Broadband Jargon: Glossary of technical broadband terms

Do you often find yourself confused by the broadband jargon associated with online activities and services?

Broadband Jargon Glossary of technical broadband terms

Whilst you may never need to know your yottabits from your zettabytes, even the most seasoned online expert may find themselves searching, ‘Is a megabyte bigger than a kilobyte’ or ‘What on earth is internet latency’.

Our Glossary of Broadband Terms is a tool that promotes digital literacy by explaining key concepts.

Broadband A-Z

ADSL (Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line): A broadband technology that enables faster data transmission over ordinary copper cables.

Asymmetrical Broadband: An internet connection that’s faster in one direction e.g. faster download speeds than upload speeds.

Bandwidth: The maximum amount of data that can be transmitted over a network or internet connection in a given period of time, usually measured in bits per second (bps) or megabits per second (Mbps).

Bits: The smallest unit of data used to measure data speed and capacity.

Bytes: A byte consists of 8 bits and is a basic unit for measuring data size or file storage.

Coaxial cable: A type of wiring used in a cable to provide high-speed internet access to homes and businesses. It’s used for the final section of the journey as a cheaper alternative to fibre.

Capping: Capping limits the amount of data a user can transfer over their internet connection within a specific time period. Once the data cap is reached a user might experience reduced speeds or additional charges.

DSL (Digital Subscriber Line): A technology that uses existing telephone lines to provide high-speed internet access.

Download Speed: Download speed determines how quickly you can receive files, stream media, or access online content.

Data: Any form of digital information that is transmitted over the internet.

Ethernet: A widely used broadband technology for LAN connections which involves using a cable to establish high-speed data connection between devices.

Fibre Optic: A high-speed internet technology that uses thin strands of glass or plastic fibres to transmit data using light signals.

FTTC/FTTP: Fibre To The Cabinet (FTTC) uses fibre optic cables to provide last-mile connectivity from a street cabinet to the user’s premises. Fibre To The Premises (FTTP) uses fibre optic cables all the way into the property.

Gigabit: Equal to 1,000 megabits or 1 billion bits. It’s a measure of data transfer speed.

Hotspot: A location where Wi-Fi or other internet access is provided, often through a wireless router.

Internet: A global network of interconnected computers and devices that communicate using standardised protocols.

ISP (Internet Service Provider): A company that provides internet access to individuals, businesses, and organisations.

IP Address: A unique label assigned to each device connected to a computer network.

Jitter: Refers to the variation in delay of data packets as they are transmitted over a network.

Kilobyte: Equal to 1024 bytes and is often used to measure the size of files, downloads or data transfers.

Latency: The delay or time lag between sending a request and receiving a response over a network.

Lan (Local Area Network): Refers to a network of connected devices within a limited geographical area, such as a home, office or university campus for example.

Lag: The delay between sending a packet of data from one device and its arrival at another, often leading to disruptions in real-time online activities.

Mbps (Megabits Per Second): A unit of measurement for internet speed, representing millions of bits transmitted per second.

Megabyte: A megabyte is equal to 1024 kilobytes and is often used to quantify the size of files, downloads or data transfers.

Modem: A device that converts digital data from a computer into analogue signals for transmission over phone lines and converts received analogue signals back into digital data.

Network: The interconnected system of devices, computers and infrastructure that enables communication and data exchange.

Openreach: Openreach Limited runs the UK’s digital network. This includes managing the copper phone line network and rolling out full fibre broadband.

Ping: A network utility used to test the reachability of a host on an IP network and measure the round-trip time for data to travel between the sender and receiver.

Packet: A unit of data that’s transmitted over a network. It contains the information needed to route and deliver the data to its destination.

Quickline: This is a broadband provider building a network especially for hard-to-reach and rural communities in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.

Router: A device that directs data traffic between devices on a local network and manages communication between the local network and the broader internet.

Satellite Internet: Internet access is provided through satellite signals, often used in rural or remote areas where traditional broadband options are limited.

Streaming: The real-time transmission of audio or video content over the internet for immediate consumption without the need to download the entire file.

Traffic: The data being transferred over a network. It encompasses all the digital information moving across the network.

Upload Speed: The speed at which data is sent from your device to the internet.

VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol): Technology that allows voice communication and multimedia sessions over the internet, often used for making phone calls.

Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity): A wireless networking technology that allows devices to connect to the internet without using physical cables.

XDSL: A family of DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) technologies that includes variations like ADSL (Asymmetric DSL) and VDSL (Very High Bitrate DSL), each with different upload and download speeds.

Yottabit: Equal to 1 septillion bits or 1,024 zettabits. This is an extremely large unit of data measurement.

Zettabyte: Equal to 1 trillion gigabytes or 1 sextillion bytes. This is a measure of data storage capacity.

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