Wireless Glossary

First Generation wireless technology. Based on analog or AMPS technology, 1G wireless networks were designed to carry voice traffic only.

1X - a.k.a. CDMA2000 1X, 1XRTT
Third-generation wireless technology that offers enhanced voice and data capacity and higher data rates than previous, second-generation wireless technologies. 1X is an evolution of cdmaOne®.

Second-generation wireless technology. Based on digital technology, 2G wireless networks offer increased voice quality and capacity over 1G systems. 2G systems traditionally supported voice and circuit-switched data service. 2G systems are being replaced today by 2.5G and 3G networks.

Based on digital technology, adding 2.5G wireless technology to a 2G network provides packet-data service and improved data rates. 2.5G technology has been implemented as GPRS.

Third-generation wireless technology. Based on digital technology, 3G wireless networks offer increased voice capacity and provide higher data rates than 2G and 2.5G networks. As defined by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), 3G technology has been or will be implemented as CDMA2000®, CDMA2000 1xEV-DO, WCDMA/UMTS and HSDPA/HSUPA.

802.11 - a.k.a. Wi-Fi
802.11 refers to the body of standards issued by the IEEE for WLANs (wireless local area networks). 802.11 technologies use an over-the-air interface to connect a device (for example, a Wi-Fi enabled laptop) and an access point to another network. The 802.11 family of technologies includes 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g and 802.11n.

Access Point
A network device, or communication hub, that connects wireless devices to a wired local area network (LAN).

Advanced Encryption Standard. A standard for encryption intended to replace the DES (Data Encryption Standard). AES supports key lengths ranging from 128 to 256 bits.

A wireless modem that can be used in a laptop or other mobile computing device to connect to the internet. Aircard® has become synonymous with wireless wide area network (WWAN) card, PCMCIA card and wireless PC card and is a registered trademark of Sierra Wireless.

In wireless communications, a frequency or contiguous range of frequencies.

In wireless communications, the width or capacity of a communications channel. Analog bandwidth is measured in hertz (Hz). Digital bandwidth is the volume of data that a channel can carry and is measured in bits per second (bps).

A short-range wireless technology that interconnects devices such as phones, computers, keyboards, microphones and mice. Bluetooth supports both voice and data communications.

Bits Per Second. The standard for measuring the smallest unit of information in digital communications and data processing.

Generic term for high-speed digital internet connections, such as wireline, DSL or cable modems and wireless third-generation technologies, such as WCDMA (UMTS), CDMA2000® 1xEV-DO and HSDPA.

A specification for laptop module cards that became dominant in laptops between 1999 and 2005. CardBus offered faster throughput, lower power consumption and better video performance compared with the older PCMCIA standard from the early 1990s. CardBus now competes with the newer ExpressCard standard by PCMCIA.

In wireless communications, an electromagnetic pulse or radio wave transmitted at a steady base frequency. Used to transmit radio signals to a radio receiver. Also commonly used to refer to a wireless network operator or service provider that provides mobile telecommunications services.

Code Division Multiple Access. A digital wireless technology that works by converting analog information, such as speech, into digital information, which is then transmitted as a radio signal over a wireless network. CDMA uses spread-spectrum technology, decreasing potential interference while achieving privacy. CDMA technology is the basis for third-generation (3G) wireless technologies.

CDMA2000® 1xEV-DV
CDMA2000 1X Evolution Data and Voice. Third-generation wireless technology that supports high-speed voice and data on the same channel. Enables internet connectivity for cellular phones, PDAs and other mobile devices.

The geographic area encompassing the signal range from one base station. Wireless networks are comprised of many overlapping cells to efficiently use radio spectrum for wireless transmissions.

Cell Tower
A fixed transmitter/receiver location, also known as a base station or a cell site, which establishes communications between a wireless system and a wireless device using radio links. The cell tower includes an antenna tower, transmission radios and radio controllers.

Analog or digital communications that provide a consumer with a wireless connection from the mobile device to a relatively nearby transmitter (base station). The transmitter’s coverage area is called a cell.

The amount of wireless spectrum occupied by a specific technology implementation. For cellular communications, there is a transmit side and a receive side. For example, a 5 MHz channel uses 5 MHz to transmit and 5 MHz to receive, using a total of 10 MHz of wireless spectrum.

Coverage Area
Geographic area served by a cellular system in which service is available to wireless users.

Data Encryption Standard. Protects unclassified computer data using a 56-bit, private key, symmetric cryptographic algorithm; issued as a Federal Information Processing Standard.

