Below is our reference guide for Industry Terms.
Indicates the Second Generation of Mobile (cellular) networks. Introduced Digital Voice Services, text messages, and data connectivity.
Third generation mobile (cellular) networks. A notable jump in data connectivity speeds vs. 2G networks.
3rd party operator who owns and manages wireless network on behalf of others, usually one or more wireless carriers or a property owner. 3PO can be operators of neutral host networks.
Indicates the Fourth generation of mobile (cellular) networks. 4G architecture required an all IP based network, began moving away from a centralized network controller, and offered end users another notable increase in connectivity speeds vs. 3G network services. The majority of the world’s public mobile networks are 4G-based.
- AP: Access point
Access points act as a central transmitter and receiver of WLAN radio signals. Access points which are used in home or in small business networks are generally small, dedicated hardware devices featuring a built-in network adapter, antenna, and radio transmitter. Access points support Wi-Fi wireless communication standards.
Airtime is the time elapsed between the start of a call determined by connecting to your service provider’s network and the termination of a call achieved by pressing the end button. Network connection time includes signals received prior to voice transmission, such as busy signals and ringing.
Amplifier, or electronic amplifier, is commonly used in radio and television transmitters and receivers, high-fidelity (“hi-fi”) stereo equipment, microcomputers and other electronic digital equipment, and guitar and other instrument amplifiers.
Antenna is a device which radiates and/or receives radio signals.
- ARPU: Average revenue per user
Financial metric used by the wireless industry to gauge average amount of monthly revenue they collect per subscriber or wireless customer.
In wireless networks, backhaul refers to the network link between the RF source or Radio Equipment and the Baseband or Controller.
Band – refers to the wireless frequency ranges used in mobile networks. E.g. CBRS Band 48 is 3.55-3.7 GHz (150 MHz). Different wireless carriers around the world use different LTE frequency bands to connect to devices. Most devices today support a large number of frequency bands for maximum compatibility and roaming.
Bluetooth, defined in IEEE 802.15, is for wireless personal area networks (WPANs), which has characters such as short-range, low power, low cost, small networks and communication of devices within a Personal Operating Space. Bluetooth is for wireless transmission between a wide variety of devices such as PCs, cordless phone, headsets and PDAs within 10-meter range.
Broadband refers to telecommunication which provides multiple channels of data over a single communications medium, typically using some form of frequency or wave division multiplexing.
- BS: Base Station
Base station (BS), also called cell site, is the local cellular tower and radio antenna (including the radios, controller, switch interconnect, etc.) that handles communication with mobile users in a particular area or cell. A cellular network is made up of many cell sites or base stations, all connected back to the switch via fixed or microwave links.
- B2B2C – Business to Business to Consumer
It’s where your company sells a product/service to a business, gaining customers and/or data from that business that you get to keep and use. Think Instacart for grocery delivery or OpenTable for restaurant bookings.
- B2C – Business to Consumer
The term business-to-consumer refers to the process of selling products and services directly between consumers who are the end-users of its products or services.
- BYOD – Bring Your Own Device
Bring your own device —also called bring your own technology, bring your own phone, and bring your own personal computer —refers to being allowed to use one’s personally owned device, rather than being required to use an officially provided device from your employer, school, other.
- BYOC– Bring your own carrier
Refers to programs that give you the ability to choose a carrier that best fits your business needs, and in turn, plug them into your unified communications or contact center platforms. The primary driver behind the growing demand for BYOC programs is the migration from on-prem telecom systems to cloud-based deployments.
- CA – Carrier Aggregation
The method by which a wireless carrier can “bond” or concatenate multiple individual channels into a single channel in order to get improved speed or performance.
- Carrier Frequency
Carrier Frequency refers to the nominal frequency of a carrier wave, the frequency of the unmodulated electrical wave at the output of an amplitude modulated, the center frequency of a frequency modulation signal, frequency modulated, or phase modulated transmitter of the output of a transmitter when the modulation is zero.
- CBRS Band | CBRS
The Citizen’s Broadband Radio Service band, comprised of 150 MHz of spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band. Also known as Band 48
Citizens Broadband Radio Service Device: CBRS specific radio access points that operate on a Priority Access or General Authorized Access basis.
- CBRS Alliance
An industry organization focused on driving the development, commercialization, and adoption of OnGo™ shared spectrum solutions.
- CDMA: Code Division Multiple Access
Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) is a second-generation (2G) cellular technology defined by Qualcomm. Other widely used multiple access techniques for cellular are Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA) and Frequency Division Multiple Access (FDMA).
- Cell Site
Cell Site, also called Base Station, is the local cellular tower and radio antenna (including the radios, controller, switch interconnect, etc.) that handles communication with subscribers in a particular area or cell. A cellular network is made up of many cell sites, all connected back to the switch via landline or microwave.
- Cellular Handoff
Cellular Handoff refers to the process that a telephone call is switched by computers from one transmitter to the next without disconnecting the signal, as a vehicle moves from cell to cell. The mobile remains on a specific channel until signal strength diminishes, and then is automatically told to go to another channel and pick up the transferred transmissions there.
