Broadband Jargon Buster

ACTIVATION DATE  -   This normally refers to the date when the Broadband provider will activate ADSL on a phoneline.

ADSL  -  Stands for "Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line". Part of the general suite of technology known as DSL. This allows fast download speeds of up to around 8 Meg. A called ADSL2+ allows speeds of around 24 Mb. The upload speed is typically much slower at around 256Kbps to 1.3 Meg, hence the term asymmetric, meaning a different download and upload speed. This is the most common form of Broadband around at the moment with high availability through a BT phoneline.

AVAILABILITY CHECKER  -  A service to check whether you can receive broadband offered on broadband provider websites. For ADSL broadband through a BT line, this can be done using BT's ADSL Checker.

BANDWIDTH  - The maximum amount of data you can receive over your connection at one time, measured in Kilo (thousands) or Mega (millions) bits (binary digits) per second. Most home users can get by on speeds above 256Kbps. For serious downloading and online gaming you should aim for 1Mbps or more.

BIT  - Computers process information in the form of zeroes and ones - known as binary digits or bits. All information you receive over the internet in letters, documents, sounds and visuals are held as bits at the most basic level. Bandwidth is measured by how many thousands or millions of bits per second can be delivered or received.

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BLUETOOTH  -  Bluetooth technology is a wireless form of transmission that lets you connect devices such as mobile phones, handheld PCs and PDAs over short distances.

BRAS -   (BT Max only) A system in the telephone exchange that handles your line profile containing details such as your data rate.

BROADBAND  -  The common term for a high bandwidth connection to the Internet, normally at speeds over 128Kbps. The actual term  "Broadband" refers to data transmission through several channels using the same wire.

BYTE  -  8 bits are in a byte. A byte is best thought of as the number of bits a computer requires to represent a single letter, number or other symbolic character. Documents and other files are measured (sized) in thousands or millions (mega) of bytes.

CABLE BROADBAND  -  Many cable providers can provide a broadband service using their own Cable network, such as NTL and Telewest.

CAPPED  -  Many broadband service providers have a usage limit or cap on the maximum amount of data you can download for a cheaper price.

CONTENTION RATIO  -  The number of computers that maybe sharing the same connection to the internet from the Broadband provider. Most standard ADSL Broadband packages have a contention ratio of 50:1. Meaning that up to 49 other users may be sharing the connection. Broadband providers can offer varied contention ratios from 20:1 to 1:1.

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DATE RATE - The real maximum speed at which you can effectively download.

DSL  -  Digital Subscriber Line is the technology for high bandwidth broadband services over a normal phone line. Types of DSL include ADSL, SDSL, HDSL, SHDSL and VDSL. The most popular is ADSL.

DYNAMIC LINK MANAGEMENT - (BT Max only) DLM is the system that analyses the performance of your line, such as errors or disconnections - and makes changes to your target SNR margin or interleaving status if required.

ETHERNET  -  Ethernet is the standard for connecting computers and devices over a Local Area Network (LAN) in the home or workplace.

FAULT THRESHOLD RATE (FTR) - The FTR is the speed below which a fault can be reported to BT Wholesale via your ISP. It is set to 30% lower than the MSR (see MSR definition below).

FIREWALL  -  A program installed on a computer that stops others having uninvited access to your computer. Firewalls are also installed on Network hardware on devices such as routers. Firewall software is available to download or buy. Some service providers provide firewall services and other security measures.

INSTANT MESSAGING  -  With an always on connection, you can use any of the many commercial messaging systems available to chat, share information and even see your friends and family at any time you like, without incurring additional call costs.

INTERLEAVING - A feature that can be used to help stabilise your internet connection.

IP ADDRESS  -  Every computer or device connected to the Internet has its own IP address. For home users, an IP address is normally dynamic (not always the same) and vary with each connection. A static IP Address option is available and useful to create a VPN (Virtual Private Network).

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ISDN  -  Integrated Services Digital Network lines offer speeds of up to 128Kbps. Not so common now and has been surpassed by Broadband.

Kbps  -  The bandwidth (or speed) of a Broadband connection is measured by the maximum number of bits (binary digits) per second that can be carried on the line. This can displayed as Kilobits (thousands of bits) per second. As many services offer a much larger speed, it can also be displayed as Megabits (millions of bits).

KB  -  Stands for Kilobyte, meaning approximately one thousand bytes. Used to measure the size of files etc.

LAN  -  Local Area Network. Computers can be connected together over a short distance to form a Local Area Network. Many computers can be connected together to allow sharing of files, internet, etc.

LLU - Local Loop Unbundling. The process of broadband providers installing their own equipment in a BT exchange, enabling them to offer their own high speed DSL broadband and control their prices, rather than using BT Wholesale broadband.

MAXIMUM STABLE RATE - (BT Broadband MAX term) The MSR is the lowest SYNC rate that your modem has connected at during the first 10 days of your line being connected to the ADSL Max service.

Meg / Mbps / Mb  - Normally refers to Megabits per second.  The bandwidth (or speed) of a broadband connection is measured by the maximum number of bits (binary digits) per second that can be carried on the line. This can displayed as Megabits (millions of bits) per second.

MB  -  Stands for Megabyte, meaning approximately 1 million bytes. Used to measure sizes of files.

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MICROFILTER  -  Used on ADSL broadband to separate voice and data channels on your phone line. Microfilters are also sometimes called 'splitters'. They must be attached to every phone socket on your line to keep the channels separate.

MODEM  -  Stands for 'MOdulator-DEModulator'. Used to allow data transfer over a phone line an is normally fitted to a computer. A modem that can provide access to more than one computer is called a router.

NARROWBAND  -  This is a connection with a maximum speed of less than 128Kbps. Dial-up is also Narrowband.

ROUTER  -  A modem that can provide access to more than one computer.

SATELLITE BROADBAND  -  Broadband can also be delivered through a satellite dish. An option if you do not have a phone line or cable connection.

SDSL  -  Symmetric DSL (SDSL) allows both the same download and upload speed. A good choice for businesses that may transfer and receive large files or data through conferencing etc.

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SHDSL  -  Single high bit rate DSL is the technology that underpins Symmetric DSL (SDSL) services.

SIGNAL-TO-NOISE Ratio (SNR) - The SNR is the amount of signal your line can see as opposed to how much noise it can hear.

SPLITTER  -  ADSL broadband requires separate voice and data channels on your phone line at home or the office. Splitters - more properly called 'microfilters' - are attached to every phone socket on your line to keep the channels separate.

SYNC    Short for synchronise, and can refer to the process of your modem connecting to the exchange for Internet access. SYNC rate refers to the speed your modem is connected to the exchange at. Also referred to as the Line Rate.

USB  -  Universal Serial Bus. USB is a technology used to connect different types of devices such as keyboards, a mouse, other drives to your computer.

VPN  -  Virtual Private Network. Often used by businesses to connect different networks together over the internet.

WAN  -  Wide Area Network. A large network created by linking Local Area Networks (LANs) together over the Internet using a Virtual Private Network to form a WAN.

Wi-Fi  -  Wireless technology for broadband access that is available at Wi-Fi 'hotspots' several locations across the UK. A notebook computer with a wireless networking card or wireless capability is required to access the service

Wireless Access Point  -  For access to broadband through Wireless, you must be in the range of a wireless access point or hotspot.