A form of transmission that transforms analog signals, such as voice, into a series of electrical or optical pulses that represent the binary digits 0 and 1. This numerical data is then converted into various forms depending on the type of network, such as radio waves for wireless transmission, electronic pulses for a wired network or optical light waves for fiber optics. Digital networks offer superior Quality of Service (QoS), secure transmission and more bandwidth than analog lines.

Downlink - a.k.a. Forward Link
The connection from the network to the end-user communications device. In satellite communications, also refers to the connection from a satellite to a terrestrial receiver.

DVB Project
Digital Video Broadcasting Project. A consortium of broadcasters, manufacturers, network operators, software developers, regulatory bodies and others committed to designing global standards for the delivery of digital television and data services.

Enhanced Data Rates for Global Evolution. A software/hardware enhancement for existing GSM networks designed to provide higher data rates to enhance the delivery of multimedia and other broadband applications for wireless devices.

In wireless communications, used to describe capabilities, such as internet access, that are contained within a device.

In security, encryption is the ciphering of data by applying an algorithm to plain text. Types include Asymmetric, Symmetric and Public Key.

End-to-End Security
In wireless communications, safeguarding information in a network by encryption to ensure secure data transmission from the point of origin to the point of destination.

The newest PCMCIA standard for removable module cards. ExpressCard replaces the old PCMCIA standard and provides for smaller, lighter cards; faster throughput; and lower costs due to the card’s simple design and lack of need for a separate controller in the host device. ExpressCard technology is useful for wireless devices due to its smaller size and lower power consumption than CardBus.

Federal Communications Commission. The U.S. government agency responsible for regulation of the communications industry.

A combination of hardware and software that protects a computer or group of computers from an attack by an outside network or computer user. A firewall enforces a boundary between two or more networks.

Frame Relay
Uses a form of packet-switching and multiplexes data. A frame relay network is able to accommodate data packets of various sizes associated with virtually any native data protocol. An access standard defined by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).

The rate at which an electromagnetic waveform alternates. Usually measured in hertz (Hz) or megahertz (MHz).

A network point that acts as an entrance to another network.

Gigahertz. A measure of frequency equal to a billion hertz or a thousand megahertz (MHz). Gigahertz is often used to measure UHF (ultra-high frequency) or to express microprocessor clock speed in some computers.

Gobi™ (Global Mobile Internet)
A new wireless chipset from Qualcomm, Gobi™ Global Mobile Internet solution brings two previously incompatible 3G wireless technologies, cdma2000 EV-DO Rev. A and W-CDMA/HSPA, together in a software-defined configuration that allows connection to the best available wireless network in an area. Gobi offers consumers the opportunity to purchase any Gobi-enabled notebook computer, turn it on and get virtually instant wireless broadband Internet access almost anywhere on Earth.

Global Positioning System. A worldwide radio-navigation system developed by the U.S. Department of Defense to enable users to determine their exact location anywhere on the globe from land, air or sea. GPS works via radio signals sent from orbiting satellites to receivers on the ground. GPS receivers are used in a wide range of commercial applications from fleet management to rural navigation.

Global System for Mobile Communications. A second generation wireless telecommunications standard for digital cellular services first deployed in Europe. GSM is based on TDMA technology and provides circuit-switched data connections.

A wireless device that contains a transmitter and receiver. Also known as a cell phone or mobile phone.

The international unit for measuring frequency, equivalent to cycles per second. One megahertz (MHz) is one million hertz. One gigahertz (GHz) is one billion hertz.

Hot Spot
A location, such as a coffee shop, airport or bookstore, where a consumer can establish a WLAN (wireless local area network) or Wi-Fi connection. Hot spots provide a wireless access point for the user and limited coverage (approximately 100 feet), depending on the location.

High-Speed Downlink Packet Access. An enhancement to WCDMA networks that provides higher data speeds in the downlink to support applications such as VPN access, video downloads and large file transfers.

High-Speed Uplink Packet Access. An enhancement to WCDMA networks that provides higher data speeds in the uplink to support applications such as VPN access and large file transfers.

Instant Messaging. Instant, real-time, text-based communication between two or more people over a network such as the internet.

Internet Protocol - a.k.a. IP
The method of sending data from one computer to another on the internet. IP is part of the TCP/IP protocol and is an integral component of the internet. Also commonly used as an abbreviation for intellectual property.

Internet Service Provider. A vendor that provides access to the internet and often provides internet utilities and services. Also, Integrated Service Provider. A vendor that provides all or many of the different data and voice services, including VoiP, internet service, wireless phone service and wireline services.

Kilobits Per Second. Commonly used as a speed for data transmission. Measured as 1,000 bits per second.

Kilohertz (KHz)
One thousand hertz. A measurement often used to reference radio frequencies.