- Cellular Radio
Cellular Radio is the technology that uses radio transmissions to access telephone-company networks. Service is provided in a particular area by a low-power transmitter.
Channel refers to a one-way telecommunications link or transmission medium through which information or signal is transmitted from a sender (or transmitter) to a receiver. They may be either physical or logical depending on the application. A Radio Frequency (RF) channel is a physical channel, whereas control and traffic channels within the RF channel would be considered logical channels.
In wireless communications, coverage refers to the region within which a paging receiver can receive reliably the transmission of the paging signals.
- Coverage Area
Coverage area is the geographical reach of a mobile communications network or system.
- Coverage Hole
Coverage hole is an area within the radio coverage footprint of a wireless system in which the RF signal level is below the design threshold. Coverage holes are usually caused by physical obstructions such as buildings, foliage, hills, tunnels and indoor parking garages.
- Cross Talk
Cross Talk refers to the interfering energy transferred from one circuit to another, or the unwanted information from one channel to “spill over” into an adjacent channel.
A distributed antenna system, or DAS, is a way to deal with isolated spots of poor coverage inside a large building by installing a network of antennas throughout a building. Because distributed antenna systems operate on licensed spectrum, an enterprise cannot undertake a DAS deployment on its own without involving at least one carrier.
- dBm: deciBels referenced to a milli-Watt
deciBels referenced to a milli-Watt (dBm) is a technique for expressing a power measurement in logarithmic form using 1 mW as a reference.
- Dead Spot
Dead Spot is an area within the coverage area of a wireless network in which there is no coverage or transmission falling off. Dead spots are often caused by electronic interference or physical barriers such as hills, tunnels and indoor parking garages. See also coverage area.
Downlink (DL) is the transmission path from the base station down to the mobile station.
- EMI: Electromagnetic Interference
Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) is the interference by electromagnetic signals that can cause reduced data integrity and increased error rates on transmission channels
- ESC- Environmental Sensing Capability
Used in CBRS network environments which detect federal radar transmissions and inform the Spectrum Access System to dynamically reallocate users in the area to other parts of the band.
- ESC Operator– An entity authorized by the FCC to operate an ESC network.
- ESN: Electronic Serial Number
Electronic Serial Number (ESN) is a unique unchangeable number that is built into the mobile phone and is transmitted by the phone as a means of identifying itself within the system. Each mobile phone is assigned a unique ESN.
- FCC: Federal Communications Commission
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is the regulatory body governing communications technologies in the US. established by the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, and regulates interstate communications (wire, radio, telephone, telegraph and telecommunications) originating in the United States.
- Fixed Wireless
Fixed wireless refers to the over-the-air transmission of information to and from systems and end-user equipment that are stationary, rather than mobile. Operators of fixed wireless networks can potentially offer broadband services without having to lay expensive cable systems or deal with the complexities of mobility management.
Frequency is the measurement of the number of times that a repeated event occurs per unit time. To calculate the frequency of an event, the number of occurrences of the event within a fixed time interval are counted, and then divided by the length of the time interval.
- Fringe Area
The outermost range of a cellular system where cellular signals may be weaker.
- EPC – Evolved Packet Core
A standard term for the control element in a 4G mobile (cellular) network. The EPC is responsible for managing, coordinating, and authenticating connection requests from wireless users who are connecting to an ENodeB or Evolved Node B.
- eSIM – embedded Subscriber Identity Module
eSIM – is a global specification by the GSMA which enables remote SIM provisioning of any mobile device, and GSMA defines eSIM as the SIM for the next generation of connected consumer device, and networking solution using eSIM technology can be widely applicable to various Internet of Things (IoT) scenarios, including connected cars (smart rearview mirror, on-board diagnostics, vehicle hotspot), MiFi device, smart metering, bike sharing, video surveillance devices, etc.
Gain refers to the ratio of the output amplitude of a signal to the input amplitude of a signal. This ratio typically is expressed in dBs. The higher the gain, the better the antenna receives or transmits but also the more noise it includes.
- GPRS: General Packet Radio Service
General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) technology is part of 2G Mobile (Cellular) network. It operates at speeds of up to 115Kbit/sec., compared with the 9.6Kbit/sec. of older GSM systems. It enabled wireless Internet connectivity and mobile applications such as e-mail, games and applications.
- GPS: Global Positioning System
The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a “constellation” of 24 satellites that orbit the Earth at a height of 10,900 miles, making it possible for people using ground receivers to determine their geographic location within 10 to 100 meters. The satellites use simple mathematical calculations to broadcast information that is translated as longitude, latitude and altitude by Earth-based receivers.
- GAA- General Authorized Access
The third tier of the three-tier shared spectrum model. GAA users are permitted to use any portion of the 3.5 GHz band not in use by higher tier users.
- Het Net – Heterogeneous network
A heterogeneous network is a network connecting computers and other devices with different operating systems and/or network protocols. HetNet is also used in wireless networks using different access technologies. For example, a wireless network that provides a service through WiFi and is able to maintain the service when switching to LTE is called a wireless heterogeneous network.
- Hand Off (Handoff)
The process of transferring a call in progress from the current base station to another without interruption as the user moves out of range of the current base station.
