.

Hub: A networking device that lets all of the devices attached to it, such as personal computers, to receive the information transmitted over the network and to share network bandwidth.

IDSL (ISDN Digital Subscriber Line): A DSL service that offers equally fast downstream and upstream speeds of 144 kbps. The service is similar to an ISDN connection, but doesn’t carry the dial-up or usage charges.

ILEC (Incumbent Local Exchange Carrier): Local telephone companies, such as the Baby Bells and some independent enterprises, that control local telephone service.

Index: The searchable catalog of documents created by search engine software.

Information superhighway: A term that refers to a global communications network that can carry voice, data, video, and other forms of information.

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE): An organization comprised of technology experts and practitioners that focuses on advancing “the theory and practice of electrical, electronics and computer engineering and computer science.” The IEEE also sets a good number of telecommunications and computing standards.

Intranet: A network of computers and related devices in a company or organization that only employees, members or authorized personnel can tap into.

International Telecommunications Union (ITU): A United Nations organization based in Geneva, Switzerland, that sets standards for global telecommunications devices and transmission systems, such as modems and fax machines.

Interconnect: The linking of a telecommunications device or service to the public switched telephone network.

Internet: A vast, global network linking more than 100 million users worldwide through interconnected computer networks.

Internet appliance (see e-appliance): Devices, usually under $500, that deliver rudimentary Internet services such as e-mail and Web access through a dial-up, DSL, cable modem or wireless connection.

IP (Internet Protocol): A standard for speedily delivering packets of data over a computer network.

IP address (Internet Protocol address): A numeric notation that represents a unique address for any network device on the Internet; an Internet address expressed in numbers.

ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network): Digital telecommunications lines offered by telephone companies that can transmit voice and digital network services more quickly and reliably than high-speed analog modems.

ISP (Internet Service Provider): A company that provides a connection to the Internet for businesses and consumers.

Intranet: A private computer network inside a company or organization that uses the same kind of software used on the Internet.

IXC (Interexchange Carrier): A telephone company that delivers long-distance telephony service between defined geographic areas.

Java: A Web-oriented programming language designed for writing programs that can be downloaded through the Internet. The Java language was created by Sun Microsystems.

k: Short for kilobits per second, a measure of how fast information is being delivered and sent to and from the Internet.

kbps (kilobits per second): A measure of speed for digital signal transmission expressed in thousands of bits per second.

LAN (Local Area Network): A network within a local area, generally an office or building, that interconnects communications and computing devices.

Last mile: The final leg of a cable TV, telephone or other telecommunications network that ends in the user’s household. The last mile can be a copper wire, fiber-optic line or a wireless link.

LEC (Local Exchange Carrier): A carrier that has been commissioned to provide local telephone voice service within a designated area.

Line: A path of communication. For residential customers, a line connects a telephone with the local phone company’s central office. For business customers, a line connects a company’s phone system, rather than each individual phone, to the local telephone company’s central office.

Line speed: The rate at which individual bits are transmitted through a telephone connection.

Link: An electronic connection between two Web sites.

Local loop: A circuit that connects a household or business’ telephones to a telephone company central office.

Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite systems: Skybridge — an Alcatel/Loral Communications/Toshiba partnership — and the Craig McCaw/Bill Gates-backed Teledesic are scheduled to deliver their first “broadband-in-the-sky” services in 2001 and 2002, respectively, that will use communications satellites orbiting the Earth at 700 to 2,000 kilometers.

LMDS (Local Multipoint Distribution System): A wireless, broadband-access network that uses antennas to deliver two-way voice, video and data services to households and businesses (See MMDS.) mbps (megabits per second): A measure of speed for digital signal transmission expressed in millions of bits per second.

MDU (Multiple Dwelling Unit): A building, such as an apartment or condominium complex, that houses several separate living quarters.

MMDS (Microwave Multipoint Distribution System): So-called “fixed wireless” services developed by WinStar, Teligent, Sprint and smaller telephone companies, among others, that deliver broadband-based voice, video and data services over on-the-ground, antenna-to-antenna systems. (See LMDS.) Modem: A piece of hardware that connects computers to each other so they can send voice, video and data transmissions to each other, as well as to other computers, via telephone, cable company or satellite-based lines.

Monitor: Also called a “display,” the black-and-white or color device displays text and graphics generated by a computer.