Local Area Network. A small communication network covering a limited area, such as within a building or group of buildings.

Last Mile
ICommonly used in telecommunications to refer to the final delivery of communications connectivity between the network and the end user’s point of access (home or business).

Location-Based Services. Enables operators to offer personalized services based on the user’s location. Examples of LBS include regional map information for real estate agents and asset tracking solutions for service representatives at logistics and transportation companies.

Megabyte. A measure of computer processor storage and real and virtual memory. Measured as 1,048,576 bytes in decimal notation.

Megabits Per Second. Measured as one million bits per second. A measurement of the amount of data transferred in one second between two telecommunication points.

Refers to the ability for a device to communicate in multiple radio frequencies (RF) for wider coverage. Multiband capability is needed to ensure that wireless devices can roam. Because countries allocate bands independently, RF-band compatibility is required along with mode (CDMA2000, WCDMA, GPS, Bluetooth etc.) compatibility for international roaming.

A point of connection into a network. In packet-switched networks, a node is one of the many packet switches that form the network’s backbone.

Open Mobile Alliance. A standards body that develops open standards for wireless information and telephony services on digital mobile phones and other wireless terminals.

A wireless network operator, also often referred to as a carrier or service provider, that provides mobile telecommunication services.

A digital "package" of data that enables efficient use of radio spectrum and routing over a network, such as the internet or wireless networks. Each packet is numbered separately and includes the internet address of the destination.

Personal Area Network. A small network with a reach of only a few feet, which is used to connect multiple devices for syncing data or connecting with the internet. Bluetooth is an example of PAN technology. A typical PAN might include a user’s mobile phone and wireless earpiece, PDA, digital music player and laptop.

PC Card
A wireless modem that can be used in a laptop or other mobile computing device to connect to the internet. Synonymous with PCMCIA card, WWAN (wireless wide area network) card and Aircard®.

Peripheral Component Interconnect. A standard for attaching peripheral devices to a motherboard, such as on a mobile phone or laptop. The PCIExpress (PCIe) standard is the new version of PCI.

Personal Computer Memory Card International Association. An international association that standardizes credit-card sized wireless modems which can be inserted into laptops or other mobile computing devices to connect to the internet. A Type II PC card is the most common PCMCIA card.

Personal Communications Services. Refers to the 1900 MHz cellular frequency band. More commonly used as a marketing term to describe digital wireless services in the Americas, regardless of the particular frequency band being used.

Persons of Population. Refers to total population coverage according to a wireless service provider’s license. In wireline communications, POP means Point of Presence, which is defined as the connectivity point between two networks.

Plain Old Telephone Service. The basic wired telephone line that supports standard single-line telephones, telephone lines and access to the PSTN (public switched telephone network).

Pay Per Call. In contrast to flat rates offered by operators for monthly service under a contract. Also a commonly used abbreviation for the Pocket PC.

Point-to-Point Protocol. A protocol for communication that allows two devices to transport packets over a data connection, such as a personal computer connected by phone line to a server.

Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol. A protocol for communication that facilitates virtual private networking to enable secure remote access to corporate networks via the internet.

Within the context of data communications, a specific set of rules related to data transmission between two devices. Protocols set standard procedures that enable different types of data devices to recognize and communicate with each other.

Quality of Service. A measure of network’s transmission reliability and efficiency. QoS is commonly used by network operators to indicate a higher level of service guarantee to customers.

Rev. A
Short for CDMA2000® 1xEV-DO Revision A. Rev. A provides up to 10 times faster reverse-link speeds compared to EV-DO and better support for streaming video and VoiP, which alleviates potential bandwidth conflict between voice and high-speed data services.

Radio Frequency. Measured in Hertz, MHz and GHz. Wireless and cordless telephones, radio and television broadcast stations, satellite communications systems and two-way radio services all operate using radio frequencies.

Radio Frequency Identification. A method of remotely retrieving data from and storing data associated with animals, people, products or equipment. Requires an RFID tag, which contains an antenna to enable the tag to send and receive queries from an RFID transceiver.

Radio Frequency Identification Tag. A small radio frequency device used to identify and track people, animals, commercial products or corporate assets.

The process of using mobile phone service while outside of the cellular provider's coverage area.

R-UIM - a.k.a. CDMA SIM card
Removable User Interface Module. A removable card that can be inserted into certain CDMA phones and other mobile devices that makes global roaming possible across CDMA and GSM wireless networks. The R-UIM card identifies the user’s subscriber information, such as handset number and wireless features, and can also store data, including telephone numbers and addresses.

Service Provider
A "carrier" or "network operator" that provides mobile telecommunication services.