- Hot spot or hotspot
An area, such as a hotel, restaurant or airport, that offers Wi-Fi access, either free or for a fee.
- HSPA: High Speed Packet Access
High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA), specified in 3GPP Release 5, extends WCDMA with additional transport and control channels, such as the high-speed downlink shared channel (HS-DSCH), which provides enhanced supports for interactive, background and, to some extent, streaming services.
- ICD- Initial Commercial Deployment
- iDEN: Integrated Digital Enhanced Network
A Motorola-enhanced mobile radio network technology that integrates two-way radio, telephone, text messaging, and data transmission into a single network. iDEN wireless handsets are utilized in a variety of work environments ranging from manufacturing floors to executive conference rooms as well as mobile sales forces.
- IEEE – Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers.
A professional association for electronic engineering and electrical engineering (and associated disciplines). As of 2018, it is the world’s largest association of technical professionals with more than 423,000 members in over 160 countries around the world.
- IMEI: International Mobile Equipment Identity
A number unique to every GSM (2G) and UMTS (3G) mobile phone. It is usually found printed on the phone underneath the battery and can also be found by dialing the sequence *#06# into the phone. The IMEI number is used by the GSM network to identify valid devices and therefore can be used to stop a stolen phone from accessing the network.
Interference is the effect that occurs when undesired signals inhibits or degrades the reception of a desired signal.
- IoT – Internet of Things
A general term indicating the connectivity of all kinds of devices to public or private networks. Connections can be fixed or wireless, and applications can address a large variety of use cases – smart buildings, smart cities, connected home, etc.
- IP – Internet Protocol
The universal network communication protocol used by the internet and 4G-LTE wireless networks. IP places all data types (voice, video, data) into addressed packets that traverse networks from source to destination(s).
- ITU – International Telecommunication Union
A specialized agency of the United Nations that is responsible for issues that concern information and communication technologies. It is the oldest global international organization.
Jamming refers to the interference with the air radio transmission. It may be used by people who is trying to disturb the receiver from receiving the radio signal at a target frequency.
- KPI – Key performance indicator
A type of performance measurement. KPIs evaluate the success of an organization or of a particular activity (such as projects, programs, products and other initiatives) in which it engages.
- LAA – Licensed-Assisted Access [LTE]
LTE in unlicensed spectrum (LTE-Unlicensed, LTE-U) is a proposed extension of the LTE wireless standard intended to allow cellular network operators to offload some of their data traffic by accessing the unlicensed 5 GHz frequency band
- LOS – Line of sight
Line-of-sight refers to radio waves which travel directly in a line from the transmitting antenna to the receiving antenna. It does not necessarily require a cleared sight path; at lower frequencies radio waves can pass through buildings, foliage and other obstructions.
- LOS: Loss of Signal
Loss of signal (LOS) is a condition where the received signal drops below threshold due to a terrain obstruction or other phenomenon increasing the link budget loss beyond design parameters.
- LTE – Long Term Evolution
A registered trademark owned by ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute) for the wireless data communications technology and a development of the GSM/UMTS standards. The goal of LTE was to increase the capacity and speed of wireless data networks. A further goal was the redesign and simplification of the network architecture to an IP-based system with significantly reduced transfer latency compared to the 3G architecture.
- MAC Address
MAC address (Media Access Control) is the unique address associated with every hardware device on the network (fixed or wireless). This unique identifier can be used to provide security for wireless networks.
- MACRO Cell
MACRO Cell, also known as macrocell, is a large cell in a wireless system capable of covering a large physical area. Macrocells are used in rural areas and other areas where subscriber or traffic densities are low.
- MHz: Megahertz
MHz or Megahertz, in which one MHz is equal to one million Hertz, is a measurement of frequency.
A very small cell used in densely populated areas where traffic volume is high. There is no official definition of what cell radius distinguishes a small cell from a microcell.
The electromagnetic waves in the frequency range of 1 to 30 GHz. Microwave-based networks are an evolving technology gaining favor due to high bandwidth and relatively low cost.
- Millimeter Wave Spectrum (MMwave)
The band of spectrum between 30 gigahertz (GHz) and 300 GHz
- MIMO: Multiple Input Multiple Output
Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) refers to using multiple antennas in a Wireless device to improve performance and throughput. The MIMO technology takes advantage of a characteristic called multipath, which occurs when a radio transmission starts out at point A and then reflects off or passes through surfaces or objects before arriving, via multiple paths, at point B. MIMO technology uses multiple antennas to collect and organize signals arriving via these paths.
- MIN: Mobile Identification Number
A unique identification number given to a mobile device. In most cases, this number is the telephone number of the handset. In the case of analog cellular, the MIN is used to route the call.
- MMS: Multimedia Messaging Service
Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) allows users to send messages containing text, pictures, sounds, and other rich media between cell phones.
- Mobile IP
Mobile IP is the key protocol to enable mobile computing and networking, which brings together two of the world’s most powerful technologies — the Internet and mobile communication. In Mobile IP, two IP addresses are provided for each computer: home IP address which is fixed and care-of IP address which is changing as the computer moves. When the mobile moves to a new location, it must send its new address to an agent at home so that the agent can tunnel all communications to its new address timely.