Moore’s Law: The observation, first voiced by Intel Corp. co-founder Gordon Moore in 1965, that the power of a computer chip would double every year 18 months.

MPEG (Motion Picture Experts Group): The group that has set the international standards for transmitting digitally compressed video and audio information.

MSO (Multiple System Operator): A company that owns two or more cable TV systems.

Multicasting: The process of sending a message from one terminal, like a computer, cable TV system headend, broadcast tower or an Internet Web site, to a number of terminals and/or end-users.

Multimedia: A combination of text, graphics, sound, animation and video displayed on a computer or TV screen.

Multiplexing: The practice by cable programmers of delivering several channels’ worth of programming at the same time.

Narrowband: A data connection under 64 kbps that transmits data at significantly slower speeds than a broadband connection can. A narrowband connection can carry voice, fax, paging and slow-speed data, but not full-video applications.

Netizen: A heavy Internet user or person who makes a living in an Internet-based or connected business.

Network: A collection of devices, such as PCs, printers, minicomputers and servers, that are connected so they can share and exchange information.

Network Interface Card (NIC)/ Network Interface Device (NID): A device that enables a personal computer to connect to a network so that data and other information can be shared with other computers through a broadband connection.

NVOD (Near-Video on Demand): A video service offering movies to subscribers at staggered times on different channels.

Online services: Large companies that provide e-mail, discussion forums, conferencing, files and Internet access.

Optical fiber: The thin glass filament inside a fiber-optic cable that transmits data via light waves instead of using copper-based lines.

Optical networking systems: Networks that convey voice, video and data traffic using fiberless optical and laser technologies at speeds approaching 1.6 terabits per second (tbps) — more than 25 million times faster than a 56-kbps modem.

Packet switching: A network-transmission process that splices data into small, destination-coded units, or “packets,” that are then sent through the network. At their destination, all of the packets are reassembled into a whole package, which can be an e-mail, voice transmission or video element.

PCS (Personal Communications Services): Digitally based, wireless communications systems based on the same principles as cellular systems. However, PCS usually operates in a different frequency range and with smaller cell sizes.

PDA (personal digital assistant): A consumer electronics device the size of a cellular telephone that can perform some of the duties of a personal computer, such as receiving and sending messages and keeping a daily log, by using a wireless connection.

Portal: A Web site at which Internet users usually begin their browsing.

POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service): A term commonly used to describe basic telephone voice service; the analog telephone service that runs over copper wires and based on the Bell telephone system.

PPV (Pay-Per-View): A television service usually provided by cable or satellite-dish companies that lets a viewer order, pay for and then view special events and movies not available on broadcast TV networks.

PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network): A telephone network that serves a wide geographic area. Typically, users do not own the network, but pay a fee to use it.

Premium cable: A network or service, such as Home Box Office and Showtime, that can be accessed over a cable TV system for an added fee.

Protocol: A set of rules and formats that lets two or more systems communicate with each other. The TCP/IP protocol forms the basis of the Internet.

Provisioning: The process of preparing a telephone, cable TV or other network line so it can support a broadband-access connection, such as a cable modem or DSL link.

QoS (Quality of Service): A measure of the service that a telephone company or other telecommunications service provider gives its customers.

RBOC (Regional Bell Operating Company): One of the seven regional U.S. telephone companies, such as Qwest, BellSouth, Ameritech, and Bell Atlantic, created after the breakup of AT&T in the mid-1980s. Also referred to as “Baby Bells.”

RealAudio: A software program that plays radio and other sound files over the Internet.

Router: A device that connects computer networks to one another so that data can be ferried back and forth between and among those networks’ computers; a piece of hardware, similar to a modem, that directs network traffic.

Satellite: A man-made, telecommunications-based device launched into space, set into orbit, and used to receive and then send ground-based voice, video and data transmissions to large areas of the earth.

Satellite dish antenna: A receiver that picks up a satellite’s signals and then strengthens them in order to deliver voice, video and data transmissions.

SDSL (Symmetrical Digital Subscriber Line): A DSL service that offers equally fast upstream and downstream speeds ranging from 385 kbps to 2 mbps.

Search engine: A program that searches for information on the Internet.

Server: A computer or software package that provides a specific kind of service to client software running on other computers. It allows one computer to offer a service to another computer.

Set-top box: A signal-reception and channel-selection device used by cable TV and DBS systems that rests on the TV set.

