Bring Us Broadband!

Glossary of Telecommunications & Technology Terms

Bandwidth: In digital systems, the bandwidth of the system is the speed at which data is transmitted over the system, measured in bits per second (bps).

Broadband: A communications system (such as fiber optic or digital subscriber line) with bandwidth that exceeds a given minimum. The FCC's definition of broadband is any system capable of transmitting data in excess of 200 Kbps upstream and downstream. All communications systems that operate at a slower speed than broadband are called “narrowband.”

Cable modem: A cable modem is a device installed in the home that enables cable modem subscribers to attach personal computers to a local cable TV line and interact with the Internet at high speeds.

CLEC: A Competitive Local Exchange Carrier (CLEC) is a company (like AT&T) that competes with the already established local telephone business (like Pacific Bell) by providing its own network and switching or by reselling the local telephone company’s phone service. The term distinguishes new or potential competitors from established local exchange carriers (LECs) and arises from the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which was intended to promote competition among both long-distance and local phone service providers.

DSL: Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) is a broadband service offered by telephone companies. DSL technology is capable of transmitting digital information at high bandwidths (up to 6 Mbps) on existing phone lines to homes and businesses. It also makes it possible to split phone lines into two parts, one of which can be used for voice or fax communication while the other is used to transmit data between computers.

Fiber Optic Networks: A broadband communications system that transmits data via light signals using micro-thin strands of glass.

ILEC: An Incumbent Local Exchange Carrier (ILEC) (such as Pacific Bell or GTE) is a telephone company in the U.S. that was providing local telephone service when the Telecommunications Act of 1996 was enacted. (Also see RBOC.)

ISP: An Internet Service Provider (ISP) is a company that provides individuals and other companies access to the Internet and other related services such as web site building and hosting. An ISP connects subscribers to the Internet in a manner similar to the way in which phone lines connect users to the telephone network. Some ISPs offer specialized content to subscribers in addition to access to the Internet.

Kbps: Kbps stands for kilobits per second (thousands of bits per second) and is a measure of the speed data travels on a data transmission medium such as twisted-pair copper lines, coaxial cable, or optical fiber.

LATA: A Local Access Transport Area is a geographic region that represents a customer’s local calling area. A LATA is typically between 12 miles and 28 miles, depending on the state.

Local Loop: In telephony, a local loop is the wired connection from a telephone company's central office to a single customer’s telephone. This connection is usually on a pair of copper line wires called twisted pair.

Mbps: Mbps stands for megabits per second (millions of bits per second) and is a measure of bandwidth (the amount of data that can flow in a given time) on a data transmission medium such as twisted-pair copper line, coaxial cable, or optical fiber.

Narrowband: A communications channel, such as copper wire or part of a coaxial cable channel, that transmits voice, facsimile or data at rates less than broadband systems.

Standard: narrowband speeds are 28.8 Kbps and 56.6 Kbps.

RBOC: The Regional Bell Operating Companies, also known as the “Baby Bells,” were the seven monopoly local phone companies created as a result of the divestiture of AT&T in 1984 at the conclusion of the U.S. Department of Justice antitrust lawsuit. There were originally seven companies: Ameritech, Bell Atlantic, BellSouth, NYNEX, Pacific Telesis, SBC and U.S. West. SBC subsequently acquired Ameritech and Pacific Telesis, and Bell Atlantic acquired NYNEX, reducing the number of RBOCs to four.

Unbundling: A term of art that describes a service provider’s ability to sell components of its services or lease use of its facilities to other service providers.

Wireline: A system that uses wires or cables to transmit signals instead of air-borne radio frequencies.

Wireless: Any broadcast or transmission that can be received through microwave or radiofrequencies without the use of a cable connection for reception.