- Mobile phone network
Mobile phone network is a network of cells. Each cell is served by a radio base station from where calls are forwarded to and received from your mobile phone by wireless radio signals.
- Mobile Satellite
A personal communications service that is anticipated to provide two-way voice and data communications using satellites, handheld phones, and wireless modems incorporated into devices such as notebook computers. It is expected that Mobile Satellite services will offer enhanced features such as call waiting and voice mail. Geographic service coverage is anticipated to be larger than most PCS services and may be worldwide.
Modulation refers to carrying information on a signal by varying one or more of the signal’s basic characteristics — frequency, amplitude and phase. Different modulation carries the information as the change from the immediately preceding state rather than the absolute state.
- MSA: Metropolitan Statistical Area
Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) is a geographic area over which a cellular operator is licensed to provide service. MSAs are groups of counties in metropolitan areas having common financial, commercial and economic ties and were first used to license cellular service in the early ’80s. MSAs cross state lines in some instances. MSAs were first used by the Dept.of Commerce to collect economic data.
- MSO: Multi-Services Operator
Multi-Services Operator (MSO) is a service provider which provides multiple services such as voice (mobile and fixed line), data and video. MSO is a common term applied to CATV companies, e.g. Comcast.
- MSS: Mobile Satellite Service
Mobile satellite services (MSS) refers to the communications satellites network for mobile and portable wireless telephones services. There are three major types of MSS: AMSS (aeronautical MSS), LMSS (land MSS), and MMSS (maritime MSS).
- MPLS – Multiprotocol Label Switching
A routing technique in telecom networks that directs data from one node to the next based on short path labels rather than long network addresses, thus avoiding complex lookups in a routing table and speeding traffic flows. The labels identify virtual links (paths) between distant nodes rather than endpoints. MPLS can encapsulate packets of various network protocols hence the “multiprotocol” reference on its name.
- MSC – Mobile switching center
The primary service delivery node for 2G based GSM/CDMA networks, responsible for routing voice calls and SMS messages as well as other services (such as conference calls, FAX and circuit switched data). The MSC sets up and releases the end-to-end connection, handles mobility and hand-over requirements during the call and takes care of charging and real time prepaid account monitoring.
A propagation phenomenon characterized by the arrival of multiple versions of the same signal from different locations shifted in time due to having taken different transmission paths of varying lengths.
- Multiple access
Multiple access is the process of allowing multiple radio links or users to address the same radio channel on a coordinated basis. Typical multiple access technologies include FDMA, TDMA, CDMA, and FHMA.
- NLOS – Non Line of Sight
Many types of radio transmissions depend, to varying degrees, on Line of Sight (LOS) between the transmitter and receiver. Obstacles that commonly cause NLOS conditions include buildings, trees, hills, mountains, and, in some cases, high voltage power lines. Some of these obstructions reflect certain radio frequencies, while some simply absorb or garble the signals; but, in either case, they limit the use of many types of radio transmissions, especially when low on power budget.
- NOC-Network Operations Center
Support Facility employed by major service providers and technology companies to offer 24×7 services and support for customers.
Noise refers to any undesirable communication channel signals.
- Neutral Host
A third party or “neutral” operator who builds out, owns, and operates network infrastructure and then has agreements with one or more of the national wireless carriers to “host” the carrier’s wireless service on their own network. The carriers typically pay the neutral host a monthly fee to basically lease access to the neutral host network. This is a common model for providing service in larger marquee venues, e.g. pro sports stadium, convention centers, or large multi-tenant office space.
The trademarked brand of the CBRS Alliance referencing technologies and wireless services based on CBRS spectrum in the 3.5 GHz Band 48.
- OTT – Over the top
Over-the-Top (OTT) apps and services that are typically used over the Internet rather than over the networks of a traditional wireless, wireline, or cable operator.
- PA: Power Amplifier
A device for taking a low or intermediate-level signal and significantly boosting its power level. A power amplifier is usually the final stage of amplification in a transmitter.
- Packet Radio
A form of digital data transmission used in amateur radio to construct wireless computer networks. Its name is a reference to the use of packet switching between network nodes, which allows multiple virtual circuits to coexist on a single radio channel. Packet radio networks use the AX.25 data link layer protocol, derived from the X.25 protocol suite and designed for amateur radio use.
Priority Access License, the second tier of the three-tier shared spectrum model. PAL licenses within the band are assigned based on spectrum auctions.
- Panel Antenna
An antenna type that radiates in only a specific direction. Panel antennas are commonly used for point-to-point situations. You may also see them called “patch antennas.
- Parabolic Antenna
Parabolic Antenna is an antenna type that radiates a very narrow beam in a specific direction. Parabolic antennas offer the highest gain for long-range point-to-point situations.
Pairing is the process of engaging two Bluetooth devices to each other so they can communicate.
- Path Loss
The amount of loss introduced by the propagation environment between a transmitter and receiver. Power loss that occurs when RF waves are transmitted through the air. This loss occurs because the atmosphere provides a filtering effect to the signal. Certain electromagnetic frequencies (very high and non-commercial) are completely blocked or filtered by the atmosphere.
