Glossary of Telecommunications Terms


4B/5B: 4B/5B is a type of data communications line code that turns 4 bits of data into 5 bits of output transmission code. It allows for efficient bandwidth use and breaks up longer sequences of code.

4D/PAM5: This coding is designed for Gigabit Ethernet. It allows for data to be transmitted over four wires and five voltage levels. Data can be transmitted simultaneously over four wires, and one level can be used to detect errors.

5G: This is a fifth-generation wireless cellular technology. Its purpose is to increase transmission speeds up to 20 Gbps. It is 100 times faster than the previous generation of technology, 4G.

802.11 ad: This is a network standard that lets Wi-Fi-enabled devices send data using the 60 GHz wireless band.

802.11ax: Also known as Wi-Fi 6, this is a technology that improves performance and efficiency over previous generations of wireless technology. It allows newer software programs to leverage the same wireless LAN (WLAN) architecture.

10BASE-T: This is an Ethernet standard that transmits 10 Mbps over twisted-pair cabling. The 10 refers to the transmission speed, and the BASE denotes the baseband signaling. The “T” is the twisted-pair cabling.

10BASE-FL: This is a type of Ethernet that uses fiber optic cable. It offers 10Mbps data transmission speed.

100BASE-FX: This is a term for Fast Ethernet that uses 4b/5b encoding. FX refers to fiber for transmission over fiber optic cables. It supports 100Mbps data speeds.

100BASE-SX: This is a Gigabit Fast Ethernet standard for data transmission over multimode fiber optic cables. It is designed for transmission over shorter distances.

100BASE-TX: 100BASE-TX is a type of Fast Ethernet that leverages twisted pair cables. Data is transmitted at 100 Mbps speeds.

100BASE-X: 100BASE-X is a version of Fast Ethernet transmitted over fiber optic cables. Data is transmitted at 100 Mbps speeds.

1000BASE-T: This version of Gigabit Ethernet uses copper cables for data transmission. It must leverage Category 5 or higher types of cables.

802.3: 802.3 is a group of standards and protocols for Ethernet networks. It is defined by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).


Analogue Data: The term refers to data that is continuous as opposed to discrete.

Address Resolution Protocol (ARP): ARP is a protocol for mapping a changing Internet Protocol (IP) to a local-area network (LAN) physical device address.

Applet: It is a Java program designed to perform a specific task.

Application-Delivery Controller (ADC): The purpose of the ADC is to act as a load manager, and it is designed to improve and manage how client devices connect to the internet and servers. It helps ensure efficient application deployment.

Application Layer: Sitting at the top of Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) at Layer 7, it is an abstraction layer that allows for the manipulation of data. It ensures application-to-application communication.

Application Programming Interface (API): An API allows for smooth communication between two or more software programs.

Asynchronous Transmission: With this type of transmission, encoded data is sent with start and stop bits. Each character has its own beginning and end.

Attachment Unit Interface (AUI): AUI is part of Ethernet standards. It indicates how a coaxial cable should connect to a 15-port on an Ethernet card.

Authentication: Authentication is the process of ensuring the identity of the user or process before allowing the sender access to a network or system.

Auto-Negotiation: Developed by the IEEE, this is a signaling mechanism that lets two devices share a wire to negotiate transmission parameters. These parameters include speed, controls and duplex.

Auto MDI-X: Also referred to as auto crossover, MDI-X standards for Media Independent Interface with Crossover. Auto MDI-X will automatically determine the right type of cable connection by using auto sensing and then configuring the connection.


Backbone: This is part of a computer network that connects different networks. These can include WANs, LANs, other networks, etc.

Bandwidth: Bandwidth refers to the maximum amount of information that can be transmitted over a network connection in a certain amount of time.

Baud: This is the speed at which information can be transmitted via data channels.

Beamforming: As opposed to mass broadcasting, beamforming allows a wireless signal to be directed toward a signal device. This allows for better and faster connections.

Best-Effort Delivery: This refers to a service that doesn’t offer any guarantees for data delivery or quality of service.

Bit: This is a binary digit that is the smallest unit of data. This data can be only 0 or 1.

Bit Rate: Bit rate refers to the number of bits that can be transmitted per second.

Block Encoding: A form of Forward Error Correction (FEC), this is a process for encoding data to reduce errors.

