Broadband Jargon / Slang / Lingo Explanations
Quick reference to help you understand the myriad of big words, acronyms and terms associated with Broadband
EMAIL US - if you think of a clearer explanation
  1. Broadband
    The current controversial definition of broadband is any service capable of delivering speeds on or above 128Kilobits / per second (Kbps). However, most experienced ISP's and Internet users would prefer to see it as 512Kbps or above.

    Interestingly 'Broadband' was initially a definition for any service capable of delivering 2Mbps or above. The various differences have a lot to do with marketing.
    [Back to top]

  2. Cable Modem
    Cable Modems are boxes/devices that enable you to hook up your computer to a local cable (coax, fibre optic etc.) operators line and receive data (Optus Cable and Telstra Cable). This technology is sometimes built into the operators Set-Top-Box unit, although some will offer separate modems / network (Ethernet/NIC) cards.
    [Back to top]
  3. Capping (Cap)
    Same as 'Fair Usage', no matter what the marketing men and women of various ISP's might tell you.
    [Back to top]
  4. Dialup
    See 'Narrowband'.
    [Back to top]
  5. DSL (ADSL, SDSL etc.)
    DSL (Digital Subscriber Loop) comes in many different flavours and uses an standard existing home telephone line to communicate. It's not unlike a dialup modem, yet moves data far faster. The most common talked about in Australian Broadband speak is ADSL, which means Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line. It means - that you can attach a special modem onto your REGULAR home phone line - and get broadband speeds. AND, because it splits your home phone line into two; the special modem will only use frequencies not used in normal voice communications, so you can also use the home phone at the same time.

    -ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line)
    ADSL is called "asymmetric" because most of its two-way, or duplex bandwidth, is devoted to the downstream direction, sending data to the user. Only a small portion of bandwidth is available for upstream or user-interaction messages (ie - you can receive files at speeds faster than you can send them to someone)

    -SDSL (Symmetric DSL)
    It's symmetric because the data rate is the same in both directions (ie - you can send files as fast as you can receive them)
    [Back to top]

  6. Fair Usage
    Used by ISP's to define restrictions on an Internet access service, such as bandwidth or data consumption limits. Same as 'Capping'.  It help's to clarify the very grey area of telco speak such as "unlimited broadband".    If you don't pay attention to your usage, or have a Cap - you may end up being charged a large expense for going over your cap, a bit like having a very unexpectedly large phone bill.  A Cap will generally instantly throttle your internet speed from the broadband speed (say 1.5MB a second) down to that slower than a normal dial-up connection.    It means that you can still access the internet, but not at a high speed.
            Generally, as you surf with broadband, you tend to indulge a lot more in downloading large files and streaming content.  All of this is measured in a total file size by your provider.  If you're download limit is set at 1GB a month, and you leave a high quality streaming radio station playing and you DONT have a cap - you may end up downloading 4GB data more than you are allowed and be charged $$$ per 1 megabite (there are roughly 1,000 MB's in a GB).  If you have a Cap, as soon as that 1GB limit is reached - it suddenly reverts to a very slow connection so you cannot end up in trouble.  It is very much worth checking this with your provider.
            [Back to top]
  1. Gbps (Gigabits Per Second)
    Same as 'Kbps', except defines a greater quantity of data (billions of bits per second).

    Example: 1Gbps = 1000Mbps
    [Back to top]

  2. Hotspot
    Hotspots are places where a broadband wireless network as been installed to allow remote access from Laptops or similar mobile devices. They're often placed in public train stations and fast food chains for use by the public or business people to access the Internet.
    [Back to top]
  3. ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network)
    ISDN is a system of digital telephone connections. It allows multiple digital channels to be operated simultaneously through a single, standard interface. Usually runs at 64Kbps (single channel) or 128Kbps (dual-channel).
    [Back to top]
  4. Kbps (Kilobits Per Second)
    Kbps (thousands of bits per second) is a measure of bandwidth (the amount of data that can flow in a given time) on a data transmission medium.