- PCIA: Personal Communications Industry Association
Personal Communications Industry Association (PCIA) is a trade group representing PCS, SMR, private radio and other wireless users and carriers.
- Peak power
Peak power is the maximum instantaneous power radiated by a pulsed or bursted transmitter. It is the power radiated while the transmitter is keyed or operated.
- Pico cell
A very small cell in a mobile network for boosting capacity within buildings.
- Private LTE
Standards-based Long Term Evolution networks designed to serve specific enterprise business, government or educational purposes. They can be operated by traditional mobile operators, third-party network providers or by enterprises.
Propagation is the process an electromagnetic wave undergoes as it is radiated from the antenna and spreads out across the physical terrain. See also propagation channel.
- Radio link
Radio link refers to the equipment and transmission path (propagation channel) used to carry on communications. It includes the transmitting system, the propagation channel and receiving system.
- RAN: Radio Access Network
The ground-based infrastructure required for delivery of third-generation wireless communications services, including high-speed mobile access to the Internet. The RAN must be able to manage a wide range of tasks for each user, including access, roaming, transparent connection to the public switched telephone network and the Internet, and Quality of Service (QoS) management for data and Web connections.
Receiver is a device on a transmission path which converts the signals as received from the transmission system into the signals required by the destination equipment.
Registration, in mobile wireless, is the process by which a mobile station informs the immediate service provider of its presence in the network and its desire to receive service.
Remote Access Point, also known as relay access points, is one of a number of secondary access points in a wireless network that uses Wireless Distribution System (WDS) to extend its range. Remote access points connect to a master access point.
Repeater, also known as network repeater, is a type of network device that regenerates incoming electrical, wireless or optical signals. With physical media like Ethernet or Wi-Fi, data transmissions can only span a limited distance before the quality of the signal degrades. Repeaters attempt to preserve signal integrity and extend the distance over which data can safely travel. Active hubs are repeaters. In Wi-Fi, access points function as repeaters when operating in so-called “repeater mode.” In mobile wireless, repeater receives radio signals from the base station and then amplified and retransmitted to areas where radio shadow occurs, and vice versa.
- RF: Radio Frequency
Radio Frequency generally refers to wireless communications with frequencies below 300 GHz. Radio frequencies can be used for communications between a mobile telephone and an antenna mast.
- RF License: Radio Frequency License
Radio Frequency (RF) License is the purchased right to transmit RF waves over a given BTA for typically periods of 10 years. The license tightly governs the design parameters of an RF system and its use. RF licenses typically are purchased from the government (FCC) on an auction basis.
- RFI: Radio Frequency Interference
Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) refers to the noise caused by other Radio Frequency that interferes with information being transmitted across unshielded copper cable.
Roaming refers to the movement of a mobile device from one wireless network location to another without interruption in service or loss in connectivity. When a call is made to a roaming mobile, the public telephone network will route the call to your service provider’s network since that is where your phone number terminates. Your home network is then responsible for re-routing the call to the host network.
- Rogue Access Point
Rogue Access Point is an unauthorized access point installed on a network that may provide an entry point for unauthorized network access.
- RSA: Rural Service Area
Rural Service Area (RSA) is a geographic area in the US over which a cellular operator is licensed to provide service. RSAs are a group of rural counties having common financial, commercial and economic ties and were used to license cellular services together in the latter 1980s. RSAs cross state lines in some instances and were developed during a public rule making process at the FCC in 1987 and 1988.
- RSSI: Relative Signal Strength Indicator
Relative Signal Strength Indicator (RSSI) is a measurement of radio signals at the point in which they are received and measured.
- S/I: Signal-to-interference ratio
Signal-to-interference ratio (S/I) is the ratio of power in a signal to the interference power in the channel. The term is usually applied to lower frequency signals, such as voice waveforms, but can also be used to describe the carrier wave. See also carrier-to-interference ratio.
- S/N: Signal-To-Noise Ratio
Signal-To-Noise Ratio (S/N) is a measure of the power of a signal versus noise. A higher ratio means that there is more signal relative to noise.
- SAS- Spectrum Aces System
Technology that authorizes and manages use of spectrum, protecting the higher-tier users from lower-tier users and optimizing efficient use of the available spectrum in the band for all users.
- SAS Administrator
An entity authorized by the FCC to operate an SAS
A satellite is a specialized wireless receiver/transmitter that is launched by a rocket and placed in orbit around the earth. They are used for such diverse purposes as weather forecasting, television broadcast, amateur radio communications, Internet communications, and the Global Positioning System.
A coverage area associated with a base station having its own antennas, radio ports and control channels. The concept of sectors was developed to improve co-channel interference in cellular systems, and most wireless systems use three sector cells.
- Sector Antenna
An antenna type that radiates in only a specific direction. Multiple sector antennas are commonly used in point-to-multipoint situations.
- SHF: Super High Frequency
Super High Frequency (SHF) is the RF spectrum between 3 GHz and 30 GHz.
- Shared Spectrum
A way to optimize the use of the airwaves, or wireless communications channels, by enabling multiple categories of users to safely and efficiently share the same frequency bands.
- Signal Booster
Signal Booster compensates for loss of effect (weakening of the signal in the coaxial cable) between the outer antenna and the phone. It can apply to both incoming and outgoing signals.