Blocking: In this case, a process is blocked for some reason, typically because it’s waiting for resources to become available or another process to be completed.

Border-Gateway Protocol (BGP): BGP is a standardization protocol that allows for the exchange of routing information among autonomous systems (AS).

Bridge: A bridge connects multiple networks to a larger network, for example, with a larger Local Area Network (LAN).

Broadcast: This is a method of sending a data packet from one point to every recipient on a network.

Bus: Known as a Binary Unit System (BUS), this allows data to be transferred between different computer components via network cables.

Byte: A byte is typically 8 bits and is used to represent a single character.


Cable Modem: This device connects homes and businesses to the internet, typically via a coax cable.

Cache: A cache is either a piece of hardware or software that temporarily stores data.

Carrier Ethernet (CE): CE is a type of Ethernet that differs from LAN Ethernet. Both let homes and businesses to connect their devices to the internet. LAN Ethernet is typically used within a single building. CE, on the other hand, allows service providers to offer connectivity over longer distances. CE ensures consistent performance and scalability. CE is standardized and carrier-class.

Category 5 (Cat 5): These cables consist of four twisted pairs of copper wire. They are designed for connecting different computer networks.

Category 5e:  The Cat 5e (Category 5 enhanced) category is typically the least expensive form of the Cat 5 cable. They support distances up to 100 meters.

Channel: A channel is a medium to transmit data via the internet.

Checksum: This is a value that helps identify errors when data is transmitted.

Circuit Switching: With circuit switching, a network must be established between different end devices before these devices can communicate with each other.

Cladding: This is designed to cover the inner core of the optical fiber. It ensures that light is confined within the core of the fiber cable.

Client: A client is any piece of hardware or software that asks for access to a particular service from a server.

Client-Server Model: This is the process of a client requesting service from a server.

Collision: A collision occurs when one or multiple computers or similar devices try to send data at the same time to another device.

Collision Domain: This is the part of the network where a collision can happen.

Controllerless Wi-Fi: This removes the need to have a central Wi-Fi controller in data centers. Instead, those functions can be done by controllerless Access Points (APs).

Core: This is the center of an optical fiber.

Cyclic Redundancy Check (CRC): CRC is a type of code designed to error-check digital data.

Crossover Cable: These are cables designed to directly connect two different devices.

Crosstalk: This is electric or magnetic interference from one signal that disturbs an adjacent line.

Carrier Sense Multiple Access/Collision Detect (CSMA/CD): This is a medium access control (MAC) method that was mostly used during the early years of Ethernet technology.


Datagram: This is a self-contained message that is transmitted over a network. They are the smallest unit of transmitted data.

Data Link Layer: Also known as Layer 2, this is the second layer from the bottom of an Open System Interconnection (OSI) or protocol layer that moves data between network nodes.

Data Center: A data center is a facility that houses IT equipment and centralizes operations. It is designed to host and run critical operations and data. A data center can include a variety of equipment, including servers, routers, firewalls, storage and other types of infrastructure.

Data Communications Equipment (DCE): DCE is a piece of equipment that moves data between Data Terminal Equipment (DTE).

Data Deduplication (Dedupe): Dedupe allows companies to save money on storage costs by removing duplicate copies of data. It also frees up space for other storage items.

Data Terminal Equipment (DTE): This is a piece of equipment that is either the source or the end point for digital data.

Differentiated Services (DiffServ or DS): This is a way of executing Quality of Service (QoS) policies.  It helps identify and control network traffic.

Digital Data: Digital data is a representation of data in a format that machines can interpret.

Digital Subscriber Line (DSL): This technology uses existing telephone lines to transmit digital data.

Domain Name System (DNS): This translates human-readable domain names into machine-readable numbers known as IP addresses.

Dotted-Decimal Notation: Consisting of a string of numbers, this is a way to present numerical data.

Download: Download involves transmitting data from one system to another via a network connection.

DNS Server: This type of server is designed to provide services to clients (programs).

Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP): It is a network protocol that dynamically assigns an IP address to a device.


Electromagnetic Interference (EMI): EMI is any unwanted noise or interference within an electrical path or circuit that is made by outside noise.

Encapsulation: It is a process of a lower-layer protocol receiving data from a higher-layer protocol.

Encoding: This is the process of converting data into a form that can be transmitted over a network.