    To better understand how this works we must use an example, such as a document file sized 20K. Typically the ‘K’ stands for Kilobytes (or in transfer terms KBps – note the uppercase B [Bytes] vs lowercase b [bits]).

    Most good 56Kbps modem connections will be able to transfer at a rate of 5/6KBps, thus a 20K document would take just 4 seconds to download. We could get into the whole issue surrounding compression, but that would only serve to confused matters.

    You should now be able to comprehend the difference between a typical 56Kbps dialup modem and a 512Kbps (roughly ten times faster) broadband ADSL link. Hold in mind that most e-mail’s are 30 to 100K in size, with a single web page being anything from 30 to 200K per page.    

    To round things off: 2 x 512Kbps = 1Megabit per second (Mbps).      Use our Broadband Download Speed calculator to show how fast files download at different speeds.   [Back to top]

  5. Leased Line
    A leased phone line that provides a full-time, dedicated and direct connection to the Internet.
    [Back to top]
  6. Mbps (Megabits Per Second)
    Same as 'Kbps', except defines a greater quantity of data.

    Example: 1Mbps = 1000Kbps
    [Back to top]

  7. Metered
    You pay for the amount of time or data consumed as it's used up. Same as 'Pay as you go (PAYG)'  (Please also read Fair Use / Cap)
    [Back to top]
  8. Modem
    Modulating Demodulators (modems) modulate outgoing digital signals from a computer or other digital device to analogue signals for a conventional copper twisted pair telephone line and demodulates the incoming analogue signal and converts it to a digital signal for the digital device.

    By modern standards the term 'modem' is much broader, yet still used due to being highly recognisable. It is typically a separate hardware peripheral, but can be managed through software and or built-in to a device/computer as well.
    [Back to top]

  9. Narrowband
    Most typically the description used for dialup modem connections over copper wire based telephone (POTS) networks up to 56Kbps.
    [Back to top]
  10. Pay as you go (PAYG)
    See 'Metered'.
    [Back to top]
  11. Powerline
    Powerline / Powerline Communications (PLC) allows the broadband transmission of Internet access along existing national grid power grid cables and into the home or office.
    [Back to top]
  12. Router
    Hardware peripheral that allows an Internet connection to be split between several computers. Example: If two people want to use the internet connection - one in the study and one in bedroom, a router will make this possible.
    [Back to top]
  13. Satellite
    A Satellite is a specialised wireless receiver / transmitter that’s launched by a rocket and placed in orbit around the Earth. Internet access can be either one-way (requires dialup connection) or two-way (satellite does everything). Generally, this is a method to get Broadband in remote rural area's of Australia not supported by DSL or Cable
    [Back to top]
  14. Ultrawideband (UWB)
    Designed primarily as a short range and higher speed replacement for Bluetooth technology, which can be found inside most modern mobile phones, laptops and PDA's. Both are wireless technologies.   The most talked about use, is the ability to stream content from your computer in the study - through to your TV.     
    [Back to top]
  15. v.90 / v.92
    The standard used by most 56Kbps capable dialup (narrowband) modems.
    [Back to top]
  16. Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity - 802.11)
    This is the term used to describe most local and wide area broadband wireless networks. These typically operate using the 802.11 specification(s), for example (note the different speeds):

    802.11a (1/2Mbps)
    802.11b (11/22Mbps)
    802.11g (54Mbps)
    802.11n (100Mbps > 1Gbps?)
    [Back to top]

  17. WiMAX (802.16)
    WiMAX is a new broadband wireless technology, which will be capable of deliverying speeds up to and beyond 100Megabits/per second (Mbps) over a wide coverage (up to 30 miles).
    [Back to top]
  18. Wireless
    This defines a technology that can provide network / Internet access through invisible radio frequency (spectrum) signals. You need to have a wireless modem to utilise this connection and check your area to see if you have coverage.