- Signal Loss
The amount of signal strength that’s lost in antenna cable, connectors, and free space. Signal loss is measured in decibels.
- Signal Strength
The strength of the radio waves in a wireless network.
- SIM Card
Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) Card is used in the GSM phones to carry all critical information about the phone and subscriber.
- SINR: Signal to Interference plus Noise Ratio
The ratio of the received strength of the desired signal to the received strength of undesired signals (noise and interference).
- SISO: Single Input Single Output
A form of antenna technology for wireless communications in which a single antenna at both the transmitter and at the destination (receiver) are used.
- Site Survey
A survey conducted at the location for a new WLAN in an effort to avoid what could be time-consuming and costly problems down the road. It involves diagramming the network, checking the building and testing the equipment.
- SMS: Short Message Service
Refers to the service that allows the transmission of short text messages among mobile devices such as smartphones. SMS was originally designed as part of 2G GSM but is widely supported on 3G, 4G, and 5G networks.
- SNIR: Signal to Noise + Interference Ratio
The ratio of usable signal being transmitted to the undesired signal (noise) plus interference from other or the same channels. It is a measure of transmission quality. The ratio of good data (signal) to bad (noise + interference) on a line is expressed in decibels (dB).
- SHO: Soft Handoff
Soft Handoff (SHO) refers to two base stations — one in the cell site where the phone is located and the other in the cell site to which the conversation is being passed, but both are held on the call until the handoff is completed. The first cell site does not cut off the conversation until it receives information that the second is maintaining the call.
A continuous range of frequency for electromagnetic waves.
- Spectrum Allocation
A government designation of a range of frequencies for a category of use or uses. Allocation, typically accomplished in years-long FCC proceedings, tracks new technology development. However, the FCC can shift existing allocations to accommodate changes in spectrum demand. As an example, some UHF television channels were recently reallocated to public safety.
- SSID: Service Set Identifier
A set of 32 characters that give a unique name to a WLAN. All wireless devices on a WLAN must employ the same SSID in order to communicate with each other. The SSID on wireless clients can be set either manually, by entering the SSID into the client network settings, or automatically, by leaving the SSID unspecified or blank. A network administrator often uses a public SSID, that is set on the access point and broadcast to all wireless devices in range. Some newer wireless access points disable the automatic SSID broadcast feature in an attempt to improve network security.
- SFP – Small Form-factor Pluggable
A compact, hot pluggable network interface module used for both telecom and data network applications. It is a popular industry format jointly developed and supported by many network component vendors. The advantage of using SFPs instead of fixed interfaces is that the interface port can be equipped with any suitable type of transceiver as needed.
- SLA – Service Level Agreement
A commitment between a service provider and a client. Particular aspects of the service – quality, availability, responsibilities – are agreed between the service provider and the service user. The most common component of an SLA is that the services should be provided to the customer as agreed upon in the contract.
- TDMA: Time Division Multiple Access
This divides a radio frequency available to a network into time slots and then allocates slots to multiple calls. So one frequency can support multiple, simultaneous data channels, using bandwidth more efficiently than earlier technologies. Available in 800-MHz or 1900-MHz frequencies, TDMA is used by the GSM digital cellular system.
The integration of wireless communications, vehicle monitoring systems and location devices.
A device that generates radio waves and sends them to the antenna.
- Two-Way Communication
Two – Way Communication occurs between communications of radio stations, each having a transmitter and receiver. The stations may be in fixed locations, mobile or portable ones, or in any combination.
- UE: User Equipment
Refers to end user devices (e.g. smartphone, tablet, laptop) in a wireless network that enables users to communicate through wireless communication networks.
- UHF: Ultra High Frequency
Refers to the RF spectrum between 300 MHz and 3 GHz.
- Ultra Wideband
A wireless networking approach that broadcasts millions of tiny pulses at trillionth-of-second intervals using very low power over enormous swaths of spectrum. In comparison, traditional radios broadcast continuously on tiny bits of spectrum. Ultra Wideband is commonly abbreviated to UWB.
- UMTS: Universal Mobile Telecommunications System
A 3G cellular network technology that uses WCDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access) technologies. The transmission rates range from a theoretical 384K bit/sec for mobile phones to 2M bit/sec for stationary devices.
- UL: Uplink
The transmission path from the mobile station up to the base station.
- Urban cells
The coverage provided by base stations located in urban areas. The radius of these cells is usually much smaller than suburban and rural cells due to the more difficult propagation environment.
A standard defining the format of an electronic business card. All devices supporting vCard can exchange information such as phone numbers and addresses. For instance, a user with a vCard-aware phonebook application on a handheld computer can easily transfer names and phone numbers to a vCard-aware mobile phone.
- vEPC – Virtual EPC
An EPC or Evolved Packet Core, the control element in 4G wireless (cellular) networks, can be virtualized across multiple instances to address cost, reliability, performance, and scaling issues.
- VHF: Very High Frequency
The RF spectrum between 30 MHz and 300 MHz.
- Voice Activated Dialing
A feature that permits you to dial a phone number by speaking it to your wireless phone instead of punching it in yourself. The feature contributes to convenience as well as driving safety.
