Broadband Glossary

We explain lots of words using lots of other words.

Activation

Activation enables an existing telephone line to receive data (broadband) and voice telephone calls at the same time. Your phone line must be activated at your local telephone exchange for you to be able to receive broadband.

ADSL

Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line. This is a DSL line where the upload and download speeds differ - typically the download speed is faster than the upload speed.

Anti-virus software

Anti-virus software provides you with a high degree of protection against computer viruses invading your computer.

Bandwidth

This refers to a range of frequencies used for transmitting signals and information.

Broadband

High-speed transmission technology that allows multiple signals to share a single cable or line.

Cookies

These leave a harmless marker on your hard drive, allowing websites to remember you as a visitor. It is often cited as helping improve your online experience.

Contention Ratio

This describes the maximum number of users sharing the bandwidth on the broadband connection between your local exchange and your broadband provider.

Dial-Up

Dial-up internet access was the original method of connecting to the internet via a phone line. Transfer speeds are a maximum of 56k, as opposed to a 50Mbps maximum speed for broadband. Due to the limited bandwidth - the ability for the modem to send and receive data - dial-up service can take up to five minutes to download just one megabyte of data.

DSL Digital Subscriber Line. This is a method of transmitting data over standard telephone lines.

Dynamic IP

This is an IP address that changes each time you connect to the internet. An IP is assigend to your broadband connection, and you will need the IP number to hand if you want to, for example, host a forum or an online game. In the event of attacks or people playing unfairly, having a Dynamic IP allows you to re-set your IP address simply by disconnecting and reconnecting to the net by unplugging and replugging your router.

Fibre-optic

Fibre-optic broadband delivers superfast download speeds, with greatly improved reliability and consistency when compared with ADSL. Instead of copper, fibre-optic technology uses glass fibres and this is much faster and more effective for delivering information at high speeds.

Firewall

Firewalls can protect from internal and external threats. It is essentially a computer system that sits between the internet and a computer or network.

ISP

An abbreviated term for internet Service Provider. This is the company that is supplying you with your broadband service.

Kbps

Short for Kilobits per second (1 kilobit per second is equal to 1,000 bits per second).

MAC

Migration Authorisation Code - allows you to migrate from one broadband provider to another.

Mbps

An initialism for Megabits per second. Virtually every broadband product available is capable of delivering speeds of at least 1Mbps or higher.

Modem

A modem is a piece of hardware that is used to connect computers to the internet - it sits in between the router and the actual connection itself, relaying information between the two. This name a fusion of the words 'modulator' and 'demodulator', taking the "mo" and "dem" from the words.

Piggy-backing

Gaining access to a restricted communications channel by using the session another user already established.

Phishing

This is the act of tricking someone into giving them confidential information or tricking them into doing something that they normally wouldn't do or shouldn't do.

Router

A router acts as an intermediary between a computer, modem and the internet and determines where data is sent, as the device 'routes' information to one or more machines. SDSL Symmetric Digital Subscriber Line. A variant of DSL where the upload and download speeds are the same.

Static IP

This is an IP address allocated to you that stays the same each time you access the internet. You can use a static IP address to run an email server or host a website. The opposite of this is a Dynamic IP.

Spam

Spam universally refers to seemingly pointless junk emails and messages that flood inoboxes and forums. Spam messages however can be potentially devastating, as they may contain links to web pages which will then infect your computer with viruses. The best way to combat spam is to simply delete emails sent from people or companies you don't know, or make sure you have decent anti-virus and firewall programs installed.

Spyware

Any software that covertly gathers user information through the user's internet connection without his or her knowledge, usually for advertising purposes.

Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP)

This is technology that enables broadband users to send voice calls via the internet.

WiFi

This stands for Wireless Fidelity and means the connection of more than one network device wirelessly.

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