Error Detection: The method of ensuring that transmitted data is accurate. It will detect noise or other issues.

Ethernet: A technology for connecting Local Area Network (LAN) or Wide Area Network (WAN) devices.


Fast Ethernet: Fast Ethernet offers data transfer rates of up to 100 megabits per second.

Fast Link Pulse (FLP): FLP signals are auto-generated to select the right wireless channel. It is only used for twisted pair ports.

Fiber Optic Cable: This type of network cable has one or multiple optical fibers within the casing. Digital signals are transmitted as light pulses.

Fiber Optic Connector Intermateability Standards (FOCIS): Developed by the Subcommittee FO 6.3 on Interconnecting Devices, these standards were written to ensure that commercial connectors will be able to properly fit with other connectors.

Firewall: It is a network security device designed to monitor and filter traffic coming to and from a network. It is the primary defense for a company’s data and technology.

Flow Control: This is a way to regulate the data that’s being transferred between devices. It ensures that one device doesn’t send too much information and overwhelm the receiving device.

Forwarding: This is the process of sending data from one device to another.

Frame: A frame is a unit of digital data.

Full-Duplex Operation: This process allows for simultaneously sending and receiving data.


Gateway: This is a node that connects two different networks and translates data or protocols into different formats.

Gigabit Ethernet (GbE):  GbE has a maximum speed of 1,000 Mbps.


Half-Duplex Operation: In contrast to Full-Duplex Operation, with half-duplex, only one device at a time can send and receive data.

Host: A host is any device on a network that links with other devices.

Hub: A hub is a device that transmits data to other devices.

Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI): Often used in data centers, an HCI combines the typical data center elements like storage, servers, computation, management and network virtualization resources into a single, software-designed system. These systems can be used for creating a private or hybrid cloud infrastructure.

Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP): The basis of the World Wide Web (WWW), it is a protocol for transmitting data on a network. It allows for a web server and a web browser to communicate with each other.

Hypervisor: This is a software program designed to produce and run virtual machines. It is sometimes referred to as a virtual machine monitor (VMM).


Identity-Based Networking (IDN): IDN bases what network resources a user can access based on the person’s identity.

Institute for Electrical & Electronics Engineers (IEEE): The goal of the IEEE is advance technology to benefit humanity. It is a professional technical organization and standards body.

Internet Group Multicast Protocol (IGMP): This lets different network devices to become a multicast group and share the same IP address and receive the same multicast data.

Internet backbone: Created by Tier 1 internet service providers (ISP), the internet backbone is made by connecting different high-speed fiber-optic vendor networks together. It creates a single network that can deliver traffic worldwide.  

Internet-Based Networking (IBNS): A form of network administration, it leverages artificial intelligence and machine learning to automate routine tasks and processes. IBNS can also be used to identify potential issues and take steps to remedy them.

Internet of Things (IoT): This refers to any device enabled with a sensor and software and network connectivity. These physical devices or objects are the “things” of IoT. The sensors and connectivity allow these devices to store and share data and communicate with each other. The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) allows industrial devices and machines to communicate with each other and provide information on their operation and insights.

Internet Protocol (IP): IP is a set of network layer protocols that manage and route data transmitted over the internet.

IP Address: An IP address identifies a single device on the internet. It is a unique number.

Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6): This is the latest version of the internet protocol. It allows for communication between devices on the public internet.

Internet Protocol Suite: Commonly referred to as the Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) is a set of protocols used to connect different devices over the internet.

Internetwork: This is a way of connecting multiple computer networks by other devices like bridges and routers.

Intranet: This is a private network typically within a single company so employees can share resources.

Internet Service Provider (ISP): This is a company that provides users access to the internet.


Layer 2: Layer 2 is an additional framework or network that is built on top of Layer 1 (blockchain) systems. It ensures scalability and improves speed.


Microsegmentation: This is the process of dividing a network into different secure segments. This allows for advanced network security since only applications and users with the right permissions can access each segment.

Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS): MPLS routes traffic based on predefined labels. Each data packet receives a label, and this indicates the best path for the packet, increasing the overall speed of data transfer.

Multi-User, Multiple Input, Multiple Output (MU-MIMO): MU-MIMO can improve the speed and capacity of routers. It ensures that multiple users can access a single access point.