- WAP: Wireless Access Point
A wireless access point (WAP), also known as Access Point (AP), is a device that “connects” wireless communication devices together to create a wireless network. WAPs act as a central transmitter and receiver of WLAN radio signals. Access points used in home or small business networks are generally small, dedicated hardware devices featuring a built-in network adapter, antenna, and radio transmitter. Access points support Wi-Fi wireless communication standards. Many WAPs can be connected together to create a larger network that allows “roaming”.
The length of one complete wave of an alternating or vibrating phenomenon, generally measured from crest to crest or from trough to trough of successive waves.
- Wi-Fi Alliance
A non-profit international association formed in 1999 to certify interoperability of WLAN products based on the IEEE 802.11 specification. Currently, the Wi-Fi Alliance has over 200 member companies from around the world, and over 1,000 products have received Wi-Fi certification since the certification began in March of 2000. The goal of the Wi-Fi Alliance’s members is to enhance the user experience through product interoperability.
- Wi-Fi: Wireless Fidelity
Wireless Fidelity (WiFi or Wi-Fi), originally nicknamed for 802.11b for wireless LAN with bandwidth up to 11 Mbps, now refers to the entire wireless LAN technologies including 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g and 802.11n etc. Wi-Fi is actually the industry name for wireless LAN (WLAN) communication technology related to the IEEE 802.11 family of wireless networking standards.
- WISP – Wireless ISP
A wireless Internet service provider (WISP) is an Internet Service Provider (ISP) with a network based on wireless networking. Technology may include commonplace WiFi, licensed LTE spectrum, CBRS, or proprietary equipment designed to operate over open 2.4 GHz, 4.9, 5, 24, and 60 GHz bands
- Yagi Antenna
An antenna type that radiates in only a specific direction. Yagi antennas are used only in point-to-point situations.
- 5G – 5th Generation of Mobile (Cellular) Networks
Emerging 5th generation of advanced mobile network architecture and functionality that will use a blend of existing low band, new mid band, and mmWave wireless spectrum and promises gigabit connectivity to devices, very low latency (delay), and the support of massive IoT (Internet of Things) connectivity.
- EDGE – Enhanced Data for GSM Evolution
Early data transport connectivity service between user device and network for 2G (second generation) mobile (cellular) networks. Sometimes unofficially characterized as 2.5G capability. Downlink speeds (Network à User Device) of up to 384 Kbps.
- GSM – Global System for Mobile Communications
A standard developed by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute to describe the protocols for 2G (second generation) digital cellular networks used by mobile devices such as mobile phones and tablets.
Cloud computing is the on-demand availability of computer system resources, especially data storage and computing power, without active management by the user. The term is generally used to describe data centers accessible to many users over the internet. Large clouds, predominant today, often have functions distributed over multiple locations from central servers. If the connection to the user is relatively close, it may be designated an edge server. Clouds may be limited to a single organization (enterprise clouds) or be available to many organizations (public cloud).
- Data Center
A collection of computing servers and storage assembled and coordinated to securely store applications and information available for enterprises and users via dedicated network connection or via the internet.
- 3GPP – 3rd Generation Partnership Project
Global Standards body that defines standards around network architecture, technology interworking, and functionality for advanced mobile (cellular) networks. It has done much work in the definition and support of GSM and 2G, UMTS and 3G, LTE and 4G, and emerging 5G network standards.
- Fiber (Dark/Lit)
Optical fiber that can support light pulses transmitted at different frequencies to ultimately transport large amounts of digital data over short, medium, and long distances. Lit fiber indicates a service is actively used on the fiber, e.g. metro ethernet, wave. Dark fiber indicates no active service (or light pulses) used on the fiber, i.e. it is “dark.”
Latency, or network delay is an important design and performance characteristic of a computer network or telecommunications network. The delay of a network specifies how long it takes for a bit of data to travel across the network from one endpoint to another. It is typically measured in multiples or fractions of seconds, e.g. milliseconds. 5G performance has targets to achieve very low latency in order to support new applications like autonomous vehicles. Delay may differ slightly, depending on the location of the specific pair of communicating endpoints.
- Kbps – Kilobits per Second
Measurement of transport speed on a network link or connection – 1 Kbps = 1000 (Thousand) bits per second
- Mbps – Megabits per Second
Measurement of transport speed on a network link or connection – 1 Mbps = 1,000,000 (Million) bits per second or 1000 Kbps
- Gbps – Gigabits per Second
Measurement of transport speed on a network link or connection – 1 Gbps = 1,000,000,000 (Billion) bits per second or 1000 Mbps
- Tbps – Terabits per Second
Measurement of transport speed on a network link or connection – 1 Tbps = 1,000,000,000,000 (Trillion) bits per second or 1000 Gbps.
- MB – Megabyte
Standard unit of measurement for digital file size or capacity. 1 MB = 1 million bytes or 8 million bits, i.e. 1 byte = 8 bits.
- GB – Gigabyte
Standard unit of measurement for digital file size or capacity. 1 GB = 1 billion bytes or 8 billion bits, i.e. 1 byte = 8 bits.