Set-up fee: The amount that an ISP charges to sign up a customer.

Site: A host on the Internet that consists of a single page or several pages under a common site name.

SOHO (Small Office/Home Office): A small office in a home or elsewhere that has one to five computers and/or telephone lines.

SONET (Synchronous Optical Network): A standard used to connect fiber-optic transmission systems.

Spam: A e-mail message — usually an advertisement-sent to a lot of people who hadn’t requested it; the Internet’s equivalent of junk mail.

Stickiness: The measure that determines how long a visitor lingers at a Web site.

Streaming video: The process of transmitting compressed sequences of video images over the Internet, decompressing them, and playing them on arrival. Streaming video requires a broadband connection in order to deliver pictures as clear as a TV set’s.

Switch: A key piece of telephone company technology that DSL service providers use to deliver a broadband connection to a household or business. A prospective DSL customer must be within three miles of a telephone company’s central office, or “switch,” to receive broadband service.

Switched service: Residential or business local or long-distance telephone service that’s “switched,” or channeled, through the local central office and the public telephone network.

Symmetrical bandwidth: A broadband connection that offers the same high-speed connection to download and upload data from and to the Internet or a network.

T-1 line: A dedicated, ultra-fast 1.54-megabits-per-second broadband connection favored by businesses with high Internet-access and telephone-service demands.

T-3 line: A very high-speed network connection in which data is transmitted at a speed of 45 mbps.

TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol): The primary protocol on the Internet, TCP/IP supports data communication across interconnected networks and applications. All computers connected to the Internet use TCP/IP to communicate with each other.

Telco: An industry term for “telephone company.” Telecommunications: The electronic transmission, emission or reception of information over long distances.

TDM (Time Division Multiplexing): A technique that transmits two or more signals at the same time over the same communications channel.

TDMA (Time Division Multiple Access): A voice-only network standard used by Baby Bells SBC Communications and BellSouth.

Throughput: The rate at which a computer transmits data.

Two-way: A circuit or network that can handle incoming and outgoing voice, video and/or data transmissions.

Universal ADSL: Also called “G.lite,” a slower, but easier-to-install DSL service aimed at residential users.

Upstream: The flow of data from a computer or other communications system “up” to a network or the Internet.

URL (Uniform Resource Locator): The standard format for the address of any resource on the Web.

USB (Universal Serial Bus): A port that connects up to 127 peripheral devices — including modems, printers, scanners, keyboards and computer mice – to one computer in a networking arrangement.

Utility: A company that delivers a widely used service or product, such as telephony, electricity, natural gas and water. Many utilities are beginning to offer telecommunications services, as well as broadband connections.

VDSL (Very High Bit-Rate Digital Subscriber Line): A DSL service that offers downstream speeds as high as 53 mbps and average upstream speeds of 2 mbps.

Virtual private network (VPN): An affordable, private communications channel that links computers located in several different places.

VOD (Video on Demand): Video-based content available to a subscriber at any time.

WAP (Wireless Application Protocol): A telecommunications industry standard for developing voice and data applications over wireless devices.

WDM (Wavelength Division Multiplexing): A technology for transmitting several signals at the same time over one single optical fiber.

Web tablet: A computer that’s smaller and lighter than a laptop, but larger, heavier and more versatile than a palm-type device or PDA; designed to support highly mobile people.

Wide Area Network (WAN): A public or private computer network serving a large geographic area. The public switched telephone network (PSTN) is the best-known example of a public wide area network. Typically, users, who don’t own the network, pay to use it.

World Wide Web: An Internet-based network that includes all interlinked information that resides on servers throughout the world. The Web is accessed with software called a “browser.” xDSL: A generic term for all DSL services that offer transmission speeds from 128 kbps to 52 mbps.

XML (Extensible Markup Language): A programming language that could someday replace HTML, which is currently used to write computer code. XML is viewed as a next-generation improvement over HTML that will make cataloging and accessing information easier and faster on the Internet.

3G: The next generation of wireless technology that will be able to integrate voice, video and data.

28.8-k modem: A modem that connects to the Internet at a maximum speed of 28.8 kbps.

33.6-k modem: A modem that connects to the Internet at a maximum speed of 33.6 kbps.

56-k modem: A modem that connects to the Internet at a maximum speed of 56 kbps.