Network Function Virtualization (NFV): NFV involves replacing physical network devices like routers and load balancers with virtual machines. Instead, NFV leverages hypervisors to run applications and processes.

Next-Generation Firewall (NGFW): NGFW can be used for either hardware or software. More advanced than traditional firewalls, it can detect and block advanced attacks by reviewing incoming and outgoing network traffic.

Network Access Control (NAC): This is the process of restricting access by users or applications to a network. Only network-authorized devices and users with the correct security permissions can have access.

Network Attached Storage (NAS): NAS creates a centralized data storage location where different users and heterogeneous client devices can access and retrieve data and files via a network.

Network Management: This refers to the maintenance, operation and administration of a network infrastructure using different tools, protocols and applications. The purpose of network management is to ensure that the resources are readily available to users.

Network Security: The goal of network security is to prevent unauthorized access, viruses or hacks, or thefts within the network. It leverages anti-virus software, access control, network analytics and different types of security, including application and end-point security.

Network Slicing: An integral part of 5G, network slicing allows for multiple networks to exist on top of a 5G infrastructure. Different portions of the same network can be used based on application requirements.

Network Switch: A network switch ensures devices or applications can communicate with each other and pass data between them. It is located at the Data Link layer in the OSI framework.

Network Virtualization: This converts a hardware-dependent network into a software-based network. It combines network resources, interconnects virtual machines or breaks up a single network into multiple segments.

Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe): A communications protocol designed for flash storage, NVMe ensures faster data transfer speeds between Solid-State Drive (SSD) storage devices and computers or servers.


Open RAN (O-RAN): Open Radio Access Network (O-RAN) allows 5G service providers to use non-proprietary network architecture components from different vendors. This avoids vendor lock-in and assists with security and innovation.

Open Systems Interconnection (OSI): This is the model that allows for network communication. OSI is made up of seven different communication layers.

Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple-Access (OFDMA): This allows for multiple clients to connect to a single access point and ensures concurrent uplink and downlink. It is a major part of Wi-Fi 6.


Port Blocking: A blocked port doesn’t allow data to move through it. An Internet Service Provider (ISP) might temporarily block a port.

Power over Ethernet (PoE): This refers to a technology that allows power to be delivered to devices via twisted-pair Ethernet cables. This model separates the power current from the digital signal so it doesn’t cause interference.


Routers: This is a device that sends and receives data packets between different networks.


Secure Access Service Edge (SASE): This refers to a cloud-based architecture that combines network and security into a single security service.

Software-Defined Networking (SDN): Leveraging software-based open application programming interfaces (APIs) or controls, SDN is an approach to network architecture management that allows for complete and efficient management.

Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN): SD-WAN manages how WAN traffic is routed. It is designed to improve performance, reduce costs and leverage automation for operations and traffic routing.

Storage-Area Network (SAN): SAN is an independent high-speed network that interconnects and allows users access to storage devices on different servers. It ensures that storage devices are readily available to users.

Storage Networking: Storage networking connects different external storage devices and resources to different devices or nodes via a network connection.


User Datagram Protocol (UDP): UDP is a type of connectionless communication protocol that creates connections between internet applications. It is typically used for time-sensitive transmissions, including Domain Name System (DNS) lookups.


Virtualization: This involves segmenting a single physical machine like a computer or server into multiple virtual devices. These are known as virtual machines (VMs), and they operate separately from each other.

Virtual Machine (VM): Virtual machines can run software programs independently of a physical machine. There can be multiple VMs on a single device.

Virtual Private Network (VPN): A VPN allows a client machine to connect to a network via an encrypted internet connection. It ensures privacy and adds an additional layer of security.


Wide Area Network (WAN): A WAN connects different local area networks (LANs) and allows them to communicate with each other. For enterprise corporations, for example, it allows different office locations to connect with a central data center.

Wi-Fi: Wi-Fi is a wireless technology that uses radio waves to transmit data between devices and allow them to connect to the internet. The protocols for Wi-Fi are based on the IEEE 802.11 set of standards.

Wi-Fi 6E: This is an improvement on Wi-Fi 6, and it improves data rates and reduces latency. It operates in the 6 GHz band and supports more channels than previous versions.

 Wi-Fi Protected Access 3 (WPA3): This is a security certification standard created by the Wi-Fi Alliance. It improves upon WPA2, and it is the latest version of the standard.


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