- TB – Terabyte
Standard unit of measurement for digital file size or capacity. 1 TB = 1 trillion bytes or 8 trillion bits, i.e. 1 byte = 8 bits.
- FDD – Frequency Division Duplexing
In a mobile network (cellular) the transmitter and receiver transmit and receive data between the network and user device using different wireless frequencies.
- Front Haul
In a wireless network architecture, typically the physical connection or link between the component that does the Baseband Units processing and the component that transmits and receives the RF signal is called the Fronthaul.
- CPRI – Common Public Radio Interface
In a mobile network (cellular) it’s the standard that defines the communication protocol between Radio Equipment Controllers or Baseband Units and the RF Equipment.
- RRH – Remote Radio Head
The mobile network (cellular) architecture that decouples the Baseband Processing Components and the RF Equipment. Instead of these two components bundled in a single physical package, they can be deployed miles apart and connected via optical or coax cables. Offers deployment flexibility and better network scaling.
- PCS – Personal Communication Services
In Canada, Mexico and the United States, PCS are wireless (cellular) services provided in the 1900 MHz band (Frequency Bands 2, 25, 37)). This frequency band was designated by the United States FCC and Industry Canada to be used for new wireless services to alleviate capacity caps inherent in the original AMPS and D-AMPS cellular networks in the 850 MHz band. These frequency bands are particular to North America and other frequency bands may be designated in other regions.
- AWS – Advanced Wireless Services
A wireless spectrum band (Frequency Bands 4, 6, 66) used for mobile voice and data services, video, and messaging. AWS is used in the United States, Argentina, Canada, Colombia, Mexico, Chile, Paraguay, Ecuador, and Venezuela.
- GA Licenses – General Access License
In a CBRS environment, the General Authorized Access tier is licensed-by-rule to permit open, flexible access to the CBRS band 48 for the widest possible group of potential users. General Authorized Access users are permitted to use any portion of the 3550-3700 MHz band not assigned to a higher tier user (PAL or incumbent) and may also operate opportunistically on unused Priority Access channels.
- PAL License – Priority Access License
In a CBRS environment, PALs are licenses within the 3550-3650 MHz portion of the CBRS band 48. Each PAL is defined as a non-renewable authorization to use a 10 MHz channel in a single census tract for three-years. Up to seven total PALs may be assigned in any given census tract with up to four PALs going to any single applicant.
- NodeB – Node B
A mobile (cellular) base station used in 3G-UMTS compliant Mobile Networks. Provides the wireless connectivity between the network and user device, e.g. smartphone. A Node B requires a centralized control element or RNC (Radio Network Controller).
- eNodeB – Evolved Node B – eNB
A mobile (cellular) base station used in 4G-LTE compliant Mobile Networks. Provides the wireless connectivity between the network and user device, e.g. smartphone. Unlike the Node B, the eNB has its own integrated control element vs. relying on a separate centralized RNC.
- NR – New Radio
A mobile (cellular) base station used in 5G compliant Mobile Networks. Provides the wireless connectivity between the network and the user device, e.g. smartphone or IoT element.
- Low Band Spectrum
Wireless (Cellular) Spectrum Frequencies below 1 GHz. Frequencies in this range typically propagate farther and penetrate materials better than Mid-Band spectrum.
- Mid-Band Spectrum
Wireless (Cellular) Spectrum Frequencies in the 1-6 GHz range. Frequencies in this range typically provide faster connectivity speeds than Low-Band spectrum but are more limited in the distances they can travel.
- LTE-A – LTE-Advanced
A 4G network enhancement that will utilize several standard technical methods such as Carrier Aggregation, 4×4 MIMO, and 64 QAM as ways to increase connectivity bandwidth and performance between the user device (e.g. smartphone) and a mobile (cellular) network’s RF source. Some carriers have rebranded LTE-A based networks as a stepping-stone to 5G or 5GE (evolution).
- Small Cell
Low-powered cellular radio access nodes that operate in licensed and unlicensed spectrum that have a range of 10 meters to a few kilometers. They are “small” compared to a mobile macrocell partly because they have a shorter range and partly because they typically handle fewer concurrent calls or sessions. They make best use of available spectrum by re-using the same frequencies many times within a geographical area.
- WiMax – Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access
WiMax is a family of wireless broadband communication standards led by the WiMax Forum and based on the IEEE 802.16 set of standards. In the US it operates at the 2.5 GHz frequency range and can be used in a variety of applications – Fixed Wireless for last mile access to home or business, Backhaul to a fiber hub. Sometimes casually referenced as Wi-Fi on steroids. Sprint was a major proponent of WiMax, but it has since fallen out of favor for other wireless alternatives.
- VoLTE – Voice over LTE
Voice over Long-Term Evolution (VoLTE) is a new way for transporting voice calls starting with 4G-LTE based mobile (cellular) networks. This approach for the support of voice calls results in the voice service being delivered as pure IP data flows within the LTE all IP data service. In short, unlike earlier generations of mobile networks, there is no more dependency on the legacy circuit-switched voice network to be maintained. VoLTE also offers up support for higher-quality voice codecs and has up to three times more voice and data capacity than 3G UMTS and up to six times more than 2G GSM based transport.