Glossary of Terms

Glossary of Terms – Broadband

Anchor Institutions – These are enterprises such as universities and hospitals that are rooted in their local communities. Anchor institutions can bring crucial benefits to local children, families, and communities. Anchor institutions across the nation are embracing the responsibility of their economic impact and continue to expand their public and non-profit missions to better the welfare of communities. In the case of broadband, anchor institutions can be important partners in creating better communication and connection within communities because of their fiber assets as well as what Broadband Consortia and Counties can do with these assets.


Bandwidth/High Bandwidth – Bandwidth describes the maximum data transfer rate of a network or Internet connection. Bandwidth measures how much data can be sent over a specific connection within an amount of time. Typically expressed in bits per second (bps). High bandwidth typically means a bandwidth at the top end or above what is commercially available at a specific location.


Broadband (Broad Bandwidth) – High speed Internet connection or access. One of the fastest types of Internet connection available to consumers. Types of broadband connection include: Digital Subscriber Line (DSL), Cable, fiber optic, wireless, satellite, and broadband over power lines.


Capacity / High Capacity – The measurement of the maximum amount of data that can be transferred between network locations over a network. High capacity is once again related to current norms and is usually measured in bits per second (bps).


Consumer-level speed – This is the service that is commonly available and used to connect residential customers to commercial Internet. It can be asymmetric, meaning that there is a higher speed provided to a home than from a home.


Cross-connect – A cable that connects two separate facilities. The cable can be copper or fiber optic. They are usually used to provide a connection between two parties.


Dark Fiber – Unused fiber optic cable. Often times, companies lay more fiber than needed to curb costs of doing it again in the future. The dark strands can be leased to individuals or other companies.


Fiber – A thread or structure resembling a thread. They are usually stronger when together. Transmits information via pulses of light.


Mobile Broadband – Describes Internet access that is obtained through a mobile device. Mobile broadband is associated with radio waves and frequencies.


Optical Fiber – A flexible, transparent strand of pure glass that is used as a light pipe to transmit light between two ends. Used as a medium for telecommunication and networking.


Throughput – The rate of data transmission per unit time.


Wireless Broadband – High speed Internet and data service that is delivered through a wireless local area network or wide area network. Wireless broadband can be fixed or mobile.


Last Mile/Last Kilometer – The last connection point between where cable fiber exists, and the consumer. The reference to a “mile” is not meant to indicate distance so the actual distance may be greater or lesser than an actual mile or kilometer.


CENIC – Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California is a nonprofit corporation formed in 1997 to provide high-performance, high-bandwidth networking services to California universities and research institutions. Through this corporation, representatives from all of California’s K-20 public education combine their networking resources toward the operation, deployment, and maintenance of the California Research and Education Network, or CalREN. Today, CalREN operates over 8,000 miles of fiber optic cable and serves more than 20 million users.


Picocell – A small cellular base station typically covering a small area, such as in-building (offices, shopping malls, train stations, stock exchanges, etc.), or more recently in-aircraft. In cellular networks, picocells are typically used to extend coverage to indoor areas where outdoor signals do not reach well, or to add network capacity in areas with very dense phone usage, such as train stations or stadiums. Picocells provide coverage and capacity in areas difficult or expensive to reach using the more traditional macrocell approach.


Macrocell – A cell in a mobile phone network that provides radio coverage served by a high power cell site (tower, antenna or mast). Generally, macrocells provide coverage larger than microcell. The antennas for macrocells are mounted on ground-based masts, rooftops and other existing structures, at a height that provides a clear view over the surrounding buildings and terrain. Macrocell base stations have power outputs of typically tens of watts.


Trunk Lines – A main line of a railroad, telephone system, or other network.


Broadband Provider – A company that sells broadband Internet service, sometimes refer-to as an ISP (Internet Service Provider). Broadband Internet truly is the most used form of Internet access because of its high access speeds; it is offered in four different forms, DSL (or Digital Subscriber Line), also fiber-optic, cable, and satellite.


Internet Adoption Rates – How many people or business’ have access-to broadband Internet services and how quickly are new users able to sign-up.


Up and Down Speeds/Rates – Refers to how quickly your Internet service can upload or download data to your device.


Dig Once – refers to policies that allow for and/or encourage deployment of conduit and fiber in transportation rights of way during other infrastructure improvement projects. This can include, for example, installing pipes under roadbeds that can house numerous Internet cables. Rather than digging up the road each time a new company wants to install high-speed Internet cables, the Dig Once infrastructure would permit companies access to their cables, allowing for upgrades and additions as needed.


Broadband Consortia – Consortia are located within geographic areas that are charged with bringing public and private entities together to discuss and plan-for how broadband deployment can be achieved at greater rates allowing more customers to be connected.


Fixed Wireless – Point-to-point fixed wireless configurations connect two locations exclusively, like a bridge. Most often used for the connection between access points on a tower and the Internet “backbone,” or to connect two buildings that need to share their network.


5G – Fifth-generation wireless, or 5G, is the latest iteration of cellular technology, engineered to greatly increase the speed and responsiveness of wireless networks. With 5G, data transmitted over wireless broadband connections could travel at rates as high as 20 Gbps by some estimates, exceeding wireline network speeds, as well as offer latency of 1 ms or lower for uses that require real-time feedback. 5G will also enable a sharp increase in the amount of data transmitted over wireless systems due to more available bandwidth and advanced antenna technology.