Subscriber Identity Module. A removable card built into all GSM phones and other mobile devices. The SIM identifies the user’s subscriber information, such as handset number and wireless features, and can also store data, including telephone numbers and addresses.

A category of mobile phones that supports both wireless data and voice capabilities. Smartphones include enhanced software and applications, including operating systems such as Palm OS and Windows Mobile. In addition to telephone functionality, features on a smartphone might include email, internet access and remote access to corporate databases.

Short Message Service. A store-and-forward message service available on many second-generation and all third-generation wireless networks that allows users to send and receive short text messages over wireless devices.

Spread Spectrum
A method of transmitting a radio frequency (RF) signal by “spreading” it over a broad range of frequencies. This facilitates reduced interference and increased capacity within a particular radio frequency band. CDMA technology is based on spread spectrum.

Secure Sockets Layer. A protocol for managing the security of message transmission on the internet, for example, between a Web server and a Web browser.

In wireless, a user of a mobile telecommunication service.

Communication transmissions that are timed by a clocking signal and occur with equal time intervals between them. An example is the constant transmission of time-sensitive data, such as real-time voice.

Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol. A communications protocol that has become the de facto standard protocol for the internet. “TCP” provides transport functions, ensuring that the total amount of data sent is correctly received. “IP” provides the routing mechanism, ensuring the information reaches the correct destination.

A device, such as a laptop or cell phone, used to access a network.

The rate at which a device or network sends and receives data, usually expressed as bits per second (bps). While a useful metric, throughput is not the only measure of responsiveness, which is how quickly the network responds to the user. Responsiveness is equally determined by latency and throughput.

Telecommunications Industry Association. A U.S. trade association representing the communications and information technology industry. Responsible for certain technical standards covering both wireless and wireline phone technology.

Two-Way Paging - a.k.a. Interactive Paging
The ability to send and receive data via the internet by way of a paging network.

UMTS - a.k.a. WCDMA
Universal Mobile Telecommunications System. A third-generation (3G), CDMA-based wireless communication standard that offers enhanced voice and data capacity and higher data rates than previous, second generation wireless technologies.

Virtual SIM
A virtual copy of most of the data on a mobile phone’s physical SIM (Subscriber Identity Module), such as phone number, contact lists and SMS messages.

Voice over internet Protocol. The routing of voice conversations, sent as digital packets of data, over the internet or other IP network.

Virtual Private Network. A network that is constructed using public wires to connect remote offices or individual users to their organizations’ network. VPNs use encryption and other security mechanisms to ensure network access to authorized users. VPNs are an essential component of secure wireless computing for the enterprise.

Wide Area Network. A geographically dispersed telecommunications network. A WAN may be privately owned or rented, but the term usually refers to a public network.

Wireless Application Protocol. A set of standards that enables a wireless device to browse content from specially coded Web pages over wireless devices such as mobile phones.

WCDMA - a.k.a. UMTS
Wideband CDMA. A third-generation (3G), CDMA-based wireless communication technology that offers enhanced voice and data capacity and higher data rates than previous, second-generation wireless technologies.

Wired Equivalency Privacy. An optional feature for Wi-Fi and 802.11b that offers privacy by using an encryption algorithm that scrambles data before any data is transmitted.

Short for "Wireless Fidelity" and another name for WLAN (wireless local area network). Allows a mobile user to connect to a local area network (LAN) through a wireless connection. Wi-Fi has been deployed in airports, universities, bookstores, coffee shops, office campuses and private residences.

Wireless Interoperability for Microwave Access. A group of proposed wireless standards for high-throughput broadband connections over long distances. Applications include "last mile" broadband connections and hot spots. Trade name for a new family of IEEE 802.16 wireless standards.

Wireless Metropolitan Area Network. Enables broadband network access with exterior antennas that communicate with base stations that are connected to core network. An alternative to fixed-line networks. Developed by the IEEE 802.16 Working Group.

Wireless Node
A device equipped with wireless network interface capability.

Wireless Spectrum
A band of frequencies in which wireless signals travel carrying voice and data.

Wireless Local Area Network. Allows a mobile user to connect to a local area network (LAN) through a wireless connection. WLANs have been deployed in airports, universities, bookstores, coffee shops, office campuses and private residences.

Wireless Personal Area Network. A computer network that wirelessly connects devices in a short range (about 30 feet), such as a mobile phone to a wireless mouse or keyboard. Bluetooth® is a WPAN technology.

Wireless Wide Area Network. Geographically separate computer networks joined through a wireless connection. A WWAN is similar to a WLAN (wireless local area network), but typically covers an entire metropolitan or nationwide area.